I’ve mentioned in passing that I have a new job. I am no longer graduate student! Instead, I’m a university employee in a softly IT position.
What this means, for the purpose of this blog entry, is that I am often working with self-proclaimed Luddites who are taking their first step into using any kind of computer technology in the classroom. This is definitely the norm.
It is a norm that is not gender or age based, as far as I can tell. Of course, those in the Sciences are generally more prone to using technology in their courses so I guess we could say it’s slightly academically skewed (?).
Anyhow, we’re going to take a moment to go into anecdotal mode to begin the real conversation I’m interested in:
I was working with a slightly younger faculty member who, while very intelligent, was more Luddite than I had assumed. I made the mistake of throwing some terms around that I assumed she would know based on interactions with her husband.
Her immediate reaction, instead of asking for clarification, was to tell me that she wasn’t smart enough to understand what I was talking about.
I quickly reassured her that it was my fault for assuming her to have knowledge that I didn’t normally assume people to have but the comment stuck with me throughout my day.
The truth is, it bothered me because this is something I do all the time but it’s harder to contextualize the impact of saying these kinds of things until you see someone else, someone you respect, do it themselves. This faculty member was/is not stupid or less than in anyway for needing a little extra vocabulary lesson to get up and running with the technology I was teaching her about.
In fact, when I first started this job I was really frustrated that, at the end of the first week, I didn’t understand everything. I went home feeling like I was stupid. That was until Super-Fiance-Man informed me that I was, in fact, being too hard on myself.
So, why is it that some of the most intelligent women I know are so ready to be exactly this hard on themselves?
My immediate answer is: I don’t know.
I saw a reference to a quote once (and if anyone knows more about this PLEASE let me know) that said that our generation of feminist daughters was told that they could do anything they wanted and heard that they had to do everything.
I’m not saying that all women feel this way, or even that all smart women feel this way, but there’s a big chunk of us over-achievers that (somewhere down the line) seem to feel we have inherited the burden of all To-Do Lists in our generation. Not necessarily because we feel it’s our duty but because we feel we should be able to, right?
Alas, this has turned into another rambling post. But what I really want to say is this: you don’t need to know everything. When you’re an expert in your field (even if that is a creative field and sometimes deemed less intellectual), it’s okay not to be an expert in other fields.
The learning curve can be steep but you’ve climbed steeper before.