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Men as fairy godmothers?

This weekend, Pat, Kathryn and I will be giving a session at WAM: Women, Action & the Media at MIT. Want to come see us demonstrate some tips on how activists and researchers should talk to the media? Join us on Sunday at 10AM.

Can't join us? Let me tell you what we'll be talking about:

What you all don't know is that I've been doing a lot of research lately on men in fairy godmotherhood. I bet you didn't know that men could be fairy godmothers, because they don't get a lot of press. Like women in STEM, they're not only underrepresented but also overlooked where they do exist. Plus, people think men can't be good fairy godmothers because they're not nurturing enough. Silly essentialists.

But let me tell you! Men can be great fairy godmothers in the right setting. Men of all types do well as fairy godmothers, in fact, though different types of men have different experiences. Men who fit people's stereotypes of fairy godmothers fit much more smoothly into the field, while (how to put this delicately?) more stereotypically manly men encounter a lot of hurdles.

Does this mean that manly men can't be good fairy godmothers? Not at all! It turns out that stereotypically fairy godmother-like men don't challenge people's ideas about fairy godmothers, and so they fit into the existing system smoothly. Great! Manly men have a harder time, as you might expect, but they also do very well when they're given supportive colleagues and wish-grantees. This is great news, because it means that we all can have an impact on progress in this realm.

But why should we care? The short supply of fairy godmothers in our culture is a problem, and will continue to be so. If we can attract more men to the field, and keep them involved and engaged, more wishes will be granted for everyone. You may not think fairy godmothers are important in your life, but you never know when you're going to need a wish granted: Support male fairy godmothers today!