are you the secretary?
lkista at UNM.EDU
Fri Feb 23 10:35:36 EST 1996
On Thu, 22 Feb 1996, SL Forsburg wrote:
> Hilary Bates wrote:
> > ....(snip)....
> > Nevertheless, *visitors* to the department often
> > assumed I was a receptionist or a secretary because I was sitting
> > at a desk with a computer on it (I was also close to the entrance
> > which probably didn't help), and would ask me about someone's
> > whereabouts, and I got fairly tired of saying "Perhaps you should
> > ask his secretary..."
> Ooooh, I hate this one! I have a fairly typical faculty member's
> office, desk stacked with papers and piles of journals of the floor,
> and COMMONLY people come to the door and say "are you x's secretary?"
> or "do you know where x is?". Often they are new postdocs.
> At least I've gotten used to the "oh, are you
> x's postdoc?" I get that one, too, but that may be due as much to
> age as gender. My favorite was the guy who said "Is this Dr Forsburg's
> lab? Do you work for him?"
I had a similar situation at my first teaching job. I shared a
short hallway with a male colleague and spent my entire first week
telling people I had no earthly idea where Chuck was. Finally on
that Friday when I had been interrupred once too often while trying
to read a fascinating article on cyanobacterial inclusions, I asked
on of the people (in this case a young woman) why she thought I would
know. She responded "well you are his secretary, aren't you?" I said
no I am not and ask what lead her to believe this. She responded that
as I had the front office, it was natural to assume that I was the
secretary. I told her that the previous year that a man had occupied
the same office and asked if she would have assumed the same thing.
"Well, of course not" she replied. I told her that perhaps she might
want to think aboput that awhile.
It became a bit of a departmental joke. Although there was one older
male faculty member who could not imagine why I took offence. He said
it was due to my youthful appearance. Finally I posted a sign on the
door that said "Stop, before you ask, I have no earthly idea where
Professor Foster is." This seemed to do the trick.
Now if I can just get the guys in the lab I am working in now to
figure out that finding something does not simply entail asking me
where it is!
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