Please Refrain

Anonymous contribution.

This is a series of snippets from the life a female scientist – examples of what male (or female) mentors and PIs should never say to their female students/colleagues.

1.  We bet with your increased salary you’d get breast implants.

This was said to me at a public lunch table surrounded by numerous colleagues, regarding a raise I’d received by accepting a new position.  If I’d been a man, would they have bet about pectoral or testicle implants?

2.  Don’t be a “shrinking violet.”

This was said to me while I sat next to the most taciturn man I’ve ever known.  No one called him a “shrinking violet.”  Presumably he was just a “thoughtful silent type.”

3.  Come on Angels.

This was said by a PI while I was walking to a meeting with two other grad students.  We happened to be a redhead, a brunette, and a blonde.

4.  You really have put on weight, your ass is bigger.

5.  Women live longer then men because they don’t work as hard.

6.  The only intelligent woman I know is my wife.

7.  You don’t dress like a scientist.

8.  Do you plan on having a baby anytime soon?

La Científica would like to note:  If you’re uncertain of whether you’re about to say something which might be offensive, a good rule of thumb is a simple test:  if this person were a man, would I say exactly the same thing to them, with pronouns reversed as needed?


14 thoughts on “Please Refrain

  1. Oh wow, I can’t imagine my reaction if some of these were said to me. I know someone else who had the breast implant comment made to them, too — unbelievable! I find women can be just as bad as or even worse to other women in some cases.


    1. We men can be a bit obliviously sexist, I’ll give you that. But you’re right about women being just as bad. Although, in my experience alcohol was involved. A co-worker had evidently somehow found out that I’d had testicular cancer and had undergone bi-lateral orchiectomy, and, during after-work drinks felt no hesitation in discussing my testicles, the lack thereof, whether I had implants, and that she didn’t think an “empty sack” would be weird at all. I’m sure she thought she was talking quietly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Heavens to Murgatroyd! What ridiculous things to say! Were they expecting some kind of positive reaction? Were they expecting you to be impressed?


  3. Hi La Cientifica!

    I hope this finds you well. I’m working on a campaign with a major woman’s skin care line about women who have been mistreated or discriminated against because of their appearance. I’d love to talk to you more about our campaign and how you can be involved, and also to hear more about your story.

    Shoot me an email at thanks! Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Samantha Miller


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