Women scientists dressing down

Linnea Ista lkista at UNM.EDU
Fri Feb 9 15:25:03 EST 1996

I just remembered something from when I was a visiting instructor a few 
years back. This was at a university whose main focus was engineering, 
and which had only gone "coed" less than 15 years before. There were 
precious few female students and even fewer female faculty.  All 
employees got a memo from human resources one day stating that we needed 
to present a more professional appearance, so they were going to sponsor 
a seminar on how to dress properly. Included topics were to be hair 
styling and make-up tips, and a fashion show from a local dress shop. My 
few female colleagues thought this was hysterical, as we usually dressed 
in what my industry friends call business casual.  It was the men who 
tended to lecture in jeans (one of the more memorable wore the same 
jeans, sweater, and white shirt almost every day we could remember).  The 
protest consisted of a female boycott of this seminar and some of our 
more enlightened male colleagues attending and demanding help with their 


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