Thursday, June 15, 2006

I, a member of the fair sex

Before leaving for Melbourne I was co-opted into a special panel set up to review the case of an academic staff's application for contract renewal, promotion and salary increment. The first meeting we had, which two weeks ago, lasted three hours. To make a long story short, this person does not get on with anyone in his department and has had not one but two cases of sexual harrassment filed under his belt. I was cordially informed that one of the reasons why I was co-opted into this panel is that I am a woman.

You know, I'd like to tell myself, it's good to be a woman. Take this instance, being a woman has given me access to a relatively high level panel (if we go by the books I am way too junior to be on staff review panels). I get the chance to decide on a man's career, basically. Ridiculous as it might sound, this does make me feel taller and stronger, if only in a nasty kind of way. I get to read through this guy's file, discuss his contribution to the university, and his conduct as a teacher. I get to judge him.

But it's not really that good. This case is so indescribably convoluted that the panel had to ask this guy to present himself at our second meeting tomorrow to explain his situation. Which is highly unusual.

No, sorry, I did ask but was told I do not get to wear a paper bag over my head. He will see my face, and he will be able to find out a lot of information about me and I don't think I'm being completely paranoid when I say that if we decide to "let him go", he is exactly the kind of character who only needs a wee nudge to flip to the dark side.

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