I just wandered onto econjobrumors because a prominent female economist who I like a lot was quoted on a blog post with school designation different from the one I last knew her to be at and I wondered about it. So I googled. Big mistake. Now I feel really really dirty. It reminds me how horrid and misogynistic most of economics is, at least when people are allowed to post anonymously. Jeez.
The thoughts through my mind as I first read through the thread about her tenure denial and everybody bashing her were, gee, I’m glad this mob doesn’t know I even exist. I’m glad I wasn’t working at a top 5 school. I’m glad I didn’t write that popular press book that she wrote (that I could have written, but probably could not have published, and was very glad that I didn’t based on the backlash I read just on the Amazon reviews).
I don’t want to stick my neck out because I don’t want the mob to find me. I’m happy being less than the top because I see what happens to outspoken women at the top. I’m glad I’m not at a top 15 school where I would have been punished for having a baby before tenure. (The things I hear from my friends at those schools always make me glad to be someplace more supportive.)
But as happy as I am with my non-star status, I wish it weren’t that way too. I wish I could be more like her… I mean, I’d rather be more like Amy Finklestein, who I hope that nobody says anything bad about ever, but my true self is a bit more like this other woman. If I hadn’t had self-confidence beaten out of me or had that extremely scary brush with infamy in middle school and if I’d had more privilege (and if I were a little smarter and more organized and a little less careful), I might also have the opportunity to stick my neck out and have internet mobs come after me because they didn’t like my opinions or attitude or my success. I would be even more brash and more self-confident and more willing to tell people what’s right or wrong than I am now. Things we aren’t allowed as women, when men with those characteristics get early tenure at Harvard.
If I were less weak. If the world were a better place. If I were male. Then I would be less scared of true success. Less scared of being a big fish in a big pond. My ambition would have no limits.
But given my constraints and the way the world is… I’m pretty happy where I am now. Valued by my colleagues and administration. Making a small name for myself in my area of study. Answering interesting questions. Reading the occasional romance novel. Having time for an anonymous blog that isn’t usually about economics (except that it sort of always is).
But wouldn’t it be nice if men and women had the same opportunities for success and balancing life? And women didn’t have to be thankful that their mediocrity protects them from the mob?