Episode #36

Leaving Academia Post-Tenure: An Interview with Gina Robinson

For this interview episode of The Academic Womxn Amplified, I’m talking with a member of my own team, whose journey has brought her to the highest levels of achievement in academia… and out the other side. 


Gina has always been a passionate learner, at home in classrooms and schools. Her path included travel abroad, where she discovered a passion for languages and cultures. She shares about taking a job outside of academia, testing her theory of wanting to become a professor and gaining invaluable skills that helped her when she returned to the academic world. 


She also shares about having babies during her dissertation process, finding a tenure-track position, and what it was like to finally get tenure. We talk about writing and publishing, the nitty-gritty details of faculty jobs, and getting clarity about what you really want and operating in your ‘zone of genius’. 


Key points discussed:

  • Growing up in an atmosphere of learning [3:00]
  • Participating in Upward Bound and the opportunities this opened [6:30]
  • Finding herself in college, with other people who love to learn [8:30]
  • The life-changing experience of travel abroad [9:45]
  • Taking a job after graduation and the experience gained [15:45]
  • Having a baby the day after she turned in her dissertation draft [20:30]
  • Starting a tenure-track job and feeling completely lost [23:30]
  • Picking a dissertation topic through the lens of her passions [27:15]
  • Using project management skills gained in the corporate world to help her in her dissertation process [28:00]
  • Approaching writing and publishing and dealing with rejection [30:00]
  • Learning lessons and building on confidence in publishing [31:45]
  • Parenting while teaching, bringing kids to class, and being an example for others who are trying to have babies and navigate academia [37:00]
  • The feeling of anti-climax upon getting tenure, and what that meant for her [44:00]
  • Reflecting on what we really want; realizing that academia does not have to be the end goal, and that leaving a tenured position is ok. [51:30]
  • Having the confidence to embrace failing and making mistakes and to keep learning in that way. [55:00]


Key Quotes:

  • “This combines all of the things that I have discovered I love: reading and writing and traveling, and talking to people.” -Gina Robinson
  • “I kind of felt like I wanted to make some of my own mistakes…” -Gina Robinson
  • “Don’t feel bad about asking those things, because everybody was there at a certain point.” -Gina Robinson
  • “Why is every person making these big mistakes, all alone, in their offices…” -Cathy Mazak
  • “Yes, you can have a baby and you will still get a PhD.” -Gina Robinson


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