Point for discussion

Karen Lona Allendoerfer ka143 at columbia.edu
Sat Jun 13 01:16:08 EST 1998

Karen Alfrey wrote:

>My big question (as a PhD candidate starting to consider my
>career options) is, do women need to develop reputations for
>being "bitchy" in order to get ahead in academia?  At least
>in Engineering departments, that seems to be the trend.  It
>makes me worry that I have the mind, but not the personality,
>to make it as a scientist.

My PhD advisor, a highly successful and intelligent woman, was not bitchy. 
I heard about another bitchy woman in another department.  I then met her. 
She wasn't bitchy either.  I have met a few women who actually seemed to be
consciously developing "bitchy" personalities (i.e. the coffee cup that
says "Beyond Bitch" in black letters on the side), but they are rather

What you probably need to worry about is not whether your
personality is bitchy enough, but whether you can deal with the possibility
of having an undeserved reputation that has nothing to do with your

Karen Allendoerfer

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