This post addresses the perceptions of and on fashionable female scientists, fears of career disadvantages related to how they dress.
- How Does a Scientist Look Like?
- So What Does a Female Scientist Look Like?
- Fashionable Female Scientists and Dressing
- Ignore Immature Nicknames
- Further Readings on Women in STEM and Fashion
How Does a Scientist Look Like?
Why is it that the perception of a scientist is the nerdy, old, frumpy man with a beard, shoulder long thinning hair and an egg head sticking out of the sauerkraut-like gray hair? Old, male, not groomed? Sort of a blend of Einstein minus the sticking out tongue and Homer Simpson minus the swollen lips?
Of course, they exist. There are those scientists who are in the field for days. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere – without showers, set out by helicopter to be picked up whatever time later, again by a helicopter. Camping out while performing measurements on a glacier, sea-ice sheet, or a volcano, mining data of Mother Nature to find one more little detail of her great secrets.
While most of them look decent when back at their desks, some keep their field look year round – probably being the fashion icons for the tramps under the bridges of Paris.
Decent meaning a modern look, clean clothes, groomed, with a style reaching from a three piece suit with ironed shirt and tie over business casual to casual depending on their discipline.
So What Does a Female Scientist Look Like?
While in the field under the above condition, she looks the same like her male colleagues except for the beard, but not shaved too with respect to her legs and armpits. But that happens to celebrities with stylists too! Even when they are trendsetters. So what?
Certainly there are also those who keep carrying their labs on their body when not in the field. But the majority looks decent – in the same sense as above, but without the word modern. Replace “modern” with a touch towards old-fashioned, read the stay-at-home mom dressed up in her Sunday’s Best about two decades ago.
Fashionable Female Scientists and Dressing
However, when a female scientist is interested in fashion and well aware of the trends, what works and what does not work for her body, which colors flatter her, and has great style and taste, she is in trouble. Unbelievable, right?
- Shouldn’t a scientist be aware of new trends and directions?
- Shouldn’t a scientist be paying attention to details?
- Shouldn’t a scientist figure out what works and what doesn’t and then stick to what works and spread the word to the public?
- Why should a female scientist not apply the techniques she applies in her job, when she dresses for work?
- Why should a female scientist not be a fashionista?
Many questions, no answers!
Ignore Immature Nicknames
At work, some of my colleagues call me the fashion model when I am not around. There is still a long way to go for women in sciences. On the way, I take it as a compliment and hope that one day (hopefully not in a blue moon), female scientists are no longer supposed to dress in the trends from 20 decades ago.
What do you think is it that women who know how to dress are at risk to get nicknames because of their style when they are in “traditionally male” jobs? Send me an email, I am curious.
If you agree that there is no contradiction being a scientist and a fashionista/fashionister share this post with as many (young) women you can.
Science does not exclude fashion. #womeninSTEM #femalescientist Click To Tweet
Don’t let talented women stir away from sciences just because they believe they can’t dress up.
Further Readings on Women in STEM and Fashion
You can find other posts on
- how to dress for a science conference,
- how to dress as a woman engineer,
- what to wear to a work reception,
- why clothes release sparks, and
- what it meant to study meteorology as a woman in the 1980s.
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Photos: G. Kramm
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