Advice on getting an extra 'boost'

Aug 18 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

Someone in the blogosphere wrote to me to express disappointment about being favored for something because "she's the woman applying".

The caveat before I start: I am only dealing with the woman/gender aspect, but this certainly applies to people of color. I am not a person of color, and if some of this is useful to POC, I am glad. But I am not going to pretend that I have the background to write to people of color on this issue.

I know my blogmom Isis dealt with this problem, and dealt with it well. She lives at the corner of intersectionality and hilarity and far more wise than I about these things. But I can't find her post. So I'm going to paraphrase her.

1. Isis the Scientist: for every "extra" door opened for you, there have been dozens that were slammed.
2. Bette Midler: Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. - Laugh all the way to the <insert well deserved and earned Good Thing> 🙂


The popular view of Isis.


How I think of Bette Midler.

The world is not a fair place. And its a hugely random place. Lots of times the dice are loaded against you. More often they just roll against you. In a perfect, fair world, no one would get benefit or penalization for things irrelevant to the position under consideration (race, gender, gender identity, religion, color, shoe size, and well, looks... I maintain that "ugly" women face huge discrimination, where "ugly" and "beauty" get defined by often-male-dominated-societal standards - but that's another post).

As women, we often see the glass as nearly empty and we see it as our own fault. When good things happen we clutch at our impostor syndrome. Nothing good that comes our way is because of who we are and that when we don't get something its because we just weren't good enough, and that the (often) man making the decision is smarter than us. I've written some about this in the past here and here.

I maintain that we are not so good at taking a step back and evaluating things dispassionately - without passion - for ourselves, in our own heads. [insert small generational thought here: I have heard many "olders" say that this is not true of todays "youngers" who see themselves as entitled. This may be true of some, but I've worked with enough young women now to know that the this issue is still there across the generations]

Take my friend/colleague's disappointment. Maybe it is simply that all candidates are equal or near equal and that having a woman get this thing is an important signal to the rest of the world. Why be disappointed? You have earned this. Maybe my friend isn't quite as good in some ways. But so what? Would the person be supporting her if the person thought she was going to be a disaster? People are not ceteris paribis experiments. My friend has these strengths to bring to the table, and the other guy has other strengths. How you rank those strengths is difficult; its not a temperature on a thermometer. It may be impossible to rank. And maybe its so important to have a different looking face at the table that the rest of the criteria sink below importance.

My bottom lines, and I have several are: 1) if you think you're good enough to do the job, hang onto that. 2) other people will weigh other criteria for decisions. get over it. 3) Sometimes its fine to accept a boost. You don't always have to work twice as hard to get half as far.


5 responses so far

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Take the accolades and run.

  • Anon says:

    Love all three bottom lines, plus the monkey's.

    If offered, I may in the end not accept the job, but having read this I will feel proud of that offer and will try to keep impostor syndrome at bay.

    And absolutely yes, women who don't meet conventional standards of pretty have a hard row to hoe.

    • potnia theron says:

      Serena & Venus Williams have battled the looks issue their whole life. For them, it is also compounded with being women of color. Nevertheless they are gorgeous, and too much of the world just cannot see it.

      As for jobs: do what you need to do. make the best choice you can. BUT... remember you were offered it because you are good. you are good.

  • Anon says:

    Since I don't have a regular blog where I can rant about such things, I'm going to be that person who just keeps commenting....

    The latest update is that the dean has decided that the best approach is to hire the person who will best "unite the department". Attitudes and opinions of the other faculty are being collected in informal conversations with the dean.

    The other candidate for the position is a respected colleague and a friend. He and I typically agree in department debates, he and I have tended to be vocal about the same issues in similar ways. There is no possible way I will campaign against said person. Not only would it be a shitty thing to do, I'm ambivalent enough about the job that I just can't bring myself to do that.

    The most annoying thing is not that I likely won't get the position (relief!), but the reason for it. Because I'm a woman who speaks her mind.

    I'm being considered, apparently, because I'm a woman and I'll be turned down for the same reason. Many in the department will have found me being vocal, and the way in which I'm vocal, much more aggravating than the fact that the other candidate, a white heterosexual male, has been equally vocal in about equal measures of calm logic and irritation as I have shown.


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