We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

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We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Perturbed Secretary Bird » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:44 am

1) It is a shame that in 2018 we have a forum named for "women." Representation, bias, and exclusion in quizbowl occur based on gender, race, disability, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation as well as the myriad intersections of these things (and of categories that I am most likely leaving out because I have my own privileges and blind spots).* Framing discussion solely in terms of women as a special category is missing the much, much larger picture.

2) Having a "women's place" feels like a bit of a kick in the gut- "you are the outsider/other, and our community can't even discuss your existence without careful monitoring." I do appreciate the impulse to be protected from sexist slurs, but I want quizbowl to be a place where we don't have to have a special, moderated forum to insure that.

3) Topics about underrepresented groups in quizbowl should have a place alongside every other discussion. They (obviously, as recent events have shown) need to be talked with greater regularity.

4) I realize that the existence of this forum probably helps the moderators do their jobs on some level- mods and admins, please feel free to give input about what structures can best help you keep the forums well-run and not overly stressed out.

If you are a minority in quizbowl, what do you want quizbowl to look like? What is a safe community to you? Do you want to keep the women's forum, or do you have an ideal alternative? If you're in a well-represented group, what can you do to help us?

Maybe I am the only non-male quizbowler who feels like this, but if that's so I would love to know. Most of all, I want the community at large to think more about inequality and how we can be the best, most accepting community that we can be. Feel free to DM or email me about this if you don't want to post, I'm always down to talk.

*For more explanation, read this excellent article by Kimberle Crenshaw! This article is a foundation of modern feminism but has come up in non-NAQT quizbowl 5 times (according to aseemsdb). One of those 5 times was a question I wrote. Anyways, great read! http://www.racialequitytools.org/resour ... argins.pdf
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:05 am

If you are a minority in quizbowl, what do you want quizbowl to look like? What is a safe community to you?


I'm not white. It's not a card I particularly enjoy playing, but it pays the price of admission.

I want a community where my and my friends' arguments aren't reflexively contorted beyond recognition by people instantly seeking to call us racist/sexist/ableist, as part of a feedback loop of virtue signalling and one-upmanship. This is especially important when discussing sensitive topics like this. In the last messy explosion of a thread, there are two excellent illustrations.

First, when I faithfully reproduced a quote from my female teammate about the role of appearance in their desire to play quizbowl, one that was repeatedly agreed to by several others, you quoted one snippet of my post out of context and sarcastically shut me down, telling me to "let women speak for themselves". Nevermind the fact that I was literally quoting someone from my team that doesn't have a forum account with their assent, and nevermind the fact I've worked very hard in my nearly decade-long tenure at Penn to create an environment in which people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and skill levels feel welcome, and nevermind the fact that I strive to be a supportive and giving influence to my teammates (ask any of them - though I'm not perfect, obviously), you saw fit to ignore the substance of my post in your blind social justice fury. It took another of my teammates (Jinah) re-orienting you to what I actually said in my post for you to backtrack. A post solely agreeing with her, with no apology to me, incidentally.

Second, Eliza's hyperbolic readings of Will Alston's (admittedly scattershot) post were even worse. The amount of intense, reflexive vitriol in those posts, coupled with the fact that she ignored the responses and jumped from point to ever-more-inaccurate-and-distorted point, made any kind of conversation impossible, and the repeated plaudits from you, Olivia, and several others made it clear that none of you were actually interested in engaging the points raised. This was made even worse by Eliza's subsequent response to Will Alston's clarification post, which demonstrated the same thing. Is this what constructive discourse looks like to you? If so, I'm not sure many people want a part of it.

This entire thing was incredibly offputting to much of its audience, including those of us who are legitimately interested in making quizbowl a more welcoming and kind place. I acknowledge my part in that (and again, Ayuush, I'm sorry). Will any of you do the same?

EDIT: I had previously included a snippet of a messenger conversation shared with me by Will Alston between him and Eliza in this post; I have removed it because I don't know what privacy laws state about internet conversations between two people (Will had given me permission to post). Suffice to say, the comments made by Eliza in that conversation consisted of incredibly rude insults about Will's sexual ability and therefore looked a lot like sexual harassment (I Am Not A Lawyer), and would not be tolerated in most settings by most people.

EDIT 2: Athena has been kind enough to apologize to me in private, which I accept and greatly appreciate. She didn't want to derail this thread by posting, which is completely understandable.
Last edited by Sima Guang Hater on Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:59 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Aaron's Rod » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:26 am

As someone who seems to object to people prying in their chat logs, I sure as hell hope you got permission from both parties before posting screenshots of private conversations.

Sima Guang Hater wrote:Will any of you on the other side do the same?

"Other side"? This is literally a post/thread about how to make quizbowl more welcoming to other people. What "other side" is there?!

Athena is trying to start a good conversation. The thread got locked for a reason. Take your problems with individuals to those individuals.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:30 am

I have modified the post to fix these errors.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Olivia.K » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:46 am

If you are a minority in quizbowl, what do you want quizbowl to look like? What is a safe community to you? Do you want to keep the women's forum, or do you have an ideal alternative?


In the spirit of positivity, I just want to say: I honestly think the quizbowl community is one of the ones where I am the most comfortable, and where I feel the most secure in 'myself', whatever that means. Now, I do have to say that this is chiefly an association that I have with 'real life', and not my online presence or the online presence of quizbowl. But, anyway.

I feel like, honestly, the majority of quizbowlers are not, well, awful people. I'm sure that some of the issues that I'm sure we're both thinking about comes from a lack of perspective, and having not thought about anything from the perspective that we're coming from before. But, you know, just because you haven't thought about something before doesn't mean you can immediately derail the conversation when it's brought up.

