Katherine J. Kaye katherine.kaye at
Fri Feb 25 14:09:23 EST 2000

Dear Professor Prevelige,

First, I do hope you sent your e-mail to the W-i-B forum as whole and not
just to me.

Secondly, you responded to a couple of points, as follows:

>Katherine Kaye wrote:
>> I do note, however, that girls and young women are *not* being taught "the
>> rules" of achievement: never apologise more than once for a mistake - if
>> once, indeed;
>this one sort of set me off... the goal should not be to emulate the worst
>traits of some men (and women) who also happen to be successful. the goal
>should be to select as role models for emulation those who are both
>successful and practice the types of personal values which you would prefer
>to be more widespread. i CHOOSE not to associate with individuals who are so
>insecure as to be unable to apologize for their mistakes. these are not so
>few as you might suspect. in science as in the rest of the world personal
>values do count toward success.

I didn't say that rudeness should be a _goal_; I said that never
apologising *more than once, if once* was one of 'the rules'. Read what I
wrote: I meant precisely what I said.

The context for the remark is that women tend to apologise more than once
for the same mistake; and men often expect apologetics from women and
resent it when those apologetics are insufficiently expressed. Men _tend_
to apologise once and then get over it. If you are lucky enough to choose
all your colleagues personally then you are unique in academia; most of us
just have to rub along with whomever the committee hires.

>> never accept rejection (re-jig that article and send it
>> elsewhere);
>set aside your pride and hurt feelings.

**I beg your pardon?**  This has nothing to do with 'feelings', it has to
do with strategies for getting published. Given that turnaround time for
many journals ranges from 7-18 months, and taking into account one's
professional duty to consider a referee's legitimate comments, it is still
a better use of time to send a paper elsewhere than to engage in a
protracted argument with editors or referees. When it comes to tenure
committees, nobody says" I see you have four publications, but we
understand you were a complete gentlewoman and scholar in attaining them,
so we will prefer you to the brute in the corner with 25 publications."

>ask yourself if the reviewers had legitimate points.

Well, of course one asks oneself that question. That's simple professionalism.

>generally reviewers do their best to fairly read what was
>written. if so, respond honestly and forthrightly. if not, rebut. provide the
>editor with a list of suggested reviewers chosen to be open minded and
>receptive to the type of science you are reporting. provide an exclude list
>of those known to have personal or gender issues with the author team.
>(frankly, as someone who reviews probably 30-40 papers a year it is
>inconceivable to me that gender would make a difference in my review, it has
>NEVER occurred to me to ascertain the gender of any of the authors, being
>equally frank, professional reputation does matter, but only when experiments
>are in that "grey" zone).

I never said a thing about whether a rejection was due to gender or
anything else - just that it was a rejection. Men tend to value their time,
judge the tradeoff values between rebutting etc vs resubmission elsewhere,
and get on with it in a way which cuts their losses. Woemn tend to
internalise criticism and waste *months*, sometimes years, chasing up
issues which only they actually care about.

>to simply resubmit the manuscript elsewhere without
>truly considering the referees points is a cynical response which undermines
>the system.

I never said anything about not considering the referee's points: you chose
to read that into my text. You've provided a good example of a
non-reflexive pattern of response, and I wouldn't want you to review my
work because you don't read what is actually written and you interpolate
meaning into the text.

(incidently, if i see a manuscript that i had reveiwed, and had
>problems with (but which were correctable with some effort) ultimately turn
>up in press elsewhere - i think less of the authors).

And the authors might feel bad if they knew of your disapproval, but they'd
still have a publication, which would possibly be worth more in career
terms than your [legitimate] opinion of them. Again, my delineation of 'the
rules' is not normative but pragmatic; perhaps you expect a woman ought to
address issues in normative and value-based terms rather than solely in

And as this is an e-mail I wouldn't blue-pencil typos and punctuation
errors which a good copy-editor could pick up, but if your post were a
manuscript I would wonder a teensy bit about the author. BUT that is an
example of my own potential for bias, of which I am deeply aware; and it
could even be said to be a gender bias because on average men tend to be
less careful about spelling and punctuation than are women.

But that would be gender-biased, s wel as pedantic AND pompous, which would
be a Bad Thing. ;->

food for thought!

>Peter Prevelige
>Associate Professor, Dept of Microbiology BBRB 416/6
>Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham
>845 19th St South
>Birmingham, AL. 35294
>(205) 975 5327
>(205) 975-5479 (fax)
>prevelig at

Dr. K.J. Kaye
School of Geography
Mansfield Road
Oxford OX1 3TB

kkaye at

'ubi Deus, ibi pax; ubi caritas, amor.'


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