Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Open secretz

Is being a conservative in academia a bit like being gay somewhere conservative? Is the academic right-wing really a world of coded, "sotto voce" speech, of those "in the closet" attempting to "pass"?

My own, highly subjective take, as someone who is not conservative enough to 'count' but who still feels to the right of most everyone much of the time? Kenvelo. But which is worse in academia, outspokenness-wise, openly voting Republican or having two X chromosomes? Says Verlyn Klinkenborg, via Rita:

I’ve often noticed a habit of polite self-negation among my female students, a self-deprecatory way of talking that is meant, I suppose, to help create a sense of shared space, a shared social connection. It sounds like the language of constant apology, and the form I often hear is the sentence that begins, “My problem is ...”

My problem is that I do this. I try not to, but it happens, and I am so, so sorry. For whatever reason, the ranks of the over-confident are almost entirely male. If I'm quiet when I should be loud, hesitant when I should be aggressive, it's 99.9% because I'm female and 0.1% because I have an idea I have reasons to believe is politically unpopular.


Miss Self-Important said...

I do it too. Except my comments are preceded by "I feel that" and "It seems to me that." I am a doubly bad person for it because I read all the literature on gender inequality in education in high school and was aware of this phenomenon, and I still did it.

However, with time, I have come to appreciate uncertainty in conversation. I don't think that many occasions call for people to be loud and aggressive about their views, and over-confidence, regardless of the popularity of a position, is usually a conversation-killer.

I do think that women are more likely to second-guess their beliefs though, and as your exchange with Amber earlier pointed out, require many more degrees before they feel comfortable pontificating like men.

Glenn said...

Ah, confidence. Some are chutzpahtetic from birth, some gain it through experience, and some get it via a (medicine) bottle.

Just because someone is confident, doesn't make them smart or intelligent, or correct in their assertions.

The question is, what if anything are you going to do about it--for you, and for your students?

Phoebe said...

My students will be just fine.