Tag Archives: gender

Being an ally

In the wake of the horrific events at Pulse in Orlando this weekend, I’ve been trying to be thoughtful about ways to be a good ally to my LGBTQI friends. The list below is compiled from several lists I’ve read as well as ideas from friends. This list is ordered in a way that makes sense to me, but I think different actions and priorities will make sense and work better for different people. In other words, this isn’t a directive, but it might be helpful–it’s been helpful to me in thinking through this.

  1. Shut up and listen. I am not the victim here; it is not my time to talk. I will try to be an ally without taking rhetorical space from my LGBTQI friends. Many who are hurting right now need someone to hear them.
  2. Speak up when appropriate. If I witness someone doing something homophobic or sexist or otherwise mean/inappropriate, I have an obligation to say that this behavior is not okay with me. It contributes to a culture where things like Orlando happen.
  3. Pay attention to affiliations. Religious, political, commercial, whatever. I will be paying close attention to the rhetoric and actions of any church I attend and any politician I am thinking of voting for, and I will not support people or institutions who engage in hate.
  4. Stay focused on the real issues and work to have hard conversations. A friend recently posted this WSJ project that juxtaposes items from “liberal” and “conservative” Facebook feeds to demonstrate how social media can function as an echo chamber that tells users what they want to hear. I will, instead, seek information from many perspectives and try to engage people with a diversity of opinions. (Check it out: http://graphics.wsj.com/blue-feed-red-feed/)
  5. Respond to physical needs as well as emotional ones. If you see a friend suffering, check in to make sure they’re okay. Take them out for lunch, or make a dinner to drop off. Here’s a practical one: Give blood. Since Red Cross policies prevent many queer men from giving blood, this is a need that feels (and is) especially real right now.

Notes on Isaac West’s Transforming Citizenships, NYUP, 2014.

West offers several case studies of how transgender articulations of law can change our perspectives. He also offers “performative repertoire” as a concept to get beyond acontextual legal rhetorics (see more below). Following are selected quotations and contextualizing notes.

“Academic critique that is limited to official state texts, including legislative debates, statutes, and court opinions, embraces an impoverished sense of the rhetoricity of citizenship and its corresponding agencies” (p. 17)

“an exclusive focus on litigation does not provide an accurate picture of legal subjectivities” (p. 20)

“contextualized critiques of articulations of citizenship are necessary correctives for conceptualizing the law not as an external force acting on culture, but rather as an actually existing set of cultural effectivities” (p. 21)

“agency must be understood as a ‘performative repertoire,’ or as embodied practices enabled by and negotiated through the logics of subjective recognition” (p. 39)

Continue reading

Pay gap still exists in care fields …

The gender wage gap is a hot topic, and there are a number of usual responses to explain it away. One of the most common is that women tend to choose the sorts of careers that are lower-paying–usually “caring” professions like nursing and teaching. However, this recent article reporting on a study published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) roundly refutes that notion. That study, which included data on 290,000 registered nurses over a 25-year period, found:

  • “Male nurses make $5,100 more on average per year than female colleagues in similar positions”
  • The pay gap did not narrow between 1988 and 2013
  • The gap varied across specialties,  with male cardiology nurses making $6,000 more than females in the same position and male nurse anesthetists making $17,290 more per year than their female counterparts.

Those numbers are pretty shocking. Over a 30-year career, that’s more than half a million dollars that female nurse anesthetists are losing out on. (That’s not even accounting for salary-based raises or interest earned on investments). Thus, it’s clear that the gender wage gap is not a result of women choosing lower-paying “care” careers, since the gap within such a career is still so significant.

Re-post: The Gender Divide in Academe

Re-posted from tengrrl:

THE GENDER DIVIDE IN ACADEME: Insights on Retaining More Academic Women http://t.co/qwvnV6kaZ4

Of interest:

  • “Female authors are only half as likely as male authors are to cite their own research” (p. 16).
  • A recent study “showed that female students finished college with lower self-esteem than they started with. Males, on the other hand, graduated with greater self-confidence (albeit lower GPAs) than their female peers” (p. 14).
  • “[T]here are more than three times as many male full professors at doctoral universities as there are women in those ranks” (p. 12).

Maintaining Work/Life Balance

I’m giving a workshop today on Maintaining Work/Life Balance, with special focus on the difficulties this task presents depending upon a person’s gender. This workshop is part of a series about Writing Instruction Across the Disciplines, but most of these tips are applicable to writing teachers of all kinds as well as many professionals.  I’m including here the handout and worksheet used in this short workshop. In addition, some useful resources for thinking about maintaining work/life balance are listed below.


Re-post: Transgender experiences of gender bias

The following is an excerpt from Jessica Nordell’s article “Why Aren’t Women Advancing at Work?: Ask a Transgender Person.”

