Woman in Science

12 Jul

It's pi plus C, of course.

My experience as a woman in maths has been positive. Through out my undergrad no lecturer made me feel like I was any different from the others in the class. The only real negative were men in my computer science class stop being friends when I got with my partner. Oh well, they weren’t really friends anyway. Where I did my undergrad was slightly unusual in the number of female staff: over five compared to barely three at my current (larger) school, and other people are impressed with this number. I’m not sure if the number of female staff helped me in any way (like make me feel more normal, helped other perceptions to people in sciences).

My current situation is also positive. I do feel at times that other PhD students feel that I’m inferior. This is mostly because they disregard things that I say, try and change my mind when I’ve quite clearly said no and are more likely to ask other people questions. Nothing too explicit, but still enough to annoy me. Anyway, for me, that is just one person.

Unfortunately, there is more than one person like that. Consider this study. The same application, just the name  changed from female. The females were considered less able and would be offered less pay.
This (trans)-man experience showed that people do treat men and women differently.

I don’t think many of these things are conscious sexism which makes it even more insidious. The only way to combat it is to actively pull up people who don’t realise that they are being sexist. Which is hard: I haven’t properly pulled up the guy I described earlier.  What makes it especially hard, is when you point out the issue, you get told that you are being an hysterical female. Having men aware of these issues who are also willing to pull people up on these issues are essential, if we want to get anywhere.

My favourite saying/quote/sentiment at the moment is “How do you expect to be competitive if you are only using half the population?” I most recently saw it in Lean In, and it is true for all areas (how can we have the best parents if we only consider mothers?). But if we really want to have the best academics, why the discrimination against half the population?


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