Request for advice

Wahine writes:

I would very much like to submit this to the forum for help/opinion/suggestion (and I don’t think this is a unique problem, so maybe suggestions will help all):

I am organising an event which is advertised on our university website. Today I received an email: someone had seen the advert on the website and asked for further information. To my considerable surprise, the email was addressed to ‘Mrs. [my name]’. I checked the website; had there been a mistake in the conference announcement? No, the website reads: “for enquiries, please contact Dr [my name+email]”.

I don’t need to elaborate my irritation. I, and many with me, always use ‘Dr’ when in doubt. But clearly this enquirer (and it was a he) upon reading my name not only completely overlooked my clearly advertised title, but then inferred that despite working in a university I (1) would be most likely not have a degree, and (2) would prefer to be addressed as a married woman.

Here is my question: I need to respond to this guy (because I will invite him to the workshop). What do I say? My first thought was to let it slide – but shouldn’t I kindly point out to him what he has done/overlooked? What I would really like to achieve is for him to reflect on whether he would also have overlooked the title if I’d had a male name – and if not, to consider what that says about his implicit perceptions/ideas/biases. How do I bring this up though? I can’t think of any way really that is NOT likely to achieve the opposite of what I intend (i.e. reflection and progress) – and will just anger him/make him feel under attack. So my second though still is to let it slide. Any suggestions? Please????? I am sure I am neither the first to encounter this, nor will I be the last.

Incidentally, the enquirer is a lecturer in another university – which makes it all the more worrying. One really hopes that he does not let the same bias affect his judgment of or behaviour towards his own students.

Any thoughts, wise readers?

Work study

You may have heard about the study carried out by Catherine Hakim, which claims to debunk some entrenched feminist myths. Hakim claims, amongst other things, that women do not do more work than men, when both paid and unpaid work such as childcare and housework are added together. (She does state, however, that this isn’t the case for couples with young children where both partners are in full time employment. Women do tend to do more work than men in that situation.) She also claims that ‘Individualisation frees people from the influence of social class, nation, and family. Personal life goals become more important. Men and women do not only gain the freedom to choose their own biography, values and lifestyle, they are forced to make their own decisions because there are no universal certainties or collectively agreed conventions, no fixed models of the good life.’ I’m rather dubious about this claim, since it seems to ignore the fact that there are still quite rigid, gendered expectations on men and women in our society. I haven’t got time to write any more about this now – I should have started work about an hour ago (oops), but you can read more for yourselves here. A copy of the paper can also be downloaded from that site.