Ben Barres is a biologist at Stanford who lived and worked as Barbara Barres until he was in his forties. For most of his career, he experienced bias, but didn’t give much weight to itseeing incidents as discrete events. (When he solved a tough math problem, for example, a professor said, “You must have had your boyfriend solve it.”) When he became Ben, however, he immediately noticed a difference in his everyday experience: “People who don’t know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect,” he says. He was more carefully listened to and his authority less frequently questioned. He stopped being interrupted in meetings. At one conference, another scientist said, “Ben gave a great seminar todaybut then his work is so much better than his sister’s.” (The scientist didn’t know Ben and Barbara were the same person.) “This is why women are not breaking into academic jobs at any appreciable rate,” he wrote in response to Larry Summers’s famous gaffe implying women were less innately capable at the hard sciences. “Not childcare. Not family responsibilities,” he says. “I have had the thought a million times: I am taken more seriously.”

Read the whole article.



Conversation dominance and gender

When I was teaching my internship course on feminisms and technical rhetorics, I asked my supervisor to come watch a class meeting. I don’t remember now if I asked him to to do this or if he was just that savvy, but he kept track of how much discussion time was spent with males talking and how much time was spent with females talking. He also noted how often I called on students of each sex. Since I’m a feminist teacher and I was teaching about feminism, I was pretty certain the women talked the most and that I called on women more often.

Neither was true.

The discrepancy was significant. I definitely called on men more often AND those men ultimately spent more time talking. Given that this was in a feminist-led classroom, on the topic of feminism, AND in a class where there were significantly more women than men, I found this pretty astonishing. After that incident, I realized that my own sense of how rhetorical space was divided is deeply influenced by a culture that tells us men should speak and women should listen. The only way to be sure I was calling on female and male students equally was to actually keep a tally sheet.

So, I was both pleased (not to be alone) and saddened (that this is so widespread) to discover this recent post on Gender, Conversation Dominance, and Listener Bias. It has some really awesome links/references, and the author offers some great advice for how to avoid gender-based conversation dominance. I’m copying and pasting those below, but you should read the whole post here: http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2014/07/stop-interrupting-me-gender.html?m=1

1) Examine your implicit biases; Stop interrupting women and girls. Parents and teachers (both males and females) interrupt girls twice as often as boys. This teaches girls that their words and thoughts are not as important or valued.  If you don’t believe you are doing this in your classroombe scientific about ithave someone come in and observe you or tape your classroom. The most powerful illustration of the effects of gender on perceptions of importance, competence and speech are the experiences of people who undergo sex changes. Scientist Ben Barres wrote publicly about his female-to-male transition experience. After transitioning, he gave a well-received scientific speech and overheard a member of the audience explain that “his work is much better than his sister’s,” referring to when he was Barbara Barres. Notably, he concluded that one of the major benefits of being male was that he could now “even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man.”
2) Stop telling girls to be “little ladies” and “good girls” who help with chores, wait their turns, do not display pride, express anger or be demanding.  Politeness and taking turns, two highly-ranked lessons we teach girls in particular, are not virtues in the public sphere. Conversely, nip American male “boys will be boys” entitlements in the bud by holding boys and girls to the same standards of self-regulation as children.
3) Stop promoting the idea that masculinized expression is superior and that women have to emulate it to be successful. The expectation that women be gender bi-lingual, or code switch, is a function of being part of a muted group. The kind of confidence that many people advocate just means a woman has to work very hard to overcome sexist gender incongruities in order to succeed.  Telling women to operate more like men in the public sphere: change their speech, change their hair, change their clothes and change their style of expression will only amplify androcentric norms. If we want to close the confidence gap, of course it helps to talk to women about self-doubt, but really closing this gap, as with all the otherspay, safety, rightsrequires structural changes in every institution within which we live.
4) Create spaces for those who have trouble being heard or breaking into conversations.  Structure meetings so that everyone is given a chance to speak, and limit durations so that everyone gets a fair representation in the meeting.  If you notice a member of your team is not participating or not being heard, discuss the issue with them privately and try to come up with a solution that feels comfortable to this person.
5) When you notice that someone is interrupting or talking over someone else, say “Excuse me, XXX was speaking, please let him/her finish before you continue your thought.”  This is especially important if you are in a more powerful position (because of status, age, race, gender, or seniority) and the person being interrupted is in a less powerful position.
6) When you notice someone repeating an idea that you had already brought up say: “I am glad that XXX agrees with my previous suggestion … ” If you notice this happening to someone else, try to find a way to attribute the idea to the original speaker: “XXX said that 10 minutes ago!” may not be as effective as something like, “Yes, as XXX previously suggested … “
7) Create classroom and workplace environments which are conscious of these gender dynamics and put in place methods which help you overcome the unconscious biases (we all have) towards allowing white men to disproportionately dominate the discussion.