Shut up!

I was listening to an audio book on my iPod in the subway today when a friend joined me. She teaches the same courses as I do as an adjunct at our school, we have lunch together once a week if possible. I had just administered an exam via Moodle, she was giving the exam this morning, so we had lots to chat about.

After about two stations a rather unkempt, obese man reading the local yellow press daily sitting next to us orders us to keep it down, we're disturbing everyone. My first reaction is to make a nasty statement, but I'm supposed to be learning conflict management so I reflect for a second.

My friend replies, far too nicely, "Sure, no problem!".

This bugs me - I do not have the feeling that I shout, but I have been told on numerous occasions that I am too loud. My friend says that we are just suffering from lecture room voice - we constantly have to project our voices to reach the back of these large, echoy lecture halls, and we forget to turn the voices off after class.

Or is it that women are not supposed to be speaking loudly (and most certainly not on subjects other than clothes, makeup, and guys)? Okay, maybe I tend to see a gender problem everywhere. But we just had talks as part of a staff search, and my colleagues remarked on both women who applied that they had "difficult" voices.

Do we need to train our voices down to alto to succeed? Well, I'm already alto, and can sing tenor when my voice is going bad, which is far too often. I had wondered if I am going deaf, but I just had a hearing test and hear just fine. I don't feel myself speaking louder (and I had turned off the iPod, so I wasn't speaking over the audio).

Do women have problems of being taken seriously just because their voices are "wrong"? Google Scholar finds a book called "Gender Voices" that looks very interesting, I am afraid to admit. It is very expensive, but luckily, the local library has a copy. I must remember to get it.

In the meantime, I suppose I'll just have to tone my voice down or shut up. Okay, fat chance of that happening :)

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