Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Suits vs. Non-suits

As I look around my department, I realize that there are two types of professors: 1) the ones that wear suits every day to work and 2) the ones that wear don’t. The suit-wearing variety tends to be the tenured professors that no longer need to go into the lab, and spend their day behind desks or in meetings. Whereas the non-suit wearing professors (ie khakis/jeans and polo/button down shirt/occasional T-shirt) tend to be the assistant/associate professors who still go into the lab.

I wonder what the suits think of the non-suits. Do they think that we (I fall into the non-suit category) are slackers for not dressing up for work? Will is effect our (my) professional development and growth? Or is it only a problem if I don’t wear suits on really important occasions, like when I’m attending conferences or other important school events?

My Mom, who is in a completely different category of professor, is at another school, and has never stepped foot into a lab in her life, falls into the suit wearing category. She definitely considers me a slacker – and has said as much on many different occasions. Maybe I’m letting her opinion cloud my judgment. After all, there are other non-suits. But then, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would I?

And this question is of course complicated by the fact that I’m trying to compare my clothing choice to a bunch a men – there aren’t any other female professors around in my department. So, then the question becomes, what standard do I use: the standard of the male assistant professor or the standard of the female professor (in another department)?

No comments: