Finding time for feminist studies and activism

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at
Sun Apr 28 19:06:35 EST 1996

<4m05to$1nqk at>, "Linda S. Berris" <lberri1 at> wrote:

> I believe that being informed of issues that currently and historically
> affect women is as important as being informed of science.  Unfortunately,
> most of the women in my program are not of the same mind...I don't know
> if it is an age-thing...I am in my early 40's and they are, by and large,
> in their early 20's and seem to be into a post-feminist ideology...

I sympathize. I've grown up around the "I'm not a feminist but . . "
crowd, and am still taken aback by stuff I hear from women my age and
younger (I'm 30), like (direct quote from Caltech female grad student
approx. age 22):  "I'm not feminist, I'm normal!" 

>   Most of the time, however, I just bury my nose in my research and try to
> "ignore" the whole thing, but this bothers me...anyway, I wondered how
> some of you deal with this:  do you maintain an interest in feminist activity
> outside of science, and if so, how do you manage it (especially if you are a
> grad student!!).

It's hard.  I'm wrestling with the same question.  A few thoughts:  
1.  Join AWIS (Association for Women in Science).  If you go to a few
local meetings you might meet some like-minded people and interesting
feminist women scientists.  
2.  Join some national feminist organization like NOW, or subscribe to Ms.
magazine.  The NOW newsletter and Ms. scan the US political situation; Ms.
tries also to cover women's situation more globally. I find that I don't
have much time for reading or researching either, but these publications
do a reasonable job of condensing a lot of information.  
3.  Start a reading group.  The one that I and a friend started meets
every 4-6 weeks and we have brunch and talk about a book of our choice. 
In grad school I was in one where we read Susan Faludi's _Backlash_.  The
discussion went on for hours!  There are 8 of us, of which 5 will make it
to any given meeting.  It was a little bit difficult finding people, but I
asked people in lab, other people asked their next door neighbors or
friends, and it doesn't take too many to get together a critical mass. 
Also, if it's once a month or less, it doesn't take up too much time.  
4.  Check out the women's center if you have one on campus.  Ours does
things like invite woman scientists to talk about their careers and their
work, invite woman authors to speak about their books (one was Faye
Ajzenberg-Selove, who wrote _A Matter of Choices:  Memoirs of a Female
Physicist_).  They sponsored the production of "Water Over Time" coming to
Caltech, they organized and coordinated "Take Your Daughters to Work" day,
and they sponsor self-defense classes for women.  Probably they would
welcome someone who wanted to contribute time and effort.  For me, the
problem is finding the time.

Good luck,

Karen Allendoerfer

More information about the Womenbio mailing list