Friday, August 31, 2012

Is being the token female so bad?

"Critics say the recently proposed campaign leads to tokenism, where women are invited as keynote speakers to placate concerns over gender imbalance. Worse yet, they argue tokenism casts a cloud over a woman’s seat at the table because onlookers will question whether she was included for her sex or her merit. Others say the status quo is simply unacceptable and that drastic measures — initiated by the world’s leading male philosophers, no less — must be taken." - Kathryn Blaze Carlson

Echoes of Affirmative Action here.  And also literature, I think.  There is debate about this in literature even now, I think.  When folks assemble a new literature survey book, they have to make decisions.  Do they include women nobody read when they were alive and publishing simply because they're female (and we want a more "balanced"--not necessarily accurate--representation)?  Since most women weren't educated and thus couldn't serve as an audience, does that justify inclusion of people who didn't have a wide readership because they were female?

Part of me thinks that it would really irk me to be the token female or to be suspected of being her.  However, I was quite happy to hang on to a job for years due to my disability status.  I really needed that job.  I think I would have kept it even if I was somehow only allowed to because of my chromosomes.

Am I just really inconsistent here, or is the usual war of practical and theoretical, perfect world and actual world colliding.  What are your thoughts on the topic?

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