Over at Slate, Gretchen Rubin describes her “Fourteen Tips for Running a Better Meeting” (here). One of her tips is, “If some people hesitate to jump in, find a way to draw them out.” I must admit that I immediately thought of the Mars-Venus spin: “Hey, guys! If you close your mouths, women will participate.”
I recently attended a “brown bag” faculty discussion where the topic was a complex and potentially controversial curricular proposal that had been announced recently. Instead of the usual raise-your-hand or keep-a-cue methods of participation, the moderator deployed one of those “let’s go around the room” strategies. It had a groovier vibe than most faculty meetings, which isn’t to everyone’s taste, but the technique did elicit participation from faculty members who don’t otherwise participate in battles for air-time. Are those faculty members always women, whether at my school or at other schools? Of course not, but I am interested in the possibility that women — even highly-educated, well-trained lawyers — might participate more actively if we used a modified version of this technique for other faculty discussions.