S. A. Modena samodena at
Tue Sep 8 16:31:51 EST 1992

Networking involves sharing the power pie, even in biology.
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>From at UICVM.BITNET  Thu Sep  3 14:40:55 1992
>Message-Id: <9209031840.AA112960 at>
>Date:         Thu, 3 Sep 1992 13:03:18 -0600
>Reply-To: Women In Science and Engineering NETwork <WISENET%UICVM.BITNET at>
i>Sender: Women In Science and Engineering NETwork <WISENET%UICVM.BITNET at>
>From: "Brigid A. Rea" <BAREA%RCAMNL.WR.USGS.GOV at>
>Subject:      department policy
>X-To:         wisenet at
>To: Multiple recipients of list WISENET <WISENET at UICVM.BITNET>

I have a couple of questions that have perplexed me for quite some time, that
I thought might generate some good discussion on this net.  It involves
telling a short story first though, so please bear with me.

Several years ago a male graduate student friend of mine was telling me about
a policy in his department which required one of the student representatives
to faculty meetings be female and one be male.  I thought it sounded like a
good idea, but he thought it seemed unfair.  His argument went something like,
"when you want a doctor, don't you want the best doctor around, not just the
best of a certain group?"  I replied that representation to the faculty
meetings was certainly not as critical as open heart surgery, and that the
policy gave a chance to a group that was often overlooked or discriminated
against.  (At the time I was under the impression that women needed this
"rule" in to help secure a place where they could meet and interact more
closely with faculty, but after serving on a number of volunteer committees
since then, composed largely of females, I see that I may have fighting this
fight for the males!)  To counter my argument, my friend told me that the
department had a very large Asian fraction, and wouldn't it be better, then,
to have representation based on nationality or some other similar division?  I
told him that I thought that would complicate things when an easy, and
seemingly fair (to me) division of two spots was male and female.  I think I
came close to opening this persons eyes to the need for sometimes forcing a
particular mix of representatives.  I was never too comfortable, though, with
my final argument.

So, my questions: Is the policy of this department fair? necessary?  And, in
my zeal to get a fair shake for women, was I being closeminded to the needs of
other minority groups?

Seems like a complex problem -- any thoughts on this?

barea at
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