vent!

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Fri Aug 8 15:18:04 EST 1997


In article <5sfnr7$4s2$1 at arachnid.Gsu.EDU>,
Sarah L. Pallas  <bioslp at panther.gsu.edu> wrote:

>work but not mine.  I didn't give it a further thought, but a month later
>we ran into her at a party given by the Dean, whereupon she promptly
>introduced my husband to her associates as "the new Professor", and then
>introduced me as my husband's "assistant".  Husband immediately corrected
>her and she apologized, but it really steams me that the only woman
>colleague I have in my research area made a sexist assumption about my
>status.  Imagine thinking that any woman who appears with a male
>professor must be his helper and not an independent scientist!  She
>herself must have had this happen to her, as she works very closely with
>her husband and is younger than he.  So I sent her a copy of my cv, and
>hopefully she won't do it again.

Sarah,

Boy, I would have been upset, too.  It sounds like you and your husband
both handled it well in spite of that.  

Deborah Tannen's newest book, _Talking From 9 to 5_, has a section on
this sort of thing (she has a story of being in her office late at night,
it even has "Dr. Deborah Tannen" on the door outside, and being mistaken
for a secretary by a female undergraduate).  She urges tolerance and
compassion for people who make "mistakes" like this, because there still
aren't really that many woman professors, not that many male secretaries,
and "it's not unreasonable to expect the world to be as it is usually."

I can see her point, on one hand.  I'm sure I'm not completely innocent
in making wrong assumptions about people and would like not to be written
off for having made one thoughtless mistake.  But on the other hand, this
example you gave really does seem like someone who ought to know better.
Do you have any opportunity to get to know her better, even to discuss
the issue (or related ones) to see if there's any commmon ground?
As you said, it's probably happened to her too.

Karen



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