Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"I am an invisible man, I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me."
-Ralph Ellison

She is (on her way to being) an Astronomer

The Dearth of Female Scientists: is there a non-sexist reason for this?

Reading an article which depicts an exercise that debunks a common myth that women and girls are incapable of scientific thought and success in science-related fields. 

Looking at how minimal the numbers of female graduates and tenured professors in science-related professions may be a discouraging factor for girls who display interest in the field. But there is also a level of socialisation that comes into play. Gender performance expectations sway some women away from fields that encourage the advancement of logical thinking skils such as engineering and the sciences.

The discrimination that women face through micro-aggressions delivered by male colleagues and superiors in the process of climbing the academic ladder sometimes also proves too much for some women and they crack under pressure.

I have to say that I can give personal accounts of shady behaviour from a tenured professor who is being considered for the Head of the Physics department making outright chauvinist remarks in a physics class where men outnumber women to even getting too friendly with female students. Now, there are boundaries that need to be maintained in the academic arena and to me, efforts to point out gender difference in a way that knowingly undermines female ability within a specific course of study is undoubtedly sexist. But this same professor claims that he will "not change" which brings to light another element of why women and girls could find themselves giving up on the pursuit of scientific excellence: run-of-the-mill douchebags that seem to have personal issues with members of the opposite gender.

These attitudes may stem from the common tendency in society to devalue all female qualities that remain disjointed from her physical appearance. Female intelligence is non-physical and for reasons that operate in the interests of a patriarchal value system must be dismissed without further discussion.

In a professor who makes passes at his female students, there is a chauvinist who seeks to strip a woman of any pride she may have at pressing hard at academic pursuits to nothing more than a female body that is or should be desired.

This also leads to the notion of expectations. It's beel long proven that the child that succeeds is most often the child who is expected to succeed. I saw this in my own life. Teachers at my high school, female of course, saw potential in me and on a deeper level, I made it my mission to live up to that greatness that they believed I could reach. When those around you anticipate your inability or failure, you, depending on how thick your skin and how firm your character, may easily lose sight of your goals and slip into the role those around you expect you to play. It takes a conscious reminder to oneself that external expectations are not the ultimate definer. A person incapable of defining themselves will give way to the opinions of others and become a product of their environment. This dynamic may occur with female students in science-related fields. You come into the game as a pariah and get treated as such. Without proper guard, self-doubt can seep in as a result and a downward spiral begins which would not have started had the work environment not been so exclusionary and pessimistic to the presence of a woman in the first place.

Women have made outstanding contrubitions to the science over the span of decades but the dismissal and sexism of our male counterparts has held us back in tremendous ways. Patriarchy breaks down at the point when men acknowledge the fact that their dominance over the lives and bodies of women does not define their worth or power. Until this fallacy breaks, the struggle to recognise female intelligence in male-dominated academic fields will continue.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

(Unnatural) Blonde Ambition

Tweak it, cramp it, flatten it but go blonde and it could be the best thing you ever do for your career*. 

*spoken with a true note of sarcasm. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Thousand Sisters against Violence in Congo

A fact for you to digest but only digest because you may not ever be able to fully empathise. 
Since 1998, 5.4 million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The death toll is the equivalent of an Asian Tsunami every 6.5 months. A September 11 every 2.5 days. And nearly half of the deaths in the Congo are of children under the age of five.

A Thousand Sister's Official Website can be found at this link.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Going Large with this: Cape Town harassers fall back!

Sunday, June 5, 2011