One of my more oppressed female colleagues described to me a recent meeting in which she and 4 male faculty met to discuss possible changes to a course that has long been taught in a particular way. She had some new ideas for the course, but all of her ideas were ignored or dismissed except when one senior faculty member stepped in to support her. Then her ideas were taken more seriously.
I and many others have written about this phenomenon at length -- that is, the mysterious power that men have to make a statement seem creative, reasonable, interesting, doable, when the same statement from a woman is ignored or squelched.
This latest example made me wonder whether the senior faculty member who acted as the female professor's advocate was sort of like a gender sensitivity 'training wheel' for the other men or whether they will never really hear what women are saying in meetings or other professional settings. That is, if a female professor has an advocate who supports her ideas again and again during committee meetings, will that committee eventually be able to listen, even when the training wheel is removed and the ideas are expressed by a higher pitched voice? Or will these men always need an oracular senior male to pronounce what is worthy of serious consideration?
9 months ago