Monday, July 10, 2006

The Woman Behind The Scenes

In a discussion on why there are comparitively fewer female Supreme Court law clerks, Ann Althouse queries the following:
On the behaviorial point, which we're discussing in the comments, let me speculate about why women might act and feel very different about being a law clerk. I'm much older than those who are doing clerkships now, but for me, being a clerk is too much like being a secretary. A guy may like the feeling of being someone's right hand man. You can say right hand woman, but it's not a normal phrase. Being a close, subordinate assistant resonates with a long line of inferior positions offered to women.

So that's my speculation: clerking doesn't seem so strikingly advantageous to a woman the way it does to a man. We may want do it because we've been told this is the best path to start your career, but something inside says I don't like the look of myself in that position.

I have no striking insight to add. The only reason this grabbed me, though, is because of my current position as President/Coach of the Carleton debate team. I have zero organizational skills whatsoever, so I said out the outset that my role would be limited to actually coaching--as in, this case is good or this rebuttal needs work. The administrative stuff is being run by a friend of mine. She's responsible for, among other things, getting people registered for tournaments, planning trips, making sure people meet on time, that sort of thing. Her official title is "administrator" or something like that, but in casual parlance I like to refer to her as my "second-in-command," "lieutenant," or "whip." Are those acceptable gender-neutral substitutes for "right-hand man" (which, as a lefty, I don't like anyway)?

1 comment:

Disenchanted Dave said...

I vastly prefer coaching debaters (and writing files, etc.) to dealing with paperwork and stuff as well.

With regard to terminology for your team's administrator, have you considered the question of whether you really want the title to reflect a command-style hierarchy based on the military? Such hierarchies are great for certain things (like militaries), but they don't always produce the friendliest environments.