It’s no secret that women have a disadvantage in a male-centered world. Sometimes we grow numb to the ridiculous standards and ideas of women. I also think it’s easy to forget some of these things when we all attend an all female college. The following three interviews with male professors on the St. Kate’s St. Paul campus use real questions women have been asked in interviews for a job and about their jobs.
The professors, Tom Pryer a political science professor, Michael Arnold a Spanish language professor and Tony Och an academic advisor were asked to partake in an interview about their role as a male professor on a female campus. They were not alerted about the context of the questions or their sources. To make it seem realistic, serious questions were asked about their job and lives in general. Although interesting answers were given, the following questions and responses have been edited to expose the purpose of this article.
Professor Tom Pryer: “I am an adjunct instructor, I am a temporary professor of Political Science at St.Kate’s, I am teaching American Politics this semester. This semester is the first one I have worked at St. Kate’s.”
Michael Arnold: “I’m an adjunct professor of Spanish at St. Kate’s. Mostly I come in and I teach one semester, I do one office hour a week, and I work with our international scholar, Maria Garcia Del Rio. I guess I enjoy the teaching the most and I like to see that “aha” moment when people get how the language is different and how the structure works.”
Tony Och: “I’m an academic advisor in the academic advising office. I assist students with their academic planning, I advise three sections of a reflective women course, I help students register for spring semester classes, and I also advise half of the pre-nursing students until they are accepted into the program.”
Q:Do you have any children?
Pryer: “I do, I have a daughter she’s two years old, Clementine.”
Arnold: “No, not yet.”
Q: Do you believe that you could possibly be as successful as other workers here who don’t have a family to care for?
Pryer: “Oh, because of the burdens of having a family? I do know that being a professor tends to be a better gig for people who have flexible working hours.”
Arnold: “No…more successful in…getting through to the students? I mean there are a lot of people who have two, three kids who are excellent professors.”
Och: “Do I believe I’m more successful? I think I have more time on my hands, I wouldn’t say more successful at all. Just because I don’t have kids doesn’t mean I’m not busy in other areas.”
Q: How do you think you could prove to St. Kate’s that you won’t just run off and have a baby?
Pryer: “Uh, well…I’m not sure that St. Kate’s would care…I understand for women and young professors it’s very difficult to make the decision to start a family because you need a lot of time off work, and unfortunately we don’t live in one of those nations where there is the expectation that the father would take time off.”
Q:Are you okay with leaving your children all day?
Pryer: “Sometimes! It really depends on how she’s doing that day! No, it’s hard leaving your kid.”
Q: Do you think you’re too beautiful for this job?
Pryer: Um…I should hope not, interesting question. I understand that there is a double standard in the workplace for men and women.
Arnold: “(laughter) Um no..Is that a prerequisite for the job?”
Och: “(laughter!) No it’s an awful question too, but no. No, I think I’m good at what I do and that’s where it’s gotten me today.”
A reflection from Pryer: One of the interesting things that came very evident immediately that this is an angle that you are taking and potentially that this is a gender discrepancy. I knew there was something up versus if you were a woman being asked these questions it wouldn’t be as apparent because maybe nothing is up, maybe these are questions you get asked on a day to day basis as a woman in a professional setting. So it is kind of revealing of a certain privilege that comes along with being a male that you can just tell that these are weird questions because you’re never asked these questions.
Q: Has this experience taught you anything? How do you feel about being asked these questions?
Prof. Arnold: I keep an open mind, it wasn’t for a job interview. But if it was it would take me back a little bit. For an article…it’s hard to say what the readers are looking for. If this was an interview for like a job it would definitely be uncomfortable. I definitely can see, I’m interested in hearing the responses I gave now knowing what it was. I have so much to process now.
Do you think you’re too beautiful for the job? How do you answer that? Is that a real question?
Q: Could you reflect on the experience of being asked these questions that women have been asked? What question stood out the most to you?
Prof. Och: (reflecting) The one about the looks?! Are you kidding me? My first thought was was that illegal? Or family? Family is important, that doesn’t effect if you do well on the job or not. It threw me off. It reminds me of when there was a new president over at St.Thomas [University] and a reporter asked her “do you think being a president hinder your ability to be a mother?” I was like”what the heck does that have to do with her job? Are you going to ask that to her male counterpart?” No. It threw me a little. To acknowledge my privilege of not being asked these questions.
The Reflection of the interviewer and journalist: Rita van der Puije
“This was a really difficult project for me to follow through. In theory, I thought it would be fun to turn the tables on men. However, it literally hurt my stomach to bring myself to ask these questions to men I admired as my professors at this University. It really brought to my attention that the men who have asked women these ridiculous questions must really be ignorant. I hope that this article is lighthearted and brings to attention how ridiculous these questions are when shown in contrast with men.”
“You know what? This is [a] phenomenal interview, it’s really great,” said Och.