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The joy of an academic life

Seema Gupta
Seema Gupta
Assistant Professor in Marketing, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
Seema is an Assistant professor for marketing in Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.  ... more>>
When I joined the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore in 2006 there were only a handful of women Professors.  And most of them were in government linked disciplines such as public policy. Move over to 2012 - the number of women faculty has almost tripled. Earlier faculty positions in premier education institutes were considered male bastions as they were the ones who got the family resources and conducive environment to pursue post graduation and doctorate from reputed universities in India and abroad which paved the way for making career in the field of education. But now increasing number of families are investing time and money enabling their daughters to pursue their dreams of obtaining education from coveted institutions.

In the corridors of the hallowed institutions occasionally one can hear discussions about the prevalence of stereotypes among students and participants about superior knowledge of male faculty as compared to female faculty. Women are more easily accepted in traditional roles of nurturing and caring and hence it requires some doing to get acceptance in nontraditional roles. But I have realized that ultimately if one has the knowledge/skill it will be recognized sooner or later. Hence instead of focusing our energies on how to overcome stereotypes women should focus on how to enhance their skills so that there is little room for any non acceptance.

Higher education is a wonderful field for making a career. I would urge more women to build a career in it. I love my work and am very passionate about it. My job has three components – teaching, research and consulting.  Teaching is our bread and butter. It is a responsibility to ensure that the participant class experience is rich. Teaching makes one feel invigorated and gives the high. The feeling that one gets after delivering a good classroom session is unimaginably satisfactory. Teaching also keeps one on the toes. The second component of the job is research. In India earlier most educational institutions were purely teaching institutions where hardly any systemic emphasis was put on research and writing. But writing is increasingly being emphasized by premier institutions. While teaching is informing the uninformed, academic research is engaging with the informed community and hence poses different challenge. The thrill of getting a paper accepted in a reputed journal is beyond explanation. It is immensely satisfying to be a creator of knowledge, a giver rather than just a taker.  But research requires passion for writing and intense work away from the humdrum.  Consulting is also an important facet of an academic career as it keeps one connected with the world of practice and forces one to solve real business issues.

Academic career is full of life and vigor. The beauty of it is that it allows you to choose your own pace. It also affords one the flexibility which is very handy for women. Lot of work can also be carried out on computer from home so I easily mix my office and home. When my kids return from school I am there for them and again I resume work from home. Staying on the campus eases the task immensely as one can shuttle between office and home innumerable number of times in a day.        

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