Women writing

Dot writes: I’ve just spent the last two days on a writing retreat. It didn’t involve retreating very far – 9am to 4.30pm each day in a hotel on Grafton Street, with tea and coffee and mini-Danish pastries in the morning and a soup-and-sandwiches lunch – but it has been immensely useful: I’ve rejigged the introduction and conclusion to an article that has been embarrassingly hanging around for ages not getting (re)submitted, and I’ve largely finished footnoting and formatting it too. I wrote 1200 words yesterday, which for me is amazing.

The benefits of this kind of exercise seem obvious to me. Not just the pastries, but dedicated time to write, out of the office, with no email, no knocks on the door, no distractions, but the energy of a room full of people all working away, and the pleasure of their company and encouragement at lunchtime. There were ten of us there and I think we all felt we got a lot out of it. Just one question: why were absolutely all of us women? Where were the men? Don’t they write? Doesn’t anyone knock on their office doors?

We were talking about this curious gender split and came up with the following suggestions:

1) men are better at protecting their time, and less likely to put family first outside normal office hours. When Dad wants to work on a Saturday, he works on a Saturday. When Mum wants to, fat chance.

2) men view this sort of activity (run by CAPSL, who organise the university’s training workshops) not as support but as interference. Our facilitator was saying that the male staff are generally less willing to go on CAPSL’s courses. “They see them as remedial,” she said.

Maybe these are rather sweeping generalisations about the sexes, begging to be knocked down. But the fact is, every single person on the writing retreat was a woman. Any further ideas why?


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