It’s no coincidence that the women’s caucus workshop was about mentoring: I had proposed the topic because I have always found the women’s caucus in my professional organization to be amazingly reassuring, kind of the way Bitch apparently is to a lot of people. And this is precisely because the old-school feminists who founded the caucus tell their stories. They put together workshops that are not on their”real”areas of expertise, but are about academia more generally. They deliberately refuse to pay attention to”who one is,”in the status sense that often goes on at academic conferences, where people will glance at your nametag and institutional affiliation to see if you are someone who is”worth”talking to, or if you’re just nobody. The women in my discipline’s women’s caucus glance at your nametag too–and then they talk to you even if you are nobody. In fact, they remember your name the next year. They sit at your table in the women’s caucus luncheon, solicit your ideas for next year, and put you forward to chair workshops when the idea is approved. And when you, nobody, email some of the most important women in your field to ask them to participate, they agree to do so immediately. And then you are one of them.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I always go to the Women’s Section events at the AALS, and you should too if you don’t already.