I'm a new tutor at Boise State and I wanted to comment on a piece of an essay we read in our 303 class written by Elizabeth Boquet ("Snapshots of Life in the Center"). This is a very good essay, and I wanted to comment on one smaller part of it.
Boquet used her difficulty with dealing with a fellow tutor "Bill" to express gender concerns within the Writing Center. If you read this piece, "Bill" can be summed up as nothing more than a weasel because, at the time when Boquet wrote this essay, "Bill" "lorded" over the writing center with his vast computer knowledge, which enabled him to avoid serious tutoring responsibilities and gain advantages. "Bill" also, according to Boquet, lied about teaching a female colleague about a computer program. Is "Bill" an appropriate example of typical male behavior?
Boquet quoted Tannen,"men's communicative strategies are primarily heirarchical, while women focus on connectedness. For this reason, women are more likely to involve others in operations involving them while men are more likely to view a teaching situation...as an opportunity to assert dominance and control." (126)
In order to get to my questions/thoughts, I'll just sum up some further points in the piece. Men (like Bill) do most of the talking in sessions, they dictate. Women are empathetic and better listeners.
I have seen weasels like "Bill" in company settings. He and his kind are still walking around the halls of companies with their clubs, no doubt.
But in my brief exposure to the Writing Center at Boise State I have not seen the kinds of gender issues which Boquet alludes to (student writers unwilling to work with tutors of a certain sex, male tutors telling writers what to do, women tutors passively listening, etc.)
Do experienced tutors working at Writing Centers today see some of these gender-based issues today? Are these issues still "real" concerns or have they retreated into a different, modern subtle form? Has my graduate student status insulated me from this?