To: Female and female-identifying faculty, staff, and graduate students
From: Dr. Hayden Prescott, Mathematics Department Chair
CC: Robert Johns, Dean of Faculty Affairs
Re: Proper Comportment for an Intellectual Environment

It has come to my attention that certain female members of our department have recently begun presenting themselves in a manner that distracts from proper intellectual exploration. Lately, there has been a rash of demonstrated interest in cosmetics, “fashionable” clothing, designer handbags, and other feminine pursuits.

This excessive concern with appearance and fashion constitutes a serious hazard to the progress of this department as it infringes on your ability to devote your attention and intellect to more serious matters.

As you are surely aware, there is a finite amount of storage space in the female brain, and to waste it on such frivolity seems an utter travesty. Just yesterday, a graduate student made an error in a differential equation while wearing winged eyeliner and hot pink lipstick. It is statistically unlikely that this was a coincidence.

Ladies, I beseech you to consider the consequences of your actions. That curling iron of which some of you have grown so fond damages not only your hair, but also your reputation in the academic community. I have overheard some of you telling each other that you look “totally cute” in your “fit-and-flare” dresses and high heels; while that may well be true, you also look totally impossible to take seriously.

Research has shown that one is 342% more credible when embracing a daily wardrobe of black turtlenecks and loafers. Just ask Steve Jobs. Note that doing so will require the ability to travel through time, which will undoubtedly be discovered by someone who has never felt compelled to use a contouring palette.

Some offending parties have expressed to me in private conversation that they find no harm in investing time in their appearance and see no possible way that doing so detracts from their intellectual abilities. Let me warn you, however, that this is a slippery slope: you may only spend five minutes applying mascara and lip gloss now, but one day you will wake up and find that your encyclopedic knowledge of sheet masks has usurped the part of your brain that once housed your mastery of basic calculus.

It is a well-established fact that this is a real neurological phenomenon that has happened to someone at least once. Therefore, please do not patronize me with your talk of being “multifaceted, modern women.”

On a final note, a copy of Glamour was left in the department lounge last Tuesday. Given that this is a first infraction, there will be no repercussions if the guilty party comes forward to claim and destroy the magazine by the end of the week.

However, I think we can all agree that such a violation of our intellectual sanctuary must never happen again; after all, the presence of a single Fall Fashion Special issue in a university mathematics department has probably been proven at some point to reduce the faculty’s publication rate by as much as 579%.

Therefore, going forward, anyone caught with literature of this sort on campus will face disciplinary action, up to and including:

  • formal written censure;
  • revocation of any and all advanced degrees;
  • Six months of re-shelving duties in the science library.

Perhaps I can express this policy in the parlance of the offending publication: Academic journals — DO! Fashion magazines – DON’T!

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.