In all honesty, I don't know what would be an alternative to the woman's forum, because I feel like any alternative will run into the same problem. It'll get safely quarantined somewhere, where the majority of posters and people on the forum or in the community can ignore it, and then they'll forget about it. I've obviously not been here as long as most of you, but I feel like this is something that's happened before- people think, "oh, this is a thing that should be talked about!', but then once it has a space people lose interest in it, until it comes up again. Basically, I don't know how to make the majority of quizbowl, which is generally not a minority, care about what we're trying to say without getting angry at them, which then just makes them think that we're suddenly rabidly angry out of nowhere.

I'm not sure how coherent this really is, but any thoughts that don't involve placing the entire onus of a change on the group who'd like a change might be nice.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Cheynem » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:41 am

As one of the moderators at the time the unfortunately named "women in quizbowl" forum was created, one of the reasonings was that it seemed like most other threads on the topic devolved into various men (some well-intentioned, some dufuses, and I'll put myself in both of those categories) wandering in and throwing out their thoughts. The idea was that a more closely moderated subforum would hopefully bring out under-heard thoughts. To some extent, looking through that forum, there was a success.

However, I agree with Athena that the issue of under-representation goes far beyond "women," and that even the issue among gender disparities in quizbowl deserves a wider discussion than probably a "segregated" subforum can bring. I do not mean to rehash the hair cut thread, but what it did reveal is that this is a topic people have strong opinions on and that folks, even well-meaning ones, are not on the same page. When I see posts from people saying they hate the forums or (more seriously) they hate quizbowl or quizbowl culture, that bothers me. I don't want that to be. Like most academic-oriented people, though, when I say I want feedback or I want to know what I can do better, what I really want is positive feedback. So on some level, I and people like me need to listen more, even to feedback that we don't like or is critical. As Alex pointed out, this isn't an "us vs. them" thing.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:53 am

Seems like asking more women to be forum moderators and then not having men behave as the driving forces behind these fora would be a start? Like why is Mike Cheyne a moderator of a "women in quizbowl" forum?
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Cheynem » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:08 am

That's a reasonable point. Looking at the current staff list, of the 17 moderators or administrators, less than a third (as far as I know) are non-male.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Perturbed Secretary Bird » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:33 pm

Olivia.K wrote: any thoughts that don't involve placing the entire onus of a change on the group who'd like a change might be nice.


Thank you Olivia for all your thoughtful comments, and especially this one. In response to Charlie's post, I personally think that making more non-men do more of the work is not an ideal solution. "Less than a third" honestly seems like a much larger percentage than the general quizbowl population (or at least the portion of the population who is known primarily for being nationally competitive). There's got to be a balance between saddling minority members with work and listening to their voices and preferences.

I personally don't see a problem with Mike moderating the "women" forum; I personally trust him to be able to identify and come down on any hateful content or to be responsive to any concerns.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby 1.82 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:47 pm

The concept of a "women in quizbowl" forum that is moderated to prevent mansplaining is well-intentioned, but its effect is to separate the experiences of women from everything else in quizbowl. Sarah's thread from 2015 is important to everyone, but in nearly three years it's been viewed less than a thousand times in total, because placing it on that board meant that it was buried. As far as I can tell, the primary issue with mansplaining is men proffering essentialist explanations for why women behave the way they do, but setting off women in quizbowl only encourages that sort of essentialist thinking. The current state of quizbowl discourse is that the topic of women in quizbowl is used by all sorts of people in all sorts of arguments as a rhetorical cudgel; we can all agree that it's bad that women don't play quizbowl, so if I can point out that the thing I don't like is a reason that women don't play quizbowl, that's a powerful argument in my favor.

Athena mentions intersectionality, and I think that that's very important here. It's true that quizbowl (and especially high-level quizbowl) is a game played overwhelmingly by men, but it's also a game played overwhelmingly by white and Asian men. It's true that quizbowl has participants of various skin tones, and it's true that you're certainly not going to be hounded out of quizbowl for not being white, but that doesn't mean that quizbowl doesn't have a serious issue with ethnic diversity. You can suggest that the fact that quizbowl players are mostly white and Asian is unrelated to the fact that quizbowl players are mostly male, but currently quizbowl discourse doesn't really ever mention that connection at all. If we were to reorient our thinking to acknowledge intersectionality, I think we'd have more productive discussion and we'd have a lot fewer explanations of how women act like this.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:06 pm

I don't disagree that Mike is probably as good a candidate as any on the current board staff, and that 1/3rd of the board staff being nonmale is a significant improvement over quizbowl at large, but doesn't that still say something damning that quizbowl's leadership is still so far from gender balance? If quizbowl wants to project a sense that it's not just a boy's club, shouldn't its leaders actively be trying to make sure an incredibly wide range of talented people (all of whom currently exist!) are involved at the highest levels? That seems to me the best way that quizbowl's leaders can project a better vision of the future down and outward and see if it reverberates.

