thesis defense

No, sexism in science doesn’t mean advisers take their students aside and say “don’t worry, you’ll pass your thesis defense, because I’ve noticed we both have a penis.” It doesn’t mean tenure committee meetings include the action item “DID YOU NOTICE SHE’S A WOMAN? INAPPROPRIATE? DISCUSS.” It doesn’t mean lab doors have signs saying “no open-toed shoes and no chicks.”


Here’s what male scientists and historically male-led departments do instead: Offer little or no maternity leave for graduate students. Evaluate women employees on their personalities rather than their competence. Make jokes that cause women colleagues to feel left out and belittled. Go on national television in a shirt that shows women as decorative, sexualized semi-nudes. Hire people who just seem to fit in with the culture that thinks all of this is okay.

THINGS (NOT) TO DO OR SAY AT OR FOR YOUR THESIS DEFENSE

Written by Master Peter A. Dutton
contributions by Jim Lalopoulos, Alison Berube, and Jeff Cohen, Patricia Whitson and a few others.

1) “Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for the singing of our National
Anthem…”
2) Charge 25 cents a cup for coffee.
3) “Charge the mound” when a professor beans you with a high fast question.
4) Describe parts of your thesis using interpretive dance.
5) “Musical accompaniment provided by…”
6) Stage your own death/suicide.
7) Lead the specators in a Wave.
8) Have a sing-a-long.
9) “You call THAT a question? How the hell did they make you a professor?”
10) “Ladies and Gentlemen, as I dim the lights, please hold hands and concentrate so that we may channel the spirit of Lord Kelvin…”
11) Have bodyguards outside the room to “discourage” certain professors from
sitting in.
12) Puppet show.
13) Group prayer.
14) Animal sacrifice to the god of the Underworld.
15) Sell T-shirts to recoup the cost of copying, binding, etc.
16) “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you - there’s a banana in my ear!”
17) Imitate Groucho Marx.
18) Mime.
19) Hold a Tupperware party.
20) Have a bikini-clad model be in charge of changing the overheads.
21) “Everybody rhumba!!”
22) “And it would have worked if it weren’t for those meddling kids…”
23) Charge a cover and check for ID.
24) “In protest of our government’s systematic and brutal opression of minorities…”
25) “Anybody else as drunk as I am?”

—  In preparation.