19 hours ago
Monday, February 12, 2007
Personal Growth Experience for Sexist Jerks?
What do you do if someone you know to be a long-time sexist jerk is selected for a position of responsibility in a professional organization that directly impacts the lives of women academics, their funding, and therefore their chances of career advancement? Some advice I got recently was to give the jerk the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he will experience 'personal growth' and develop a new-found maturity in his new position, which requires such behavior. It is true that it would be difficult for someone to be too flaming with their sexism in this particular position, given the degree of oversight of the position, but even so.. I don't like it, to put it mildly. However, writing a letter saying "Hey, this guy has had numerous unprofessional and disturbing interactions with women colleagues and students over the years" would make me look insane and vindictive for unknown reasons. I have encountered this situation several times in the past, and it has just come up yet again. A few times in the past, the Powers That Be have called me about an individual with whom I've worked and asked "Do you think so-and-so would be good for such-and-such important position?" and I have been very blunt, but I didn't have to be proactive in those cases. It's too bad there are so many of these guys, so this situation occurs again and again. I suppose if they were excluded from positions of responsibility, there would be labor shortages in academic administration, journal editorial offices, professional organizations, and funding agencies.