high heel requirement at work?

Tue Feb 6 12:19:35 EST 1996

Bart Janssen wrote:
>Actually, from personal observation I'd say there was an anti-high heel
>(and anti make up) dress code for women in science.  From what I've 
>women who "dress up" for lab work are looked down on.  I'm not sure 
>why, I
>suspect it's something along the lines of "if she's so concerned about 
>appearance she can't be a good scientist".
>Anyone else notice anything like this??

I worked in a government lab before coming to grad school, and while we 
didn't wear heels every day, we did have to wear heels and skirts for 
briefings and be presentable everyday -you never knew who you might have 
to "make an impression" on and the military is pretty conservative about 
neat and appropriate attire.  My first year in grad school I was told by 
a post doc that serious scientists don't wear nail polish (Yet he was 
always chasing that GQ look and talked about buying clothes all the 
time-unusual for a man).  Everytime I dressed nicely for a presentation 
(a skirt or pants and a jacket)-I was teased.  The PI wore Tshirts and 
untied sneakers to give major presentations and thought it was funny 
anyone would dress otherwise.  I left that lab for other reasons, but in 
every lab I've worked in since, whenever I wear more than a T shirt 
(say, a black turtleneck) I get asked "what's the occasion?"  In fact, a 
postdoc in my present lab makes fun of me because I wear lipstick.

 I dress the way I do because I feel good about myself when I dress that 
way, and as long as it doesn't interefere with my bench work, I don't 
see a problem with it. But it is an uphill battle with some people to be 
taken seriously. The people who have the hardest time with it seem to be 
the people who are most uncomfortable with the fact that I'm a woman.  
Anything that reminds them of this is annoying (to quote Pigmallion "Why 
can't a woman be more like a man?") I have seen very sucessful women 
scientists dress well, and I've also seen sucessful women dress from 
absolute slob to something I've heard called "the science nun". It 
doesn't seem to affect their credibility, so I think it's more of an 
issue on the way up than after you've "arrived", but I may be 

This is a whole lot more than 2 cents worth-I think you pushed a button 
on me!

Julia Frugoli
Dartmouth College

visiting grad student at
Texas A&M University
Department of Biological Sciences
College Station, TX 77843
FAX 409-847-8805

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