And just speaking from experience, in my studies of a different part of the world, in protests at school, in my ex's group dedicated to a non-white identity, and in my own life hearing other people lecture about my identity, the lesson I've always gotten is that people from different groups fighting to change a narrative don't need outsiders speaking for them. I always went to my ex's group not as a member voicing my own opinions, but as a supportive guest, because it wasn't my place to guide them as I recognized they knew what their goals and struggles and discourses were far better than I did. And isn't that usually how it goes when you see clueless 60 something white hippies talk about black rights (I mean, that shit leads to "Get Out")? Or Macklemore rapping about gay rights? Or Eric Mukherjee's trouble with conveying what women were telling him in that thread after he'd shot his credibility to bits about gender sensitivity over what he said to Aayush? I understand why people are angry that the work is so hard, but if outsiders do it it requires such a high level of sensitivity and trust to execute, and I don't think quizbowl's current male leaders outside of a very select few have earned that trust. Otherwise, we wouldn't have these clumsy "Women in quizbowl" forums led by men littering the archives.
Last edited by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) on Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Cheynem » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:09 pm

Not that this matters, but I'm not a board staff member anymore. (I only post this to not further confuse folks who STILL send me messages asking me to open a private forum or whatever)
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Amiable Vitriol » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:42 pm

A big thing for me in regards to the WiQb forum is that it isn't visible to non forums members- I think it says a lot about the quizbowl community that this forum is hidden away from public eyes just like AHAN or the Forbidden Zone. IMO, as a 16 y/o cis white girl whose takes should be considered with a grain of salt, a publicly visible general "Outreach" sub forum might be a better solution. It would encompass all forms of marginalization in QB and work against the in-group mentality that most greatly affects the marginalized among us.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Perturbed Secretary Bird » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:51 pm

Olivia L wrote: IMO, as a 16 y/o cis white girl whose takes should be considered with a grain of salt


Maybe I'm misinterpreting, but I hope you're not telling us to take your ideas with a grain of salt bc of your age! You are a member of the community too, and I'm so glad that someone from the younger generation is weighing in. Thank you for pointing out the incredible weirdness of it being hidden. I agree and feel like some public statement (or forum or fb group or whatever type of space) dedicated to positive inclusion would be a nice thing for qb to have.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:59 pm

Olivia L wrote:A big thing for me in regards to the WiQb forum is that it isn't visible to non forums members- I think it says a lot about the quizbowl community that this forum is hidden away from public eyes just like AHAN or the Forbidden Zone.

My apologies for not following through when you brought this up to me a while ago. I've just now looked into it, and my guess of "PHPBB fuckery" was right: In setting it up such that all posts went through the moderation queue, we failed to add any access options for "guests". This certainly wasn't deliberate on our part, as far as I know; has now been rectified; and, probably more importantly, shouldn't be an issue in future.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:03 pm

The important overarching issue in my eyes is shifting from the goal of “bringing more women/POC/LGBT people into quizbowl” to the goal of “making quizbowl a better and safer space for those people”. I feel like this reframing helps a lot to work against the kind of arbitrary and ultimately condescending assumptions about The Ideal Sucrose Level To Acheive Gender Balance and helps humanize and give space to the actual groups affected to voice their concerns. Focusing on the number of participants is faulty in the same way that the analysis of “Asians have high test scores so they aren’t oppressed” — for example, there’s a large gay contingent in quizbowl (and they all want you to shower, apparently), but those numbers didn’t mean I didn’t face homophobia or feel unsafe while playing quizbowl.

Ultimately, the biggest impact to be made on making people feel safe in quizbowl is direct action on the local and regional level. If you hear a teammate make a sexist comment, call that shit out. If you hear a coach or moderator say something homophobic, notify the TD. If you’re running a tournament, make a zero tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination clear, and take action when it is violated.

I’m not saying there’s no merit to discussing various factors that affect the demographics of quizbowl and how we might outreach to groups that are underrepresented, but the vast majority of bigotry in quizbowl exists because of bigotry in society. Ultimately, taking steps towards making quizbowl spaces more welcoming and providing a space for marginalized people to air their specific grievances will do far more than just working towards diversity without addressing underlying systemic issues.

Editing to make a specific point more clear: if you’re not a woman, the best place for your voice to be utilized for women in quizbowl is when you overhear sexism from your male friends (and likewise for other groups). If you talk about sexism on the forums but don’t challenge it consistently and directly in real life, there’s a problem.
Last edited by Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage on Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby alexdz » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:10 pm

We can make a place welcoming to all kinds of people if we affirm and include their experiences as an essential part of the activity. (This is why overly-specific dress codes are bad, for example: they fail to affirm the experiences of people whose conformation with them would result in losing an essential part of their identity.) It's more complicated than just "include more questions about women," but let me give an example. I write elementary level questions, and that means the literature at that level is almost exclusively what you'd call "kid lit." Of course, the easiest way for me to write kid lit questions is just to write about books I read as a kid, because I already know their plots and characters. But consider that the books I read as a young boy were largely books about other boys: Maniac Magee, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, etc. By echoing my own experiences as a male, I would unintentionally skew my questions in a way that a young woman playing her first game might reasonably say that she hasn't read very many of the books I asked about. That, combined with the already intense social pressure of being a young woman playing quizbowl, might be enough for her to decide this isn't really the game for her.

Thus, we need to encourage women to write and edit by opening doors for them to contribute. This is, in many ways, connected to the issue of women in leadership roles. Certainly it shouldn't be the case that women are the only ones responsible for other women's well-being; that's an absurd rationale for placing women in leadership. But, without women in leadership roles, there are not role models and advocates for women's lived experience at the highest levels. What you end up with is well-meaning, progressive men doing what they can to include and affirm women's experiences, but it's never good enough to have men speak for women. Men need to be tearing down the walls that prohibit and discourage women's participation in the game, not building them out of glass and saying "hey, now we can see the women over there and learn about their lives."

