Minorities in the Sciences
unknown at dl.ac.uk
unknown at dl.ac.uk
Mon Jan 17 12:14:22 EST 1994
Thanks to the woman who listed information on newsgroups for lesbians in the
sciences. It is wonderful to have so many people sharing their resources and
My field of interest is in tropical ecology, a field which has been
traditionally a *good olU boys club.* All the fields in the sciences have
really been dominated by men for that matter. I am choosing to stay in this
geographical area to do my PhD work, so my options are quite limited. I have a
home, a family, and a small business so relocating is not something I wish to
do. Therefore, I am left with working with one of a handful of male tropical
biologists in the area. All of them seem rather laid back. But as I mentioned
in an earlier message, one of them is very preoccupied with womensU personal
lives and topics on sex in general. I have no problem with putting him in his
place and setting boundaries (after I am in the program), but it is inevitable
that my sexual preference will become know in time.
His professional reputation and successes are great. Professionally, and
careerwise, I would jump at the chance to work with him. On the other hand, I
have been warned and am skeptical about how our personal relationship might
develop and how that could ultimately effect my future (recommendations, grades,
job, etc..). Because he seems somewhat of a womanizer, how will he view my
being a lesbian; as a threat? With contempt? As a challenge? As a test of his
manhood? Or will he just let well enough alone, stick to our research goals,
encouraging and supporting our work as scientists with me as his equal? Only
time will tell.
It is easy to say, and true to a point, that those who are truly your friends
wonUt be *bothered* by my sexual preference. However, the professor with whom I
choose (or need) to work with may not become my friend, at least not initially.
I will have to work with the professor, and others for at least 4-6 years, so
the environment I work in is very important. I have to constantly play the *in
the closet*- *outta the closet*-*in the closet* game. Trying to get into a PhD
program is safer, less risky, and more likely if I choose to be in the closet.
Though it is against the law for anyone to ask you such questions as *are you
married* or *do you have children*, etc, nevertheless, interviewers do ask those
questions; partly to be nosey and partly to find a connection. Anyway, after I
am in a program, I find it safer to be out. But then, once again, I am faced
with being in or out when it comes time to leave a program and hit the pavement
so to speak.
It is unfortunate that anyone would have to *hide* who they are, regardless of
who they are. Deep down we all know it is wrong, yet discrimination based on
sex, age, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, marital status, and children
continues. Each of these dimensions of who we are as individuals only compounds
the inherent discrimination within the system. Female scientists, though
increasing in number, still enter a white, male dominated profession.
Hopefully, someday, women will be in more positions of power, of decision
making, of hiring, and with each small step will change the system making it a
safe, equal and respectful place. In any case, we all must continue to have
faith in ourselves, being proud of who we are as women and as scientists.
Lelia C. Orrell
E-Mail: ORRELL at UMBSKY.CC.UMB.EDU
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