Heels for height and authority – really?

Working from home again today and I took the opportunity to browse through the latest issue of Universitetsläraren – a publication from SULF, a union for researchers and university level educators.

About half way through, I stumbled on an article called “Dressed for success – rätt klädd i undervisningen” and it stirred up some thoughts. Some of the advices were to dress more grown up, to signal a distance to your students – “you are not on the same level and shouldn’t be either”. I do make an effort to dress professionally when I’m teaching – but I also think that there is balance to keep here. There is of course some distance between faculty and students, but teaching at an international master programme means I will have students that are older than me and have more experiences from certain areas than I do. Although I’m the expert in my field, I want to express that there is mutual learning going on in our dynamic classroom and I don’t have monopoly on knowledge.

What provoced me even more though, whas the statement below, roughly translated into “For me good shoes are essential. If you are a woman you can definitely teach in high-heeled shoes. That will give you some height and authority”. What?! Sure, with my 160 cm I might benefit from heels for height purposes – but have you tried standing up all day in a pair? If good shoes are essential – I assume you mean shoes that are functional and proper looking – but heels? For height and authority. Admittedly, I used to wear heels for special occassions – but I’ve given up on it. Too much pain, not enough gain. And if my authority sits in my shoes I’m doomed anyway…

Just a few pages earlier in the same journal, I also read a very interesting article about gender distribution of research grants. 5 times out of 6 – male applicants were more likely to be awarded funding than females. I can’t help but wonder if it has to do with height and authority. Perhaps wearing heals while writing my next application will help? If I attach a picture?

[post 22 in the #blogg100 challenge]

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