Echoing the post above this one, society has given us tropes that we need to un-tropify. The smart nerdy girl is always "secretly beautiful," and is rarely portrayed as both smart and beautiful at the same time. The nerdy boy is either a gross unkempt, unlovable mess, or else an antisocial uber-genius. We need to promote healthy examples of people of all kinds who have various likes, interests, hobbies, and styles and move away from the stereotypes that we read and see. All types of quizbowlers exist, including those who play sports, those who read, those who are talented artists, those who study medicine, those who study philosophy, and those who study ancient textiles.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby brianamagin » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:53 pm

While I do understand the possible reasons behind having a separate WiQB forum I think that its ultimately unnecessary. Any discussions directly relating to women or any other minorities shouldn't be separated out from any other discussion. Just because we may be a minority doesn't mean that we should be treated any differently than the rest of the community. The true way to integrate women fully into an activity is to just be able to treat them like everyone else. I have participated in many activities where I was the only female present. For example, I wrestled for many years and was the only girl, but that didn't make me special. The guys still all practiced with me, and competed against me in tournaments, and I was treated just like everyone else and it was exactly what I wanted, and exactly what I hope we can reach in the quiz bowl community.

I thankfully, do feel comfortable in the quiz bowl community and have been lucky enough to make many friends through my participation. However, there are still issues regarding women in quiz bowl that should be recognized by everyone, not just women. Personally I believe that more women should strive to hold leadership positions in quiz bowl. When I first ran to be on the board of my quiz bowl club I was shut down, and told that I shouldn't run because there was someone already in the position who was running for it again, and that I was "only a freshman." Even after taking over the club as president for a semester due to our actual president being on a study abroad I still faced some opposition when expressing my desire to run for president in the upcoming year. Now, I do not in any way believe that this directly related to me being a woman, but it still is very discouraging. Already knowing that having a female president of a quiz bowl club is a rarity, and knowing that there are only four female members on my team in total, that opposition hit me harder than it would have if I hadn't been such a rare case.

I believe that having at least one woman as a prominent member of your club is important because it's a way to make other women on the club feel empowered and can also help with recruiting. Not every woman, even if they may be extremely interested in quiz bowl, would be comfortable joining the club if they never had interaction with any of the female members of the club. Also, there are some times female members may just need another woman to talk to about certain club issues. For example, a teammate of mine experienced an uncomfortable situation regarding other members of the team (two of them male, one female) at a tournament once. She came to me and told me of the situation and we were able to resolve it, and even without prompting she told me she was glad she could talk to me because she wouldn't have been comfortable telling the same story to our male president.

We are a minority but that doesn't mean that we should hide or have our own separate circle just for us. Women are an important part of the quiz bowl community, but in the end, we are all apart of the same community regardless of our gender, race, political ideologies, religious beliefs, or anything else.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby theMoMA » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:29 pm

I want to take a minute to set down some thoughts on the nature and framing of these types of discussions and how that connects to what they can accomplish. The purpose in my doing so is not an attempt to frame the discussion in a way of my choosing; as far as I'm concerned, people are free to discuss what they want, however they want, in ways encouraging or discouraging of my own participation.

As these discussions have been framed before, and as this discussion appears currently to be framed, a person or group of people sets up a space for people to talk about their personal experiences and opinions with a spoken or unspoken requirement that those speaking should be qualified to speak directly to the pressures under discussion. This certainly has to be a part of these discussions. Limiting the discussion in such a way does, however, have certain drawbacks.

* It leaves out people who have not experienced personally the same pressures under discussion, but do have their own sets of experiences with other pressures, and opinions and observations resulting from them.

* It imposes a tax on speaking, namely that people must establish their qualifications to speak to the issue, which can butt up against the varying degrees of comfort that people have in revealing intimate details about themselves.

* It ignores the fact that, by virtue of their being around to speak in the first place, no one in the discussion has chosen to quit quizbowl forever or never to play at all, and cannot speak perfectly to the pressures faced by people who have quit or chosen never to play; indeed, the people in the discussion might be uniquely unqualified to comment on the reasons that other people facing the same pressures have quit or chosen never to play, because whatever pressures led those people to quit didn't have the same effect on the people who stayed around to speak.

This flows into a second and much larger issue. The ultimate goal of discussing a problem about quizbowl, as I see it, is to take a series of collective actions in an attempt to remedy the problem. When considering what to do collectively, a group can and should hear about the individual experiences of its members to determine the scope of the problem. But the crucial next step, in my opinion, is to come to a consensus on the center of gravity of the problem and determine where and how to push on it to get it to move in the right direction. This is a step that can put the individual narratives and the collective action at odds, because what is deeply felt by one person might not be something that the group can or should address collectively. It's also, I think not coincidentally, the step quizbowl has never managed to take.

Framing the discussion so that people are only encouraged to speak to their direct personal experience leads to a limited discussion that produces a series of individual narratives. And a series of individual narratives makes it intensely uncomfortable for any one person, or even a group of people, to argue for the center of gravity of the problem, because that might require contentious argument over priorities and a result that denies individuals the satisfaction of having every part of their experiences addressed by the actions of the group. If quizbowl is going to address issues of inclusivity in a meaningful way, my opinion is that it will require people not just to share their own stories and opinions, but to argue for the shape of a better future in ways that will necessarily fail to honor every part of each individual's experience. In other words, it will require politics. And I think that, until the discussion is framed in such a way to allow a political process to take place, the only changes we'll see are ones that can be implemented by a small group or an individual.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:40 pm

Hello, quizbowlers. I have a lot of opinions about this issue, both as a woman and as a board staffer. This post will concern my thoughts as a board staffer.

I was on the board staff at the time the Women in Quizbowl forum was created. At the time, I agreed that it needed to be a thing. Too many discussions had happened too often that involved me swooping in like Yelling Bird to try to bring a stop to utter chaos. I like to think we live in more civilized times now. Similarly, because those threads always made me so angry, I declined to be a moderator of that subforum when the position was offered.

