For the past week there has been a phrase which I have been unable to get out of my head.
The exact phrase is the one written as the title of the post but let me give you some context.
In my current role I serve as a career/transfer counselor as well as the chief judicial officer for the College for all 3 campuses for all 17,000 students. The only other conduct officer, who supersedes me, is my boss the Dean of Judicial Affairs. I have come to love my work within the field of student conduct and love that I serve as the chief judicial officer at my current institution. My students have come to know me in this role as well but not as an authoritarian. Rather I am the one they seek out when they are in need of guidance, but of course there are always those students that will never get it no matter how hard you try. Those cases are the ones that cause me to lose sleep at night.
Anyway, this past week while I was assisting one of my female students with her common application paperwork she thanked me for my time as she knew I was quite busy. She began to leave my office and said that she hoped I had a good afternoon. I responded with we will see how it goes as I have to meet with a few students about their behavior in class. She asked me why I had to meet with these students and I stated that it was a part of my job as the chief judicial officer of the College. Her exact response to me was “you’re a woman you shouldn’t do that”. I wish I could say that my jaw didn’t drop and that I didn’t scrunch my eyebrows but I did. I hate to admit that I got defensive when I asked the student “Excuse me? What do you mean by that?” She replied, again, with “You’re a woman, you shouldn’t have to meet with those boys about their behavior. A man should be doing that”.
It was in that exact moment that I realized as far as we, women, have come we have so much further to go. As a woman not only am I put into the minority category of 1. women 2. person of color but also 3. a young professional. There are many times that I feel I have come so far in my career in a short period of time and in my education as a current doctorate student but it is moments like this that I wonder if I will always be seen in one of the above mentioned categories no matter what I accomplish.
These moments replay in my head as I struggle to balance work, life, and school. I wish I could say that I don’t begin to question many aspects of my own self in these moments but it is hard not to. I wonder what it will take to win the fight against categorizing ourselves as women, persons of color and/or young professionals. But the reality is we will always be in a category. The only way to combat the “norm” or the “stereotype” is by actively doing what we love and breaking the boundaries of our work.
I will continue to work in the field of student affairs and work as a conduct officer because it is what I love to do. I will prep myself for further commentary or questions of me in my work and my role and know that I am educating my students, my peers, and my colleagues 1 case at a time.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Ann Marie Klotz on Women in Student Affairs