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Monday, December 16, 2013


Why Your Boy Friend Should Work at the Writing Center


Hey, ladies (and gentlemen).

In my last post, “Where Have All the Men Gone?” I addressed the stereotype that women are writers and teachers. Maybe this is why women are more commonly found in writing centers than men.

But why do we need men? Don’t they have cooties or something?

To be frank, the gender imbalance keeps us from offering the best services possible.

A study on sex published in A Synthesis of Qualitative Studies of Writing Centers shows that male students feel more comfortable with male tutors, and female students feel more comfortable with female tutors. Apparently, dudes like that their male tutors tend to take a more directive, grammar-focused approach, while ladies like that they receive more nurturing, holistic advice. Here’s the thing, though. When it comes to improving writing, both of these approaches are helpful. Sometimes, our clients need a gentle shove in the right direction, addressing more surface-level concerns, while other times, its best that we look more at the writer than the writing to assess skill level, degree of improvement, etc. Both of these tactics help make better writers, so let’s even out the consultant pool a little bit.

But you know what else? Maybe some males are more nurturing and holistic, while some females are more directive and grammar-focused. At least, that’s what Kathleen Hunzer’s article, “Misperceptions of gender in the writing center: Stereotyping and the facilitative tutor” argues. These ideas about the role gender plays in tutoring seem to be as much based on stereotypes are they are based on real, honest-to-goodness truths. As tutors, we know that we assess each session, each writer, and each paper on a case-by-case basis. We know that sometimes, we’ll have to be more directive, and other times, the writer just needs someone to tell them that they’re on the right track. However, if we have more female tutors, our clients have a greater opportunity to make these broad assumptions than they would if every time they came in, they had a tutor of a different gender who was able to help them in a different way, not because of his/her sex, but because of his/her gifts as a tutor. We can bust these stereotypes! In fact, as millenials, it’s practically our duty! But first, let’s get more guys tutoring.

So how do we reel in the men?

I don’t know about you, but I had several friends apply to the writing center just because I was gushing about it all the time, because, as we all know, it’s the best place to work on campus! I will shamefully admit, however, that these friends were all girls. Why?

Maybe we too fall into the trap of assuming that women are better writers and tutors, or that guys are interested in other things. We know that it’s not true, but let’s be more intentional about letting our guy friends know about the writing center, and what great opportunities they would have there. Just think about everything that we’ve learned from tutoring. I know that I’ve become a better writer myself, but I’ve also become a better teacher, communicator, and leader. These skills are extremely marketable in most career endeavors, “masculine” and “feminine.” Male or female, the writing center is truly a great place to work. Let’s let the menfolk know.

So, for the sake of writers everywhere, let’s get some more testosterone in here!

2 comments:

  1. It's really interesting how some characteristics are still applied more to one gender over another.

    For example, the whole left-brain, right-brain theory is increasingly coming under fire in the scientific community: i.e. the left and right side of the brain do not actually have a monopoly on the skills there are alleged to; both sides of the brain are used in both solving math problems and painting.

    When it comes to writing, one needs both logic AND artistic inspiration. A good writer uses both in his or her writing. If there's no artistic inspiration, the piece is probably quite dry and boring. If there is no logic, the piece is probably incoherent and confusing.

    I agree, though, that there need to be more men writing tutors and teachers. I feel that while men and women can convey the same idea about grammar, or the same idea about literary style, HOW they convey these ideas will vary - and will vary usually according to their gender. Hence, men may find it easier to understand a concept coming from a male tutor, while women may find it easier to understand the same concept coming from a female tutor.

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  2. I agree that writing centers do need more males. I does not help that the is a stereotype out there about females having the roles of tutors and teachers, especially in the English/Writing Department. It would be great if the guys were not so concerned with the stereotype and actually saw more of the benefit to be a writing fellow. Working on their own skills and seeing different styles of writing. It's a cool thing to experience.

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