Someone upthread (the younger Olivia, maybe?) suggested that what we need is an Outreach forum, and I think she's essentially correct. I wouldn't use the term "outreach" simply because the community already uses that word in a more narrow sense to talk about recruiting teams, but I'd be in favor of the creation/renaming of a "Community Discussion" or similar where we could talk about issues that affect the community as people (leaving Collegiate Discussion for tournaments and writing theory and the like).

While Athena is right to point out that putting the work on women isn't necessarily fair, I am willing to do some work as both a woman and a board staffer here. In such a forum or the existing one, I would like to propose something like "Dear Prudence," which I would run, possibly along with another friend in the community who expressed interest privately. This would be an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions, either publicly or anonymously through me, and get feedback from me and other members of the community. I'm one person with one set of opinions, and so is my friend, and we would certainly welcome other voices if people are willing to give us something to work with.

I imagine this would be a space where someone could say, "hey, I found this situation uncomfortable, but I didn't know why or what to do about it" or "hey, I have a crush on another member of the community, how do I bring this up without it being off-putting?" or a million other things people might be wondering but not necessarily comfortable asking. I think a lot of the frustration in these conversations comes from a lack of open, honest, clear communication - I know of both men and women who hesitate to post in these sorts of thread for fear that they'll be taken the wrong way. I think coming from a place of "hey, this is what I think or what I want to know" would be much healthier than claiming to speak for an entire group, whether you're a member of that group or not. I freely admit that this would place emotional labor on the women of the community and myself in particular, but I think being open to questions and discussion is our best option for progress.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:55 pm

Okay kids, now it's time for the old-school Sarah as Sarah and not as board staff post.

I am angry.

I am angry that we have to tell adults to think before they post.

I am angry that we keep looking for "what quizbowl women want" as if this is the Wife of Bath's Tale and there's one answer to that question or that "women in quizbowl" is a generalizable group.

I am angry that Jerry or Eric (someone on the old school Brown team) had to tell a guy to move because he was trying to talk to a younger, less brassy me while physically preventing me from standing up from one of those stupid desks with the attached chairs.

I am angry that when I wear pants to a tournament, I am insufficiently feminine, but if I wear a dress, coaches and players look down it.

I am angry that I once had to barricade myself in a room for protection.

I am angry that someone will PM me after I post this wanting to know when, why, who, what happened to me as if it's any of their business.

I am angry that people criticize how other people react to things without knowing how either the frustration of microaggressions or real, live, vivid fear affects the brain.

I am angry that we don't acknowledge that people make mistakes and that this does not make them bad people. Someone can say or do something sexist without being, as the other thread put it, "a sexist Neanderthal." I have no comment on that specific discussion, but it is possible to be wrong, catch ourselves, and move on.

I want members of our majority groups to call out harmful things when they see them.

I want members of our minority groups to feel safe enough to do the same.

I want us to listen to each other.

I want us to understand each other.

Be good to one another, my friends.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Susan » Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:03 pm

While Athena is right to point out that putting the work on women isn't necessarily fair, I am willing to do some work as both a woman and a board staffer here. In such a forum or the existing one, I would like to propose something like "Dear Prudence," which I would run, possibly along with another friend in the community who expressed interest privately. This would be an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions, either publicly or anonymously through me, and get feedback from me and other members of the community. I'm one person with one set of opinions, and so is my friend, and we would certainly welcome other voices if people are willing to give us something to work with.


I think this is an interesting idea, and I'd be willing to help with it if that would be useful.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby naturalistic phallacy » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:21 pm

Susan wrote:
While Athena is right to point out that putting the work on women isn't necessarily fair, I am willing to do some work as both a woman and a board staffer here. In such a forum or the existing one, I would like to propose something like "Dear Prudence," which I would run, possibly along with another friend in the community who expressed interest privately. This would be an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions, either publicly or anonymously through me, and get feedback from me and other members of the community. I'm one person with one set of opinions, and so is my friend, and we would certainly welcome other voices if people are willing to give us something to work with.


I think this is an interesting idea, and I'd be willing to help with it if that would be useful.

Absolutely would love to be part of this project as well.

My other thoughts are along the lines of Andrew Hart's. I've mostly avoided significant contribution to these discussions since they both bristle me in very uncomfortable ways and they often are too formless to be be practically effective.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Geriatric trauma » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:09 am

The idea of splitting Collegiate Discussion into sections focused on quizbowl as a game and quizbowl as a community makes sense to me.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Amiable Vitriol » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:06 pm

naturalistic phallacy wrote:
Susan wrote:
While Athena is right to point out that putting the work on women isn't necessarily fair, I am willing to do some work as both a woman and a board staffer here. In such a forum or the existing one, I would like to propose something like "Dear Prudence," which I would run, possibly along with another friend in the community who expressed interest privately. This would be an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions, either publicly or anonymously through me, and get feedback from me and other members of the community. I'm one person with one set of opinions, and so is my friend, and we would certainly welcome other voices if people are willing to give us something to work with.


I think this is an interesting idea, and I'd be willing to help with it if that would be useful.

Absolutely would love to be part of this project as well.

My other thoughts are along the lines of Andrew Hart's. I've mostly avoided significant contribution to these discussions since they both bristle me in very uncomfortable ways and they often are too formless to be be practically effective.


If you want a young'un's input with any of this, I would love to help.

theMoMA wrote:This flows into a second and much larger issue. The ultimate goal of discussing a problem about quizbowl, as I see it, is to take a series of collective actions in an attempt to remedy the problem.


