During her review of the MLA, Dr. Crazy made some pretty astute and funny observations about the way people dress at conferences. At first I was horrified to realize that the way I dress (jeans, usually with a blazer) marks me as someone old and jaded, but upon reflection, I think maybe she is on target. I am old and jaded.
Here's a new category of conference goers I have seen emerge over the last ten years: the Up and Coming Young Female Professors. They dress in suits, often, or some version of that, often in conservative colours like navy blue or black, and yet somehow radiate a sense of high fashion. I'm not sure how they achieve this. Maybe it's the accessories. Somehow, their hair always looks good, even though they are staying in a hotel that features dry air that creates static electricity for everyone else and makes my hair look like shit. These women are immune to static electricity. Sometimes their presentations can sound a bit like they might be reading a chapter of their dissertation - incredibly dense and not easy for a listener to grasp - but when they depart from the text or answer a question from the crowd, they are amazingly articulate, smart, poised, and self-confident. They are able to shmooze at parties until the wee hours of the morning and yet appear at 8 am sessions, all bright and articulate, with their hair still looking good, sustained by endless cups of coffee. They carry laptops computers, talk on cell phones in the corridors, and the technology always works for them. Despite a conference climate where in-focus projectors seem to break down about half the time, these Up and Coming Professors never seem to have any trouble with their Power Point presentations.
These women amaze me. I'm not sure what they are doing in academia but I think some of them ought to go into politics. I'd like to see them running the country.