Thus Spake Zuska

Skookumchick wants me to talk about renewal for the March Scientiae. I will try, though I’m sure this would be much easier for me if I had already undergone some form of said renewal.

What do I find compelling about the work I do? What do I hope for?

I would say I hope for a day when I have no reason to continue writing this blog. I’m not expecting that to happen anytime soon, however. So, instead I will hope for the strength to continue writing. You can’t believe how enervating it is sometimes to think about gender and science on a sustained basis. I think I said on this blog somewhere before, it’s not like when I was little I said to myself “gee, I hope when I grow up I will get to spend large amounts of time thinking about how crappy things are for women in science and engineering!”

And yet…I still find it compelling to do this work, because there is so much that needs attending to, and because many of you write to me and tell me that it makes some sort of difference that I produce this blog. Progress is still intolerably slow, and yet having this conversation is good for all of us, isn’t it? Blogging lets me say out loud all the things that have been making me crazy for years about Science and Engineering Land. Here’s a modest hope for 2008: that the number of cranky commenters who think I ought to try being nice and sweet if I want anybody to listen to me will be just slightly fewer than in 2007.

What will get me through this year?

More time spent gardening. It’s good for me to spend time with plants and dirt. I need to do more of it. It’s a good antidote for the despair I sometimes feel about the crappy situation of just about everything. Global warming depresses me, creationist knuckleheads depress me, institutionalized gender inequity depresses me, not being able to work depresses me…some days it just all seems overwhelming. Gardening is good for taking your mind off the crap, and the rewards are both immediate and on-going.

Geez, this has been a difficult blog entry. Blogging in general has been difficult for me since I returned to it after all the time spent with mom. The last few months took more out of me than I realized at first. So, I’m hoping for just a general renewal of spirit and ability to focus, and as spring approaches I think that will help. Yesterday I saw that daffodils are starting to poke through in the garden bed by the front porch. That made me inordinately happy. (Even if they are probably coming up earlier than usual due to the ridiculously warm winter we’ve had…which is probably due to global warming…sigh.) But just for today, I won’t think about that. I’ll think about the promise of daffodils, and the women and men working for change in science and engineering, and the wonderful community of women science bloggers that Scientiae helps nourish. Happy birthday, Scientiae! And thanks, Skookumchick, for giving Scientiae to all of us.

Comments

  1. #1 deang
    February 28, 2008

    Hope things go well for you this year. I, too, get so excited seeing the first blades of plants push through the soil each year. I can understand why so many indigenous and agricultural societies had festivals celebrating first fruits, first leaves, first buds, etc.

  2. #2 PhysioProf
    February 29, 2008

    Zuska, you totally kick ass!

  3. #3 Barn Owl
    February 29, 2008

    Please ignore the commenters who expect you to be “nice and sweet” about important issues in the science and engineering communities. Your own voice on gender inequity complements the related issue of ethnic/racial disparities in science, medical, and engineering education and career development. The latter issue receives almost no attention in the context of the internet in general, and ScienceBlogs in particular. One of the most popular blogs on WordPress currently is the satirical “Stuff White People Like”, and I’ve been very tempted to send the author “ScienceBlogs” as a topic. “Excluding Minority Students from Science and Medical Education Throughout Most of the US” might also be a topic, except that it’s the sad truth, not amusing satire.

    Since white male bloggers are rarely “nice and sweet” in voicing their opinions, I see absolutely no reason that you should be, Zuska. There *are* universities in the US where both faculty and student populations are more representative of gender equity and ethnic/racial diversity…these universities just don’t show up on the radar screen of ScienceBlogs, because they are in regions of the US underrepresented by ScienceBlogs, and routinely mocked by its bloggers:

    Here, for example-(http://scienceblogs.com/bushwells/2008/02/nuke_texas.php)

    When the mission of one’s university is, in part, to educate physicians, dentists, and other healthcare professionals for an underserved minority population in a border state, diversity in the student and faculty populations, as well as cultural competencies education have to be addressed. At our university, an increasing trend toward in gender equity has come along for the ride with this approach, and perhaps that’s not a surprising outcome.

    However, none of these advances will ever be noticed or acknowledged by an internet community that routinely practices (and rewards) wholesale regional bigotry. I’m willing to bet that the majority of your medical bloggers wouldn’t know a cultural competency if it jumped up and bit them in the gluteus maximus.

    Hang in there!

  4. #4 ScienceWoman
    February 29, 2008

    Yay, Zuska! You can do it. And we need you to keep doing what you are doing. You give voice to so many women who are afraid (even pseudonymously) to talk about what they are experiencing everyday. So I hope you find your renewal in your garden and enjoy the warmth and energy of some spring sunshine and dirt. And then come back here and keep fighting the good fight.

  5. #5 Lab Cat
    February 29, 2008

    I too am looking forward to getting down in the dirt in the garden.

    I hope you find your renewal soon.

  6. #6 Amanda
    March 1, 2008

    I hope you find your renewal. I think your blog is important for women, like me, who are just starting out in science. Thanks for writing, despite all the stuff the trolls put you through.

  7. #7 PhysioProf
    March 1, 2008

    Being “nice” is fucking stupid.

  8. #8 saxifraga
    March 2, 2008

    I’m echoing everybody else here with a keep up the good work and enjoy your gardening. You’re doing a great job with this blog and we are many who appreciate it and I’m so sorry that you have to listen to the whiners along the way.

  9. #9 Mrs Whatsit
    March 2, 2008

    Zuska, you give a voice to the voiceless and that can be wearying, but don’t give up! As Sciencewoman said, you say the things many of us think and talk about things that many of us experience but are afraid to talk about, even anonymously. There are so many of us who feel we have to be polite and “nice and sweet” about the inequalities we face because it’s the only way we can continue to be employed. It’s terribly frustrating. So, it’s a relief to come here and know that Zuska is not going to be polite. Zuska is going to be pissed off and she is going to tell people so!

  10. #10 Zuska
    March 3, 2008

    Ah, I love all of you…thanks so much! You know it really does give me more strength to read what you say here. I know how much you have to dissemble and hide your true feelings when you are in the workplace and can’t afford to tell your coworkers just exactly what sorts of knuckleheads they are. And how the institutionalized, entrenched bias and discrimination – it can seem overwhelming/impossible to do anything about it; it often is career-threatening to even call attention to it. I feel a responsibility to all of you, to speak up because I am in a position where I can in relative safety…thanks for reading and for telling me what it means to you. And Physioprof, your complete lack of respect for convention is sooooo invigorating!