A forum thread every six months or so criticizing the lack of/treatment of underrepresented groups in qb is really, really frustrating when nothing comes of it. There seems to be a general consensus in this and other threads that a) there aren't enough underrepresented prominent players/editors/general leaders in the qb community, b) people less underrepresented within the community should be better towards those who are more underrepresented, and c) underrepresented groups should be less underrepresented in the future. There also seems to be a consensus that C will only come once A, B and/or similar factors are achieved.

My question: What are the leaders within this community doing to work on A and/or B? This isn't intended to be accusatory (and is more than a little tangential to the original topic but oh well). I honestly want to hear what's happening, because it's been discouraging hearing discussion without action.

If there aren't institutional changes happening right this instant, are there plans for the future? Do people need help to put these future plans in action? What tangible work are we going to put in as a community to fix these long standing issues?

I also want to note that while grassroots efforts are great, those need to work in tandem with initiatives from larger groups. I would love to "be the change I wish to see in the world," as I have been told in relation to this very issue, but that change isn't going to come without the buy-in of a significant portion of the community.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:56 pm

Olivia L wrote:A forum thread every six months or so criticizing the lack of/treatment of underrepresented groups in qb is really, really frustrating when nothing comes of it. There seems to be a general consensus in this and other threads that a) there aren't enough underrepresented prominent players/editors/general leaders in the qb community, b) people less underrepresented within the community should be better towards those who are more underrepresented, and c) underrepresented groups should be less underrepresented in the future. There also seems to be a consensus that C will only come once A, B and/or similar factors are achieved.


Is the issue just that women involved in quizbowl aren't being selected for editorial and leadership positions? While it's definitely important to promote women to leadership positions in the community, it seems like, as people brought up earlier, we also have a pretty big problem with the gender ratio in the activity (especially in college) at every level. And the latter seems like the complex issue to solve?
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:00 pm

Olivia L wrote:A forum thread every six months or so criticizing the lack of/treatment of underrepresented groups in qb is really, really frustrating when nothing comes of it. There seems to be a general consensus in this and other threads that a) there aren't enough underrepresented prominent players/editors/general leaders in the qb community, b) people less underrepresented within the community should be better towards those who are more underrepresented, and c) underrepresented groups should be less underrepresented in the future. There also seems to be a consensus that C will only come once A, B and/or similar factors are achieved.

My question: What are the leaders within this community doing to work on A and/or B? This isn't intended to be accusatory (and is more than a little tangential to the original topic but oh well). I honestly want to hear what's happening, because it's been discouraging hearing discussion without action.


This ABC model is a very useful way of looking at the situation, and your question is a good one.

I'm not entirely sure what's being done or should be done to deal with B, other than members of underrepresented groups talking about their experiences and us addressing them. As an example, I was talking to a "leader within the community" about this thread, and he mentioned an instance in which a woman moderator had complained to him that there were no women moderators in the top bracket of some tournament. I found this to be an interesting issue that I hadn't considered before, and its something that I hope people will keep in view in the future when it is appropriate (e.g. I think it's reasonable to consider having a mix of genders moderating the upper brackets of PACE NSC).

A is a much more complicated issue that needs a real multifactorial analysis. There may be factors that keep certain unrepresented groups out of quizbowl (e.g. paying for travel, the offputting culture of some teams), there may be factors that keep certain unrepresented groups from continuing with quizbowl or rising to leadership positions (e.g. something analogous to law or medicine, where there are plenty of women graduates but not as many women who are partners/tenured/leaders in some other sense), and quizbowl may simply be drawing on a population that is devoid of underrepresented minorities, and therefore the skew in quizbowl represents the skew of the population.

I'm willing to bet that when it comes to ethnic minorities in particular, that last issue is paramount - quizbowl is often the province of suburban public schools, elite private schools, and colleges, all of which suffer from issues with minority representation. Someone who has done more than most people to address this imbalance is Chris Chiego, who actually takes time out of his day to visit inner city Philadelphia schools and get them to play quizbowl. The results are incredible - the Philadelphia city championships in the past few years have had some of the most diverse fields I've seen anywhere.

These two examples are meant to show that real work is being done on these issues, but it is often invisible or not acknowledged. This kind of progress is made whenever there's a thread about these issues; I realize it looks like that every time this issue is brought up it seems like nothing changes, but change is often gradual - we're not going to make the gender ratio in quizbowl 1:1 overnight. As a person who has been playing since approximately the Hadean, I've seen real change happen and hope it continues to happen.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Amiable Vitriol » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:02 pm

The King's Flight to the Scots wrote:
Olivia L wrote:A forum thread every six months or so criticizing the lack of/treatment of underrepresented groups in qb is really, really frustrating when nothing comes of it. There seems to be a general consensus in this and other threads that a) there aren't enough underrepresented prominent players/editors/general leaders in the qb community, b) people less underrepresented within the community should be better towards those who are more underrepresented, and c) underrepresented groups should be less underrepresented in the future. There also seems to be a consensus that C will only come once A, B and/or similar factors are achieved.


Is the issue just that women involved in quizbowl aren't being selected for editorial and leadership positions? While it's definitely important to promote women to leadership positions in the community, it seems like, as people brought up earlier, we also have a pretty big problem with the gender ratio in the activity (especially in college) at every level. And the latter seems like the complex issue to solve?


I suppose the issues feed off each other, but I was originally suggesting that more women in leadership positions within the quizbowl community would attract more women to the community. I definitely agree that the original underepresentation is the main issue, but also find that addressing certain facets of this main issue will help address the overall problem.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:05 pm

Olivia L wrote:I suppose the issues feed off each other, but I was originally suggesting that more women in leadership positions within the quizbowl community would attract more women to the community.


As an empirical matter, this has been correct in my experience (when Sarita Jamil became president our gender representation evened overnight). Is this the experience at other clubs as well?
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Deviant Insider » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:16 pm

Olivia L wrote:My question: What are the leaders within this community doing to work on A and/or B?


