Sunday, March 13, 2005

You know how when you buy a car you suddenly see it everywhere?

I can't be the only one who experiences the phenomenon. You buy a car, and suddenly you notice every one on the road. There are tons of them. You had never thought too much about Saturns or Audis or whatever before, but now, now your fellow enthusiast are all around you.

No sooner did Lisa and I publicly propose Bloghercon, then I start seeing gender discussions everywhere! (Well, okay, it's not like gender discussions weren't already in the news, what with Larry Summer, Carly Fiorina, Estrich vs. Kinsley and so on.)

Now, Maureen Dowd publishes an Op-Ed on the dearth of women on the "dishing it out" business.

The column kind of wavers between saying that women, by their nature, may not like the actual dishing out as much as men. BUt there's also the idea that men are much more proactive self-promoters. Which is all very ironic, given I found myself moved this morning by this piece Dave Winer wrote in 1998 about men not being good self-PR people. The thing is I buy both propositions. I think when it comes to their personal selves and their personal relationships, men may be more likely to be the "silent types" Dave describes. But when it comes to their professional selves, their public selves, I think they are more likely to be the confident and aggressive types that Maureen describes. And then of course, there are the exceptions to every single gender rule you could ever think up.

Maureen closes with this statement:

This job has not come easily to me. But I have no doubt there are plenty of brilliant women who would bring grace and guts to our nation's op-ed pages, just as, Lawrence Summers notwithstanding, there are plenty of brilliant women out there who are great at math and science. We just need to find and nurture them.

Yes, but at a certain point it's not "we" who must do so, it is a very specific "they." Dowd, in an apparent fit of "niceness", doesn't throw the gauntlet down in front of the mythic "they" (one of whom, after all is her boss.) "We" can find. "We" can nurture. "We" being men and women. But it is all for naught if the "They" who have the power to promote, advance and hire don't do so. What "we" can do is speak up. If you hear a new voice you like, whether male or female, speak up and ask to hear more. If "they" don't give that brilliant person the platform they deserve, howl with protest.

Thanks to Larry Borsato for the initial link.

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