In my absence I picked up a whiff of a lot of chatter about what women scientists wear to work… or talk/write about wearing …. going on in the blogosphere. I thought about this quite a bit, I fretted about it, I wrote out a blog post longhand because I didn’t have a computer handy while on vacation. I am sure many of the regular readers of this blog know what discussion I’m talking about so I’m not going to give you all the links- it involved the usual suspects.
And now I’m going to say something that is going to surprise you I’m sure- I am not going to talk about what female scientists wear to work, what is appropriate, what is inappropriate, how femininity should be or shouldn’t be displayed on the job (or whether it should be), whether women scientists have to dress like male counterparts etc. – on this blog. Period.
You see- the struggle I’m in daily in my own life and career is not about appearances, and it is not about symbolism or femininity- and it is not about who I am as a person, my likes and dislikes etc. It is a struggle to be heard and taken seriously for my ideas, plain and simple. It is an absolute drive to get papers out and get grants out and funded. It is about training the students in my group – who right now happen to be all women- to be the best possible scientists, and teaching them how the system works. It is about not having to repeat the same reasonable idea 20 or 30 times and have it laughed off by a group of colleagues for two or three YEARS, and then having a man mention it once and have it roundly applauded and implemented. It is about going to meetings and having the old perverts in the field look me in the eye and treat me like the reasonably intelligent scientist that I am. It is about making sure I have enough time with my daughters, so I can teach them that very important lesson that they can be whatever they want when they grow up- and so that they always know that they are more important than my job. It’s about making sure I stay married, and that I always fulfill my responsibilities to my aging parents and my sister.
So, what I wear to work- is utterly unimportant to me in the face of these issues that I deal with every single day. You all will have to decide for yourselves what are the important parts of your job, your career… your life- and what battles you want to fight. For myself, I’ll stick with those in I list in the previous paragraph.