What happens, when, on top of these cultural burdens, powerfully entrenched, although rarely acquiesced, women have to function in an environment of consistent peer-judgement? How can women in academia combat the persistent insecurity bred socially and professionally and acknowledge their expertise as virtuosity?
Where do women academics stand? How is our labour to the profession, dedication, and years of honing critical skills rewarded? What constitutes virtuosity in academia? At what, if anything, do you consider yourself masterful? There are a couple of back-stories to my question. The first is personal: I've been lucky enough to have parents who have instilled a strong sense of confidence in me, so I've always trusted my skills, and, circuitously, this trust has led me to tackling new learning situations and new skill acquisition in turn. I love learning new things, and my bucket list is almost exclusively made up of learning experiences I want to take part in.
The second back-story comes back to the beginning of today's post. Have you heard of this new book of the "Lean In" genre, which claims all women should do is be more confident and the world would become their oyster? As Jessica Valenti points out, it's the newest of in this series of neoliberal quasi-feminist resuscitation of the old Horatio Alger genre. This new book masks the structural barriers that women face every step of the way, such as the ones exemplified by the study of how women fare in the largest 20 Canadian cities. Not to mention the vicious ways in which confident women have been and continue to be depicted in popular culture, from Medusa to Claire Underwood.
So, let me come back to my question, which also ties in with Melissa's very productive prompts: what are you an expert in? what are you really good at? what's your area of virtuosity? C'mon, make a list, check it
*yes, why not here in the comments?