11 November 2007

Airport Blogging, Once More with Content

I'm returning from a very interesting symposium on women in higher education held at Fancy Pants University in a reasonably crunchy granola town (so I felt quite at home with my crunchy granola blog persona). Some observations, some more serious than others:
  • There are really only about 20 people in the country who work in health food stores, and they magically circulate among the stores. They all look the same--the guy with the long pony tail and the tie-dyed shirt, the guy in lederhosen that somehow looks cool, the gal with long hair and an Indian print dress....I walk into any such store and recognize everyone, even if I've never been before.
  • It is no fun to have a cold sore on the weekend you are seeing many former classmates.
  • There are, according to the speaker I heard on Title IX, about 3 million girls playing high school sports and less than 200,000 playing NCAA sports. Don't let anyone tell you that college women have no interest in sports.
  • While there were a considerable number of "follow your dreams, all it takes is passion and perseverance to get where you want to go" sorts of presentations (which were somewhat inspirational even though a sociological voice in my brain was quibbling along the way), there was also ample evidence that gender matters these days. Some of the anecdotes the sports lawyer who spoke on Title IX told were quite shocking (like the fact that a campus administrator at a reasonably well-known western state institution was sponsoring an "ugly female athlete day" well into the 1990s.
  • I heard some remarks by a biology professor which included the story about how when she was pregnant with her second child, around 1990, an anonymous idjit put a book on birth control in her departmental mailbox.
  • Despite the fact that I really never liked playing team sports--in part because I am slow and don't have the greatest hand/eye coordination, in part because no one ever really taught me how to play various team sports and I don't like trying new things in groups--I found myself wishing that I had played a sport in college. The value of connecting with a good coach and teammates really came out in a lot of the conversation at the athletic sessions. I think it's great for girls and young women to participate in organized activities that help them connect with mentors in different ways, and I have a renewed appreciation for sports.
  • I am amazed by the number of women I met who have parlayed fascinating careers on meandering paths. I took a very direct route to what I do: college, a year off working on campus, grad school, 3 years of non-tenure track faculty work, then tenure-track work. I've moved into an area of English studies that most of my undergraduate faculty still haven't heard of, but still, it's been a pretty direct path. I do love what I do, but I am a bit envious of the people who have worked various international and public policy advocacy work into their careers. I want Curious Girl to somehow have the freedom and imagination to discover jobs and dreams that she doesn't already know exist. (One of the panelists on women and business pointed out that the jobs our daughters will have one day will include many jobs that don't even exist yet, because things are changing so quickly.)
  • I am also amazed by the qualities of students at today's FPU. They are smart, savvy, and amazingly overscheduled. While that's a problem in many respects, it's also very impressive.
I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again tonight. Home will be good. I miss Politica and CG!


Arwen said...

Enjoy being home!

We have those health food store workers, too. So they're international...
Well, except for the leiderhosen. I've never seen that.

I'm glad there are those who have found a home after meandering career paths. I've yet to meander to the place I most want to be.

Magpie said...

I never played real team sports, but I did crew in college - it was dorm crew and it was a way to get gym credit for a student-run uncoached activity. And it was damned fun, even at the crack o' dawn.

susan said...

Arwen, I'm quite sure you've seen the lederhosen, b/c lederhosen probably isn't the right word. But trust me, you've seen them.

Magpie, crew is just what I'm wishing I'd done! It's never too late, actually--someone in my knitting group has taken up rowing recently. Not that I'm likely to, but it's nice to know I could if I wanted.

PPB said...

I have the same feelings about sports, I wish I had done it. It wasn't part of my family culture. I don't even remember tossing a ball with my family ever!

I wish I'd done it, but I'm not about to go join a team now.

Sounds like a fascinating conference.

You were in my town? At my health food store? Can you tell the woman in the batik dress to reduce the patchouli? It makes me sneeze.

niobe said...

My roommates did crew and recruited me, since I was small and light, to be the cox. It was great fun, and, though I didn't get the workout, I also wasn't so exhausted that I would fall asleep in class, the way my roommates did.