What the hell is wrong with men on faculty committees? Especially the older, straight, white men. I mean, DAMN!
After all of the great posts about committee meetings and their limitations and abuses, I felt the need to bitch about my own recent committee meeting experiences and my encounters with a kind of academic man I like to call the Artful Dodger.
Okay, so here is the scenario. As we wrap up the first meeting of new committee to change the world, we start to review and assign the list of tasks we identified to complete before the next meeting. Of course, a few people step up to take on tasks, but those few are women. I suggest that one of the senior white men take on another task, which I swear to God was something as mundane as "ask someone for a document," and the Artful Dodger quickly passes it off to a junior white man. As a result, Dr. Dodger has no responsibilities as we walk away. I am irritated, because I realize that this happens in almost every damn meeting I attend outside my department. Hell, it occurs at some meetings inside my department, too!
I know I am not alone in my frustration. I complain about this phenomenon with women I know all the time.
My favorite recent story about this phenomenon actually happened to a friend at an LGBT meeting. The committee members agreed to pass around the responsibility for taking minutes during their long-as-hell meeting, so no one would get stuck taking minutes the whole time. After three women took minutes, the laptop was passed to the next woman... bypassing 2 Artful Dodgers in the process. That woman, a no-nonsense feminist, said that she would not take notes until at least one of the men had done so. The silence, she told me, laughing, could have been cut with a knife and went on for more than a minute. Eventually, one of the younger gay men anted up and did the typing.
This gendered division of labor--even among the queers--led us to wonder, what happens in all-male groups? Do they forego minutes and between meeting tasks? Do they just pass these along to a secretary or intern?
I rejoice in my few white male colleagues who will step up to the plate and do the shit work, but there are far too few of them. I want to shake those Artful Dodgers by their lapels and say, "This is a working group. That means that everyone in the group is supposed to work, dammit!" Instead, of course, I bitch about it to the gf, who tells me that the situation is the same in business meetings and on nonprofit boards, which does little to pacify me.
So, I am going to take my anger and turn it into something useful. Beware straight white men! I will be watching you to see if you step up in our meetings. If you don't, I predict that I will be that bitch who points out that you don't seem to have a task, and asks you what you would like to do. That should win friends, eh? And even scarier, I soon will be chairing a committee, and I will make sure that each Artful Dodger gets a freakin' assignment to complete. And if you don't get it done, the women on the committee will not fix it for you! No, we will leave it on your desk, let you know publicly that we are waiting on you, and shame you into finally getting it done. Your Artful Dodger days have come to an end!
This has been a public service announcement.