If both blog posts hadn't caught my attention on the same day, I don't think I would have seen the connection. The first, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, noted that female graduate students were significantly less likely than their male counterparts to ask for full reimbursement for conference-related travel expenses. "Women Really Don't Ask," author Minerva Cheevy observed. The second, from the blog Momastery, celebrated all of the people who rallied around a mother facing a serious health scare. "I do have a village, and I need them," the stricken mom, Glennon Doyle Melton, wrote. "I need them. Like folks traveling at night need stars. We need people like we need light."
So, what's the connection?
I know all too well the fear of asking. I recently drove to a faraway academic conference, rather than flying, because I needed to bring along my nursing infant son—and my husband (to help with the baby), and our daughter (who couldn't very well be left home alone). Adding up the mileage, my travel costs were well above the standard amount allotted for faculty members at my institution. Like the women in Cheevy's article, though, I was inclined to ask only for the standard amount and cover the rest out of pocket.
I also happen to chair the committee that approves travel funding requests. I knew that our pool of funds was up this year, while requests were down. I knew that if the "extra" funds weren't used within the fiscal year, they would be wasted; we can't, by law, roll them over to the next year. I knew that seeking additional funds would not affect consideration of my future requests in any way.
And I still hesitated to ask for ...1
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