Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Why Academe is a Dual-Edged Sword

I love working in the realm of ideas, whether it be teaching, research, or writing. At times, though, there are downsides.

The academy has become fixated on the concept of "diversity." This is not news. However, it has gotten to the point now where people are not even trying to hide it anymore.

On a prominent academic announcement site (kind of like Craig's List for scholarly opportunities) we find this gem, posted yesterday. Here is the title:

"Urgently needed a female commentator for an AHA panel entitled 'Conquest of the City -- Patterns of Monarchic Ceremonial Employment of Urban Space'"

I have had urgent needs for females before I suppose, but one wonders why a female commentator is necessary? Are they expecting this woman to engage in some sort of ritualistic demonstration to go along with the theme of the panel? Will she ask the audience to eat cake?

Then, once inside this post, which in all fairness sounds like a laudable and worthy panel topic, you find this:

"Four male scholars studying imperial processions and ceremonies are looking for a female commentator to gain acceptance for their panel at next year's AHA."

Ah yes. The big, bad American Historical Association won't accept a panel unless it has a female. As if, for some reason, a presentation is intellectually dishonest if it is composed on males only. The feminine voice evidently is short hand for a differing set of ideas or opinions to broaden the panel and make it somehow more genuine.

At times, I just have to shake my head.


Rev. Joshua said...

While I understand the desire for having as many varying viewpoints on a discussion panel as possible, all this does is create a token position to be filled based solely on gender which is as insulting as being barred from the discussion based solely on gender.

Ron said...

Apparently I am ahead of the curve. See this story at Inside Higher Ed:

Rev. Joshua said...

SGM: We're so far ahead of the curve we're like the scabs on the bleeding edge. Except not so gross-sounding.