Just joined. . .

Anne Savitt asavitt at ccmail.sunysb.edu
Tue Aug 3 10:12:56 EST 1993


After reading all of the weekend!s postings, I almost decided that I
wasn!t interested in reading any more from this group.  With all of the
exclamations and underlining and stressing, I felt that I was caught in
the middle of a most unpleasant shouting match, something I generally
avoid in real life.  However, a few thoughts pushed themselves forward
when I recovered from my headache, and I thought I would share them with
you.

This group has the potential to perform a great service for women
scientists, if channeled constructively.  There are many important issues
for discussion (e.g., how to deal with unwanted advances, how to avoid
misunderstandings as to someone!s intentions, how to become a more vocal
advocate for women!s rights without being bitchy about it, why more women
do not use this forum to voice their concerns, etc. . .).  The key word,
I think, is discussion.  Most of what I read did not fall into this
category.  It is very nice to have and voice opinions, but you must
recognize that they are only your opinions.  No one person has the answer
for everyone, but each person may have something to contribute that many
people can benefit from.

I find the fact the Dean Lee had to do a post to justify his original
post to be a travesty.  His problem is a very real one, and one that is
endemic to any business setting where males and females travel to
meetings which include social activities.  The husband of a friend of
mine became very friendly with a woman at a meeting, and his labmates
rushed to call my friend and tell her.  Fortunately, she is a secure
person whose friendships include males as well as females, and she did
not overreact to the situation.  Her husband told her all about it when
he came home.  It is unfortunate the the woman in Dean Lee!s situation
misunderstood, but why was it necessary to abuse him for making friends
(or is there an assumption that men and women cannot be friends?)?

Likewise, I think that the issue of rejecting unwanted advances is a lot
more complex than it was treated.  It is very nice to give a !nasty look
that could kill most mammals!, but what if that person is someone in
whose lab you would like to do a post-doc?  Or what if that person is
someone with whom you would like to collaborate or someone who is likely
to be sitting on a search committee in your future?  I saw no discussion
of how women comport themselves at meetings, or of how they dress.  I
know of several graduate students who wear short shorts and stretch
pants, and I would not be surprised if they received all sorts of
advances, unwanted or otherwise.  

I have lots more opinions and thoughts to offer, but I think I!ll limit
this one, since this is my first post.  I thank Una Smith for her strong
posting (which I took seriously because of the quality of her other
bionet.* posts), which pushed me into this.  I think that harping on how
bad the system is (something of which I have been guilty) is
self-defeating, because it lowers your expectations, both of yourself and
others.  However, a good dialogue on a problem with suggestions for
improvement can go a long way.



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