but what does it MEAN?

Aug 15 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I am NOT one of the most fashionable folks out there. TBH, most of the time you will find me in blue jeans and flip flops or running shoes. It's how I roll, and I have never had any reason to think that this was a big deal. In fact, I always felt like I dressed pretty much the same (in the range of normal) as my science colleagues. But this last week I was at a conference where I dressed slightly differently. At this meeting I wore a skirt pretty much every day. In part because I went somewhere that I thought was going to be crazy hot and humid (ick!), in part because I didn't have time to do laundry before I left, and in part because I just ran a race and didn't want to put on pants. It happens.

So here is the random observation: I got the impression that folks were a little less...guarded with me at this conference. These are folks that I have known for a while, but this time was different. So now I wonder: was the difference in tone at this meeting due to the fact that I dressed more "like a girl", or that it was a very small conference at a nice place?

16 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Option C: you are that much better known to your field compared to the last meeting.

    • gerty-z says:

      that is kinda what I meant by "small conference". I did know most of the folks there...but I have known the for years. And the last meeting was just a few months ago.

  • CoR says:

    Option D: Now that you are a PI, people are paying attention to you.
    Option E: You are a smokin hawt PI. The world responds differently to a woman in a skirt. I have done the experiment, too.

    • gerty-z says:

      I <3 option E 🙂

      But, does it bother you that folks respond differently to you in a skirt?

      • CoR says:

        I enjoy attention, but have conflicting emotions about getting attention for my personality and smarts versus wearing a skirt and being flirty-ish. Lately I've been wearing the frumpy cargo pants and rumpled t-shirts, and lugging around extra baby weight. Not so much of an issue for me at this point in my life.

  • DrLizzyMoore says:

    It also might be that your very own attitude was slightly different all skirted out. The dress code that I sported as a post-doc, I have upgraded as a PI.

    Incidentally, a patagucci skort works nicely in these situations.....

    • gerty-z says:

      also possible.

      The weird thing is that now I am wondering if I should expand this experiment and start wearing skirts to faculty meetings. Or to teach.

      • DrLizzyMoore says:

        I don't know abt faculty meetings--unless yours are highly interactive, but maybe try with the teaching (especially med students). I get better reactions when I am dressed more polished-like-although I do not wear a whole bunch of skirts. I am more of the dress slacks or jeans kind of gal--and I am trying to embrace accessories (although this is not natural for me-so it is a struggle). But I am not convinced that it is what I am wearing, as much as it is how I feel when I'm wearing it. Does that make sense?

    • Seelix says:

      I always wonder about this.

      When I first started at my museum I lived in jeans/khakis and blouses/uniform shirts. I got respect from the educators and curators, but everyone else would brush off what I said.

      Now I wear a skirt + heels or a dress most days, or at least slacks and a nice sweater/blouse. I am treated with a great deal more respect from those outside of education/collections. However, I'm also in a more visible position, so I don't know if familiarity has led to the change in attitude.

      That said, at school I'm treated 100x better when I make an effort to be polished, whether that means skirt or pants. Particularly by the female professors, who as a group dress very nicely at my school.

  • marc says:

    Wouldn't be surprising if there were some effect of wearing a skirt. What kind of skirt? Who were you interacting with, men? women? I agree with option E above.

  • Namnezia says:

    I think it was the fact that it was a small meeting at a nice place for a select group of people. Plus maybe hot+humid = more beer = more friendliness.

    But to test your theory, maybe I'll wear a skirt to the next meeting I attend. THAT will raise some eyebrows. I'll let you know how it goes...

  • Namnezia says:

    Plus, I'm always leery of scientists that dress up.

  • I would just like to state that there is nothing that is not pretentious about wearing a bow tie. And I'm fine with that.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    When I started out I always taught big lecture classes in a jacket and tie (sometimes even a suit) and wore "real" shoes, not trainers. I never cared what other faculty thought, but I did want to make it instantly obvious to students who the professor was. As I've gotten more accustomed to (and comfortable with) controlling the dynamics of that setting, I've dressed more casually in lecture, but still more formally than on other days of the week.

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