June 21, 2012

Well-behaved women don't deserve a spot at Princeton.

The Atlantic has a long article with a title I feel like I've seen a hundred times: "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All."  It's very putting-the-duh-in-dull. I'm not saying you should read it. I just want to talk about the penultimate paragraph:
I continually push the young women in my classes to speak more. 
The author, Anne-Marie Slaughter, is a Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. Somebody please tell me why Princeton University — Princeton University! — is admitting women who need to be continually pushed to speak more. In the 21st century. They don't deserve the seats they fill. They shouldn't be coddled. They should be flunked out. You get into Princeton and you sit there too timid — or too withholding — to speak? Unacceptable. The teacher shouldn't be prodding you.
They must gain the confidence to value their own insights and questions, and to present them readily. 
Is this kindergarten? This is Princeton! How many applications for admission did Princeton turn down in the process of matriculating these ladies?

Yesterday, I saw the old bumper sticker: "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History," and we had a conversation about whether the sentiment had any relevance today. I took the position that it did, because women still succumb to the cultural expectation that they should be pleasing and well-liked. It's a problem. Get over it or don't, but why are you occupying classroom space that could be used to good effect by someone who doesn't need a university professor to nurture her to the point where she can "present" her "insights" "readily"? If you'd confessed your limitation on your application form, the university could — and should — have rejected you.
My husband agrees...
A classic feminist line!
... but he actually tries to get the young men in his classes to act more like the women—to speak less and listen more. If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. 
Yes, men. You need to back off and behave more like the women who need the professor to continually push them to value their insights so that they may present them readily. The future depends on your going beta.
We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too. We have the power to do it if we decide to, and we have many men standing beside us.
Insist. Try a petite stamping of the foot while you insist. Yes, you can, little lady. And little men: Behave yourselves!

Absurd!

217 comments:

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SGT Ted said...

Princeton is becoming more diverse in every way-- in terms of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual preference-- and yes, socio-economic class.

Like this idea. That idea isn't intellectual or smart at all. It is PC Cant, merely Received Wisdom that doesn't really hold up to scrutiny, as it is a rationalization and excuse used to discriminate against others and discard merit as a basis to pick college attendees. To beleive it is to not engage in thinking at all, but to repeat by rote an idea that has currency only on campus, where it is squawked by intellectual parrots and is never challenged.

SGT Ted said...

Likewise, I'd be disappointed if my learning was spent on minutia, details that Microsoft software can fix...

If you don't know how to spell or use correct grammar, how can you possibly know if Microsoft spellcheck is "fixing it"?

Some of the funniest memo's I've seen came from folks that relied on spellcheck for English competency.

Your comment about lack of opportunity in the Armed Forces for women is yet another ignorant idea sheltered from reality. As is your assertion that there is any sort of major push to reduce access to contraceptive birth control by conservatives.

Your assertions aren't deep thoughts; these are recitations of leftwing political talking points and propaganda that are popular on campus.

Welcome to the true arena of ideas.

Locomotive Breath said...

If such women finally do speak up, do we get to criticize what they say? Or do they get a free pass while we inflate their self-esteem.
====
The answer is no.

DRJ said...

Maybe these Princeton coeds are timid, wimpy women who are afraid they might die of shame if forced to speak in public. Or maybe they're afraid to speak because they don't agree with the campus community's politicized views. That really would be the kiss of death.

Saint Croix said...

Princeton is becoming more diverse in every way-- in terms of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual preference-- and yes, socio-economic class.

If you're so diverse why are you vomitting up shit I have heard over and over and over and over and over and over and over? For fuck's sake. How is your intellectual diversity? How is your independence of thought? What I'm hearing from the Princetom team is regurgitated leftist bile with a nice crispy coating of intellectual preening and elitist superiority.

Oh, hey, is Peter Singer still teaching infanticide up there? Dehumanizing people in order to kill them. Gee, that's original. By God, if I was in Singer's class there would be an international incident. I would bring a baby with me to class every day.

I don't know what's scarier, the empty vacuous minds of the Princeton students, or the Nazi fuckwits who are molding the clay.

Saint Croix said...

I don't know who "Princetom" is but he's an asshole, too.

JL said...

It's easy to spit out talking points and generalities. I once got an A in grad school for doing that. No research- just spouted off the top of my head for 15 minutes on a topic I had studied as an undergrad, and opened it up for others to spout off. No paper was required- I got an A for no prep work at all. The professor loved the way I encouraged everyone to engage in the discussion. I did that to cover up the fact that I had no in depth analysis to offer.

To formulate a well thought out opinion requires- well thinking it out- which takes time and effort. It's why even though the Supreme court may have decided Obamacare on the first day of deliberation, it takes weeks to write the opinions.

