Re. proper attire.

S L Forsburg forsburg at
Sat Aug 15 17:34:49 EST 1998

Data point:
I am a junior faculty member in laid-back California.  I am occassionally
mistaken for a secretary but in general the secretaries dress much better than
the scientists.  One of our jokes is that the worse someone is dressed, the
higher their rank.  Right now (typical summer attire) I'm wearing sandals,
shorts, and a polo shirt.  Some days I wear a tee shirt.  During the winter, I
wear jeans or chinos, a decent shirt,  topsiders. I don't dress differently
when I teach.   For those faculty dinners, I will bring in nice slacks (rarely
a skirt), a very nice shirt, e.g., silk, a jacket, and loafers.  I wear rings,
earrings, and bracelets all the time but no makeup.  If I go off to give a
seminar, I'll wear nice khakis and a nice shirt and jacket.  I don't wear
skirts much.

I just got back from a FASEB meeting where most speakers were PIs.  A few 
women dressed up for their talks (nice skirt, or a jacket), but most people
did not.  The women who dressed nicely tended to dress more nicely even when
they weren't speaking, so it wasn't obviously a special thing.   I gave my
talk in shorts, sandals and an (untucked) Madras shirt.  I did not feel that
this was inappropriate for this meeting venue which is definitely low key and
informal.  The feeling I got was that people dressed according to how they
felt comfortable.  I feel most comfortable dressing down, and around here, so
do most other faculty.

I don't mind so much being mistaken for a student (given the grey hair I'm
accumulating! :-)  except that as Bharathi pointed out, it's usually because
the mistaker can't fathom the possibility that a woman can be a professor.  

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S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab          
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA

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