The podcast for academic womxn who want to write and publish more while rejecting the culture of overwork in academia.
Cathy Mazak, PhD, helps you create the career (and life) you want by centering your writing. Kick guilt and overwhelm to the curb and amplify your voice to make a real impact on your field--without breaking down or burning out.
Is your career 90% awesome? Do you spend most of your time doing things that are important for your scholarly work? I can show you how to get there.
In my last episode I talked about what radical change in academia looks like. The outcome of that radical change is that we build careers that are 90% awesome. Careers in which we do things we love 90% of the time.
When you first wanted to become an academic, you got into it for the act of creation, the making of knowledge that had the potential to change the world. But what happened to this aspiration when it came in contact with reality?
Our ruthless academic culture--the one that exploits contingent faculty and graduate students, squeezes tenure-track faculty into more and more teaching and service, and more and more unpaid admin, and more and more minutiae--has led you to believe something I’m not ok with.
It led you to believe that you have to suffer to do the scholarly work. I’m here today to tell you the most important message you need to experience radical change in 2021: You don’t have to suffer. You’re allowed to strive for a career that’s 90% awesome. Your career is made up from the activities you do every day. And if you hate most of the things you do every day, your career is going to be 90% awful.
Choosing Yourself It is ingrained in us at every turn that time, energy, and money are scarce in academia. These beliefs are enforced by us being underpaid as graduate students, expected to work nights and weekends out of “passion” or because “that’s what I had to do when I was a graduate student.” Awful.
This works out perfectly for institutions because by the time we get tenure-track jobs, we are “just lucky to have a steady job.” So, we pretty much tolerate the culture of overwork and the glorification of busy, the toxic colleagues and the “we don’t have money for that” messaging because we are so ingrained in scarcity that we feel like we have no choice but to suck it up, buttercup. And still, we spend sleepless nights wondering if our publications and grants are enough to get us tenure or full.
“We cannot collectively change academia if we keep believing in awful, in suffering, and in settling.” -Cathy Mazak
If we’ve learned anything as academics over the last year, it should be that we need to deeply and profoundly make choices that go in the service of ourselves, because our institutions will not have our back.
Academics who choose themselves, and who have put the systems and processes in place to support this deep belief in their own work and worth, are not scared by all the uncertainty around us and the ever-impending crisis in their institutions. That’s because they know that what they are building is not dependent on their institutions. What they are building is bigger than that.
“The message for all academics, loud and clear, is: choose yourself.” -Cathy Mazak
Achieving 90% Awesome Achieving this kind of career is not some dreamy, esoteric thing. It is achieved through two things I’ve talked about in past episodes:
The values part is easy. You just have to believe that academia should be changed, radically, and that you are worthy of the career you want. Done.
The systems part is harder because the systems behind a mission-driven academic career, a career where your scholarly work, not the minutiae of emails and committee meetings, drives your day-to-day routine, are hidden. Most of us know that our advisors got work done, but how they got work done is absolutely still a mystery when we graduate. Or maybe we did see how they got work done, and it was by driving themselves into the ground.
But these systems do exist! I’ve been teaching them (and refining them) for myself for almost 20 years, and for hundreds of other academics for alm
What Radical Change in Academia Looks Like
Why do we struggle to find time to write while the academic establishment requires publications in order to maintain or advance our careers? It’s time for radical change.
Designing your career with intention is a radical idea. Securing your writing at the center of your career is a radical idea. And friends, radical change is what we need in academia! It’s time to move away from the scarcity mindset we’ve been socialized into, and start making decisions from a place of intention instead of a place of fear. To do that, we need to see what needs to change (radically) and then step into our power to make that change. Let’s go!
Scarcity vs. Intention We are led to believe that there is never enough in academia. And that we are ‘on’ 24/7. Right off the bat in grad school, there is no time that is off limits. We are urged to find our own funding and told there is no money for anything. This scarcity mindset continues as we move through our careers. The way it manifests:
Never saying no. Any project that might lead to publication needs to be pursued, because there are never enough publications. Leaving projects languishing in your pipeline that should be cut, just in case. Overextending yourself in teaching and committee work.
