I’ve had time and access today, but not the attention span to think of something worth saying. I couldn’t think of a clever way of acknowledging Frank’s prior art on photographing the Linnaeus statue; couldn’t think of a way to connect to Chris’s latest marvels; couldn’t think of anything to say about politics or digital identity or the Anglican Communion — all because I wake up tomorrow morning at 4AM to drive my wife and daughter to Midway Airport, where they’ll catch a plane to Manchester, NH, and I won’t see them again for six weeks or so. (Even then, I’ll only spend the weekend before my birthday with Margaret, after which I’ll take Pippa home with me from Durham.)
What I meant about cheering for Halley and BlogHer was this: I’ve taught for a longish time now, and over the years have taught mostly classes that comprised a roughly even mix of women and men, some classes wherein the population tilted markedly toward the men, and a very few courses that included a preponderance of women. For whatever reason, every one of the classes in the last category worked better than all but the rarest of the mixed and male-dominant classes.
One can attribute this to any sort of factor, especially given the small sample size. For the time being, I’m inclined to think that some combination of biology, social expectations, pedagogical style, learning interests, capacities, temperaments, and subject matter converged in a mixture of which gender made a big difference. When I hear that Halley had a great time at BlogHer, it reminds me of my teaching experience. As I accumulate more varied experiences, I’ll keep my eyes open for instances that vary or reverse my expectations.
Would an all-women conference necessarily go better than a mixed conference? No.
Would an all-women class necessarily go better than a mixed class? No.
Am I surprised to hear how well BlogHer went? No.
Do I think that the gender definition of the conference was irrelevant? No.
If I keep typing, maybe I won’t have to go to the airport. . . .