Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cleavage Reactions

This was a new one for me. I have been teaching for 22 years now and I have a simple, no-fail rule that I have always used for all students coming to the lab... "No exposed skin below the neck except your hands". So this morning a young woman that is in one of my chemistry classes walks up to me and asks "Is this neck line too low for the lab?".

Now, I realise that I am a fat, middle aged authority figure but I am still a functional male and on the face of it I was being asked to look at the bust line of a young woman and assess it. I am somewhat proud of the fact that my eyes did not do a lazy meander around the cleavage of the young woman but I kept my eyes on hers and made up a new rule on the spot (#).

If something falls from above you will it hit clothing or skin?
If it is skin them you need to cover up.

(Just don't ask how something "falls from above" in the chemistry lab)

She smiled and pranced off (it was then that I noticed that she had on knee high leather boots with stiletto heels ... who thinks when they get ready for chemistry lab that stripper boots are appropriate?).

OK, maybe I have gotten so old now that I think that all my students are my daughter and should dress Amish but how far out of line am I? In the name of safety can I require all my students to wear the equivalent of a burqa? Am I turning into a Fundamentalist Chemist or do I need to put the liberal back into liberal arts and sciences?

To be fair I have had significant conversations over the past few years with the guys about exposed butt cleavage ... "If I drop a quarter down there will you play a song?". I have always assumed that the lab coat covered a multitude of sins but only if you button them all the way up and who am I to say what they wear under the lab coat? Anyway, I can only hope for the days in the near future when I can talk about the other kind of cleavage.

(#) In the name of complete disclosure I must admit that the view was very tanned and revealing but I only looked a little bit. What? OK, so how am I *NOT* supposed to notice?


Chemjobber said...

I tell you what, this is a useful discussion. At the same time, I ain't gonna touch this one without a Level A HAZMAT suit on. /coward

Ψ*Ψ said...

When I was TAing last year, one of my (male) students showed up in sandals. When I told him to go home, he pulled his sweatpants down over his sandals (as though that afforded any protection). This left the tightie-whities on his ass exposed. "Dude, now I can see your underwear. Go home." I guess maybe I said it a bit loudly, because the rest of the class started giggling...he ran home to change shoes in a hurry. I'm surprised he came back!

Stewie Griffin said...

During my first year as a graduate student I taught an organic chemistry lab. The second experiment was recrystallization. As most chemists know, recrystallization is part art form, and one factor for success is how much experience one has had with prior recrystallizations. So this being these students' first recrystallization, many didn't have the necessary intuition to know what to do (add more of one solvent, cool down, scratch the sides, add a seed, etc). About 40 minutes into the experiment everyone is at roughly the same place where they are waiting (im)patiently for their crystals to form. Naturally I start to get the same question (what should I do to get crystals?). As I walked around and they'd ask, I'd look at their flask, and give them my best advice. After a few minutes of this my default setting turned into just looking at their flask first (rather than listening to what they had to say) and give my advice on what to do.
Well one girl comes up to me holding her flask with both hands right at her.. um.. cleavage level. Let's just say she was gifted in that area and had a significant amount of cleavage for a chemistry lab. My eyes immediately searched for the flask assuming she wanted advice on how to get crystals. As I'm starting at her flask I realize that the question she's asking has nothing to do with getting her material to crystallize. It was at that point that I realized she must be assuming I'm staring at her chest. Although I technically was looking at her chest, it was only because I was looking at her flask. I tried to be as nonchalant as possible when I asked her to repeat her question, but I knew I must have looked like a fool. For the rest of the semester, even on the warm days, she was always wrapped up tight in a sweater (swear to god).

Blogger said...

I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the best virtual strippers strip-teasing on my taskbar.

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For a while it was all about research and then it was all about teaching and now it's all about trying to find a balance while teaching at a small liberal arts and science university.