Taking On Roles That”Women”Aren’t Supposed To Take On

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A friend of mine, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Kay Bailey Hutchison, and she and KBH debated last night on San Antonio ‘s PBS station. The debate was sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

This morning, I saw the following blog post in Dallas. I can’t believe what I read there (and yes, I commented there too!).. Holy cow:talking about Barbara Radnofsky’s husband and the fact that she didn’t take his name? In 2006? Unlike the Houston blog, which pretty much stuck to the issues, the Dallas blog dismayed me.

It reminded me of what a lot of us face when we take on roles that”women”aren’t supposed to take on:and then when we don’t fit the stereotypes of how we’re”supposed”to behave. Whether it’s in business, in politics, or in academia, we’re still getting the double-whammy. We’re damned if we do (take on the role), and damned if we don’t (do it the way that a”normal woman”would do it). I remember certain people who told me I should be more”nurturing”as dean. I’m fairly nice, and I like praising people’s accomplishments. But I’m not:and never have been:the”hanging out in the faculty lounge”kind of person. And that hurt me, because some of my predecessors (at both schools) were much better than I was about hanging out, and because I was probably saddled with the expectation that I would be more nurturing as a”woman dean.” Thank goodness that more women have become deans in the last ten years. Maybe someday people will just have expectations of us as deans, and not as”women deans.”

If you want to weigh in on a draft I’m circulating on SSRN, discussing some of what I learned as dean, the link is here. Thanks in advance.

–Nancy Rapoport

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0 Responses to Taking On Roles That”Women”Aren’t Supposed To Take On

  1. msjared says:

    “the ladies go at it” is a pretty condescending title too. yeesh.

    i’m reminded of the husband of an old friend who gave the following compliment to another woman friend of mine: “wow, you look great. like a senator’s wife or something.” she of course replied, “or a SENATOR!” gah.

    and that was only 2004. we’ve got a long way to go…

  2. NRapoport says:

    And I seem to remember Justice O’Connor talking about some schoolkids who told her that maybe she’d be famous one day–“maybe a First Lady or something.”