“When we live our careers from this place of scarcity, we make fear-based decisions.”
Designing your career with intention is anti-fear and anti-scarcity by definition. Your decisions are based on the intentions you set, not on fear. In our Navigate program, we start by helping you craft your academic mission statement. Then we move through time management, writing and pipeline management and strategy systems to give you the skills you need to design your intentions around that mission statement.
Why It’s Radical & How Writing Fits In Your writing is the tool you use to make an impact in your field and to move your career forward. While the publications that come from your writing are an expected part of advancing your career, no one else is checking in with you to make sure you get your writing done. Centering your writing, giving it the spot it needs to have in order to propel your career, is a radical act because you are putting yourself and your needs first.
“The fight to center your writing and scholarship is a microcosm of the fight for change, impact, and justice.”
The radical part is a womxn getting what she wants and needs. Anchoring your writing at the center of your career is focusing on you rather than what everyone else at your institution needs or wants. And friends, that is radical! And it is just what academia needs to drive change on a larger scale. It’s time to put writing where it belongs!
“Making sure writing gets this prioritized place it deserves in your career is equivalent to making sure you get this prioritized place that you deserve in your career.”
Are You Ready?? If these ideas resonate with you, and you’re ready for some radical change in your own life and career, it might be time for you to join us in Navigate! Enrollment opens on April 27 and we start up in May.
We’re calling this cohort “The Radical Cohort” because we’re seeking to make radical inner change that leads to radical outer change. This means: designing a career with intention, not suffering, feeling calm and collected, and exercising powerful agency over our lives and careers. We’ll teach you 10 systems to help you accomplish these radical changes.
Be sure to get on the waitlist to be the first to get more information and the chance to sign up! Sign ups will open first to our Momentum members, then to the waitlist, and then to the public, and the first 10 to enroll with get a free spot in our next 2 and a half day virtual retreat!
Be sure to get on the waitlist here: https://www.cathymazak.com/navigate-w
Controlling Your Career vs. Setting Intentions
Do you set intentions for your career and have the skills to follow through with them? I’m sharing a little bit about my own story to shed some light on the difference between control and intention.
I have a pretty long history with trying to control things. I did my undergrad, with 2 minors, in 3 years. I white-knuckled my way to graduation and I did it through carefully strategizing my next steps, leveraging one course into the next, meticulously placing summer sessions in the mix.
What my undergrad experience taught me was that I could do that. I could strategize and control my way to making an outcome occur. And I would do that over and over again throughout my career. This was an invaluable lesson. The choices I make and strategies I employ for my career trajectory don’t involve white-knuckled control anymore, but they do involve intention.
When I created Navigate, I had been strategically steering my career for almost 20 years.
Creating Navigate In Spring of 2017 I launched the first cohort of Navigate. I developed the program as an organized way to create the kind of writing-for-career transformation that I had been helping clients with in one-on-one coaching.
I built the original marketing messages of Navigate with those client’s phrases in my mind. They talked about being pulled in a thousands directions by their responsibilities, feeling overwhelmed by all the things they have to do and guilty that they were not writing more, that they had let writing “fall to the bottom of the list” but couldn’t easily see an alternative. The original promise of the Navigate program was to “help academic womxn write and publish more”.
But as I kept trying to articulate what the promise of Navigate was, and as I developed the course over the years, the theme I kept returning to was control. When I think about what I want to teach academic womxn to do, what continues to come up for me is “I want to teach womxn to control their careers.”
So, Navigate is about helping your write and publish more, but at its core, Navigate is about controlling your career. Not the white-knuckle kind of control that led me originally down this strategic path back in that dorm at IU in 1993, but a deliberate, intentional kind of control.
Making choices from a place of confidence instead of fear. Setting intentions to guide you on the career path you are building for yourself, and following through. That’s why we start with an academic mission statement and build everything from there.
