More on Invisibility and Apologizing

Yes, I’m sorry there’s more on this, but I have a couple of interesting links.

The first is a piece on how not to get sucked into RaceFAIL situations, written by Kate Nepveu for a talk at Boskone. While it is technically about race issues, much of what it says in equally applicable to people trying to respond to angry outbursts from any identity group. The last section is particularly to the point.

Suppose I step on someone’s foot. They say, “hey, ouch, you stepped on my foot.”

My proper response is, “Gosh, I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful.” Depending on the situation, I might add something like, “I was looking for my kid’s sneaker that she always kicks off,” or “I’ve got something in my contact,” etc.

My proper response is not, “Well, I didn’t mean to step on your foot, so why are you angry?!”

For Ian Berriman’s benefit I might also add that the proper response is not, “My foot is rigorously intellectual whereas yours is unimportant, therefore I am perfectly within my rights to tread on you.”

The other link is an article in today’s Guardian about the lack of women and minority judges in the UK. It talks about a report on the problem produced by a committee headed by Lady Neuberger. The article itself, and in particular the subhead, which I know I should not blame on the author, makes it seem like although we now have plenty of women lawyers, none of them are as good as the men. However, if you read carefully you will see that Lady Neuberger doesn’t say this. Firstly she notes that being a judge is not a career that it is easy to follow if you already happen to be a housewife and/or a mother. But the most important comment is right at the end:

But the most important category of potential judges identified is those women and minority members who don’t even think of applying because they’re sure they have no chance or don’t think of themselves as judge material, or are ignorant of the possibilities that exist, or lack the confidence to realise their own talents.

So if people still believe that society is biased, they won’t put themselves forward for such jobs. And if women are trained from birth to believe that they are inferior to men, they won’t put themselves forward for the jobs.

Similar sorts of problems may well explain why women writers are more likely to submit to lower-profile, poorer-paying markets, rather than to major publishers and magazines.

Does anyone have Neuberger’s actual report? Marjorie?

3 thoughts on “More on Invisibility and Apologizing

  1. Neuberger’s actual report is probably in Cabinet Office papers somewhere or other …

    Isn’t there only one female member of the 11 person UK Supreme Court ? Aren’t women actually in the majority in the UKs population these days, and a sizable majority of those people who are in or around their their 60s ?

    Ah,well, there’s bound to be a really good reason why there’s only one woman in the UK Supreme Court.

    1. Downloaded, thanks!

      Love this from the Executive Summary:

      there needs to be a proactive campaign of mythbusting to dispel the widespread misconceptions that are deterring good candidates from under-represented groups from coming forward.

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