Thursday, November 02, 2006

I wouldn't want it any other way ...

I was chatting last night with the girl-with-whom-I-share-a-brain, who also happens to be in pursuit of PhD-ness, when she asked me a question that a mutual (obviously male) friend of ours asked her:

"When you're a PhD, are you going to be "normal" or are you going to be one of those "female-bitch professors"?"

To which we shared the answer: BOTH.

I like to think of myself as "normal", in the best possible sense. You know, I rarely think seriously about suicide and I can, for the most part, be taken in public and not embarrass those around me. I do have many "abnormal" tendencies -- such as a severe fondness for bleach and a dire need to bake pies and send greeting cards. But, overall, I think I'd be considered "normal".

But, despite normalcy, can a female be a professor without being known as a "bitch"? I look to my current department, and while I like all of the female professors (and I am grateful that we have many), I can think of instances when each of them has been referred to as a bitch. She's a bitch if she: grades too harshly, stands her ground, focuses on her research, scolds inappropriate behavior, has high expectations for students, isn't always nice, gossips too much, or, basically, exists.

The men in the department are never called bitches (well, Ry's advisor is a self-proclaimed bitch ... but that's a story for another day). An occasional "asshole", but, more often than not, they are described as "driven", or "dedicated", or "serious". When they hold high expectations for students, they are commended. All of the traits that they possess as men are admired, but when women possess these same traits they are quickly labeled as, simply, a bitch.

Well, then I have no problem being a bitch. None what-so-ever. If being a bitch means I want my students to do well and I have a great research program and I hold high expectations for myself and those around me, then Bitch I am.

But please, at least call me Dr. Bitch.

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