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Angeline Kantola kantola at u.washington.edu
Sat Jul 16 13:56:10 EST 1994

In article <306t44$27u at chaos.dac.neu.edu>,
becky norum <bnorum at chaos.dac.neu.edu> wrote:
>Any thoughts?   Does anyone here ever feel that in becoming a scientists
>she has had to sacrifice part of her femininity since we do not
>generally believe that 'feminine' characteristics are also scientific


I'm fighting very hard to avoid posting flame-quality sarcasm after reading 
the above paragraph...

How's this for a reply: I work in a lab peopled mostly by women; our PI is
a woman as well. I observe a tremendous variation of personality traits
among both the women *and* the men in the group. Some of both sexes are
soft-spoken and rarely assertive, some of both sexes are louder and more
assertive. No one group has a corner on what might be deemed traditionally
'feminine characteristics'--friendliness, caring, collaborativeness (vs. 
competetiveness). Yes, some of the women (and rarely the men) talk about 
shopping, some of the men (and rarely the women) talk about sports. We all 
talk about politics, and of course science. 

I don't feel that choosing to study science has made me any less
'womanly'. I haven't felt compelled to stop or to hide any of my
'traditionally feminine' hobbies--cooking, knitting, sewing, gardening. I
haven't stopped being flirtatious or caring and concerned with others'
welfare. I *have* found that the trust I have developed in my own
abilities, my own observations, which is *crucial* to being a scientist,
has had a marked effect on nonacademic areas of my life: having the
confidence to hold my own in an argument, recognizing that I surely have
the intellectual ability to tackle projects in realms unfamiliar to me
(maintaining my bicycle, fixing household appliances, building furniture,
and on and on). To state it more succinctly, the self-confidence I needed
for science empowered me in many respects. [Hey, I lived in California for
five years, I'm licensed to use the word 'empowered' :)] I know many, many
women, including young women in science, who don't exhibit this
self-confidence. Is it 'feminine'? I imagine most readers of this group
would agree it is, but I'm not as sure about the population at large. 

Becky, that'd have to be a 'no'. 


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