As I said in my chat with PZ on Blogging Heads, Im probably not the best person to talk to about the problems women face in science. Why? Meh, my parents have always encouraged me in the sciences (CONSTRUX WHOO!). They threw me on a bus, by myself, to Space Camp when I was 10. Aunts and uncles who live in The City would take me to museums and botanical gardens and state parks when Id visit them. I had great high school teachers and college professors for my science classes. Bossman has always made it perfectly clear that sexism against me is unacceptable, and to come to him if anything happens.
If Ive been discriminated against, Ive been too oblivious to notice.
Well… Except for one time. At one point during high school I was thinking about going into engineering. Big Bro is an engineer, and I loved math and science, so YAY! Engineering!
… Then I had a phone conversation with one of Bros professors.
A phone conversation that was supposed to convince me to go to Engineering University.
Yeah. Ive never felt so ‘talked down to’ my entire life. I hung up the phone, and called Biology University to accept the deal they offered me. Why go to Engineering University and deal with that crap every day, when Biology University made it clear that they would encourage my abilities?
So ERV is a biologist today. YAY! Its one of the best decisions Ive ever made. I am just so goddamn happy all the time because my research kicks so much ass. So Im pretty happy with the outcome of that one sexism incident.
The science “problems” we now ask students to think about aren’t really science problems at all. Instead we have the National Science Foundation vexed about the need for more women and minorities in the sciences. President Lawrence H. Summers was pushed out of Harvard University for speculating (in league with a great deal of neurological evidence) that innate difference might have something to do with the disparity in numbers of men and women at the highest levels of those fields. In 2006 the National Academy of Sciences issued a report, “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering.” Officials of the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education are looking to use Title IX to force science graduate programs to admit more women. The big problem? As of 2001, 80 percent of engineering degrees and 72 percent of computer-science degrees have gone to men.
A society that worries itself about which chromosomes scientists have isn’t a society that takes science education seriously.
Hi, Stupid Twat. The reasons I didnt go into engineering had nothing to do with my ‘innate’ abilities. Im not DaveScot, so Im not going to brag about my achievements (read the article, us dang students today are so arrogant), but I assure you that my scores and honors put me in the top percentages of the accepted students at Engineering University.
I didnt go because the ‘engineer’ I spoke with was a paternalistic jackass. Fuck if I was going to spend 4-5 years with jackasses like him, only to graduate and enter a work environment with more jackasses!
Certainly Im not saying all engineers are jackasses, and ya, Im having fun as a biologist, but I am one more woman who could have bumped up the engineering stats, but didnt because of the hostile environment. Why the hell shouldnt major science organizations be worried about this?? How can you take scientific education ‘seriously’ when women are discouraged from joining certain fields for no goddamn reason??
I love virology as a community because theres not exactly a shortage of kick ass women to look up to (half the invited speakers at the conference I was just accepted to are women). And, the older male virologists are just super. Very encouraging. Is it any coincidence that according to the NSF, in 2006, there were 3,050 female graduate students in micro/immuno/virology vs 2,274 male? OMG, women flock to a field that doesnt discriminate against women? No way! Whoda thunk it.
Well damn, with all those ‘innate differences’ that kept women out of biology for so long, has micro/immuno fallen into a tailspin after all these apron-wearing women commandeered the field?
Thats because its got shit to do with ‘innate abilities’, Stupid Twat. It has to do with encouraging young talent without discriminating against gender/race/etc. We all lose when a bright kid doesnt reach his/her potential because of sexism/racism/etc. Thats why science community worries about ‘which chromosomes scientists have’.