Imagine that you have been making one particular not-very-complicated point for many years in various faculty meetings, individual discussions, memos, and e-mails. This point is about an administrative matter, not something related to your research; say, something involving the undergraduate curriculum (for example).
In recent years, you have made this point many times because your department has been discussing the curriculum a lot. When relevant and necessary, you say something like "Science 201 is an important class because it lays the foundation for every other Science class. It is the only one that involves concepts related to the dynamics of kangaroos, the moons of Saturn, and the novels of Willa Cather."
Most of your colleagues are convinced, but for some reason, the issue keeps coming up again and again: Is Science 201 still an important class, or is it a relic to which some of us are clinging because we hate change? Does this class integrate different aspects of Science? Is it broad or narrow? Is it fundamental?
These are important issues to discuss for any class. It is worthwhile to reexamine the curriculum from time to time and make sure that it meets the needs of the students. You don't mind in general having to justify this course and its continued place in the curriculum, but you do find it frustrating to make the same point again and again because certain people either don't believe you or aren't paying attention.
Furthermore, it isn't actually your own *special class* you are defending, although you have taught the class, so no one should discount your opinion on the grounds that you are just defending turf.
Now imagine that one of the colleagues who has most often brought up the issue of whether Science 201 is important (or not), and who is one of the primary reasons why you have to repeat yourself so often about the importance of this class, stops you in the hall and enthuses about an interesting talk he heard by a brilliant senior scientist at a conference. This brilliant man said that Science 201 is an important class because it is the only one that involves concepts related to the dynamics of kangaroos, the moons of Saturn, and the novels of Willa Cather! Did you know this? Maybe you could incorporate some elements of this idea into the class when you teach it?!
And maybe, if you use some of Brilliant Man's ideas and methods, the course could become as interesting and relevant as your colleague's courses are.
Does this mean that you have finally won because your colleague seems convinced that the course is relevant and important?
Or have you lost because your colleague, to this day, does not recognize that you have been making this same point to no apparent effect until it was said by a Brilliant Man?
The answer is: both. You may now have less trouble justifying a course that you feel is essential to the undergraduate program, thereby benefiting students (if you are right about the importance of the course), but you are still just a yapping female (in this case) with nothing of significance to say, even about topics with which you have some expertise.
Too bad that Science 201 is likely to be somehow flawed whenever you teach it because how could you do it right when you are not a Brilliant Man?
Of course one must consider the possibility that the Brilliant Man made a more compelling, eloquent case than you were ever capable of doing, but, after careful consideration, you find this explanation insufficient.
And perhaps the most depressing thing of all is that the Colleague Who Doesn't Listen To You is a junior colleague.
11 years ago