Adult 612, reflection 2

Female AstronautsEarlier today I posted something I experienced in Adult 642. A recent project turned into a huge learning experience that applied to Groups and Teams as well. I probably should have picked up my text and reread some of the earlier chapters.

I’ve realized that I struggle with many aspects of the role of leader, like making decisions, enforcing rules (it’s so easy to make exceptions, even for a policy-lover like me!), creating goals and staying organized. And you know what? I did it. Our project was amazing. I’m very lucky to work with two amazingly smart ladies on these design challenges week to week.

While I won’t get into feminist theory here, I think a great deal of my apprehension of leadership is based on a societal structure of gender norms. Also, none of my jobs required me to lead. I’d go so far as to say I have been put in subservient roles in my work life. These lady astronauts serve as a huge inspiration to me to improve myself and my career prospects!

One of the things I’m experiencing in this program is that I’m learning a large number of life lessons as well that I can apply to struggles I have at work, in school and in my home life. I could have easily have gotten a master’s degree in English, and it would be very similar to my undergraduate work. However, I don’t think I would be learning how to teach, create activities, work in group, design curriculum and a number of other lessons, in addition to all the theory I’ve also read and enjoyed.

Photo of the first class of female astronauts from NASA on flickr’s Creative Commons.


3 thoughts on “Adult 612, reflection 2

  1. It’s interesting that you should feel that you may be placed in subservient roles in higher education. I guess that those of us on the outside assume, or better hope, that this wouldn’t happen. yet it happens everywhere, yes? I’m really looking forward to taking this class next spring. I took a graduate level Group Dynamics class in 1996, which seems like a very long time ago. We had a very lively group and my group’s project was a real eye opener. (I don’t think that the prof was expecting the outcome that unfolded.) Never the less, it was certainly an experience.

    • I love working in higher ed but it is not perfect by any means. People seem like it is a utopia–granted, I work on the same floor with some amazing people who have taught me so much–but it has the same problems as other companies and state agencies.

      I love Groups and Teams! It’s really interesting to explore the theory of groups–it’s made working in groups a richer experience.

  2. Melissa, I too have often wondered and been apprehensive on the idea of women in leadership roles (myself in particular) when underneath the umbrella of “societal structure of gender norms.” Being at the tail end of the “boomer” generation, I can attest to the changes that have occurred (albeit very slowly) over the last number of decades. I remember when I was young, 18, and looking for both a job and a place to live. Both individuals who I interviewed with (apartment complex manager and job interviewer) felt compelled to ask “if I intended on becoming pregnant” and how that would influence my choice of career or, simply, a one bedroom apartment.

    A number of years later, I was interviewing for a legal secretary job at a small firm in San Francisco. The lawyer that I would presumably be working for (if I got the job), asked me (he knew that I was married, as I check off the “married” box on the application): what does your husband do for a living? I responded with complete honesty: “my husband is permanently disabled, having been struck by a drunk driver, nearly losing his life, sustaining a broken neck (as a result), walks with a cane, and is having permanent cognitive deficits as a result.” That “shut” him right down! As it was a totally unexpected answer to a question that was designed to determine my relative financial/social position within a patriarchal society. The bottom line: none of these so called “questions” were ever directed at my then husband (ie, “what does your wife do?” or “what if ‘you’ become pregnant?”). Society has changed very slowly, but questions such as these, are no longer acceptable, and illegal.

    As far as women in leadership… things, again, are changing slowly. Perhaps societies in general, and as a whole, take time to change the very infrastructure that is so inherent to begin with. There is good news: for example, the Dean’s Office at the VCU School of Medicine is comprised of nearly all women fulfilling Assistant and Associate Dean positions. We have a woman (Hillary Clinton) with the potential to run and succeed at gaining the Presidency. A society does not change as fast as we would like. But, the in-roads are there: the “chipping away” has been started, and I truly believe that it has a momentum that will see women in places of considerable leadership/power in the next decade or two. By that time, I will be in my 70s…. and it will be a “far cry” from a distant past where the most important questions to a young woman, involved pregnancy and what her husband did for a living.

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