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Does it matter what an old man thinks?

SLF notmyaddress at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 7 01:42:22 EST 2000

> Paul Brookes wrote:
> Does anyone really expect the rantings of a 70+ year old alumnus in a
> little-read publication to be taken seriously?

When I was a PhD student at MIT 15 years ago, one of my (male)
classmates  told one of my (female) classmates that she was only
admitted because she  was female.   Women's voices were frequently
 not heard during student-led discussions--even though they were
speaking.  A number of the men had the "you're not as good"
attitude.  And Biology has had a high proportion of women students,
unlike some of the physical sciences, so lack of exposure was not
an excuse.  I stress that this was behavior amongst some  *students*
(who are now in their late 30s/early 40s, and at faculty level),
and not the behavior of the department.

Unfortunately, the "women don't belong here" attitude
is not  limited to elderly alumni, and while certainly not
 representative of the majority of students, it is  still  a
problem in some of them.  They don't need to have
it validated.  Women who are already challenging
the norm at a male-dominated institution don't need to
have their achievements questioned just because they are

I just imagine the response if instead of insulting women,
the elderly fellow had made similarly disparaging
comments about minority scientists not being talented
enough to be at Tech,  and being "detrimental".
Would the magazine have included that in an otherwise
cheerful article about the happy reunion of the class of 1950?
(I also wonder how the rest of the class of 1950 feels
about it, since I doubt whether most of them agree
with this fellow.  But opposing opinions were'nt quoted.)

> Especially the bit
> about "science is like art". Science is nothing like art!

I am a sometime painter, poet and pianist, and I disagree.
Science is ENORMOUSLY like art.  that doesn't mean
that every scientist has terrific talent, of course--no more
than every would-be actor.   there are a lot of plodders
in the art s too.  Fortunately I am pretty good at science so
I don't have to make my living doing art.  ;-)

By the way I have written the editor and alumni president at MIT to
discuss my concerns.  While they stand by their decision to
quote Mr Horne, they agreed that they should have
rebutted his comments more robustly.

I still don't think the comments were appropriate in that
kind of article.

DON'T REPLY to the email address in header.
It's an anti-spam.  Use the one below.
S L Forsburg, PhD  Associate Professor
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA
forsburg at salk.edu

Women in Biology Internet Launch Page
"These are my opinions.  I don't have
time to speak for anyone else."


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