VA Tech hiring prof to teach courses on 'Black Feminisms'

Virginia Tech is hiring a new tenure-track professor to teach about “feminist methodologies” and “Black women in the United States.”

According to a job posting on Virginia Tech’s website, the school hopes to recruit an Assistant Professor of Black Feminisms to its Department of Sociology to teach classes on intersectional feminist topics starting in the fall 2018 semester.

The Black Feminisms professor will teach two classes per semester on issues like “race, class, gender, and sexualities; feminist methodologies; Black women in the US; feminist theory; [and] special topics in Black feminism,” according to the job posting.

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John Ryan, the Chair of the Department of Sociology at Virginia Tech, told Campus Reform in an interview that the new professorship was created to support the department’s programming in Africana Studies and Gender Studies.

According to Ryan, the term black feminism “refers to scholarly work, rooted in the experiences and circumstances of black women, that emphasizes the simultaneous and interacting experiences of multiple social categories and social locations, [and] that also presents critical analyses of systems of power and privilege related to those social locations.”

Further, he noted that the hiring was prompted by student demand for more classes focused on the “black experience,” saying, “We have had multiple requests from undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty to enhance our department's teaching and mentoring capacity specifically on issues of race (with a particular emphasis on Black experiences) and gender (with particular emphasis on women's experiences).”

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Citing the rising number of students taking Women’s Studies and Africana Studies classes (more than 1,000 at press time), and the rise of the use of adjunct professors to teach these classes, Ryan explained that the hiring makes sense considering the “strain” on temporary faculty.

While the courses this new professor will teach will be chosen by the professor, Ryan affirmed that the new courses will be consistent with the “interests of the new faculty member as well as the interests of our students,” and consistent with the professor’s research interests, as well.

Courses offered through the Department of Sociology currently include “Feminist Activism,” “The Black Woman in the U.S,” “Afro-American Sports,” “Race, Class, and Gender,” and “Social Inequality.”

Sociology students can elect to specialize in one of five subject areas, which include Africana Studies, Social Inequality, and Women and Gender Studies.

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While Virginia Tech considers itself an “equal opportunity employer,” media relations officials from the school did not respond to multiple requests on whether race would be used as a hiring factor. Ryan, the department head, affirmed that the new position is a “diversity hire” but did not clarify whether race would be a recruitment factor.

“It is a diversity hire in the sense that we strive to have a diverse pool of candidates from which a committee of experts in the area attempts to select someone with great potential to be a leader in the field and a dynamic and skilled instructor,” he told Campus Reform.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen