PIs

aloisia t schmid a-schmi at uiuc.edu
Sun Jun 15 20:21:17 EST 1997


hello All,

     I really enjoyed the indignant outrage of Susan's latest posting, but I
started thinking about it and tried to picture going to my PI to complain about
the janitors, or anything else like that, and the thing that occurred to me is
that my PI and I think most others, are really very non-confrontational and it
is not that they would not care so much as they would really not want to have
to deal with this at all.  They would make it unwelcome.  The complaints I mean.
YOu would feel as though you were being a problem.  

     And I think they would think it wasn't really their problem, it was mine
or any other woman who was having this trouble.  I mean far worse things than
these janitors have arisen and I know my PI feels that it is not his job
to train people how to behave, especially once they are grown-ups.

     Now really, I think that his position is a reasonable one to take. 
If I were a PI I think I might feel that I too would not want to have to
fight these kinds of battles.  But you know what?  I would fight them. 
Still,  the behaviour on the part of the janitors is subtle enough so that
it would be difficult to complain about it.  But the discomfort seems to
be widespread--a number of women have complained about this. So I guess my
question is "are there ways of dealing with this that are effective and
that don't necessarily involve going to the authorities?"

      So there was a new point that I wanted to raise as well.  

       I was reading Slate on the web today and there was a dialog between
Susan Faludi and another woman, and they were debating the new
conservative feminists (Susan Faludi calls them 'pod feminists') who are
very much against mainstream feminism because they say that feminists are
paranoid and obsessed with painting all women as being helpless victims.
There is one woman in particular that I know, who is quite successful in
her career as an academician, who feels very much this way----that this is
no sexist discrimination against women in science or academics, that it
all boils down to ability and people who say otherwise are basically
whiners.  I am always surprised when she says she has never had an
experience that could be construed as being in any way condescending or
subtly insulting, and I never know how to engage someone like that in any
kind of discussion.  Because we have such different bases from which we
approach the discussion.  

      So this second topic that I wanted to get feedback on, is when
something like Anita Hill or Paula Jones or Kelly Flinn or Aberdeen or
Tailhook or anything like that comes up in a conversation and the
discussion seems to get cut off at the knees with the pronouncement that
"I personally have never experienced anything untoward in any way.  I
can't help but believe there is a personality type who invites these
problems.  Certainly in science there is no sexism.  In academics, I can't
think of a single man who treats women any differently from men.".....how
do you respond? 

      It's jsut that I am becoming more and more aware of the problem of
indifference and I am clueless as to how to deal with that....


                                       Alice



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