I’m Dr. Naomi Johnson (aka “Dr. Naomi”), associate professor and chair of Communication Studies at Longwood University. I love my job! My students are energetic, smart, and optimistic – they help keep me young and I learn from them. I teach a variety of subjects at Longwood including gendered communication, organizational communication, interpersonal communication, and communication research.
If you’d asked me when I was an undergraduate student if I would be a professor of anything, I would have had told you you were crazy! But, after 11 years in corporate life where I worked as a reporter, news editor, and district manager for a construction news organization, I decided I was ready for a change. Eventually, I landed at University of North Carolina where I was fortunate to work with Julia T. Wood, a well-known gender and interpersonal communication scholar. The research I conducted there under her supervision was profiled in The New York Times and Newsweek, among other news sources.
While I enjoy teaching all my classes, the gender and communication courses hold a special place in my heart. This is because I can see how gendered norms have influenced me from my earliest memories. For instance, when I was seven, my mother gave me what we now refer to as the “Tupperware bowl haircut” in which it appeared that she placed a bowl over my head and chopped accordingly (she didn’t, but if your mother is an attorney, I don’t recommend that you see her for hair styling). This situation was only exasperated when a passerby commented that I was a “cute boy.” I cried and cried over this!
So, this idea of how something so small as chopping a few inches from my hair caused such distress and the fact that I knew at a young age what my hair was “supposed” to be like is the type of gendered norm that fascinate me.
I hope to both teach and learn more from my students in Gender and Communication about how routine and extraordinary interactions influence how we see ourselves and others. I want to challenge restrictive gendered norms and open up new ways of thinking to live fuller lives.