As the library director, I attend a lot of meetings with other community leaders. These are meetings of equals. If at some point we realize that someone should be taking notes, however, more often than not eyes will turn to me.
I get it, but I have come to resent this in the same way that I resented being in science class and having everyone look at me expectantly when the teacher asked a particularly tough question. Just because I’m Asian doesn’t mean I know all about science, and just because I’m a woman and a librarian doesn’t mean I’ll default to being the notetaker.
I should point out that I’m currently serving as Secretary of my homeowners’ association and Secretary on the board of a library collaborative. These situations are different because I intentionally signed up for them. In the meetings I’m talking about, it’s not a formal committee or board meeting, and as the (usually) only library representative, my priority is advocating for and communicating the services of my library.
If my head is down and I’m taking minutes, I’m distracted from participating fully in the discussion. I stymie myself, though, because my helpful nature makes it difficult for me to turn down the request to take minutes.
I’ve done some observations of other women in similar meetings, and I’ve discovered a pattern in the ones who don’t get asked to take notes. My first inclination when sitting down at a meeting was to take out a pen and paper. I noticed that the women who don’t do this are passed over when “We need someone to take minutes” comes up. They still get the look, but people’s eyes continue past when they see that these women have no note-taking tools.
So now when I get to a meeting I don’t immediately take out a pen or notepad. I have them, of course, because I’m a planner like that, but they stay in my bag unless I really, truly, desperately need to write something down. This method eliminates any awkwardness about appearing uncooperative by saying no when you clearly already have a pen and paper out.
If you try this, let me know in the comments how it works for you!