Another side to the story

Posted: November 12, 2010 by Jender in women are tokens

I don’t know who is being described in this post.

But it could easily have been a post about me. Not long ago, a major department, X, had expressed interest in hiring me. Shortly thereafter, they hosted a conference which was organized by a female philosopher — a philosopher who wanted decent gender balance at the conference she was organizing. She suggested I be invited to speak at the conference.

As soon as I arrived, I began to get the impression that many people at X thought I’d been invited simply because I’m a woman (rather than being someone worth talking to who is also a woman). A few local grad students even said as much to my face. Unsurprisingly, my paper wasn’t well received by the X faculty. The nicest thing anyone from X said to me was that it was “very clearly presented”. X never expressed any further interest in hiring me after this conference.

But here’s the catch. My paper was great. Several very distinguished philosophers not affiliated with X said it was the best paper given at the conference. And when I’ve given it at other universities I’ve received very positive feedback. Now, who knows why the X faculty didn’t like my paper. But it wouldn’t surprise me that they thought it was bad because they expected it to be bad, and that they expected it to be bad because they assumed I’d been invited only because I’m a woman. Whoever that original post is about, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a similar explanation.

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