meetings and perceptions

Mon Oct 6 09:46:47 EST 1997

From:          forsburg at (S L Forsburg)
Subject:       meetings and perceptions

(large snip)

I remarked that everyone chases a few women "superstars"
--he replied, "but there are so few women superstars."
Yet with 50% women postdocs, shouldn't roughly half the
"Superstars" be women?  So more goes into being a superstar
and a hot proprety--it's also a way of
interacting.  I commented to my colleague that women tend
to be quieter and less in-your-face confident than men, and
so are overlooked. He bristled.  "There's no one here like that!"  
he said. 



Finally, men are socialized to be very self-promoting
 confident of their place in the world.
Women who are selfpromoting get described as "manipulative",
"aggressive", and "bitchy", and those who arent end up, 
as Alice's post shows, being worn down by the non-science part and
questioning whether they belong in the field.  

I have to agree wholeheartly with Susan, and I admit I'm biased, since 
I've been called a bitch or too aggressive myself, while the same 
behaviour in a male graduate student is admiringly called "drive".  But 
I credit the first supervisor I ever had, in my position in a government 
lab, who taught me how to "play the game". He aggressively promoted me 
and my work, because he believed in me, until I had learned to do it 
myself.  We still touch base about once a year, having both left the 
government for greener (?) pastures.  And yes, someone in the workplace 
did start a rumor that I was sleeping with this person, otherwise why 
would he go out of his way to help me?

I think it's harder for women in general to operate this way (I made a 
conscious effort and I'm always plagued by doubts that I'm TOO 
self-promoting, but I think that's necessary for balance). It requires a 
thick skin-you are going to be disparaged by others.  I know that deep 
down inside I want everyone to  be charmed by me and my work and say 
nothing but wonderful things about me ;), but let's be realistic-the 
nature of science is criticism, even without the gender bias.  Add that 
in and it means that often you cannot please all of the people all of 
the time (and that's not counting the people at home, even!).  Men seem 
to me to be more at ease with disappointing others than women are-again, 
a sweeping generalization, but I think there is some truth to the idea 
that women are socialized to please others, while men are socialized to 
"do their own thing".  It takes some conscious effort to go against the 
Julia Frugoli
Dartmouth College

visiting grad student at
Texas A&M University
Department of Biological Sciences
College Station, TX 77843
FAX 409-847-8805

"Evil is best defined as militant ignorance."        
																										Dr. M. Scott Peck*****************************************************

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