sports & baking & frustration!

aloisia schmid a-schmi at
Fri Dec 20 17:19:56 EST 1996

In article <32BAC726.754A at>, ktlee+ at wrote:

> After reading lots of posts on this subject, I am struck by one thing: 
> the notion that to be feminine we must bake, nurture, clean the lab, 
> and be a doormat.  I realize that contemporary society seems to have 
> this image of a woman as always nurturing etc...Don't you know men who 
> like to bake, are great with kids and aren't backstabbers?  ......
> I don't think you have to choose between science and femininity, but 
> you might have to change your definition of feminine.
> Karen
> Donning flame-retardent underware now! (not very feminine I 
> suspect.;-})

Dear Karen,

    I just wanted to respond to this on one little minor point.  

    I don't want to leave you with the impression that i was saying that
in order to be feminine you have to bake, nurture, clean the lab and be a
doormat.  On the contrary.  What I am saying is that wanting to do those
things if you prefer they be done---should not relegate you to the
position of someone who is intellectually inferior.  

    I long ago accepted as true that if the lab is messy and it bothers
me, then I should clean it up.  That I cannot expect other people to
conform to my standards if it is not MY lab---just to make ME
comfortable.    I would never say to someone who was messy---"Clean up!". 
Since I am the one who can't deal with the mess, then I accept that
cleaning it up has to be something I have to be willing to do.  But I do
not appreciate being called lab mom or treated as lab mom, or betty
crocker or any of the other things this leads to if I am willing to clean
up a mess.  I don't understand why it is rigid to be neat, but cool to be
messy--almost like you're a renegade genius in being able to do good
science in the midst of chaos.  I will also be the first to admit that the
people who have done this---lab mommed me---aren't very nice people whose
opinion I resepect, but it still makes me hesitant to do these things and
makes me question myself.  (And it's not as though I need help in finding
things to doubt myself over....)  

    I also have no problem baking or not baking for lab functions.  But I
have noticed that there have been a few descriptions of men that
newsgroup-contributors know,  who also bake and bring delicious things to
lab parties and functions, but really, their kitchen activities DO
complement their other qualities.  I mean the fact that they are held up
as an example is exactly what I mean!  How many times does a PI say
"there's this really great woman post-doc in my lab who bakes and cooks
till two in the morning for lab meetings!"  In my experience (I admit,
maybe not representative of most labs---but still, these are MY
experiences) the PI would be appalled that you weren't staying to work in
the LAB till 2 in the morning instead.  And would be afraid this is an
indication of how you really yearn for  domesticity and that maybe you
don't take science quite as seriosuly as you should.  

     Anyway, I just wanted to say that I know plenty of women who wear
dirty clothes out of the hamper (I have been there, done that....) and who
hate to cook and who do all of the other stuff.  My big wish in life
though is to have the world be convinced that WHATEVER women do, it's just
another interesting facet of their personalities and does not indicate
that they are therefore less suited to the hard stuff, the more serious
aspects of life.  If they like to bake or clean, or whatever, judge them
as scientists independent of those preferences.  

     So just for the record, I NEVER meant to imply that in order to be
feminine we need to bake and clean and be doormats.  I think we need to be
respected and to be trusted to do the right thing and to be smart and
hard-working--and all the rest is inconsequential as far as I am

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