proper attire

Linnea Ista lkista at
Thu Aug 13 01:13:49 EST 1998

This was a big problem when I was teaching: If I dressed up at all, it was
assumed I was a secretary, if I dressed in "lab appropriate" attire it was
assumed I was a student of some sort. I think the basic problem here is
that it was beyond the grasp of many people that a woman could be a
faculty member.

I am also reminded of an incident that happened to a friend of mine. She
was a second year resident at the hospital associated with the university
where I did my graduate work. She is African American. One day she was
dressed in scrubs, a fairly common uniform for all of the residents when
they are on the floor. She was going over orders with a nurse when a
visitor came out of a room, walked up to her and demanded that she "quit
gabbing" and get into his wife's room to clean up a water spill. Seems
that despite a fairly prominent name badge that proclaimed her DR. Warren,
and a stethescope around her neck, he assumed on the basis of her gender
and race that she was part of the housekeeping staff.

I finally decided that for my self I dress for what is appropriate for the
task at hand. If I am going to be in the lab, I wear jeans or shorts, just
like the guys. If I am giving a presentation or at a professional meeting,
I dress accordingly. 

If people are predisposed to assume that I am something other than what I
am, it doesn't really matter how I dress. After all, the myriad of people
who call the lab, and hearing a female voice, assume that I am the
receptionist, have absolutely no idea what I am wearing :-).


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