Frank Bruni recommends that students invest time and energy establishing relationships with faculty members who can be mentors, provide counsel and “be a bridge to other influential people inside and outside the school.” It doesn’t work that way for far too many young women.
I invested time and energy in cultivating three mentorships in college. The first tried to sleep with me. The second genuinely helped with no strings attached. But shortly thereafter he married one of my classmates — 38 years his junior — so something was going on with a student my age. The third was so terrified of what other faculty members would think if he championed me (I was the first female major in the department) that he decided not to lean in for support.
I had hoped that the world would change by the time my daughter started college. She was thrilled her freshman year when a professor told her how talented she was and what potential she had. He offered to help her publish, and in the process of doing so really shook her up when he tried to move the mentorship into the bedroom.
All I can hope is that the #MeToo movement and more female professors will change things by the time my granddaughter heads off to college.