Thursday, November 30, 2006

If Only I Had Facial Hair (other than eyebrows)

If I had real facial hair, I could have participated more in a departmental meeting today. Once the conversation turned to beards, I tuned out and started reading/editing a friend's proposal. I did have a momentary fantasy of what it would be like if one of these old bearded guys found himself vastly outnumbered by faculty women colleagues having a conversation about their personal (feminine) grooming philosophy and practices. I don't think they would be very interested (or comfortable), but I could be very wrong. It is unlikely that I will be able to run this fantasy experiment any time soon.


Anonymous said...

So, do you shave, wax, or pluck?   :)

What a bizarre situation. But it does dovetail nicely with the most recent PhD comic:

Department Picture Board

dot said...

Anonymous: you stole my text for the post ;)

Zeynel said...

This is strange. Yesterday at work, (where I work there are about 20 girls and 4 guys) girls suddenly started to talk about who shaved their legs and who did not. Then, apparently, (I wasn't watching but I was listening,) they asked each other to touch how smooth their legs were and who shaved when. Then they discussed how smooth or not smooth each other's legs felt. Then they called other women and eventually discussion drifted into the usual celebrity gossip and shaving legs became history. I thought about Female Science Professor and how she would have posted something like that if men were involved. As far as I know no men got involved in the discussion. Obviously, if any man made a similar comment it would be considered harassment. To me it was funny. But the point may be that in the work place where women are at majority they behave like the men criticized by Female Science Professor. The issue I believe may be a class issue rather than a gender issue. Interesting.

Female Science Professor said...

My male colleagues can talk about whatever they want informally, but the beard discussion was in a FACULTY MEETING. I doubt if your leg-shaving incident occurred in a faculty meeting or other professional meeting setting, but I could be wrong about that as well.

Ms.PhD said...

That PhD comic is classic. Note that in addition to the obvious facial hair connection, there is one female character in the incoming 2006 class, and one female character in the existing faculty.

Oh, the pipeline.

I guess I tend to get interested in hearing guys talk about their beards. Since it is one of the rare areas where men actively worry about appearances, and we're not usually privy to these conversations among men, it's an insight into who is vain or meticulous and who might be less so.

Do all the men in your department have beards? I would find that unusual, and wonder how the one guy who has never grown a beard felt sitting in that conversation. Probably almost as awkward and self-conscious as you.

pluripotentate said...

grr. my old-boys' bete noir is baseball talk. sure, some women pretend to like a sport they would never be allowed to play at the highest level. but i personally want to tear off my ears every time the old boys start jabbering about rbis.

yes, some women talk about shaving their legs and shopping for shoes in public, but it seems like they always defer to the man at the table in the end. oh, how silly we are for discussing our grooming/shopping! you must be so bored! it seems that the men in your meeting had no such compunction about discussing something trivial and irrelevant with a woman in the room.

Female Science Professor said...

I didn't feel awkward and self-conscious -- I felt that they were wasting my time and that they would hate it if some women took up faculty meeting time to talk about shaving their legs or whatever.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you should have taken the opportunity to tell some of them that you really think they would look better without the beard, or just a moustache and no beard (maybe even a thin French moustache, but that would probably give the game away unless you're good). And tried to make a convincing case for it. Then you would have found out if you were able to convince anyone a few days later. It certainly beats being bored at the meeting and looking annoyed.

Plus, if every time they bring up the beard issue, you'll start telling someone how much better they would look without it, the issue will be quickly dropped from all future faculty meetings' agendas.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered what the thing with beards among science people is all about. Is everyone trying to look like Darwin or Mendeleev, or civil-war generals?

Seems some have forgotten that Newton, Boyle and Leibniz were clean-shaven but did the long-wavy-hair thing, while Descartes and Pascal had slender mustaches [and long-wavy-hair].

Charles and Faraday were clean-shaven with rather short hair.

Looking at pics of famous gentleman scientists' hairstyles usually reminds me more of early '80s rock-band hair than the "gray-beards" you see in universities.

See Dead Chemists' Society and

Mathematicians on Stamps

Anonymous said...

Obviously, they are still upset at Peter the Great's plan of modernising the country by forcing all the noblemen to cut their beards. There's been a 200 year backlash because of it and what not... And they renamed Leningrad to St. Petersburg instead of Petrograd as another jab at him about the whole beard issue.