Our good blog friend Dr. Isis of On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess has recently launched a "Letters to Our Daughters" project to solicit advice from women researchers to those who are following. The first entry is one from Pascale Lane, M.D. on being assertive... and the inevitable epithet of "bitch".
You may also have noticed the latest iterations of vigorous discussion over the role of observations about personal attractiveness in the work setting.
These issues raise their ugly heads everywhere....including the discussion over the merger of NIAAA with NIDA. NIDA, of course, is headed (2003-present) by
one Nora Volkow, M.D. Two of the other more-interested parties in the fold-the-NIAAA discussion are NIMH and NINDS. NINDS is currently headed (2003-present) by one Story Landis, Ph.D.
Now, as I alluded to the muttering and whispering has been going on for quite some time about this move. In recent months it has been breaking out into the open, particularly when 2 or more long-time NIAAA funded investigators are in the room.
It takes about two seconds for one or the other nasty things to raise their ugly head. First, a suggestion that Story Landis is, you guessed it, a bitch. That she has it in for Volkow, etc....always, always with a tinge of cat-fight about the discussion. The second meme (which interleaves with the first) is a suggestion that Volkow's personal attractiveness will be the critical factor in her victory in this matter. Combined with a suggestion that she intentionally deploys such factors to her benefit with the usual implications.
Leaving aside the accuracy of any political speculation....WTMF!??!!!
Are you people out of your bloody minds? These are the highly accomplished heads of our funding Institutes. This is about politics and infighting, sure. I see that. No problem. But assigning such tired gender analyses? c'mon.
Look, Volkow is a fantastic advocate for drug abuse science in my view. I'm on record about that. I find her to be charismatic and compelling and when she is on full boil I can't think of anyone else that should be out convincing the public and our CongressCritters that this is important stuff. But please. This is personality, not physiognomy.
I realize that talking about this runs the risk of perpetuating it. I hope that doesn't happen. I hope the nay-sayers simply file this away in their list of evidence that no matter how elite and accomplished a woman is, the gender smog inevitably catches up now and again.
I have borrowed the title concept from Zuska, where I first learned of it.