Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tall White Male Project

Who’s in charge at your office?
Who always stands in front of you at concerts?
Who has physically run into you because he didn’t see you down there?

These are the stories of the Tall White Male.

If you’re like me, upon reading this intro from creator Leslie Kang’s splash page for the Tall White Male Project, you just want to know more. Set to launch in May 2010, Leslie gives Ladies Lotto an advance scoop on what to expect from the Tall White Male Project.

How would you describe the Tall White Male Project?
I would describe it less as a site and more as a social art project. It’s meant to be an exploration more than a statement. Something that will be funny and amusing, but also based in facts and that will foster discussion and awareness.

I have to ask, was there one tall, White male in particular who inspired this idea?
No, there wasn’t one specific male at all. The idea itself certainly stemmed from various actual stories I’ve been told that all had tall, white males as the common denominator, but I’m really speaking more about the idea of the tall, white male in the aggregate sense. As a woman, you hit a certain period in your career and although you know that the glass ceiling exists, you may not have necessarily experienced it firsthand.

Did you get to a point in your career where you were feeling it firsthand?
I think the entirety of my work experience is definitely relevant to this project. I’ve been a UX Designer (User Experience) in the "New Media" or "Interactive" industry for about 13 years, and there came a point where I was unhappy with what I was doing and wanted to start my own business. When I started doing research, I noticed that all new media agencies had been formed by tall, white men and in most cases pairs of tall, white men. Then I looked at my own job history and realized that there’s always been a tall, white man in charge at every place I worked.

Why do you think that is?
I’m not sure why and that is why I want to explore the issue, to delve into existing paradigms of power and what appears to be a systematic predilection of tall, white males who have that power. I mean I’ve had direct supervisors who were fantastic women and I went to an all-womens college - even though I actually think that was one of the biggest mistakes I made, so for a while I never felt the tall, white male dominance even though I knew philosophically that it existed. I personally sort of came into that realization later than most other women probably have.

So what are you hoping to achieve with the Tall White Male Project?
I haven’t totally fleshed it all out, but I actually envision it to be more than just submissions-based content and to also include resources and information. Malcolm Gladwell has some great statistics from his chapter in Blink (Why do we love tall men?) that I’d like to share on the site. I’ve also thought about listing resources for women in business, links to lawyers to help with discrimination, things like that.

Could a tall, White male submit a story?
Yeah,sure. As I said, to me this is much more of a social art project, a call to discussion of sorts, than anything else. The more we are exposing, exploring and discussing the dynamics of power and the appeared precedent of tall, white males, the more interesting I think it will be.

What kind of submissions are you looking for?
I don’t really have specific requirements. Although I will probably lightly vet them, I won’t be editing the submissions. I want there to be freedom in how people express their stories – could be anecdotal, short story, photos etc., and people will have the option to be anonymous or include their name.

Do you have a Tall White Male story that you want to share? Submit your story here and keep your eye out in May 2010 for the official launch.

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