Tenure-Track Survival Tips for Female Assistant Professors 

Eryn O'Neal

 1. Never turn down an invitation to collaborate, even if it means you’ll be exploited, underpaid, and treated like a graduate student. It’s still a great opportunity. 

2. Join as many committees as you can. Join university committees. Join department committees. Join standing committees. Join subcommittees. Join ad hoc committees. Committees. Committees. Committees. 

3. Regarding item #2, never disagree with white-straight-male colleagues on key committee votes. Whenever possible, vote in agreement. Abstention is almost as controversial as voting against. 

4. Be likable. Please everyone. Collegiality counts. 

5. Ignore misogynistic comments; better yet, laugh at them. If a colleague asks you if they can say something sexist, always answer in the affirmative. 

6. Dress business-sexy, but demure. Think sexy librarian without the self-confidence. 

7. Never voice your opinions during faculty meetings, college meetings, lunch meetings, coffee meetings, hallway meetings, or doorway-lingering meetings. In fact, never let anyone hear you speak. 

8. Smile—always. 

9. Don’t correct people when they refer to you as Mrs., Ms., or Miss. Doctorate or not, it comes across as stuck-up.


10. Mentor triple the amount of graduate students compared to your male colleagues. 

11. Keep your head down (e.g., when walking, taking, and teaching; during office hours, meetings, and university events; in every situation, really). 

12. If you think you’re doing enough university and department service, quadruple it. 

13. Be authoritarian, enthusiastic, bubbly, and cold in the classroom. 

14. Spend 2 hours a day reading about or talking about work/life balance. 

15. Spend 2 hours a day reading about or talking about impostor syndrome. 

16. Advise at least one student organization or club. Bonus if the club meets late in the evening. This item is especially true for the young, unmarried, and child-free. 

17. Play golf. Most importantly, look cute doing it. 

18. Eliminate “no” from your vocabulary. 

19. Don’t forget about your research. Weekends, evenings, holidays, vacations, weddings, and funerals provide the perfect opportunities to get your writing done. 

20. Do it all. Still, do more. 

Eryn Nicole O'Neal is a criminologist and emerging creative writer who has published research in a variety of scholarly journals, including Justice Quarterly, Violence Against Women, and Journal of Interpersonal Violence. She has one forthcoming fiction short story in DUM DUM, a Los Angeles-based literary magazine named L.A.'s "cult favorite" indie press by The Los Angeles Times. Eryn is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Sam Houston State University. Her primary area of research focuses on institutional responses to sexual victimization. She has received six national awards for her research contributions to the study of gender and crime.