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#31649 - 08/13/02 09:15 AM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
StephA
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/13/02
Posts: 2744
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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 Quote:
Originally posted by sobell:
In Jurassic Park, the child computer genius is the little girl -- I remember that vividly (in part because I was snickering over the point-and-click interface appearing as she said, "This is Unix! I know this!" but also because it was a girl). You're right about the general gender breakdown, but it does seem to be improving in dribs and drabs -- Noggin Network's latest series of shorts centers around a girl who wants to be an entymologist and treats all her neighbors like field subjects.

Part of the reason we don't see a lot of parity in depictions of children as scientists is because there isn't the market for it -- little girls may be curious about the way the world works, but they tend to be attracted to different toys and games than little boys do.


Just FYI, in the book of Jurassic Park that little girl did not remotely resemble a computer anything. The boy was the dinosaur and computer expert. Her chief skills included whining and complaining. (I'm glad they changed it for the movie!)

And for those who might be interested, Prizes by Erich Segal features a girl physics prodigy... who also plays the violin.

Now back to science-discussion-lurking mode, to daydream about being Jane Goodall..

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#31650 - 08/13/02 11:39 AM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
miercoles Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 877
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI

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 Quote:
I'm stepping out of this discussion, since everybody seems to be trying to disprove every comment I make.


Please don't, athena. Of all the science and engineering fields, physics is one of the least friendly towards women, and I think that's what you've been trying to illustrate. For instance, you could just say fuck it, and wear short skirts and make up all the time, but the looks and comments and smirks you'll get clearly aren't worth it, and you shouldn't have to put up with it. (Are they mostly from your fellow students, or from various superiors/faculty members/etc.?) And unfortunately (and here I speak from personal experience) there's not much you can do about it. It may not technically be sexual harrassment, but all those looks and comments add up.

And that's probably just one of the many reasons why women in physics, especially academia, probably just throw their hands in the air, say, "This isn't worth it," and go into industry or something. (Anyone have stats on the rate of men and women leaving the field at various levels?)

 Quote:
I don't think it hurts, either, that a goodly number of young men who enter scientific fields are in it not for love, but for glory.


badverb, this hasn't really been my experience, but maybe this varies by field (although astronomy is very popular at the amateur level, so there's a decent chance of glory outside of your field) and institution (I am not at a top school). Does this include the med school students you mentioned?

[This message has been edited by miercoles (edited August 13, 2002).]

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#31651 - 08/13/02 12:13 PM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
sobell
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 175
Loc: Alameda, CA, USA

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athena, I apologize if my last post seemed targeted toward disproving anything you said. That wasn't my intention at all -- I was simply adding my observations (which were different) to yours.
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#31652 - 08/14/02 02:17 AM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
badverb
Ching Shih


Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 379
Loc: n'yawk

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Yeah, miercoles, I was talking about the med students. I was also referring to a bunch of physics majors and another bunch of philosophy majors.

Looking at this with a little more sleep at my back, I see where I was making a number of silly generalizations (the sentence to which you were referring being one of them). In my waking life, I think people who are in a given field for love and love alone are extremely rare.

I also think (based on my experiences with those med students, and on having grown up with a bunch of girls who graduated from technical universities) that more women, still, today, enter a field like medicine or engineering because they love it rather than, like many, many men who go into these fields (some of whom I believe I've had as personal physicians ...) because they want to make money/earn glory/have the respect of their immigrant families (as true for my Greek and Serbian cousins as for any other immigrants.)

And I think it is true that more women leave fields they like, not because they can't hack it as scientists, but because they can't take the atmosphere and the constant criticism, positive or negative, of how feminine they are, more or less.

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#31653 - 08/24/02 12:20 PM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
Angiv
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 1291
Loc: Scotland

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Our local annual Science Festival this year includes an exhibition on Women in Science and a lecture on the same subject. Many of the lecturers are (as usual) women, but it's especially nice to see special events dedicated to women.

