So What Am I, Chopped Liver?

chopped-liver-2

So What Am I, Chopped Liver?

The first time I can remember feeling unequal was in college, in Modern American Literature class. I remember the teacher (male) asking questions and I would usually raise my hand and answer first. I would make a point about whatever we had been reading and there would be a moderate reaction on the part of the teacher and the mainly male members of the class.

Half an hour later, after much discussion, invariably, one of the male members of the class would repeat what I had said as his own opinion and everyone would laud what he had to say as insightful and brilliant and everyone would agree!

This happened time after time. It was as though none of them really listened to what I said, or perhaps that their minds weren’t ready to accept it unless they went through a period of inductive reasoning first and they needed all the accumulated comments of the class to bring them to acknowledge what I had known from the beginning.

What it felt like, however, was that they put no credence in the ideas of a woman. This is not the only time I have noticed this. It happens now and then in the small poetry workshop I am a member of. I am really curious about whether any other woman has ever noticed this same phenomena.

The Prompt: Unequal Terms—Did you know today is Blog Action Day? Join bloggers from around the world and write a post about what inequality means to you. Have you ever encountered it in your daily life?

15 thoughts on “So What Am I, Chopped Liver?

  1. lifelessons Post author

    Ann: So perhaps it isn’t a male/female thing, but rather a matter of inductive/deductive reasoning? The thing is, that it is always a man who repeats what I’ve said and you are right–men and women alike recognize the truth the second time around.

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  2. dogear6

    I notice it at work all the time and it frustrates me to no end. I haven’t figured out a consistent solution to it either. Lately, I just don’t say as much and if a good idea doesn’t come to the table, tough.

    Nancy

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Nancy, look at Sandy’s comment. She has the best answer to the problem I’ve ever seen. Thanks for your comment. Strange that I’ve never mentioned this to another woman to see her response. I thought I was the only one! Judy

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      1. dogear6

        Sandy’s answer is a good one, but most of the meetings I am move too fast to wait to be the second or third. I liked your answer above also re the inductive / deductive reasoning. I think it’s also the factor of the good old boys club, although like Ann above, I’ve experienced it with female management as well.

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  3. SandySays1

    I’ve seen the same thing in meetings both business and otherwise. An example- I promoted a woman (in the 70’s) to a managerial position on a level where “all males” previously attended meetings. At first, the lady (very intelligent and experienced) made good suggestions and there was a discount factor, no doubt about it. As I said, the lady was very intelligent and quickly adjusted her participation. She consciously made an effort to never to be first or second to offer suggestions, phrased her suggestions as “questions,” and solicited others to add to her idea. Within ten months her ideas were one of the three most solicited and revered of the fourteen person management committee.

    After lauding her for her skillful handling of the situation and apologizing for some of my peers initial behavior, I asked her how she formulated her strategy. Her enlightening answer (shortened and paraphrased) was – “I knew there was antipathy and skepticism in the group and realized I’d have to “earn my spurs.” Part of it was that I wear a bra and a big part of it was that I was new. I knew if I was always first to offer I’d come off as a smart ass, the last thing a person entering a new group wants particularly if there’s doubt about them. I knew my ideas were as good as anyone and if could get them to listen they’d accept them because we all wanted the same result. Thankfully, you didn’t do what I was scared that you would … To try to push me down their throats. They’d have been resentful and I’d never have been viewed as equal. I had to earn my status, not inherit it.”

    As I said, she’s a superior individual.

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  4. Martha Kennedy

    I had a big shock when I transferred from a small (600 students) women’s college to the state public university (28000 students). Men did all the speaking up in class. Women sat there seldom saying anything. It was then I understood why it was so important to my mom that I go to a woman’s college, but you know, I was more or less thrown out…

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  5. Terri Webster Schrandt

    Great piece! Readers of Sheryl Sandburg’s book Lean In may recognize how many women, due to lack of confidence, will sit in the back of the room rather than lean in at the table. Women have been “trained” to be quiet rather than be “bossy!” Women need to empower themselves to “lean in” and be assertive!

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  6. Marilyn Armstrong

    Yes, I’ve noticed it, though I don’t think it’s based on sex, more on the personalities of the guys in the group. They are self-important and convinced they are the only people who have anything worthwhile to say. And are shameless about stealing the ideas of lesser mortals.

    Lesser mortals = Anyone who isn’t me, or my boss.

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  7. Pingback: (Lack of) Equality | It's Mayur Remember?

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