interview by Douglas Eby
A management professor at the University of California, Irvine, Dr. Rosener agrees that "Some women, like some men, find it hard to get on a clear career path, and feel their versatility works against them."
But she doesn't think it has to do with being gifted or not, she adds: "I think it has to do with the fact we have defined everything in our society in terms of male behaviors, attitudes and values. Straight, white male. So if you're anything but that, you are perceived as deficient, and have internalized that."
"To be candid, I guess I don't like this idea of 'gifted'. I have gifted children, and I don't believe in the gifted needing special attention. They start out with an advantage others don't have."
She notes the world "is full of all kinds of people" and when some people at her school said to put her kids in a special school because they have a very high IQ, she refused to do it.
"I don't believe in Mensa, or in anything that takes people who think they're smart and puts them together to talk about how smart they are. I think we're all gifted, only in different places.
"We tend to measure "gifted" in terms of some set of standards, how well you do on some test. I think gifted women - like gifted men - will probably make it."
Dr. Rosener says her concern is about "those who aren't gifted (however defined)" and also about defining giftedness only in terms of IQ.
"My thing is not to say 'I'm gifted'; mine is to say how can we understand this environment and try and change it. I feel strongly about it because I've seen it from every side.
"I was just watching C-SPAN about affirmative action, and it makes me furious; as though we don't look at a woman or a black and have stereotypes pop in our head subconsciously.
"How anyone can think that doesn't happen is beyond me. I lived in a mixed neighborhood, and I care about people who have low self-esteem or don't know where they're going and so forth. But my concern is in changing organizations so their environment values everybody for whatever they contribute."
When you waste people's talents, she points out, you are "wasting human capital. If we think about it that way, rather than in terms of justice, then it seems to me we're going to make some changes.
"As long as we talk about affirmative action only in terms of equality, then it seems to me nothing is going to change. We have to talk about affirmative action in terms of human capital and its underutilization. I have come to the conclusion that every time you take a step forward, then there's this terrible backlash.
"People say 'The blacks are taking all these jobs' - well, where are they? Where are the women? People say the blacks and women are taking the place of Asians who aren't getting in the university, but I teach there; we have less than four percent black.
"Less than 1000 black students qualify for the University of California, out of hundreds of thousands of students, and everyone is concerned that affirmative action is 'ruining the university.' It drives me bananas."
Another major issue is economic disadvantage, rather than race and gender.
"However, this has nothing to do with why women aren't encouraged to become engineers and physicists or are not promoted," she says.
"Rather it has to do with the fact that men think women can't do it. The two things you never forget when you meet someone are the color of their skin, and their sex. And I don't care how you slice it, that's the problem.
"From the day we're born, we are told - in the United States, anyway - that only white males are smart, and the rest of us haven't quite got it. It's scary.
"I'm married to a white male, I'm the mother of one, and I'm the daughter of one. It isn't white males against the rest of us, it's that white males think it is unfair that they now have to compete with women and people of color.
"Until now, they only had to compete with other white men - and they understand them. They don't understand the rest of us and that makes them anxious.
"This may be the case, but the world 'ain't what it used to be.'
"Women and people of color are in the workforce to stay, and they expect to compete on an even playing field."
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for the Gifted Women Forum on AOL [1997-8]
Judy B. Rosener sitebook: America's Competitive Secret: Women Managers - by Judy B. Rosener
related Talent Development Resources pages:
achievement / personal development programs
achievement, growth, prosperity resources
The Inner Entrepreneur
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