Speaking as a Woman

powerful woman with arm raised in successAgnes Callard, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, wrote a widely applicable piece in the New York Times, What Does It Mean to ‘Speak as a Woman’? Ms. Callard describes our expertise:

Let’s distinguish two ways in which the expertise of a physicist might figure in a discussion of some question. First, it might allow her to introduce facts into the conversation that have bearing on the question. Call this, “informational standing.” Second, it might put her in a privileged position to manage the conversation: to determine who speaks when, how the question is pursued, when it counts as answered and so on. Call this, “managerial standing.”

In any conversation, we come to it with many different roles: as a person with specific expertise, a person of experiences, of family and social standing, offering a personal or spiritual perspective, and many more. We are not, and should not, always be equals. Understanding and conveying our position helps us be heard.