Tag Archive for 'women'

who said that science isn’t for women?

I keep reading and hearing all this crap about how women lag behind in math and science. They try to point the finger at our education system and/or attitudes at home, etc. I’m sure some of it is true to some extent, but I just don’t really see what they’re freaking out about. Maybe I’m spoiled, but everyday, I see plenty of women around me engaged in scientific research. In fact, 61% of our current MD/PhD students are female. Yes, that’s right, women outnumber men in our program. Of course that’s just our program, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other programs have similar compositions.

Maybe I’m too unsympathetic, but I just don’t believe in this whole women don’t pursue careers in math and science because people-made-girls-think-they-weren’t-good-at-it-and-they-believed-it crap. I never encountered any of that at all during my formative years. I had nothing but support from my teachers and my parents and I didn’t attend fancy-shmancy private schools either. Besides, if someone tried to feed that crap to me, I would never have believed it in the first place and would have set out to prove them wrong. Nor do I believe in the whole women-are-intimidated-by-the-male-predominance-in- the-science-world crap. It’s 2007, people. There are plenty of women in high places. Look at Hillary Clinton. What about all those doctors on TV? There are plenty of “strong women” on Grey’s Anatomy and House. It is more accepted than ever for women to pursue once-typically-male-dominated professions. I won’t lie to you and tell you that we’re given the same respect as men in these fields because we’re not. And certain fields, such as surgery, are still very much male-dominated and hard for a woman to break into. But you’re not going to hear someone respond to your interest in surgery by telling you that you’re never going to make it because you’re a woman (not unless they want to get sued, of course). Sure, they’ll try to dissuade you by warning you about how you won’t have a family life to speak of and how hard it’s going to be, but these things ring true for men as well.

So why does it appear that fewer women pursue careers in math and science? Well, maybe it’s just because they don’t want to. Maybe it’s cooler to pretend to be an airhead cheerleader than to admit to being good at science and math. Maybe it’s because of the misconceptions that keep getting passed along about how women can’t have careers and be good wives and mothers too. Sure, it’s harder for women to juggle both, especially in academia when any kind of extended leave would also lead to a dearth in publications and productivity that may threaten their careers, but maybe the rules of academia need to be changed a bit instead of blaming the situation on the environment that women grew up in. I’m sure the fault lies a little bit in everyone, so why not spread the blame a little so that everything can change, not just our K-12 school system? Because if academics requires too much sacrifice without enough reward, it’s not going to matter how much our teachers and parents support young girls in math and science, they’re just not going to find these fields attractive career options.