Panelists Drs. Lindi Quackenbush, Tehmekah MacPherson, Melissa Fierke, Marie-Odile Fortier and Kelley Donaghey addressed questions on this year's focal point: Leadership.
Facilitator Alana Lindsey of the Baobab Society recognized that ESF is on Haudenosaunee Territory, and then launched into questions.
Panelists noted "official" leadership duties as chairs and directors, but also mentors and in development of large classes, serving as counterpoints on committees, and as examples.
They shared times when their authority was not taken seriously. One observes that this is more noticeable at STEM institutions than in more comprehensive institutions, with a larger number of departments and more women faculty members. Another mentioned a male student explaining to her the purpose of her own class. Another that when they attempt to discuss such things with male coworkers that they imply that the issue is with her.
One mentioned that this occurs in classrooms, and wondered if its simply a new setting. Colleagues at other institutions assure her that no, there really is always a grandstander (usually male).
Female and male faculty are perceived very differently; there are studies that show that evaluations of male instructors will be rated 17% better without any other differences. Compounded by discrimation due to other immutable factors (young, being a person of color)--its hard to separate how much is because of female, country of origin, because grew up very rurally
MacPherson: Don't dismiss feelings; use something you love to move to the other side. [She] has artistic expression, voices [of authors, quotes]
Be willing to say, No, I can't do that.
Address assumptions head on: but can be perceived as cold, bitch. But if don't respond: pushover.
Dress so that you are comfortable and feel good about yourself (if you feel most confident in makeup, go for it!) and don't worry about other's opinions. (One notes that this is difficult--makeup takes a bit longer to get ready, easy care hairstyle or coloring requires more frequent appointments, and they do worry that others might perceive that this wasted time).
For People of Color, hair has been a political statement--it takes up physical space, and women are supposed to be as small and quiet as possible.
Take up space in attire as well--do I feel like dealing with comments today? If not, I choose to dress differently. If yes, go all out.
Question : importance of how women address other women, and how men address women. While the questioner wondered about this in the context of "slut shaming" (never cool), panelists dove into the issue of infantilizing women by referring to them as "girls." Consciously correct. Pronouns count!
Tips for Women of Color?
Work out what it is that you want to be. need to be happy with the progress you are making.
Don't let anyone suppress your flame. Know when its being tested, know when you need a break. Identify a survival kit with quotes to see you through to being whole. Find the MENTORING group for your field, or for women in your field.
I get interrupted a lot--what strategies can I employ? Be silent? Watch them run into a wall? Sometimes you need to interject: "Please let me finish" or "One more thing that I'd like to add before we move on"
Responses to anti-feminist comments, or you are "being too sensitive" or "taking it too seriously"?
(To be continued, in other forums!)
Baobab Society, Undergraduate Student Association-Student Inclusion, and ESF Women's Caucus