I just finished writing an application for a research award from a very large company – one of those companies who, upon digging, you realize own just about everything.
The award is for women, specifically untenured assistant professors in sciencey/engineeringy fields. It is to allow early career women to establish themselves as leaders in their fields. It is a very nice idea, and it is the first year this award has been offered.
The instructions are spare. Succinct. Lacking detail. Each section has one or maybe two sentences describing what is required. E.g., “attach a 1000 word summary of your awesomeness, in pdf format”.
There is a video component to this application, which is weird to begin with, but ok, industry does things differently. Included in the length of video, statement on lighting and background sound, and file format guidelines is a sentence reading “It is highly recommended that appropriate attire is worn for the video.”
The optics on that sentence aren’t great, to me. Approximately 1/8th of the instructions this company are giving early career women scientists is about their mode of dress. What is considered appropriate is left unsaid. If I am giving them the benefit of the doubt, they mean “if you are showcasing your lab in the video, have protective lab coat, etc. on so it is not a health and safety violation.” If I am being ungenerous, it reads as “laydeez, we are a family brand and please to cover up the cleavage”.
It feels icky. It feels like a table of men came up with this application, so they’d have binders of women to point to if need be. It feels like they missed the point.
I submitted it anyway*, because untenured sciencey female profs is a smaller pool of people than my usual competition (even if it is international), and because money is money is money, and grant writing is game playing for any application. I am here to play the game.
But it feels kinda icky.
* I was wearing a black top and grey blazer. No cleave. Hair washed thanks to Spud having a leisurely lie-in til 9:15 (!!) this morning**. No makeup, because I don’t own any. Pasta sauce stains on the black shift buffed vigorously with wet paper towel prior to recording. Glamorous!
** Spud had his 9 month appointment this morning, and I had to wake him UP to get to it on time, where the night before I’d been convinced he’d be desperate for a nap in the middle of it. Very accommodating, this baby of mine, who times his sleep-in for the day we need it, so his procrastinating mum can get a grant section done that morning, and the doctor didn’t get a fraught baby to poke and prod (Spud is healthy, still happily giant).