January 07, 2005

I want to be one of these women in my next life

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.


New Kid on the Hallway said...

jo(e), I love this, because this is how I have seen a lot of my contemporaries, too! (I would never claim to be part of this crowd myself, though, mind you.)

~profgrrrrl~ said...

Gulp. No idea how my presentations and off-the-cuff remarks come off to others, but the fashion and conference-behavior patterns you're describing here (tailored black suits, entirely wired in terms of accessories and schmoozing) ... well, it sounds mighty familiar to me.

It is interesting, though, to think of how another "look" would or would not fit one's style (style in a broad sense, not just fashion). I couldn't be one of those flowy women. I'd look and feel like a kid who borrowed mom's clothes. If I did the jaded jeans and blazer I'd look probably come across as a college kid with an attitude. Neither one really fits.

jo(e) said...

And I could never pull off the profgrrrrl look. Not even on a pseudonymous blog.

Profgrrrrl, your pseudonym is so perfect for the up and coming female professors that I've described, that now when I see one at a conference, I think, oh, there's a profgrrrrl. I was going to title this post Profgrrrrl for President.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

Kind of funny to think of my pseudonym as a classification of female professor. Not sure about the politics angle. Ruling the world doesn't sound like much fun :)

Ancarett said...

I don't think they allow you to carry and play with your own laptop when you're president. So there goes that idea!

jo(e) said...

The current president doesn't carry a laptop, but I think there are different rules for leaders who are literate.