Female/male Lab Dynamics

Diqui LaPenta diqui at lenti.med.umn.edu
Tue Sep 14 15:36:43 EST 1993

In article <1993Sep14.103806.7272 at mcclb0> madsen at mcclb0.med.nyu.edu (LISA M. MADSEN) writes:
>Perhaps I'll start things off with a question.  Has it been
>anyone else's experience that women in the lab are expected to perform
>organizational and menial tasks (for example, getting luch for
>visiting scientists)  as well as their own experiments and men perform
>these tasks much less frequently?  Is this a dynamic present only in my lab? 
>Thanks in advance.
>L.M. Madsen
>PhD student (Microbiology)

That dynamic (females getting stuck with duties below that of a secretary)
is outside of my experience. When I first started working in this lab as
a technician, there were 4 male grad students, a male post doc, the male
PI, a male technician, one female grad student and me (female). The
other technician and I shared ordering and organizational tasks. If a visiting
scientist wanted lunch, the PI took him or her out to eat. Maybe when I 
switched from tech to 1st year student, I might have lacked the nerve to
refuse to fetch if asked, but certainly not now. If I were asked to fetch
lunch (or coffee or whatever), I think I'd find a tactful way to tell my
advisor to jump in the lake (and there's lots to choose from in Minnesota!).
I don't think any grad student should have to act as a gopher, and it 
certainly isn't a task assigned to some simply because they're female.
If there's someone "neutral" to whom you can address this problem, please
do so. You're a grad student as slave labor, sure, but only in the realm
of benchwork!

Best of luck,

Diqui La Penta

diqui at lenti.med.umn.edu


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