Sarkycat and I are dizzy with excitement about this year's programme. So much to see - almost makes me glad I don't have a job...

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#31654 - 08/30/02 05:36 PM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
pinga
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/21/02
Posts: 146
Loc: UK

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I've been really interested in what everyone thinks on this topic, as it's always surprised me that women don't get into science much: it always seemed to me that in science people are looking for truth, so it should be easier to prove yourself against peoples' prejudices. I don't know.
The two biggest reasons I've heard from my (female) friends for getting out of science were the need to move around after the PhD and the need for really strong self-belief. In my bit of chemistry it's seen as professional suicide to stay in the same uni for your PhD and postdoc. I know half a dozen guys who're doing their postdocs because their wives have managed to switch jobs and follow them. I don't know any women who've managed to do the same thing.
The other thing, about self-belief: academic research is such a lonely thing, and there's noone to tell you if you're doing rubbish work. I think self-doubt affects most PhD students but I met a few blokes during my PhD who seemed to thnk they could do no wrong. Girls seem to be less secure, and so they abandon the independant research in favour of industry jobs where they can be sure what they're doing is useful to someone. I'm like that - I do doubt my work sometimes, and I'm lucky to be in a job where I have contact with people who know their stuff, and I can learn more and crucially, I can learn how to measure error in my work and say for sure if it's valid or not. I think everyone should have the resources about them during their PhD to be able to do that, and then we'd actually be looking for the truth instead of stumbling blindly for two years and then reinventing the wheel for the remaining one.

Sorry, I've tapped a deep well of bitterness here. Thank you for letting me rant.

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#31655 - 08/30/02 05:53 PM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
dazey
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 941
Loc: Edinburgh, Scotland

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pinga: you're right, if I can join you in your well of bitterness for a while. The expectations of academia, science or otherwise, are just not compatible with anything other that either being a hermit, or having an old-fashioned wife. I was told that I simply could not expect to stay in one place and be taken seriously. With only one undergraduate teaching department in my subject in Scotland, it was uproot, or no career. Had a fair bit to do with my decision to quit.

Um, topic: science careers, perhaps, are more tied to this career pattern that other types of careers?

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#31656 - 09/01/02 04:06 AM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
seabean
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 117
Loc: Brighton, UK; previously Brisb...

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pinga, I agree that it's a lot more common to see wives accomodating themselves to their husbands' academic careers, but there are a few exceptions (encouragingly). I'm doing my PhD in molecular evolution, and my boy moved to the UK from Australia with me so I could go to the university I wanted. My supervisor is in the same situation - her husband (then boyfriend) followed her from country to country for her PhD, postdoc, and now tenured position. Since I got to chose this move, my boy gets first say on where we go next, but we are keeping in mind that it'll be harder for me to find a postdoc in biology than for him to find work as a computer scientist - so we may still end up going where I need to go, rather than where he would most prefer.



[This message has been edited by seabean (edited September 01, 2002).]

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#31657 - 09/02/02 03:01 PM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
pinga
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/21/02
Posts: 146
Loc: UK

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seabell, well done! Mr Pinga and I are working a sort of similar thing. He did a postdoc in Edinburgh cos I've got a job here, and now he's heading off to London for a proper job and I'm hopefully going to follow him. I do believe it's doable, and it'll get easier as the years go on and it gets more common.
It's such a weird one though. When we got engaged, everyone was like "when are you buying a house?" and I was like "some time around 2020, or earlier if Mr Pinga decides to be a house husband".
dazey, I knew about that stuff with your PhD - it's a killer. I read on one of the boards you're doing a science degree. Any chemistry in it? I hope you enjoy it.

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#31658 - 09/02/02 03:59 PM Re: Women in (or just interested in) Science
dazey
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 941
Loc: Edinburgh, Scotland

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pinga: it's just an intro-level OU course, so, yeah, there will be chemistry, along with everything else under the sun! I don't start til the New Year, though. I've got it planned out: in about ten years, I could be a qualified forensic scientist, which is, really, what I want to do when I grow up.
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