Saturday, August 9, 2014

Female Scientists

Not a full discussion, but a quick line about female scientists, or as I'd like to think of them, scientists.

I'm not digging into disparity between professional women and men, as that has been studied and proven to the point that if you do not believe in them, you are being delusional. It is a scientist's "worth" that concerns me.

Being ignorant and slightly sexist, I don't think I realized there was something different about female scientists until more recently. I have notice that proportion-wise, men far outnumber women in STEM, and as stated before, their pays usually do too. What I did not realize, was how many competent women think of themselves as incompetent. Even in school, I've been told that my friends have felt inadequate in the field. I always felt school to be about learning, and about grading, which although is compared to others, does not necessarily pit one against each other in direct competition. I've had friends tell me that they feel like they are out-competed, even though they are in the upper percentile of students, and they do attribute a lot of it on their sex.

I like to discuss the progress of a friend in grad school with her. Objectively, she can list her achievements and enumerate how she's better than her cohort in papers about to be published, number of working projects, and so forth. Subjectively she still doesn't believe that she is doing well. There is such a big disconnect and I cannot understand the source (in that, typically, I delude myself into thinking I'm much better than the facts, not the other way around).

Even once they become established in their fields, some professors still have to fight to "prove themselves" as scientists. To me, this attitude is off-putting. I'd like to think at that point, research should be done to solve the research problem that you thought up, not to prove one's worth (although, of course, there's the issue of proving yourself as worthy of tenure). As I was interviewing for a potential supervisor, I was a little weary that that professor might also have the same attitude. Luckily, she was all about the Science, and although her approaches might not work, I appreciated it. So much so that if everything works out in the end, she'd be my supervisor in a month's time at McGill.

1 comment:

Belinda Chinea said...

Justin, it is quite enlightened of you to have written this article on how you see the role ofthe
current female scientist. I would amend that list ever so slightly as to include the female engineer,
the female astro-physicist, the female general... get the gist, Justin, I'm sure. lol
Kudos to you for being an astute young man of higher learning and quiet empathy and I thank you on behalf
of the multitudinous women who far exceed their roles in our somewhat backward society. But we're on the
path of divine parity and men such as yourself help
greatly in our cause.