hello!

Angeline Kantola kantola at u.washington.edu
Mon Jul 18 11:13:28 EST 1994


In article <30boai$1rt at chaos.dac.neu.edu>,
becky norum <bnorum at chaos.dac.neu.edu> wrote:

>	Women today have the opportunity to be whatever and whoever they
>choose to be.  I ask why more women do not enter the field of science. 
>Arguments in our history are that women are inherently less logical than
>men and therefore incapable of becoming scientists.  They pointed to
>women that did make it as 'exceptions to the rule'.  Today 15% of all
>scientists are women.  That is obviously no longer 'exceptions'.  But
>why arent there more?!?!  Why hasnt the extraordinary growth seen from
>the 1950's through the 1970's continued?!

Hm. That's not what I recall reading...the above query has a very 
different resonance than your original question, as follows.

>: >Any thoughts?   Does anyone here ever feel that in becoming a scientists
>: >she has had to sacrifice part of her femininity since we do not
>: >generally believe that 'feminine' characteristics are also scientific
>: >ones?

I agree wholeheartedly, Becky, that the gender statistics in scientific
fields are still horrifyingly skewed; I also agree that insensitive and
discriminatory behavior is discouragingly commonplace. My advisor has
stories from her graduate experience that would make your hair curl, and I
have heard so many stories about The Big Guns in my field hitting on
female grad students trapped in front of their posters at meetings ("Wanna
go out to dinner and talk about your poster?") that I'm not exactly
looking forward to that experience myself. (I also found myself explaining
to a male labmate why the above pick-up line was problematic. sheesh.)
Although I've experienced differential treatement to a small degree in
college and in grad school, I do have to say that the biggest hurdles I've
had to overcome w.r.t. applying to grad school and staying in have been
_internal_, getting over that self-doubt. What snapped me out of it was
talking to a cocky (male) classmate my first year; he had gone to a less
well respected undergraduate university, had never done independent
research (as I had), had never published (as I had), had far worse GRE
scores, but he was so remarkably self-assured in contrast to my own
ambivalence. REALITY CHECK! 

What made me go ballistic about reading your first inquiry is that--well,
let's put it this way, last week I read an article in a local weekly
paper, written by a woman with no high regard for science, which
specifically singled female scientists out and called them 'male
scientists with tits'. Come on! Do people ask men who work as, say, chefs
if they've 'sacrificed their masculinity'?  Or refer to men who serve
people on airplanes as 'stewardesses with dicks'? People sometimes
sexually stereotype men who work in particular fields (hairdressing,
professional dance) which are thought to be 'women's' fields, to be
sure....but this is all dreadfully tiresome. I wonder how long it'll take 
for these crummy stereotypes to go away.

I gave you the benefit of the doubt, Becky, by actually answering the 
question you asked without making the oh-so-tempting "...but I'm *so* 
*mad* I can't wear the newest strappy sandals in the wet lab!" crack 
which immediately came to mind....(joke! joke!)

Angie





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