Old girl network

Laura Hyatt lhyatt at mail1.sas.upenn.edu
Sun Mar 19 13:48:57 EST 1995


I'm writing in response to Dr. Pam's words of advice and am wondering if 
her words might not spark an interesting debate here.  As an 
undergraduate, I did some primary source research on networking behaviors 
of the early women MD's -- I was fortunate enough to have access to 
personal papers and found letters back and forth full of advice, etc.

Towards the war era, there was a remarkable decline in women MD's, (an 
interesting aside: there were more women MD's in the 20's and 30's than 
there were in the 50's)
 partly due to the changing war economy, partly due to a new agenda that 
demanded that men needed the valuable room that women were taking up in medical 
school, but also partly due to a change in attitude of the women in the 
med schools themseleves -- there seems to have developed (and is with us 
today?) a dichotomy of behavioural modes -- either one becomes "one of 
the boys", kicks butt with the best of them, and keeps to oneself, or one 
wholeheartedly engages in developing the old gal network, mentoring and 
being as supportive as one can be to one's colleages.  Some historians 
have pointed to the "guy" strategy as the one that cut women off at the 
knees, claiming that it negates women's strengths, and maintains an 
atmosphere that keeps the extra-achieving ones unique, reinforcing the 
cultural idea that only a few, really unusual women can do any sort of 
science (or medicine) at all.  

Any comments?  I'm not sure what I believe, but I see both strategies 
functioning in science today (as well as in myself).  Is this a false 
dichotomy?  Does one become one of the guys, one of the gals, or one of 
the science geeks (especially in the atmosphere we live/work in).


--
Laura Hyatt
lhyatt at mail.sas.upenn.edu
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