Of Men on Zoom and Knowledge Avoidance

I do adore gardens so was happy to see a Zoom gardening talk about Middle East gardens given by a man in Europe. How exciting! And even more exciting when I logged in and saw the participants list, two of other listeners were women with a lot of experience (and published books) on the topic.

It was good talk and when it was over, the presenter asked for questions. The two female experts and a few others ‘raised their hand’ on Zoom. The presenter called on a man in the audience who talked at length. The presenter answered at length, then called on another man who also talked at length and was answered at length.

Then the moderator reminded the presenter that there were people waiting to talk on Zoom.

“Oh,” he said, “I always forget Zoom!” and called on another man in the audience. Eventually both the experts and the other people on Zoom left the meeting.

The presenter clearly knew the men he called on so it’s a good bet he knew what they were going to say but the unknown women on Zoom… hard to say. There’s a small chance he knew who they were (he didn’t mention their work in his presentation) and was afraid of being shown up – but I think it’s more likely that he didn’t know them or their work and simply wanted to stay close to shore, to the people and ideas he already knew.

This reminded me of a required meeting a few weeks ago at work – an outside expert (male, European who had never been in-country) was hired to do an hour-long presentation on one aspect of interacting with clients that had been causing the company trouble.

There was a female team-member who was had this particular skill so after I had signed in, put myself on mute and covered my camera, I took my cup of coffee to her office. She had also signed in, put herself on mute, covered her camera, gotten a cup of coffee and was working on her half-yearly reports.

We listened to the man blabber on for a few moments, then had a nice conversation about how to effectively deal with the issue. After which I went to a few other people’s offices, then sat in mine and people came to visit me. Of course, the presenter asked no questions about our specific situation, they know, oh how they KNOW everything.

Anytime lectures from outside experts are suggested, every team professes complete joy. We all LOVE presentations from people who have never been in-country as this gives us a chance to relax and socialize. We know that nothing of interest or importance will be said.

So often men on Zoom don’t feel the need to make themselves interesting or (God forbid!) pretty up their presentation with colors or photos, much less ask questions and interact with the audience. Their munificent presence is enough – they speak, others listen.

It’s slightly annoying, but also soothing, their voice drones on in the background like a Oxbridge white-noise machine.