Titles and interviews

Antoinette Errante (aerrante@MAGNUS.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU)
Sat, 2 Mar 1996 11:09:57 -0500

>>So, in a situation where unmarried Dr. Barbara Smith is referred to not as
>Dr. but as miss, the de-titling may well also be a form of insult. Since
>detitling of female academics, at least in my experience, does not seem to
>be commonplace, would we be write in assuming that rather than it being par=
>of a general linguistic tendency to over value or over status males, it is =
>form of special insult or strategy? And so it would occur in particular
>>Just curious because it is saturday morning.
>douglass st.christian

My limited experience with this is that in professional settings, the
manner in which power relations may *potentially* be observed in discourse
occurs at more indirect levels than titles, although from studies I have
seen of the professional socialization of the female professoriate, oral
hisotry suggests that Ruby's comment about women being referred to as Mrs.
was not uncomommon 20 years ago (may still happen I just don't know ).

Here are some examples of what I mean

When my male partner and I were both in Mozambique on Fulbrights, a U.S.
official introduced him to the amabassdor as a Fulbrighter and me as a
"junior Fulbrighter". Granted my fried was there as a professors and I as a
grad. student doing my dissertation but the cultural attach=E9 should have
been well aware no such category as "junior Fulbrighter" exists.

At my first faculty convocation, a male colleague came up to me. welcomed
me as the new historian, said how glad he was the position had finally been
filled and then referring to the other historian asked , "So you 're
so-and-so's (other historian, also a woman) new helper?" He was
immediately overcome with horror, apologized, saying he didn't mean it the
way he said it etc. etc. This colleague turns out to be one of the most
outspoken on feminst issues in the dept (he's certainly got more affinity
with feminist scholarship than I do).

Do these incidents urk me? Sure. Do I know what they mean - that's the
problem - that is not so clear. As a 30 year-old assistant prof, there are
lots of potential power issues relevant to university life: I look 18, I'm
at the bottom of the tenure totem pole and I am a woman. Could be all
three, could be none could be some of the above factors. A relationship
between dicosurse and status of those participating in discourse does not -
in my view- necessarily imply cause or motive.

And my professional experience has also been that at this level female
academics are as willing to pull rank and attempt to make me conform in
dicosure and behavior to some notion of the rules of hierarchy as any of
the men.

What does truly offend me as a blatanly sexist activity is the tendency to
ask women who are applying for jobs or fellowships about their marital
situation and responsibilities. Even thoguh it is illegal to ask the
candidate such things (though I can name 5 young female colleagues who were
asked directly in interviews) - I have been on more than one reviewl panel
for scholarships for foreign study where that has come up after the
candidate leaves the room (e.g. - well she checked she did not want to
bring her kids but what is she going to do with them? I don;t think she
realizes how tough that will be. ETC., etc).

Somehow this line of reasoning never comes up with men who also indicate
they have children .

Antoinette Errante

Antoinette Errante Tel: (614) 292-3609
Assistant. Professor
Educational Policy Fax: (614) 292-7900
& Leadership
Ohio State University errante.1@osu.edu
29 W. Woodruff
Columbus, Ohio 43210

=C9 melhor ser alegre que ser triste; alegria =E9 melhor coisa que existe
=C9 assim como a luz no cora=E7=E3o
Mas pr'a fazer o samba com beleza =E9 preciso um bocado de tristeza
Precisa um bocado de tristeza se n=E3o n=E3o se faz o samba n=E3o
- Vin=EDcius de Mor=E3es -