Episode #202

Victim vs. Agent In Academia

In today’s episode, I’m serving up some tough love. Too many academics are drenched in victimhood, and in 2024, victimhood isn’t the place to be!


So, I am exposing those negative thoughts that keep academics trapped in a victim mentality and sharing ways to transform them into empowering agentive beliefs. We only get to have one working life, and what a privilege it is to do something we are well educated for and enjoy. So, instead of wallowing in negativity and victimology, let’s become agentive and create the career we desire.


Are you ready to sit in the driver’s seat of your career and knock down obstacles to writing and publishing? Listen in to learn how to go from victim to agent in academia!   

Thoughts That Keep You a Victim

Victims always win the argument of why they can’t do things, why things don’t work for them, and why they have to live in misery. Here are some examples of continuous thoughts of academics stuck in the victim mentality.

  • I teach too much to be able to write and publish.
  • My situation (at home, health, etc.) prevents me from writing and publishing.
  • I can’t implement coaching how you teach it, so it won’t work for me.
  • Toxic departments or advisors prevent me from publishing.
  • My field is so specific or unique that my writing never meets industry standards.


If we sit in these negative thoughts, becoming an agent of your career will be impossible. Don’t let circumstances drive your career. You are the only one who should be driving your career.

How to Become More Agentive

Let’s flip every negative thought rooted in victimhood and look at these “problems” through a lens of curiosity. 


Disadvantage #1: Heavy teaching load

Agentive Spin: How can I use the classroom work to write and publish more? My teaching isn’t working against me; it’s working for me.


Disadvantage #2: Caretaking, health problems, etc., take up too much of my time 

Agentive Spin: What kind of support would help me manage this situation? Don’t focus on lack of time; instead, look at how discernment of projects and obligations can free up energy for necessary tasks like writing and publishing.


Disadvantage #3: I can’t apply advice or coaching to my situation

Agentive Spin: Try new methods, accept the opportunity to change, and do your best to escape victimhood without focusing on the possibility of failure. 


Disadvantage #4: Toxic advisors

Agentive Spin: You choose who you work with and don’t accept toxicity.


Disadvantage #5: My field is too specific

Agentive Spin: It may take more work, but others have successfully published in my field, and I can, too. 


“There is a lot of victimhood in academia and of course, there are legitimate reasons that you may have been victimized inside of academia.  But I’m talking to people who are holding on to victimhood because they always win as long as they can hold onto and grab on to that victim mentality.” 


“The victim mentality is a logical response to systems that were not built for you. But you don’t have to stay there – you can have these thoughts that I’m going to talk about on today’s podcast, but you don’t have to keep them and just hold onto them as the truth throughout your whole career. Because these thoughts will hold you back from having the career you want and the career you deserve.”



We‘re receiving applications for our next cohort of Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap®. Check out the program details and start your application process here. 




  1. Our 12-week Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® program helps tenure-track womxn and nonbinary professors to publish their backlog of papers so that their voice can have the impact they know is possible. Apply here!
  2. Cathy’s book, Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing is available in print! Learn how to build your career around your writing practice while shattering the myths of writing every day, accountability, and motivation, doing mindset work that’s going to reshape your writing, and changing academic culture one womxn and nonbinary professor at a time. Get your print copy today or order it for a friend here!
  3. Want to train with us for free on your campus? Now you can when you recommend our Scholar’s Voice Faculty Retreats to a decision-maker on your campus! Download the brochure with the retreat curriculum and both in-person and online retreat options here.






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