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men, women, the politics of baking

Mr. W.Y. Chan wahchan at liverpool.ac.uk
Sun Dec 22 04:56:50 EST 1996

Linnea Ista (lkista at UNM.EDU) wrote:
: Hi all!

: For the sake of brevity, I have not copied neither Sarah nor Alice's 
: excellent remarks on this subject. 

: This could not have come up at a better time for me. Let me start out by 
: saying I am not a post-doc, I am the lab supervisor in an otherwise 
: all-male lab. This puts me in a strange position. I am considered by the 
: PI as one of the senior persons. I manage my own project and keep the lab 
: running smoothly. But every new guy in the lab assumes that I am there 
: for their convenience: ordering, picking up packages, and *yes* cleaning 
: up after them. 

: This all came to a head last week when the P.I came in and mentioned that 
: the lab was messy, apart from my area and the common areas. I replied 
: that the mess on people's benches was their own problem, that I would 
: speak to them but that I was not under any circumstances going to pick up 
: after the boys. He took this all in and said "you are right, you 
: shouldn't have to do that".

: One of the postdocs came in later and I related the converstation. He 
: said "You are part of the creative team. You have better things to worry 
: about than picking up after us. I think most people just assume that 
: women are naturally neater then men and that you will therefore just pick 
: up after them! This is not a good assumption!"

: Re the baking. When I was a grad student I did all that stuff. The other 
: thing I noticed is that it was more expensive to bring my world famous 
: artichoke heart dip instead of picking up some french onion in the dairy 
: section. The biggest problem I had when I decided to stop baking is the 
: crap I got from the secretarial staff about not doing my fair share. I 
: also vividly remember the day after a potluck when the deparmental 
: secretary was cleaning up and complaining because two female lab 
: techs had left without helping. The male post-doc from our lab pitched in 
: and she said "I'm sure you have more important things to do, Linnea and I 
: can finish". To his credit the post-doc pointed out that if he was too 
: busy too help, I certainly was and wasn't it just a little sexist to 
: assume I had nothing better to do. 

: I agree that the whole wanting to please everyone is very hard to break 
: out of. It even affected me when I was teaching! I think many people, 
: particularly students expect, you to be "nicer" if you are a woman than a 
: man. Anyone else notice this? I finally came to the conclusion that I 
: could either be sane or try to be pleasing. I like sanity better. And 
: guess what? I found most people liked me anyhow. The ones who didn't 
: wouldn't no matter how much I tried.  

This I do agree, most male and female do feel women are much more "nicer"
but that trend is changing, from my own experience with dealing with customers
7 out of 10 of the worse complainers are women and these people often the
ones who are the most uncoperative. I feel in many case people are being
stereotyped such as "women should do the baking and clear the mess" and
"men runs the place, makes the mess and refuse to clear up", I wonder
why that is the case? If I were to give an opinion from based on a statistic
point of view it may be still very much on the whole women likes to "please"
and men "expect" them to clear up, I cannot comment on individual cases
particularly with Linnea's case though I do appreciate if everyone male or
female do tidy up after themselves.


: And here I was going to be brief!!

: Take care!
: Linnea

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