My point- I get what Princetonian was trying to say. When you have a lot to say it may be difficult to know where to begin speaking. Which is why a good teacher will see that everyone is engaged in discussion- the non-stop blatherers and the ones trying to learn to gather their thoughts amidst the chatter.

It is indeed a valuable skill to learn to condense complex ideas into talking points (it can get you an easy A in grad school ). But too much emphasis in school on sound bites, and less on research papers and essays, and we lose subtleties and end up with generalized mush.

I also agree with the person who said that if you don't regurgitate the liberal dogma you may end up with a worse grade. So some people may prefer to hold their tongue rather than risk censure. Of course the most valuable lesson they may have to learn in school is that bullshit is often rewarded.

Unknown said...

Having audited dozens of Princeton University undergrad classes over many years, I can safely conclude that some of the stupidest people I've ever come across are/were PU students. Be glad when they don't talk.

Inkling said...

Smart women, like smart men, focus on what they do best. About nine years ago I was involved in a legal dispute that wasn't getting settled because we three men: myself, my lawyer and the opposing counsel, couldn't agree.

The court had already tossed their lawsuit out 'with prejudice,' but it graciously agree to help work out a settlement. A judge ad litern was appointed and she was marvelous at zeroing in on the points in contention and helping us settle the matter.

She was different. We men had been too focused on dominating the conversation. She listened and within a few hours a dispute that'd gone on for over a year was over.

This isn't to say, of course, that there aren't women, who listen too little and talk too much. It's just that women should feel compelled to act like a group of men that often can't settle their disputes because they talk too much and listen too little.

Synova said...

"No research- just spouted off the top of my head for 15 minutes on a topic I had studied as an undergrad, and opened it up for others to spout off. No paper was required- I got an A for no prep work at all. The professor loved the way I encouraged everyone to engage in the discussion."

Way way back in high school I competed in a "speech" category (we didn't have a debate team) called "Discussion." There were three ways to win (and I was not at all good at it, except that it was an unpopular category so last place might be third, so the team still got good points).

Anyhow!

The three ways to win were to take the "pro" position, take the "con" position, or set yourself up as a facilitator/moderator between the other two. You would win, not by doing better at arguing one side or the other but by controlling the discussion.

Obviously it was possible to do that without the first idea about material.

johns said...

I am so agnostic on this issue of why women don't speak up in class, etc. For the first time in my entire life I discovered, by overhearing my 15-year old daugter discussing this with my wife, that women even as young as my daughter, when on a date, do not eat their meal becuase they do not want the male to see them chewing and consuming food!! This was presented to me as a well-known problem in dating becuase the female winds up very hungry at the end of the evening! If this is as widespread as I have been led to believe, it clearly calls for federal legislation to address the hunger issue involved. I can no longer make any of the generalizations about gender equality that I previously held so dear. Ann, can you help?

viator said...

It is not just Princeton.

"Though women accounted for 36% of Harvard’s Class of 2009, only 11% of the school’s Baker Scholars were female. That honor is given to students who are in the top 5% of HBS’ graduating class. Meantime, only 21% of the first year honors (for being in the top 20%) for the class were awarded to women and only 22% of the second year honors were given to women."

Class participation in your group at Harvard Business School counts for about 1/2 your grade. Less participation in vigorous class discussion means lower grades and fewer Baker Scholars for women.

Why Men Outperform Women at HBS

kmg said...

Robespierre,

Princeton's Engineering School is ranked #21, well behind Purdue, UT Austin, and U of Maryland :

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-engineering-schools/eng-rankings

Not too impressive..

Robespierre said...

@ KMG

The discussion was whether or not Princeton has an engineering school. You now see the light that it does. Mission accomplished.

Clay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clay said...

On my first night at [an extremely exclusive university that wasn't Princeton], I went back to my dorm and did all the assigned reading -- more homework than I ever had in high school. Two days later, when these classes convened again, I found out that I was the only person that had actually done the reading. Same thing for the next 4 years. It's not just women that aren't participating in class.

Princeton isn't about education. It's a 4-year country club where rich kids form the social connections with other rich kids that they need to get the best jobs on Wall Street.

Sixty-seven percent of parents sending a kid to Stanford have an income over $100K. Compare that to less than 7% of the general population. Does that sound "merit-based" to you?

Clay said...

On my first night at [an extremely exclusive university that wasn't Princeton], I went back to my dorm and did all the assigned reading -- more homework than I ever had in high school. Two days later, when these classes convened again, I found out that I was the only person that had actually done the reading. Same thing for the next 4 years. It's not just women that aren't participating in class.

Princeton is about education. It's a 4-year country club where rich kids form the social connections with other rich kids that they need to get good jobs on Wall Street.

Sixty-seven percent of parents sending a kid to Stanford have an income over $100K. Compare that to less than 7% of the general population that earns that much. Does that sound "merit-based" to you?

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