Socialization? (Was: on line papers....)

Linnea Ista lkista at unm.edu
Fri Nov 13 10:00:46 EST 1998



On 11 Nov 1998, S L Forsburg wrote:

> 
> Karen Lona Allendoerfer (ravena at alumni.princeton.edu)
> writes
> ....
> >  I've personally found that if I, as a woman, ever did or said
> > anything that bore even the vaguest hint or whiff of careerism or
> > self-promotion, I was called on it immediately and disapprovingly.
> 
> ....(several examples follow)...
> 
> > I'm sure that the things that everyone says about women 
> >  lacking confidence and all that are somewhat true, but I think there's
>  > more to the story than
> > that. There are higher social consequences for women who are
> > self-promoting or aggressive. In my experience, there's always a man
> > around ready to "help" you with advice about how not to be that way.
> 
> Oh golly, do I hear you on this one!  I remember as a child being told 
> that any time I expressed pleasure at how I did in school, it was
> boastful and I needed to be taken down a peg.  I still have a serious
> inability to "blow my own horn" which is a real problem in this
> profession where no one else will blow it.  I'm sure my experience is
> similar to other women who find themselves conditioned to wait for other
> people ot notice their accmplishments and unable to bring them up
> themselves, or worse, find them selves being depracatory.  I also find
> it difficult to recognize my own accomplishments at all in the absence
> of any external recognition. With this sort of social baggage, there is
> little wonder we women have had the confidence knocked out of us.
I thought that was just my experience. Two things stand out from my
childhood. One was instances of seeing confident women somewhere and the
comment being made "Well SHE thinks a lot of her self doesn't she?" in an
extremely sarcastic tone. The other was being really excited in highschool
chemistry when we got to a small section on organic-- and trying to talk
to my dad about it at the dinner table to "stop showing off". You may be
interested to know that both comments were made by my mother. I got the
message loud and clear that expressions of confidence were "unfeminine".

> 
> As for the "helpful" men, they are the same ones who find challenging
> questions from a woman to be "bitchy" and also "help" us to stop asking
> them.  Those few readers who have been on this list since the early 90s
> may recall some male participants whose posts were focussed entirely on
> helping us to be less "female" in how we do science.  
You have GOT to be kidding! And OF COURSE they were highly offended when
it was pointed out. We should be grateful for the "help".  And we don't
get it.They LIKE women, they really do --they wouldn't help us out
otherwise. We have one kind of like that on another listserve,
paternalistic as all get out and then highly offended when it is pointed
out. He is afterall one of "us girls" --his actual words. Grrrrr. 


I will say one man who HAS help me be more outwardly confident is my
current boss. I am wondering if a difference is his experience as a 
a person of color in this society. "Uppitiness" is not encouraged by the
 mainstream culture in non-Anglos. He does two things: whenever I make a
self-deprecating remark, particularly about my science, I am immediately
called on it -- I didn't realize how much I did it. The other is when I DO
get really excited about something I did and am vocal about it, the
response is a conspiratorial grin-- and also encouragement. A refreshing
change from a lot of what I have experienced in the past. 


Onwards and upwards,
Linnea






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