First of all, I'm taking a little break from blogging for a longish weekend -- Friday through Monday. Comment moderation will be sporadic today, and will then diminish to nothing, resuming early next week.
Second, I am a total hypocrite. If someone introduced me in a professional setting as "X's wife" (X, of course, being my husband), I would be really annoyed if that is the first thing people were told about me. In fact, I have been annoyed by this very thing in the past, especially when introduced to an audience just before I give a talk, but also when introduced informally to a group of Scientists at a conference.
But, not long ago, someone introduced my husband to some colleagues at a conference as "FSP's husband" (using my real name, not FSP), and I was amused. Fortunately, my husband was amused as well.
I can sort of rationalize the hypocrisy because the situations are not equivalent. In the past, before "The End of Men"* of course, being introduced in a professional setting as someone's wife could be interpreted as defining you primarily in your role as a wife rather than in your role as a scientist. For example, being introduced as X's wife just before I give an invited talk on my research involves more than mentioning a neutral social factoid about my life; it says "Here is the most interesting thing about this woman. We'll get to her accomplishments in a minute, but for now you should know who her husband is."
My husband has never been introduced before a talk as "FSP's husband", whereas I have been introduced as his wife just before I give a talk.
It's less of a big deal if it happens when being introduced to a group of people standing around a poster at a conference (for example), although it can still be annoying, depending on the people/context. In those settings, spouse-centric introductions happen to both of us, depending on whether we meet a group that is more familiar with his research or mine.
I don't think that I will ever accept this mode of introduction as the first thing an audience is told before I give a talk on my research. If we get to a point, however, when being introduced as someone's spouse really is just a neutral social factoid that is brought up in some of the more informal of our professional interactions, then we can be equally amused by either scenario.
*Oh wait, that doesn't apply to the physical sciences; quote from the article: "Just about the only professions in which women still make up a relatively small minority of newly minted workers are engineering and those calling on a hard-science background.."
11 years ago