I got hitched Saturday. Beforehand, I had been sheepish about telling my students I was getting married. It seemed inconsistent with my professional persona as an independent, fearless, freedom-fighting law professor. So I waited until the last possible minute to mention it. "OK, I have a quick announcement," I began a recent Criminal Law class. "I do apologize, but I have to cancel next Thursday's class because... um... well... my partner and I have decided to get married." My students then began to clap. Gads, this was worse than I'd imagined it would be. The applause grew.
Professor Muller seizes on this concept of a "professional persona." Specifically, that he doesn't conceptualize himself as having one. So, he wonders, is this a gender issue, or him being oblivious, or Professor Anderson being weird, or what?
I think there are almost definitely gender elements to this split, though as in all such things it's difficult to tell in an individual case what is personal choice and what is societal pressure. I know that I have a good idea of how I want to perceived as a professor when I enter academia (brilliant, fair, and a mix of scary, intimidating, and respected); a perception that (I hope!) doesn't really represent how I act in private life. But for women, such dreams aren't just idle fantasy, they're professional survival skills. To put it very simply, while everyone is bound by societal convention to some degree, women have a far smaller box to play in then do men. Thus, it is more likely that women will either a) find that their natural personality falls outside "acceptable" parameters, or b) be more cognizant of the borders (and thus how they appear) because they are constantly bumping up against them.
This is all just speculation on my part of course. In any event, best wishes to the new couple!