Today I was volunteering at an open-to-the-public day at the science center that I am currently spending a term taking lectures and field classes at for marine biology. I was presenting information about an invasive parasitic isopod that attaches to the gills of mud shrimps in estuaries. During a lull in the crowd, a woman approached me and told me that if the science center wanted to make money they should put a bar in and have me serve oysters and beer. I was kind of confused, so I just laughed it off. But she kept pushing it, and slowly began to understand that she was implying that it was about my appearance, not just serving alcohol at the event to actually raise money. I told her I was a biology student living and studying at the center and she said “Ohhhh, you’re smart?” with sincerity. I honestly think that it was one of the more offensive things anyone has ever said to me. By another woman, no less.
In the science field, during classes, research, and field work, I often feel discredited, not solely because I am a woman, but because of my appearance, the fact that I like to dress up, and wear makeup. And it makes me feel like people don’t take me seriously in academia. I know that the only thing I can do is prove them wrong, which I intend to, it was just a shock that someone outside of the science community with no knowledge of who I was, thought that I should be working in a bar instead of a research center.