How the fuck does Bill Nye expect this to happen? What do you want to do, force women to enroll in science courses, regardless of whether or not they want to do it? Just for the sake of having “enough” women? Why the fuck do these fractions matter so much? It’s not like people are holding guns to our head and threatening to kill us if we become interested in science.
Maybe, just maybe, a lot of us DON’T FUCKING WANT to be scientists. Is that a crime?
Hi there, princess-munchkin. Female engineering student here.
Bill Nye is not saying that you HAVE to be a scientist, and you are right that no one is holding a gun to my head because I am interested in science, but let me tell you some of the struggles of being a woman in the STEM fields.
1) Because I am a woman, I am not expected these fields. I first fully realized this when I was in high school, on my robotics team. See, although my robotics team was about 50% female, most of the women were part of the “business administration” side of things: finance, marketting, PR, membership, etc. Was this a problem? Absolutely not. But I was there to be an engineer, and specifically, to be the robot programmer. This was met with a lot of hesitation at first from some of the other students (all of whom happened to be male. This is not necessarily a bad thing.) You see, all of the robot programmers before me were guys. Computer programming is just a thing that guys do, or so they thought. Even after I had proved myself to the mentors on the team, many of the students still underestimated my abilities. There were rumors going around that I wouldn’t have been able to program the robot at all if the lead software mentor wasn’t there to help me. This was just flat-out false, but it wasn’t until I won an award for the team that the other students actually saw my merit.
2) There is not a lot of encouragement for women to go into these fields. I first noticed this when I was in elementary school. I was always interested in math, science, you name it, but many of my teachers and family members pushed that to the side for a long time. When I asked for legos for christmas, I would get ballet slippers. In fact, for a long time, I was training to be a professional dancer. I loved to dance. I loved math more, but no one seemed to notice that about me. It wasn’t until I had a long conversation with one particular teacher in high school that I decided to look into engineering. I had never even considered it as an option before, because no one decided to encourage me to pursue my interest in science. If it hadn’t been for that teacher, I would probably not be at the school I am at right now.
3) For a long time, Engineering/Science/Math WAS a “boys only” club. Let me tell you when some of the top technical schools and societies started letting women in:
- RPI, The oldest tech school in the country, founded in 1824. Started admitting women in 1942 to “replace men called to war.” Campus housing for women wasn’t constructed until 1966.
- Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honors Society - Founded in 1885. Started admitting women in 1968.
- Caltech - Currently rated #3 in undergraduate engineering. Founded in 1891. Started admitting women in 1970.
- Georgia Tech - Currently rated #5 in undergraduate engineering. Founded in 1885. Started admitting women in 1952.
Do you see the implications of this? Engineering has been a part of our society since around the late 1800s (in the case of RPI, since the 1820s), but women weren’t even allowed in for the most part until the 1950s, regardless of their merit.
4) Because of the fact that it was a “boys only” club for such a long time, there are not a lot of women engineers and scientists to look up to. When you’re reading your physics, chemistry, and math text books, the majority of those theories were came up with by men. It is true that much of our history was written by White Men, but this does not mean that the fact that there are few women scientists to look up does not matter.
So, as you can hopefully see, princess-munckin, or anyone else that shares the opinions of princess-munchkin, Bill Nye was not arguing that women that are not interested in STEM should go into those fields anyway. But he IS arguing against all of the systematic barriers set up against women who ARE interested in engineering and science. There are several women out there who are just as good as the boys at math and science, but will never pursue their interests because it just doesn’t seem like an option. That was me for a long time. I am super grateful for the fact that I fought against that, and that I ended up where I am.
if you don’t like science, fine. Don’t be a scientist. But if one day you have a daughter and she shows interest in being a scientist, PLEASE encourage her. Because Bill Nye is right, there need to be more women scientists in the world.
I was lucky enough that my family was extremely supportive of my love of geology. My dad supplied the start of my rock collection. I would have gone into geology were I not obsessed with art and comics.
mybluedecember nails it with a well thought out and eloquent response.
the flip side of this, however, is a lot of women that I have seen trying to go the opposite route and making the “girls club” within the “boys club”. I’m a graduate student in Informatics, most of what my research covers is human behaviors in virtual worlds [read: MMOs]. while I come from a more social science background, my field site of choice is, itself, a boys club for the most part. as a younger student, I thought it would be good to go to workshops and conferences oriented towards other women in computing, gaming, technology, etc. so I signed up for a couple workshops this quarter.
