So, we were having dinner with some colleagues the other night and discussing a very bright, talented, and responsible recent graduate of the undergraduate program.  One person commented that Recent Grad did a great job as a teaching assistant and should consider teaching as a part of a career path.  At the time I thought it was a logical statement, but it started to bother me a bit in the following day or two.

Basically, the person who complemented Recent Grad is a teaching professional, so recommending teaching as a career makes sense.  However, Recent Grad also happened to be a woman, and I can’t help but be reminded of how often women are told that they are ‘good teachers’ when they explain things clearly.  I feel like men are more often complimented on what great speakers they are, or on their wonderful presentation style, or just on how smart they are to understand the subject.

I remember one particularly awkward incident at a job interview when I was talking to the department head after my seminar.  He kept repeating that I must be a great teacher, and I finally said, “Well, I hope I’m good at communicating my research as well.”  Awkward, especially since this was at an R1 school where teaching was not as important as research in terms of getting or keeping the job.

Has anyone else had an experience like this?