“Navigate matches intention-setting with the actual skills and strategies it takes to realize those intentions.” -Cathy Mazak
Coming Soon The waitlist for my next Navigate class is coming soon! Be sure to get on the waitlist, and when you sign up you’ll get some great bonuses (I don’t want to give it all away, but there’s keep your ears open for the word “retreat”!).
Stay tuned for more information.
Connect with me: Website
Follow me on Clubhouse: @cathymazak
This episode was first published at cathymazak.com/episode74.
Accountability vs. Community
Does writing keep falling to the bottom of your list? Do you think you need accountability to hold you to your goals? I want to show you why you need community instead.
Accountability, or the idea that you need an external person to “hold you” to your goals, is rooted in patriarchy. Entrenched social structures in the culture of academia have given rise to womxn who are not trusted to hold themselves to their own standards and who perhaps do not trust themselves.
A lot of womxn who come to my writing programs are looking for accountability at first, and I get it. But I challenge you to explore new ways to get writing done that aren’t sending a message to yourself that you are weak, can’t hold time for yourself and are not to be trusted with your own work. So what else can we do? We can feminize the concept of accountability in 3 ways.
1. Practice Self-Trust Self-trust is a muscle you strengthen by using it. Practice listening to and relying on your inner voice to know what is right for you alone. Give your own voice more weight than the voices of those outside of you. Relying on an outside entity to force change is unsustainable. Instead, cultivate the ability to trust yourself to know the best way forward. As Alexandra Frazen says in this wonderful article, go with your “hut” (heart + gut).
2. Build Boundaries I’ve talked about boundaries in many different contexts, and I’m bringing them up again here because they are that important. You must create boundaries around your time in order to have the impact you desire. Remember: the things you spend your time doing in your career are your career. Don’t you want writing to be at the top of that list?
“How are we holding firm to what is important?” -Cathy Mazak
3. Community The fantastic news is that learning and growth and development don’t have to come on your own. When we are in community, we are surrounded by others who have shared experiences and shared values, and that is powerful! A community lifts us up to our goals, rather than holding us accountable.
“When you think you need accountability, what you really need is community.”
If you’re ready to get radical and open yourself up to creating growth in your life and the lives of your community, join us in Momentum!
Coming soon: pre-enrollment for my Navigate course, helping you to navigate a career of your own design, using 10 systems and powered by writing. All of our Momentum members will get priority sign up and special bonuses, so if you’ve been thinking about trying Momentum, now is the time! Learn more and sign up here: cathymazak.com/momentum
Connect with me: Website
Follow me on Clubhouse: @cathymazak
This episode was first published at cathymazak.com/episode73.
The Radical Act of Womxn Writing Together
The solitary nature of writing can perpetuate the image of the “typical” professor, a lone (male) figure, doing it all alone. But writing together, as womxn, is a radical act!
The image of a typical professor is usually as a lone (male) intellectual, head down, wrestling the big ideas of academia all on his own. And academia perpetuates this vision. We are socialized to be toxically self-reliant. Not a lot of value is placed on asking for help, sharing your wisdom with a community, or making sure the voices of others are heard. There’s an unspoken implication that if you aren’t “smart enough” to figure it out on your own, maybe you shouldn’t be here.
Writing itself can encourage the ‘lone wolf’ academic ideal. After all, it’s your brain, your ideas, and the blank page. Even if you’re co-writing a piece, it’s usually a back and forth kind of collaboration, not an in-person activity. And sometimes all this solitariness can make it difficult to keep dates you set with your writing. So my team and I decided to try an experiment last Spring, and not only has it been a huge success, but it’s clarified to me that writing together in community as womxn academics is a radical act.
Writing Together is a Radical Act Writing together is a radical idea. Womxn writing together is an even more radical idea, because that act of solidarity, of lifting each other up, of standing together and getting your voice heard in an academic culture that has traditionally devalued you, is powerful. And sharing space with others who are working toward their writing goals multiplies the energy, focus, and investment of everyone involved.
