“The Women’s Committee is a Circle Jerk”

I have a backlog of your emails to get to, but this one I post today because the subject line of the email was so hilarious that my laughter almost caused Mr. Isis to put his car off the road. It could only have been more glorious if the letter writer referred to it as a game of soggy biscuit.

I have posted the emailer’s letter below, but I’ll offer my brief advice, which I compose from my iPad as I sit in my inlaws’ living room. I had to travel to the land of my inlaws because Tiny Diva hit me in the face and broke my front tooth. The land of my inlaws is the land of my dentist and this warranted an immediate visit because I can’t attend EB looking like a subject from that Real Hobo Scrotum blog…

First here’s the letter…

My -ology society has a committee, as I’m sure most professional societies do, on the status of women. Every year at the meeting they have talks on mentoring women, recruiting/retaining women, balance, etc. I find them somewhat helpful. BUT here’s the thing. Every single year, it’s the same group of 5 or so women who put together the seminars, who are on the panels for discussions, etc.–and it’s been this way for at least the last 5-6 years since I’ve been attending these.

I have submitted ideas for topics of interest to women to the organizing committee several times. I have contacted the Status of Women committee directly to see if there are ways I can be involved. No responses to the latter despite multiple emails, and my ideas for the former have been uniformly shot down. (Quite possibly they just suck, which is OK, but I don’t understand why no one will take me up on my volunteer offers?) It’s frustrating to see the same women promoted again and again every year, when IMO one of the things this committee could be doing is bringing in new voices to be heard and new women to help lead this. Any ideas on other avenues to go down to bring some new ideas and women (or men!) into the fold? I have talked to others who feel the same way but none of us seem able to penetrate the current clique.


Frustrated Female

But, I digress. My advice to our letter writer is to let the clique women go. Don’t get me wrong. I think serving your scientific society can be very valuable. But, just because your talents aren’t wanted on one committee doesn’t mean that you can’t do things for women. Every time you write a paper or get a grant or successfully mentor a female student, it is a service to women in science. Getting promoted to associate professor and full professor is a service to women in science. And there is much to be done in other societies and at the local level. I think you can only try to open a door so many times before you have to go try another door. There are lots of doors that would value the contributions of this letter writer. I can say that because I know the identity of this letter writer and she is super “fuck yeah.” I basically want to be her when I grow up.

If its really important to promote these initiatives within this society, then one option is to get on another committee with similar objectives – maybe an education committee or membership or communications. Then, do your subversive work there. Make your suggestions and implement your plans because a lot of things that we think of as women’s issue are probably of interest to these committees. Then these committees will drag the cliquey broads along with them. And, you’ll be a rock star in a much broader sense.

Most important, don’t let this make you lose your groove. if you can’t penetrate a clique, make your own clique. And, if you can’t quite find the clique that suits your needs, blaze your own trails. Blazing your own trails is much more fun than a circle jerk. And much less messy.

Or, so I’ve been told.

4 responses to ““The Women’s Committee is a Circle Jerk”

  1. Juniper Shoemaker

    Blazing your own trails is much more fun than a circle jerk.

    Straight up.

  2. All in favor of FF making her own committee, but she doesn’t also have to make her own “clique”. Make it a cool committee that does listen to outside suggestions, is open to rotating volunteers, etc.

  3. Another brilliant post, Oh Brilliant Goddess. Absolutely on the money. (I should think of another analogy, shouldn’t I, since there is probably not much money in science these days).

    I TOTALLY agree – doing the best thing for the next generation of women is just doing what YOU do to the best of your ability, and advertising to the world that you have done it. It does NOT have to be anything with the title ‘women’ or ‘women’s committee’ in it. In fact, the opposite – it is sometimes better to just mix it in with the rest of the masses, whatever gender, age or ethnicity they happen to be, and just be scientists together. At least it is more fun that way.

    And @ anon – making your own committee can sometimes just be a committee of one. If you have an idea, just go and implement it (even if it is just writing an article for your ‘ology association journal). Or at least suggest it to someone with the total authority to implement it. Saves time with meetings and trying to persuade others.

    Remember this: it is more satisfying to apologise after you have done something, than to ask permission to do it in the first place.


  4. My only comment is I feel bad for the tooth thing. Baby B gave me a 4mm long corneal abrasion a few months ago with one of her talons and then vomited on me immediately thereafter. That shit hurt.

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