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g irls and education: speaking up!

forsburg at molbiol.ox.ac.uk forsburg at molbiol.ox.ac.uk
Tue Jan 19 10:25:47 EST 1993

In article <1993Jan18.111112.1 at max.u.washington.edu>, wijsman at max.u.washington.edu writes:
>>seems that the single biggest factor in our group was having encouraging 
>>parents.  None of the women in the study group (all of us were graduate 
>>students or Post-Docs in science) had parents who failed to ACTIVELY encourage 
>>the pursuit of science.
> What is the experience of readers on the net?  I can definitely say 
> that the above describes my parents to a T.  I am female.  Is this 
> essential for female scientists, or for all scientists, male or 
> female?

Active encouragement of the pursuit of excellence, not just in science, but in 
all classes, describes my parents.

>> The teachers tended 
>>to tell girls they couldn't do well in science and the parents encouraged the 
>>girls to "show them".
> What do readers on the net remember?  I would say that this was also
> typical of my elementary school years.

Elementary school teachers had little positive effect;  see my previous post!
  However, I had two very good high school science teachers, one of whom is 
still a close friend.  That solidified an existing interest, which was formed 
despite elementary school.

> I am sure most of you 
> notice how much more verbal participation in seminars, group 
> discussions, etc. comes from the male scientists as compared to the 
> female scientists.  This in itself has got to have a dampening effect 
> on the progress of women in science; we need to put ourselves out on a 
> limb sometimes, and don't do it enough.  Is this something we were 
> taught in school?  Do other (female) readers feel that the above described 
> their schooling?
> Ellen Wijsman

I notice very much in group meetings and seminars that the questions are asked 
mostly by men;  when I ask the same sorts of questions in the same way, I have 
been told I am unpleasantly aggressive.  Well, I'm not. I have a lot of the 
same mannerisms as my male colleagues, and my questions are asked in the same 
way--not intended to be rude, but straightforward and matter of fact.  
I think that negative attitude may influence questioning by women.  It 
certainly bothered me when a (male) colleague suggested last week that I was 
too aggressive.  
Also, I noticed as a grad student amongst my peers in first-year 
seminar situations that i could say 
something in a discussion, which would be completely ignored until one of my 
male classmates came up with the same thing a few minutes later.  (I was much 
less "aggressive" in my commentary in those days!)  I may sound paranoid here, 
but it is only in retrospect that I realise that it wasnt ME the SCIENTIST 
that was being ignored, it was ME the WOMAN SCIENTIST.  (I hate that.)

have others had similar experiences?

SL Forsburg		forsburg at molbiol.ox.ac.uk
ICRF Cell Cycle Group
Biochemistry Dept
Oxford University

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