To be honest, there is nothing happening on a systemic organized level. The quizbowl organizations I have been part of and led try to be supportive of underrepresented people, and we welcome feedback through whatever channel anybody finds appropriate, public or private. That being said, we have not come up with any organized initiative. The IHSSBCA Steering Committee has at times had discussions on possible ways to be more welcoming to women and nonwhite people, but we never came up with a good way to do it, and those discussions have not come up in the last few years for that reason.

PACE is open to suggestions and would strongly consider supporting efforts to address these issues.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby theMoMA » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:36 pm

Olivia L wrote:My question: What are the leaders within this community doing to work on [the lack of underrepresented populations among prominent players/editors/general leaders in the qb community] and/or [people less underrepresented within the community being better toward those who are more underrepresented]? This isn't intended to be accusatory (and is more than a little tangential to the original topic but oh well). I honestly want to hear what's happening, because it's been discouraging hearing discussion without action.


I think the issue is that we don't really know what anyone is doing, because as a community, we've never actually arrived at a consensus about what our goals are or how to achieve them, let alone a series of concrete proposals to work toward and report back on. The individual "leaders" may have personal sets of goals and priorities, but our various contentious discussions have provided very little overarching framework beyond the reasonable but formless aim of being less shitty to one another.

It seems to me that your question, if it's tangential to the original topic, demonstrates a weakness in how we've chosen to discuss these subjects. Even when, as here, the discussion begins by soliciting people's ideas on broad issues and proposals, the result, as I've said above, is a series of siloed narratives and observations that few people interact with or draw a larger point or meaningful prescription from, perhaps because it's very difficult for any one person to say "I think that this particular subjective experience, while valid, is not a major priority for the group in resolving the larger issue." (Another similar problem is that a less tactful person sometimes careens in to say something like the above indelicately, derailing the entire discussion.)

It's a very good start to distinguish the goals of increasing representation among quizbowl's leading players, editors, and community leaders; improving the treatment of underrepresented participants in quizbowl; and increasing underrepresented population participation. I'd argue that the next step is mapping those goals to specific policies that quizbowl's leaders and institutions can work toward. I hope that, like David says when speaking for PACE in the previous post, people with influence in the community will be open to these suggestions.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Muriel Axon » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:29 pm

Sima Guang Hater wrote:As a person who has been playing since approximately the Hadean, I've seen real change happen and hope it continues to happen.


As someone who's only been around since the late Proterozoic -- and hasn't been as active -- I would like to hear more from older players about what kinds of changes you all have observed over time, and how they came to pass.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Calculus? » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:45 pm

Sima Guang Hater wrote:
Olivia L wrote:I suppose the issues feed off each other, but I was originally suggesting that more women in leadership positions within the quizbowl community would attract more women to the community.


As an empirical matter, this has been correct in my experience (when Sarita Jamil became president our gender representation evened overnight). Is this the experience at other clubs as well?


This is interesting because I've been running the Toronto club for 3 years now and our gender balance has been abysmal regardless of what recruitment method we've tried. Of the 25-30 people who regularly attend our practices, we have exactly one female member other than myself. We get maybe 3/4 men signing up at our clubs fair and it's mostly the men who stick around. But I would be interested in hearing other clubs' experiences -- maybe we're an anomaly.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Aaron's Rod » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:16 am

Sima Guang Hater wrote:
Olivia L wrote:I suppose the issues feed off each other, but I was originally suggesting that more women in leadership positions within the quizbowl community would attract more women to the community.


As an empirical matter, this has been correct in my experience (when Sarita Jamil became president our gender representation evened overnight). Is this the experience at other clubs as well?

Yes, based on my experience at Lawrence this is a Thing with a capital T. Gender parity was so normal there that I had to remind myself to warn freshman women before their first tournament, because at mine it was such a huge shock.

EDIT:

Calculus? wrote:This is interesting because I've been running the Toronto club for 3 years now and our gender balance has been abysmal regardless of what recruitment method we've tried. Of the 25-30 people who regularly attend our practices, we have exactly one female member other than myself. We get maybe 3/4 men signing up at our clubs fair and it's mostly the men who stick around. But I would be interested in hearing other clubs' experiences -- maybe we're an anomaly.

That is really interesting. It made me think of another thing--another thing we did at Lawrence was to, if at all possible, send two people of different genders to the activities fair to staff the booth together.

I'm proud to report that DePaul boasted total gender parity at SCT 2018.
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Amizda Calyx » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:00 pm

The "onus of responsibility" that has been touched on by others in this thread is something that really resonates with me. I'm not a very social person. Directly talking one-on-one to most people, especially people I don't know, is exhausting and makes me anxious, and I'm pretty sure I come off as really standoffish. This is especially true in the evenings after various medications have worn off. But whenever there's a new female member at a practice I feel obligated to interact with her, like it's my responsibility to retain women, and when she doesn't show up to another practice I feel personally at fault. This is, of course, a completely internal pressure that I've never experienced from teammates, but I think it's indicative of the larger problem of being "representative" of a minority.*

