DO women do science differently????

SLForsburg susan_forsburg at
Mon Nov 27 21:01:39 EST 1995

linden at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU (Linden Higgins) wrote:
    ....(stuff deleted, sure hope I got the attributions right ;-)
>ON the other hand, we hired two
>people, a man with a stay-at-home wife (and children) and a single woman.
>There is no apparent difference in their abilities, but in what they are
>accomplishing it is clear that it makes a major difference if there is
>someone else to take care of daily life, even without children!  

Speaking as a single woman in just that position, wow *I'll* say.  I gotta
go home if the house if flooding/plumber is due/phone needs to be repaired.
My male colleagues to a one are married or have SOs and a lot of them are
"traditional" wives.  What an advantage!!! Not to mention those times someone
ELSE can make dinner....

I keep reading that studies show that women dont do science differently than
men, and that women in science are no less likely than men to have a partner,
but my experience and observation  dont agree with that. For one thing, men
are much happier in an aggressive competitive environment, challenging for
heirarchy and blustering a lot.  That's  how men are, and how they
often interact with each other.  The system is set up by men 
who  exhibit that behaviour to reward that behaviour. Women who dont act 
like their aggressive male colleagues are often overlooked or undervalued,
 and  are at a real disadvantage.  I've noticed that throughout my
career, at every level.  

I dont think I should have to behave like an aggressive male to succeed in
 science. I'm not male and dont want to be. Some people
will argue that that is the way science is, and read it and weep;  
the "it's aman's world" argument. I disagree; I think science is about 
doing good work  and people  should be judged on their work,
not their networking or blustering or aggression or self-promotion.  
(Aside:  Ever noticed how an aggressive man is just aggressive 
but an aggressive woman is a bitch?)

I think the younger men (students and postdocs) are changing in attitude;  they
recognize that it is not a sign of weakness to spend fewer than 80 hours a 
week in lab or to want some time with their kids.   It's  the middle aged+ 
who are stuck with the macho scientist culture.  Another problem I've noticed 
on recent searches is that there are  not a lot of women applying for 
jobs, compared to their numbers in the postdoc/student population. Maybe
 they are getting tired of the system early on and bailing out.But it isnt
 going to change unless men and women who dont want to be macho scientists
get inside the system and work their way up and change it.  Probably climbing
over the fallen bodies of those of us gone before !  ;-)

That's HUMOUR in case any one missed it....

S L Forsburg                             
susan_forsburg at
 "I don't speak for the Institute,         
 and the Institute doesnt speak for me."

More information about the Womenbio mailing list