Edited by Michael Szenberg and Lall Ramrattan
Chapter 7: Sex and the Ivy League
Graciela Chichilnisky* Life is strange. Since childhood I have followed a peaceful and enjoyable inner path, which later developed into a matching professional and family life. I felt in harmony with my goals, and able to achieve what is important. Playing ‘tomboy’, I was attracted to masculine arenas and accomplishments, and never thought of myself as a woman. I always enjoyed good challenges, which to me are the spice of life. Yet somewhere along this path I met uncontrollable external forces, full of sound and fury, and had to experience first-hand the stormy transition of women’s roles at the turn of the twenty-first century. I joined Columbia University in 1977. For me, Columbia has become a challenge to meet, and the road to merge my internal and external lives: my personal values with my public life. TWO REFLECTIONS My first reflection from my professional experience in academia is that for a woman to survive and to thrive she must learn to turn negative responses into positive resources. This is a perverse reversal of the Pavlovian response. I call this, for short, ‘turning dung into fertilizer.’ I truly believe it is one of the most important elements for women’s success and happiness. It is a wonderful recipe for dealing with the ‘glass ceiling,’ a well-known and somewhat cruel situation where the more you succeed, the more you get punished. Think of it this way – energy is energy, and simply changing the sign of the response one receives from negative to...
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