As far as I can tell, introverted, less-social white guys (and, for a lot of teams, Indian and East Asian guys) in quizbowl can go along comfortably being quiet or not-so-inclusive around new members of their ethnicity and gender. There are usually plenty of others who fit their description who are enthusiastically social. And this was also partially the case for girls at UW -- Brittany Bentley and the club president my first two years, Sally, were and still are very charming, welcoming, social people who put newcomers at ease. I don't think it's a coincidence that we had between two and six (out of a very small team) active female players all four years. However, my first year at Rutgers, there were maybe two other women who either never came to practice (due to being on a satellite campus) or only showed up sporadically. My second and third year, there were essentially none after the first few practices. I don't know the full reasons behind our high attrition rate, but I am pretty confident it's not because of the behavior of the guys on the team -- I haven't seen any assholery or aggressiveness or even grossness from any of them when around new players. And the girls and guys who stopped showing up likely had a lot of other reasons for deciding quizbowl wasn't for them. But I also can't help but wonder if we'd have better female retention if I was a more charismatic, engaging female quizbowler. It might have been a completely different story for me if, in my first year at UW, I had discovered I'd be the sole member of my gender and would have to grapple with both overextending my social capacity whenever a girl showed up, and stressing out about how my quizbowl performance reflects on women overall (which is a whole other pressure that can play a big part in whether a woman continues to play versus take on more "leadership" or support positions).

So, what do we do? Should current quizbowl-minority players feel obligated to socialize (beyond general social requirements) even when it's deeply uncomfortable? Should there be an expectation of "duty" for these "representatives" in regard to outreach? Or should we do the exact opposite, and try to minimize internal and external pressures for responsibility? How do we make a minority not feel like a minority?

*This is also a phenomenon I see in STEM fields, where it's often a condition of a woman's career advancement to have SOME involvement in "Women in X" or "Diversity" committees. There's a lot of pressure to be a mentor to young women (on top of the basic undergrad-mentoring commitments), which is great for those of us who enjoy meeting or educating people but cripplingly intimidating for people who just want to do their science.
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Amizda Calyx
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Re: We Need an Alternative to the Women in Quizbowl Forum

Postby Calculus? » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:29 pm

Amizda Calyx wrote:The "onus of responsibility" that has been touched on by others in this thread is something that really resonates with me. I'm not a very social person. Directly talking one-on-one to most people, especially people I don't know, is exhausting and makes me anxious, and I'm pretty sure I come off as really standoffish. This is especially true in the evenings after various medications have worn off. But whenever there's a new female member at a practice I feel obligated to interact with her, like it's my responsibility to retain women, and when she doesn't show up to another practice I feel personally at fault. This is, of course, a completely internal pressure that I've never experienced from teammates, but I think it's indicative of the larger problem of being "representative" of a minority.*

As far as I can tell, introverted, less-social white guys (and, for a lot of teams, Indian and East Asian guys) in quizbowl can go along comfortably being quiet or not-so-inclusive around new members of their ethnicity and gender. There are usually plenty of others who fit their description who are enthusiastically social. And this was also partially the case for girls at UW -- Brittany Bentley and the club president my first two years, Sally, were and still are very charming, welcoming, social people who put newcomers at ease. I don't think it's a coincidence that we had between two and six (out of a very small team) active female players all four years. However, my first year at Rutgers, there were maybe two other women who either never came to practice (due to being on a satellite campus) or only showed up sporadically. My second and third year, there were essentially none after the first few practices. I don't know the full reasons behind our high attrition rate, but I am pretty confident it's not because of the behavior of the guys on the team -- I haven't seen any assholery or aggressiveness or even grossness from any of them when around new players. And the girls and guys who stopped showing up likely had a lot of other reasons for deciding quizbowl wasn't for them. But I also can't help but wonder if we'd have better female retention if I was a more charismatic, engaging female quizbowler. It might have been a completely different story for me if, in my first year at UW, I had discovered I'd be the sole member of my gender and would have to grapple with both overextending my social capacity whenever a girl showed up, and stressing out about how my quizbowl performance reflects on women overall (which is a whole other pressure that can play a big part in whether a woman continues to play versus take on more "leadership" or support positions).

So, what do we do? Should current quizbowl-minority players feel obligated to socialize (beyond general social requirements) even when it's deeply uncomfortable? Should there be an expectation of "duty" for these "representatives" in regard to outreach? Or should we do the exact opposite, and try to minimize internal and external pressures for responsibility? How do we make a minority not feel like a minority?

*This is also a phenomenon I see in STEM fields, where it's often a condition of a woman's career advancement to have SOME involvement in "Women in X" or "Diversity" committees. There's a lot of pressure to be a mentor to young women (on top of the basic undergrad-mentoring commitments), which is great for those of us who enjoy meeting or educating people but cripplingly intimidating for people who just want to do their science.


This has been almost exactly my experience at Toronto. I am extremely nervous talking to anyone I don't know well, I am rarely if ever able to make eye contact and I know I come across very awkward/uncomfortable most of the time. I have generally had the other members of my exec, who are male, handle most of the outreach/interactions with newer members and they've always done a great job with it. I can't imagine someone doing a better job at it than they are right now. Even the other members of the club have been generally good, the most I've ever had to speak to them about behaviour is reminding them not to start throwing around too many "inside jokes" when new members are around that might make them feel alienated. Yet every time a new female member shows up I feel this weird "internal pressure" to be the one to make her feel welcome. (I don't believe I make anyone feel especially unwelcome, I'm just very reserved around people I don't know) None of my teammates have ever implied that this is my job, yet I still feel it every time. I have effectively come to terms with the fact that I'm not the ideal face for the club but I do always wonder if Toronto's gender balance would be better if I were a more outgoing person. We have always seemed to have the worst gender balance of all the Canadian clubs and even as I recognize my own social limitations it is hard for me not to tell myself that it's my fault.

I don't think it's fair to expect anyone to be a "representative" of whatever minorities they belong to. Despite the pressure I put on myself, it is never something I would want to place on a friend or teammate. I would never want someone to feel like something like that is their fault especially when the club is making a reasonable effort to recruit new members and there are no glaring administration problems otherwise.
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