women scientists dressing down

Sabine Dippel sabine at hlrz24.zam.kfa-juelich.de
Wed Feb 7 04:49:06 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 seen
>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 her
>appearance she can't be a good scientist".
>Anyone else notice anything like this?

Actually, in the places I worked in so far (not too many) nobody ever seemed
to confuse clothes and scientific ability. I like to wear both jeans, sweaters
and T-shirts, as well as sometimes wear a dress or skirt. Though people react
to the latter (as it is more seldom, at least in winter - in summer I wear 
dresses a lot) by usually asking why I don't wear it more often (or sometimes,
which is annoying, ask what's the special occasion). But they don't take
me the less serious because I care about clothes. 

However, the reason might be that they are just so happy to see a woman 
at work (besides the secretary - I usually was the only woman in the group -
just like at present again) and not only sloppily dressed males that they 
just like this woman to look like a woman.

Sometimes maybe we just worry too much. I had sworn to myself never to wear
anything else but neat jeans and at most a blazer for exams (all important
exams in my universities were oral), but then at the really important final
one, the weather got so hot that I decided I would just die in jeans, did not
have any other pants I could wear, and so I put on the most decent dress I had
(which still showed a lot of my legs). It did not affect the exam at all,
in either direction, the level of the questions as well as the grades were
perfectly justified - nothing out of the ordinary, although I later got to 
hear that one of the profs remembered me even one year later because of the 
dress - usually he forgets about people immediately. Funny enough - when he
first met me again wearing jeans and an onld sweater, he did not recognize me
at first - but he is known as one of the few men who really remember what 
people wear at certain occasions - more than their faces. 

Just my two cents,


Sabine Dippel,
HLRZ Juelich, Germany

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