meep (meep) wrote,
meep
meep

I am so glad I am not in academia

That was the first thought upon reading this post on the latest round of "WAAAAH! Where are the scientist lady profs? PHYSICS NEEDS CHICKS!". The second thought was "Boy, Brenda is going to enjoy this."

Now, with our alternative ways of knowing, women being excluded from science means all sorts of important research isn't being done, like the all important: "Why didn't he call back?" theories. Sorry, y'all - men can do the exact same science as women. If you look back at the history of science and technology, there are a very few single pivotal individuals, so one particular woman deciding to be an actuary (for example) instead of doing particle physics probably has no effect on how well science is going. You would have thought the relatvists' run-in with Alan Sokal would have taught them something, but in this case, there's not the excuse that the people buying the blather don't know science.

Let me tell you something that women can do that men can't, and if women don't do it, it doesn't get done: birthing babies.

I know, because I tried various experiments to get it to work in other ways.

This last go-round, for example, I asked Stu if he would actually do the pregnancy and childbirth thing instead of me. "Hey, I did it the first two times. I think it's only fair for you to be the one who's pregnant. Also, I think it's going to be a boy, and you're a guy, so you'll have so much in common with each other."

"Sorry, hon, no can do - I just don't have the equipment." [note: this conversation is fictional. Stu knows better than to engage in discussion with a crazy pregnant woman.]

And thus the unfair division of labor, though this time I bypassed labor and went straight for the slicing-me-open-like-a-fish option.

But back to the WE NEED CHICKS! issue. This is not all fluff - some departments are very sexist and don't show any respect to women (I'm thinking back to physics at N.C. State - it wasn't the whole dept, of course, but the machismo was definitely flowing around there. A few profs were outright hostile, but most of them were old farts. The math dept. was far more female-friendly, and did not have the "mine is bigger than yours" one-upmanship I saw in physics.) That could definitely use some work. That said, you do not achieve respect for women by giving women special treatment. Even if the physics guys weren't a bunch of jerks, there still would be far fewer women in the field than men - trying to ram through women of lesser ability to make the numbers is going to give you some serious disrespecting of women. I saw the level of faculty quality from the time period when they needed to expand math & science faculties in the 50s and 60s to be able to compete with the Soviets - artificially pumping up that demand had a very obvious impact on prof quality. That's just the men. Imagine if they tried to push through any woman who showed some sort of interest in the subject, irrespective of her ability, so they could make the numbers. Just because girls get better grades in certain subjects doesn't mean they can do the R&D. Boy, I learned that the hard way.

It doesn't seem to me that they're taking the point of view of women who can do well in these fields, but for whom academia is not the ideal choice (oooh! look over here!) They might be much better off being a high school teacher or work at Google or something else. The problem these guys have is they've pushed the concept of sex parity in quantitative fields, so women with the quantitative chops (and interest) are in great demand because naturally there are lots more men with the skills and interest in those fields. And academia doesn't have the flexibility or dough that these other jobs provide.

So, my pocketbook thanks you guys for making me even in more demand than I would be from my skills alone; I've used that dough to finance more birthing of babies, so it's like synergy, dude! Using an artificial urgency for the feminine to pay off for something that actually needs the feminine -- win-win! Awesome!
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