Nestled in in the right wing of Luter Hall, Dr. Andria Timmer’s office is open and inviting. Much like her classroom, she creates a space that not only her students of Anthropology can come and chat, but anyone who has any questions can feel right at home while doing so. On the sunny November 20th, I sat down to chat with our Dr. Timmer, and thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.
What got you into Anthropology?
“I actually was in theater all throughout high school and continued that into college as a major before getting into the process of applying to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. I realized the thing I loved most about theater was the small community that was formed within it. However, I found that once I had to compete with the egos of that community, that I didn’t want to pursue that. After taking a semester off of school, I returned by looking through the catalog and at the time I had no idea what Anthropology was. Then I realized that a majority of the classes I wanted to take were Anthropology. That was when I realized this was it! This was what I wanted to do with my life–even before I took one class. It [Anthropology] really was a focus on cultures and languages as being equally worthy and valued.”
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
“The best thing about my profession is teaching. I love doing my research and traveling to meeting people all over the world. Everyone here at Christopher Newport is here because we [professors] value teaching the most. Teaching is the best part because I want to inspire in students the same kind of awe that I had and the realization that this world is so much bigger. I feel there is so much I can give (and receive) to my students. Anthropology is more than just a discipline, it is a way of seeing the world.”
What was your biggest challenge with work/life balance within this field?
“First, I’d love to figure out work-life balance, but having kids really changed the way I saw myself and also the way I saw my discipline. I was taught about motherhood, parenting, and gender as something I was kind of removed from. We’d talk about the universal inequality of females, but it was always approached as a topic that was over there. When I had kids, I realized how much the positions of power [within workforces] were still dominated by male ideals — even with women in power. In the sphere of academia, it’s [taboo] to talk about your children and family; instead, you talk about your research. Being a mother is the top priority that overrides being in the top of my field, and the way I maintain that work/life balance is through the support of my stay-at-home partner. Having a husband who is motivated to make a home allows me to have my career.”
What advice would you give to young female scholars just venturing out into the field?
“You’re going to be socialized by the male-dominated power hierarchy, even by women. Regardless of what field you go into, our expectations for success are built upon what success has always looked like. Don’t be afraid to define that for yourself. Even feminism can sometimes be our determent, particularly in second wave feminism. While putting more women in power is not, on the surface, a bad thing, it does instill to a young woman and even women like me, that if you are not hitting that then somehow you are doing a disservice to women. The reality is, some women really want to be stay-at-home moms, and some want careers. Third wave feminism opens up that conversation and asks, ‘What are we against?’ We are against rape culture, positions of power that boast ass grabbing, toxic masculinity, and the continued invisibility of women of color. We can fight what we are against while stopping the reinforcement of the mold of what we should be. If in your life you are successful, embrace that.”
Dr. Timmer is a wonderful professor and mentor. Her lectures are thought-provoking, and her passion for her field of study shines through in every aspect. If you are ever given the chance to work with her, be more than ready to take it.