Does gender affect how you, as an academic, present yourself in a professional setting? I’d hazard yes, though perhaps in different ways for different people. I know I tend to put plenty of thought into what I wear in professional settings, and perhaps moreso in settings where I am with peers as opposed to teaching.
I suspect we also sometimes struggle with classic perceptions of what an academic must look like. There’s nothing wrong whatsoever with a tidy tweed with elbow patches; it’s classic and I myself have been known to rock one or two of those lovely jackets every now and again. In fact, I enjoy dragging those out, playing with the perception of an academic and perceptions of me as a female academic. But sometimes I suspect that your average layperson might think this is, indeed, how academics dress. And whilst that can be true, it’s not the only truth. There are many ways to be an academic, and many different ways academics can appear.
A new tumbl has sprung up, This Is How Academics Dress, challenging just this notion of what an academic should look like and even be in the 21st century. There are men who actively pursue an androgynous look. There are women who explore their queerness through their dress. Classic black dresses and sassy red boots. There are so many ways of simply being a human being, and how we choose to present ourselves is a part of who we think we are, and how we’d like others to see us.
The blog creator and maintainer, Dr Rachel Moss, says:
I’ve set up this tumblr so people can submit photos of themselves going about their academic business, wearing clothes that may or may not conform to the academy’s expectations of what it means to look like An Academic.
The standard attire of our industry is that typically worn by privileged white men. The parameters of what an academic “looks like”, both within popular culture and within the academy itself, are still shockingly narrow. But many of us in academia are not white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, abled, economically privileged. Our clothing isn’t just about our fashion choices. It is about our membership of multiple communities, of our different classes, ethnicities, genders, sexualities. We don’t all conform to one narrow type. And I want to showcase the ways our diversity is represented in how we dress every day for work.
It’s a new but expanding blog, and one that’s performing the welcome task of exploring how we, as academics, present not just ourselves but our professional identity. Have a browse, revel in the diversity, and submit your own photo as well. You may eventually even be able to spot one of the Masculine Landscapes organizers!