This past week I’ve gone out to visit several different beaver dams in the field. As expected, I’ve learned a lot about conducting field work. But I’ve also learned that science is not a fashion show.
Now, I’m not naive. I have always been aware that being a scientist typically doesn’t require particularly fancy dress. Some of the most impressive professors and researchers I know dress in either athletic clothes or jeans and a t-shirt most days. And for some reason a lot of them wear socks with sandals….
Anyway. I worked for the Department of Energy for a year before starting grad school. That job was in a cushy office building and I WAS expected to dress pretty nicely everyday. Technically I was an engineer, but most of the work I did was more along the lines of project management. A typical daily outfit was a conservative dress and cardigan with flats or heels, or maybe a nice pair of pants with a button down shirt or blouse. It was actually one of the things I wasn’t too fond of about that job, but I got used to it and started associating “work” with “nice professional clothes.”
Now that I am fully immersed in my geology graduate program, my daily attire has certainly changed. Being a hands-on scientist studying earth and environmental science, it turns out, is about as far from being business casual as you can get. And I LOVE it. For those of you who know me personally, you know that the things I enjoy doing most include: hiking, camping, running, canoeing, rafting, etc. I’ve been engaging in these kinds of activities since I was a little bitty child searching for crawdads in the creeks at camp with my girl scout troop. My deeply engrained desire to wear comfy, outdoorsy clothes as often as possible was ultimately unavoidable. Now as an adult I’m lucky enough to have found a career path that enables my….outdoor chic fashion choices.
I suppose my kind of science work could be a fashion show…as long as that fashion show is for Field and Stream magazine, or maybe REI. That being said, I’d still argue that I dress very appropriately for the office. After all, my current office looks like this:
Long story short: I love my job.