Our experiment progressed from one scheduled Zoom co-writing time per day to 6 scheduled time slots per day and an always-open room where participants can meet at any time that works for them. Members wanted more connection with their fellow co-writers, so we added Mindset Monday calls, where we give prompts for small groups to discuss to help propel them into their weeks. We call the program Momentum, and we want you to experience it for yourself!
Join Us in Momentum! Jump into Momentum , pick your 1 or 2 co-writing sessions, and start experiencing the solidarity and community of many womxn writing together at the same time. It’s $27/month to join, and you can cancel anytime. Click here to learn more and come join us!
Connect with me: Website
Follow me on Clubhouse: @cathymazak
This episode was first published at cathymazak.com/episode72.
Q&A with Qualitative Research Blueprint Creator Maira Quintanilha
Have you ever struggled with where to publish your interdisciplinary qualitative work? Have you received feedback questioning the rigor of your research or your ability to express it? My guest on this episode is Maira Quintanilha, creator of Qualitative Research Blueprint. Whatever your struggles, questions, or curiosities about qualitative research, Maira has got you covered. She shares her own qualitative research journey, what prompted her to create Qualitative Research Blueprint, and why she thinks this kind of research is especially important.
Key points discussed:
Maira’s journey with qualitative research: from having it assigned to her as a grad student, to flourishing with an excellent mentor in her PhD program [3:00] Learning by doing [5:00] First attempts at publication, and how feedback shaped her work [9:30] Submitting work that might not be perfect in order to be open to new perspectives [11:30] Embracing discomfort in the review process in order to learn and move forward [14:00] The important role of qualitative research in health sciences [18:30] How qualitative research helps us understand the ‘why’ of people’s choices and behaviors [19:00] Using the COREQ checklist and how she came to see it as a helpful tool for developing whole researchers [22:00] Using rigor to gain confidence, and Maira’s vision for qualitative researchers [24:00] Embracing methodologies, finding the right audience, and understanding what you can control [29:00] Who is right for Qualitative Research Blueprint and how it can help researchers at all stages of their careers [30:00]
“There was a lot of learning by doing.” -Maira Quintanilha “Rarely, if ever, things are perfect. But you need to know how to write what you did well.” -Maira Quintanilha “Your qualitative research might not be perfect, but don’t hold it back from trying to publish.” -Maira Quintanilha “It was the process of submitting for review, and getting feedback, that helped me design the next study better.” -Cathy Mazak “At the end of the day, qualitative research is really about understanding how people make [it] through the day.” -Maira Quintanilha “The more I do [qualitative research], the more comfortable I get with the people that don’t believe [in] what I’m doing because I know how powerful what I’m doing is.” -Maira Quintanilha “You can take that opportunity, no matter where you are, to make your research stronger.” -Maira Quintanilha
Be sure to sign up for Qualitative Research Blueprint, open for enrollment now! In this course, you will gain the confidence and skill to achieve your desired outcomes by learning how to design and implement research methodologies, and write rigorous, impactful research.
You’ll learn everything from data collection and analysis techniques to methods for writing up findings and research theory and strategy. QRB is NOT a one-size-fits-all online course. There is an emphasis on each individual attendee and project, as well as community building and support.
Sign up using my link, and you’ll get these great bonuses from me:
My brand new Writing Sprint Blueprint course, which walks you through how to set up a 2 week writing sprint to make major progress on your writing project. My Funding Formula training, which is usually reserved for Navigate clients only. Learn how to ask your institution for whatever you need, including a letter template and tips. Be sure to use this link to get these great bonuses in addition to Maira’s comprehensive qualitative research teaching!
Pulled in a thousand directions and can’t seem to carve out time to write? Download my 10 Ways to Make Time to Write cheat sheet for ideas to implement today!
Connect with me: Website
Follow me on Clubhouse: @cathymazak