In the week before departing for the Global Perspectives Program (GPP), I graduated, interviewed for a full-time academic position, and attempted to sublet my apartment. I prepared for a month-long trip and graded the final papers of ~120 students. I allowed myself little time to anticipate or appreciate the experience to come. Nonetheless, a number of surprising considerations arose in anticipation of GPP and traveling. My considerations were largely pragmatic considerations about what to pack.
First, prioritizing and managing attire proved challenging. My clothing for the trip consists of either formal attire, or - for lack of a better phrase - casual-gym attire. Given the professional context of GPP, the latter are obviously not useful during business hours. This led to two considerations. First, I realized that I should consider comfort and utility in my professional attire. After all, we will spend a fair amount of time outside in the summer during our travel and campus-visits. Presumably, I will be expected to wear business-casual attire in most future professional contexts. While this may seem like a somewhat trivial point, it is an important one. GPP provides the opportunity to begin this process. Much like the advice often given with regard to selecting quality shoes and a good mattress, it also holds that we will spend a lot of time in business clothing. I aspire to be comfortable and professional. Achieving the former will contribute to the latter, I predict.
The second broad consideration I noted is an interesting asymmetry between gender-normed professional. Men usually wear many more pieces of clothing and layers to be professional. Personally, I am envious of the summer-dresses and sleeve-less tops which are deemed appropriate for women. An analogous outfit for men would be akin to Fred Flintstone. My point is not one about the relative burdens of benefits of living in a gendered society. Sweating in a suit-jacket does not atone for history. Rather, my point is simple and liberatory. I am confident that the vast majority of men who wear professional clothing would be eager to buy and wear lighter, summer-friendly business attire. There is an interesting inertial problem. No one wants to be the first to take that initial risk of attending a business-meeting dressed like Mr. Flintstone. As future professioriate, one minor way to make the university more inviting is to consider ways of accommodating people comfortably.
Maybe there is social-space for post-gender professional attire. My next post will be about my initial impressions of Germany and Switzerland. Stay tuned!