No sir, I do not need you to explain that. // Katie Hannah
Mansplaining. You know how some men will choose to explain things to you in a patronizing tone, even when you know more than they do about the subject at hand? That all-too-familiar experience has been coined mansplaining, for those of you who don’t know. There are few things more irritating than telling someone you are in a doctoral program in psychology only to have to listen to them tell you all about Freud for the next five to ten minutes-lecture style. Thank you so much for the psychology 101 run down, oh wise one. One circumstance that is actually more annoying, in my opinion, is when men who know exactly what you’re studying in school because they are doing it too, feel the need to mansplain. I am currently working on a study dealing with sexism. I am, of course, elbows deep in all of the literature around this subject. I have a decent handle on the subject. I have had a male peer ask me about my research, then proceed to tell me about the pay gap or the fact that a woman is running for president, as though I may have been living under a rock. [Insert obvious disclaimer about how not all men do this and some women do it too]
What is it that makes these men so confident that they know more about any given topic than the woman they are speaking to? Studies continuously show that women underestimate their abilities, while men overestimate their abilities, even when actual ability is equal. We regularly cut ourselves, and sometimes other women, down. While we are well represented in colleges in general, we are still underrepresented in STEM fields. Despite our presence and contributions to various fields, we don’t take our share of leadership positions. My program consists mainly of women, yet male voices often dominate classroom discussions. Those who are in leadership positions often lack self-confidence regarding their status, and instead credit external factors. I regularly hear women say things like “I got lucky on that paper” or “I don’t know how I landed that job.” You got where you are because you earned it ladies. This confidence gap is likely to blame for these aforementioned annoying interactions. It is probably playing a role in other inequities as well. Maybe this is another chicken or the egg situation. I don’t know. I do know that we are strong, capable, intelligent beings. We should be able to reveal these aspects of ourselves as indiscriminately as our male counterparts. So thank you gentlemen, but really- we’ve got it.
Written by Katie Hannah