Here's a really interesting interview with 4th year theological student Tess. I'm fascinated by this paragraph towards the end:
"Admitting that it is hard to specifically identify what is in many ways just a “vibe” she gets, she modestly and carefully explains that sometimes, as an intelligent women, she feels she has hold back to protect the finer feelings of the men in her classes, so as not to offend them. She admits that feeling is a bit ridiculous, and explains that clearly, scriptures don’t bar her from holding or expressing her own ideas."
Of course, we sometimes hold back our ideas and opinions out of consideration for others. This is just a normal part of life. I'm not going to contradict a person with 20 or 30 more years of life experience from me - or I'm not going to do it in the same way I would to someone my own age or younger. But it is curious, if as women, we feel we can't debate energetically with our male peers, exchanging ideas and opinions with them as we would with our female peers. In the theological college environment, a female student would not be overstepping and having teaching authority over her male classmate if she did this. If she felt she needed to hold back (more than she would with female peers), it would be either:
1. Because she was imagining some impropriety that didn't exist.
2. Because she knows from experience that (some of) the guys in her class feel quite insecure in their masculinity and will be threatened by her.
3. Because she knows from experience that expressing opinions in this group context isn't considered womanly and engaging in robust debate would lower her in the eyes of others in the group.
If #2 is the reason, then holding back might seem a kindness but probably won't help the guys in question be better husbands to their wives or ministers to women in the future.