This morning I was at a meeting with 6 other scientists. None of us had ever met before, and for the first 10 minutes I was the only woman at the meeting. Then, in rushed another FemaleScientist. She went around the table, shaking everyone's hand. Except mine. No eye contact, no recognition that I was sitting at the table. I introduced myself, and noticed her surprise when she realized I was a scientist too. I don't mean knock down the (northern) European science environment yet again, but the other FemaleScientist is from a northern European country. Perhaps she had never encountered a FemaleScienceProfessor before? Once I established myself as a real participant at the meeting (i.e., not the secretary), she was very friendly and the group had no trouble discussing the topics at issue.
Even if I had been attending the meeting as a FemaleSecretary, I still think she should have acknowledged my existence, but, alas, it is not unusual for scientists (male, female) worldwide to lack some pretty basic social skills.
I wonder how many of these petty slights would disappear if scientists mastered some fundamental skills of social interaction. Perhaps someone could make a little laminated card for us to carry around, with useful instructions.
7 months ago