Unless there is a conscious effort made to develop a gender awareness, many people (men and women) don’t even imagine they are gender biased.
And, if you’re shocked by the possibility of a woman being gender biased (against her own gender), it is the first clue that maybe you need a course in Gender Consciousness Raising 101.
CTS Board Committee and Gender
The matter of gender arose when the CTS Board officers were selecting people to be on the Ad Hoc Committee to review my case.
The president of the board, in an apparent effort to make a concession to me, said he would make sure that 3 of the 5 on the committee were women. My response was that I believed my documents were compelling and that honest people of either gender could fairly review my case.
What I did object to was the appointment of Ad Hoc committee members who had close connections with the Administrators. Of the 5 who were chosen, I knew only 1 of them beforehand (an individual who had already taken a strong stand in support of the Administration). I did not know any of the other 4 (would not have recognized any of them if I’d met them in a hallway), but they all had good relationships with the administrators in their roles as current board members and/or former CTS students and denominational leaders. Friendship, far more than gender, is a factor that can derail a fair process.
Despite the friendship connections, however, the Ad Hoc Committee called for “redress” for me and stated: “Dr. Tucker would have been better served by a regular two-year reappointment in 2003.” And they also called on the administration to “eliminate gender stereotypes” in the evaluation process.
Sometimes the lack of gender consciousness is subtle. When asked by the CTS Board President what issues should be mediated, I responded that the mediators should determine whether I was the most deficient professor and whether the process was fair and honest—a very short and straightforward statement.
One of the Board officers, however, accused me of being “melodramatic” in raising the issues. It was a gender put-down. Women are deemed hysterical. They are out of control. They’re melodramatic—even when they are asking straightforward questions—in a written document, no less.
Many students believe the Bible does not permit women to be ministers or to teach in seminaries. Most such students nevertheless have shown warmth to women students and to me. Some, however, are very open in their antagonism.
One student wrote on his evaluation of me that a woman teaching at CTS was “an abomination of God.”
Another student wrote regarding an exam question: “Lousy Pick—only a woman would quote this.”
Colleagues and Board Members
A colleague wrote on an evaluation: “She can generate some reactions that one might not expect (of a woman faculty).”
A Board member wrote in his evaluation of me: “I get the impression that Dr. Tucker loves to talk about and debate various issues. I found this challenging, but I wonder if some students might find this style a bit intimidating. . . . I hope she can take time to love her students (or perhaps take the time to show the love that is already there).” [I wonder if he would have said this about a male professor.]
On more than one occasion a colleague literally laughed at me when I alluded to sex discrimination. How could the administrators have any sex bias if they publicly support women in office? Such a cynical laugh is evidence of lack of gender consciousness.
In one document I wrote:
There are “code words,” as identified in gender studies, that are evident in my student and faculty evaluations—and many [more] such comments have been made to me personally. Examples are: “reactive and combative,” “quite paranoid,” “excessively conformist.”
Exhibit A of Code Words
One of the most obvious examples of the use of code words came from a man who wrote to Neal about me as a faculty advisor at the 2005 CRC Synod. I had spoken on 1 occasion in a committee meeting, giving what I would describe as a well-reasoned perspective that was not held by all others in the room.
Now, anyone who has ever attended Synod knows that men voice very strong opinions (and are sometimes embroiled in angry diatribes) on the floor of Synod (where the Press can observe). But this man was faulting me as a woman for speaking up behind closed doors in a committee meeting because I “reflected negatively . . . on the cause of women in leadership.”
Neal used his letter as evidence against me (apparently not recognizing the code words) in submitting materials to the Board Ad Hoc Committee.
Though I do not know this man nor do I ever recall meeting him, he begins the letter with simply “Ruth,”. He refers to Neal (to whom he reported my behavior) twice as “Dr. Plantinga.” [Actually this is a very common gender faux pas. Men are listed as “Dr.” Women are listed as “Mrs.” or just first name.]
This male writer than goes on to say: “When I first met you I noticed a kind of contrariness. . . .” You can’t invent a better example of a code word than contrariness! How well we all remember, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary. . . .”
He goes on to say: “you appear a little stand-offish and judgmental. . . . You came off making judgments. . . . You spoke in judgments, and with what came off as arrogance.”
I simply cannot imagine a male colleague being treated this way. The letter was filled with gender discriminatory code words. Yet, Neal used it as evidence against me.
The evidence of gender bias that I have indicated throughout my web log and in this post clearly shows that Calvin Seminary needs some gender awareness training. Even without this evidence, it should surprise no one that CTS, as an almost exclusively male institutionn for more than a century, would by its very nature need some remedial gender consciousness raising.