Jill Helms jhelms at cns.neusc.bcm.tmc.edu
Wed Oct 28 12:25:29 EST 1992

Virginia Kunch writes:
"In my opinion, it's this day-to-day irritation that has thoroughly
discouraged me from pursuing a career in science (I'm currently thinking
of picking crops in Australia).  I suppose that if I were stronger, I
would stick around and fight for the cause, but...."

DAMN THAT BURNS ME UP!!  To my mind, that is the ultimate destructive behavior: the
undermining of a woman's initiative and belief in her self-worth and he ability to
accomplish!!  I am NOT saying that rape, or any other physical contact as a form
of sexual harassment is extremely harmful to a woman. I'm saying that this 
form of harassment is so ubiquitous, and yet nebulous, that it often isn't perceived
as harassment per se.  But its harm comes from the fact that it undermines the core
of a person's ability to achieve by _casting doub_t.  It makes determined, smart, 
competent women say things like "if only I were stronger"!  How about "if only
my advisor wasn't such a insensitive, offensive idiot"?  

I guess that is precisely why I think some of the MOST important things that women
can do for other women in science are be supporters and good role models. Rather than
saying "it can't be done/it's too hard/not worth the effort" think about what 
brought you to science in the first place.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself to
believe that they actually PAY me to sit here and think and talk about new ideas,
to do experiments, to contemplate solutions to problems.  There couldn't be a
more exciting, fulfilling profession (I have a clinical degree, too, but even that
isn't as mentally stimulating).  So don't let the boys have all of the fun of doing
science!  Hang around if you possibly, possibly can, and encourage young women 
starting out that they can achieve anything in any field that they want.

ok, now I'm off my soapbox.  <<sigh>>

Jill Helms, Burning Advocate for Women in Scientific/Clinical Careers
(try being a female periodontist if you want to deal with sexism; some male
periodontists think they created the surgical instruments to only fit in the hands of
someone with x/y chromosomes).

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