The girls are coming and they are here to stay
I read somewhere that Jennifer Harman believes that being a woman in a gentleman’s game is a definite advantage for her because there is a tendency to underestimate her. Some have gone as far as trying to make her niche outside the mainstream by claiming that she is the best female player across the globe. This fails to recognize Jennifer Harman’s achievements within the game regardless of her gender and the prejudices that attempt to hold her back. If I was assessing her career, I would be more inclined to look at it from the perspective of someone that is competing well within the male dominated world of poker.
On those terms she is recognized as one of the best they have. I know that there is a tendency to get minority people to be representative of their group. This can be frustrating for them and their supporters because it ceases to recognize them as individuals but instead looks at them as a homogeneous group of people who have not discernible variation in character. Therefore I can imagine the challenges for woman attempting to penetrate the highest levels of poker.
Breaking down barriers
When a woman is attempting to get into poker, they will first have to break down the structures and barriers that will be in readiness for her entry. Social structures tend to support the status quo and there will be various mechanism meant to remove any destabilizing influence that might overcome those structures. Poker is similar to these power structures especially given the competitive nature of the beast. If you have what can be termed as an old boy’s network, then the entrance of someone like Jennifer Harman can be very disconcerting to those who have already been running the poker game. She is a woman and therefore different from the men that have traditionally played the game. However she is also very successful so the normal ways of patronizing minorities will simply not work with her. The response to such a situation can vary depending on the people who are working in the poker industry.
Some people will decide that this is a nice development and will try to welcome the lady into the game with as much grace as possible. These are the types of people who will see the extraordinary success of Jennifer Harman as the beginning of something really exciting. One would hope that the majority of people in poker would see this as an opportunity to increase the number of women who actively participate in the game after all these might prove to be a fan winner. I personally believe that poker is the richer for the entrance of such a distinguished player such as Jennifer Harman.
Some of the negative reactions can come from people who are either ignorant, are prejudiced or are simply jealous of the success of Jennifer Harman. In any case I believe that it is in the interest of poker to ensure that these negative voices are not given prominence in the discourse about the role of women in poker.