Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Professor/Shopping Fantasy

I am still on the road, though have finally found a good internet connection. For the past few days, my only option was a coin-operated kiosk with a sort of keyboard that wasn't really meant for typing words.

During our travels, my daughter and I talked about how we will have to do some very quick back-to-school shopping for her, and somehow this led to our constructing a fantasy scenario of back-to-school shopping for professors. We imagined a special clothing store, just for professors, with different departments: Science Women, Science Men, Humanities Women etc. It would have all the latest fashions. What are the stylish Chemistry Professors wearing this year? What cannot you absolutely not wear at the next big international meeting?

We later told my husband about this idea, and he mused about whether the different departments might need further subdividing. We are fairly sure that the physical sciences could probably share one department of this store, but it may well be that engineers will need their own section, and the humanities might need some very significant subdividing. Do philosophers dress the same as historians?

Another feature of this store for professors is that you get a discount on a new item of clothing if you turn in something that you have worn since graduate school, with the discount greater the longer you have been out of grad school.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Young male philosophers, especially postgrads, have an unspoken competition for the scruffiest look; shorts and a torn T-shirt with an obscure band name mean, "I am really smart." It's also well known in the humanities that the Media Studies types are the hippest dressers; they would need a department to themselves, certainly. Black clothes only, though.

Ms.PhD said...

the discount made me smile.

anything to please the fashion police!

Elli said...

there needs to be a whole "juniors" department for the grad students too, one that supplies meeting clothes that make you look like a serious and well-dressed scientist but not like a high school senior at the state science fair (i.e., not the young female grad student meeting uniform of tailored black pants, clunky black heels, and a blue/white/red/pastel-striped button-down shirt).

Anonymous said...

one of the hardest things of doing the interdisciplinary crossover for me was figuring out how to dress so as to be taken seriously by both computer scientists and psychologists. There is a delicate balance between too dressy and not professional enough, especially for women, I think. Someone should do an online meta-shopper for this :)

hypoglycemiagirl said...

last week I attended a conference for evolutionary biologists, as usually the level varies from directly-from-the-field-sampling-dung flies-without-changing-first to potential-object-for-a-photo shoot-by-theSartorialist

dropout said...

Ha! This is the best post ever!

"What are the stylish Chemistry Professors wearing this year?"

I'm not sure that stylish and Chemistry Professors belong in the same sentence -- oxymoron.

One of my favorite things about being a chemist was going up to everyone in my shirts full of acid holes and saying -- Look at my ASS-id hole. Ah, those were the days. Almost makes me want to make a comeback.

Sneks said...

Hahaha!

FemaleScienceProfessor -- I read your blog often but had to post my first comment today, as your shopping ideas made me laugh and laugh!

I am a graduate student in the Life Sciences and my labmate and I spend about 10% of each conference discussing what people decide to wear for talks (BTW, I simply refuse to wear the female grad student black pants/button down/ill-fitting high heel uniform. This past conference I went with a black, white & pink modest sundress with white cardigan and black sandals. Professional, yet fun!).

Thanks for the whole blog! Your topics are so relevant to my life and you really inspire me!

Please keep up the awesome work!

alpinekat said...

I've seen my fair share of male physics professors lecturing in socks and sandals. Do you suppose this trend would be advertised in such a department store?

Carpenter said...

I am a young female physicist and I usually dress horribly, ironic t-shirt and jeans, ripped up cargo pants, same cloths I've had since highschool etc. (But at least it's not mom jeans with the shirt tucked in) Plenty of tenured profs dress the same way, unless they are teaching that day. However I find the female grad student meeting uniform just the female version of the wrinkled kahkis polo shirt, crappy belt that the guys wear. I mean, what should we put on for a talk, at least I iron my button down shirt, what more do you want?
I do have a small theory though, you can get away with pretty stylish even a little too dressy clothes as long as you dont accessorize.

Wendy said...

What kind of discount would I get for trading in the high school sweatshirt I keep in my lab?

Anonymous said...

"What are the stylish Chemistry Professors wearing this year?"

Is this a reference to a well-known chemistry professor who favors a black leather blazer rather than a standard suit?

keris said...

I've just been back-to-school-professor shopping as I'm about to become an Assistant Prof so thought I needed something other than Spongebob t-shirts to wear.

I'm a bit on the small side so after a while I realised I was shopping in the school uniform section. Oops. Real back-to-school then...

(BTW thanks for your blog - it was really good reading it while waiting a month for the decision on the new job...)

em-geek said...

So, what *should* young female grad students wear to conferences? I admit to wearing the black pants/stripy button down, because I just don't know what else to wear. I just got back from a conference and the women were wearing everything from black suits to strappy sundresses to jeans/tshirts, so there doesn't seem to be a consensus. This question has been weighing on my mind ever since I packed for the conference. Perhaps the female-science-blog-o-sphere can provide some answers: everyone seems to know what women *shouldn't* wear to conferences, but no one can ever tell me what I *should* wear.

EcoGeoFemme said...

My friends and I joke about the men in ecology with the "ecobeard" and the women with the "ecoclogs". Though to be fair, far more people wear Chacos (Birkenstocks are so over). Also, the number of Hawaiian print shirts I see on the men at certain meetings is staggering. And at other meetings, it's sport coats. Go figure.

Schia said...

And then there are the Life Science Profs who come to work in their pyjamas. At least that's what it looks like!

Me? Erm, I just so happen to be wearing an alice-band I've had since about third grade. That's *mumble* 20 years ago.

PhD Mom said...

I try to really make a statement when I go to conferences. Last year to engineering conferences I wore knee high black or brown leather boots with skirts that had really intricate patterns. I definitely got stares, but I think in a good way. Or was it? They may just have been shocked to see a female.

Yvette said...

Hey, for the record, Lisa Randall was featured in Vogue last month talking about what to wear as a female physicist at Harvard etc. Perhaps she can be an adviser for said store. ;-)

Geeka said...

This made me laugh.

I have been shopping with my husband, and I have advised him not to purchase certain shirts because they are 'math teacher' shirts...you know, the men's short sleeved graph paper shirts.

My standard talk giving outfit involves red dansko shoes.

engineeringprofessormommy said...

Last year there was an interesting discussion on the Chronicle's boards about faculty dress.

I'm a big fan of Ann Taylor Loft at the moment. It looks professional and feminine at the same time.

My husband had a colleague at NASA whose girlfriend told him he needed to stop wearing "grid" shirts. That was her name for the tiny plaid that male engineers gravitate towards.

avg. prof said...

I just want you to know that at the last conference I went to, I wore pinstripe PANTS and a solid BUTTON-DOWN. The total opposite of the normal conference uniform! ;p

Honestly, the question of what to wear to work as a Female Professor in a Technology Discipline really stymied me when I first started my job. I still don't really know, but I do know that in my department at least, none of my colleagues care. (Maybe they would if I were wearing something that made them uncomfortable, but, that's not my style anyway).

PhysioProf said...

I just dress like a slob. Life is too short to ever wear uncomfortable clothes.

Female Science Professor said...

In this fantasy professor-store, there would definitely be a slob department. I am not sure if science and humanities would require separate slob departments, but there would be at least one section of the store, and maybe more.

JJ said...

FSP,

You might be interested in the discussion here:
http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2007/09/02/sunday-silliness-or-seriousness/

The post just went up, so it may take some time before there's much to see.

Leather Blazers said...

the discount made me smile.