January 29, 2016

#RealAcademicBios unveils darkness, truth, and sexism in the academic community


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Image provided by Colleen Halverson (@cbhalverson)

Last Saturday, January 23rd, Eva Mrozcek, an assistant professor of religious studies at UC Davis, tweeted: “Tradition of (mostly male) scholars who describe idyllic life w/wife &kids in academic bio needs to be supplemented w #realacademicbios.”

It was a call-to-Twitter-fingers in the interest of sussing out the myths and realities of academic life, and it’s since caused a stir in academic social media circles.

Inside Higher Ed’s Colleen Flaherty, who spoke with Dr. Mroczek about the hashtag, writes that Mroczek created the #realacademicbios hashtag:

…based on a pattern [Mroczek] observed in book acknowledgements and institutional website bios—a “stereotyped version of what a scholar is and what a scholar’s life looks like, usually a married man with a supportive wife and children.” It’s so common, she said, “that it can create a false impression that if your life is different, you are falling short or don’t belong.”

And so Dr. Mrozcek responded with an example of a real biography:

Since then, #realacademicbios has elicited participation from countless adjunct and tenure-track university faculty. The subjects of these tweets run the gamut, from the “post-divorce crippling loneliness” that allowed Dr. Andrew Reeves to “better focus on this project that nobody will remember in 20 years” to failures in gate-keeping logic, as described by Paul D. Miller: “Was told 10 years in federal government, including CIA and White House, was not relevant experience for teaching polisci” to the brutal honesty of user @CrankyEthicist: “They told me I could be anything, so I became a disappointment.”

That being said, the most shocking contributions are those that disclose accounts of sexism in the academic world.  Dr. Julie Libarkin notes that she:

And Dr. Amanda Ann Klein:


It’s bleak stuff, but at the end of the day, Mroczek is happy to have inspired a space where scholars and university faculty can speak frankly with each other, a liberty the Academy—so prone to wild posturing—lacks.



Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.