Month: December 2015

From Anonymous

Here is a nice story. Our department is hiring and a name (Prof X) made it to the almost-short list. One reason Prof X made it to the list is because she is female, and we have to have some candidates in under-represented groups on the short list that goes up the chain, and we have special money to hire females. The people on the committee knew that Prof X is female, but her name is not an American one, so one really cannot guess that Prof X is female. The almost-short list went out to the faculty for comments. There were a couple of emails back to the committee praising Prof X and “his” high-quality and important research. It was clear from the letters that the writers did not know X is female – and they were completely judging “his” research. I think this shows the importance of giving candidates from under-represented groups some visibility, and for having incentive-programs for hiring minorities, while keeping their affirmative action information confidential during discussions.

Undergrad Thermodynamics

From Georgia P. Burdell

A year ago, I took an undergraduate thermodynamics course which was taught by a woman. She had what most would call a successful life: she had a PhD in mechanical engineering, could speak four languages, was a great professor working at one of the top engineering schools in the US, and was raising a family to boot.

While teaching one day, she offhandedly mentioned how she used to work in a car garage when she was a teenager. At this point most of the guys in the class began to laugh. She stopped and asked, “What’s so funny?”

There was silence, followed by one brave (foolish?) voice which replied, “Well, you’re a girl.”

“And?” she asked.

“Well, it’s just girls don’t work in garages.” Oh, of course. How obvious. The idea of this woman having worked in a garage was laughably impossible, inappropriate, or at the very least, surprising.

I don’t remember how she countered his reply as I was in shock over how collective and “obvious” this reaction had been. Are females pursuing STEM careers just as laughable to them?

From Anonymous

I’m in high school, and love coding and computer programming. I want to major in CS when I go to college.

I also love to write, though, and I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo for the past three years.

Once, I asked my friend to look over a chapter I had written and give me some feedback. He was very helpful, and I’m grateful for that, but a few minutes later, he says,

“I don’t think you should do Computer Science. Do something you’ll actually be good at, like writing.”

From ky_w

I’m taking an introductory class to computing. I love it. It’s really intellectually arousing and my mother has always been really good with computers (she programmed with punch cards, back when computers were the size of a room) and she had taught me Excel-based spread-sheeting for keeping track of my pocket money when I was 15.

Every time I mention something about the class to a friend, their first reaction is to commiserate with me. “Oh, it must be so difficult.” “Oh, it must be so boring.”

I’m also majoring in a science, though I won’t mention which. There was once I was on a date with a medical student whose idea of a compliment was “you’re doing a BSc??? can’t be, you’re too pretty to be a science student.”

He did not get a second date.

On the other hand, the next medical student I got to know – who is now someone I really like hanging out with – gives workshops on consent. (What a lovely contrast.)