I was insanely disappointed.
1) the first was put on by an official computing research association for female graduate students. showing up to this, I was almost immediately alienated for being more human behavior [vs. programming] oriented, and got the same vibe from the other more social researchers. research interests had to be specified in the application to this workshop, so the fact that they did not at all cater to what we were looking for [there was even only ONE HCI researcher present] reflected poorly on them. if it had been strictly for graduate female PROGRAMMERS I would not have felt as isolated knowing that was the focus. worse than this, however, was the tendency for panels and talks to degrade into conversations about 1) when to get married and have children, 2) how to manage your emotions, 3) how to be an outspoken women [because apparently all women are soft-spoken?].
it really opened my eyes to what self-perpetuating bullshit stuff like this is. it is a shame that women are not seen as equal to men in fields like this. however, having a conference where everyone talks about how tough it is to have a vagina is not going to make any progress for us.
2) the next was a smaller, one-day conference put on by an undergraduate at my school. the target audience was women in ICS [information and computer sciences], but many of the talks seemed to be oriented towards persuading women to join ICS [which they had already done] or, again, about the trials and tribulations of being a woman.
why aren’t we hearing more about awesome things about being a woman in STEM? why do we feel the need to focus on how tough it is to be a woman, when, all these conferences addressing these factors are aimed at female students rather than males as well? why are we looking at creating a silo for ourselves in a field we’re already a minority in, rather than working at incorporating our male coworkers and colleagues into our efforts at creating a more egalitarian STEM environment?
there was an awesome post the other day on an effort like this through The Hawkeye Initiative [see here; opens in new tab] on combating sexism in the workplace through the efforts of BOTH men and women. yes, it sucks that there’s an issue with women being disregarded in many STEM environments, but we need to approach this not only by banding with other females peers, but also involving our male peers.
i’m probably gonna be like 25 by the time i get my first boyfriend
But that’s okay, trust me. It’s better than having the wrong boyfriends.
[disclaimer: it is totally fine to be any age when having your first boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/etc., whether you are 7 or 97.]
having previous relationship experiences that were terrible/awesome/cool for awhile and then bad/etc. that didn’t end up working out for one reason or another taught me a lot about what I need to have in a romantic relationship. you can always speculate, “Oh I wouldn’t mind if they were like this,” or “I think I could handle something like this,” but you can never really tell until you are in a relationship with someone who has that trait. there are several “warnings” for me now when looking for a partner that I’m like, “welp. that’s a bummer, I know I would be really unhappy in this situation based on past experiences.” but are fine qualities for a friend!
it also shows you a lot about how you act in a relationship, so you can be more self-aware and, if/when prior relationship doesn’t work out, you can come into your next relationship with a better idea of your behavior patterns in regards to certain situations. Example, for me it’s conflict avoidance; as soon as there’s a serious argument I just “nope.jpg,” and get really quiet, so I know I need someone who is proactive about forcing me to continue conflict resolution, otherwise I just sit and fester.
basically date whoever you want, whenever you want/are ready to. there’s no such thing as a “wrong” partner, it just means you two weren’t compatible together, but hopefully by the time you’re involving yourself in romantic relationships, you’re mature enough to handle whatever end it comes to tactfully, and look back on the time with them favorably. Without that relationship, you would not be who you are now, and you should thank that person for that [silently…probably. that would be a really weird outloud conversation].
I wish I knew why my body’s coping mechanism with being upset is “stop having feelings” and “stop talking”.
things that randomly make me sad: remembering times when I lent someone a book or a game and they gave it back [or didn’t] in sub-par condition.
lately I’ve been having to email myself files back and forth from one of the on-campus lab computers because I don’t have the program we’re using on my personal computer.
every time I send an email I put a nice motivational messages for myself in it. <3
I’d be interested in people’s opinions on this…below: Facebook draamz re: smoking.
and so begins my week of total euphoria. the level of excitement I’m feeling is indescribable. my entire body is quivering waiting for the next few hours to pass. I’ve never wanted to tell someone something as much as I do right now.
10 hours; 43 minutes and counting.