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View Diary: Fixing The Problem: Women In Science (66 comments)

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  •  I am always confused by the role model stuff (1+ / 0-)
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    palantir

    I came from a different background than perhaps your target audience but I never got why having role models was of any value.

    As a kid when asked to write a paper about my dole model. I would always pick Eisenstein if I was a different gender perhaps I would have picked Curie,  perhaps not.

    But while growing up I never figured well what would have "Eisenstein " done? etc. My goals and wants were clearer to me than some person I never really knew or cared for. Why would some other person outside yourself led  you towards what is good for you?

    •  There's a lot of learning how to *be* (4+ / 0-)
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      powderblue, hdwh, Odysseus, kurt

      that can be surprisingly difficult.

      How do you learn to assert yourself effectively as a woman? How strident should you be in defending your ideas? How do you ask questions? When should you ask questions? How do you interact with your peers, your boss, your underlings?

      This can be especially challenging when you're the first and only woman in a department, and especially if that happens during your first job. All the guys get together for beer after work, say. Should you go?

      So my role model wasn't someone distant and famous - it was someone I worked for. And I was very fortunate to start my career working for and with men who mentored me and guided me and who reinforced my core ethics and showed me how to be a good and thoughtful engineer.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 11:56:04 PM PDT

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      •  These are all questions many people ask. (0+ / 0-)

        In my perspective I just come up with those answers myself. It seems so foreign to me that I would model myself after another.

        Sure I have asked people for information and advice, some more than others.  However that person continues to be just a co-worker who has given me some info.

        But a role model seems to be a person who is beyond a advice giver and that somehow an action is better just because the role model supports it.

        •  Obviously I don't know you (0+ / 0-)

          and on the internet, no one knows you're a dog. :-)

          But some of us are better at blazing trails than others.

          One thing to think about: when you're the only woman in your department, especially 30 years ago, you can't just single out a male coworker for a private conversation. So how do you get that kind of advice? It's stuff like that.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:15:35 PM PDT

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          •  Sorry thank you for bearing with me (0+ / 0-)

            This is kinda going down a different road. But why could a female coworker not single out a male coworker for a private conversation?

            Was it a social issue or was there fear of reprisal?

            •  Because obviously doing so (0+ / 0-)

              meant you were hitting on him. There could be no other explanation! (Especially not if you were 21, blonde, and single.)

              So learning how to carry yourself to be able to have those conversations without anyone getting the wrong idea was a big part of growing up in the workforce for women of my era.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 08:21:19 AM PDT

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            •  Young males of color in STEM careers (0+ / 0-)

              often deal with a couple of issues. One, being teased for being "white" ... which is real and hurtful. Two, that it's pretty hard to blend into the crowd. These kids end up feeling like they don't belong anywhere, like they have no 'tribe' of friends that totally get them. Having an academic role model of someone who faces those same issues and manages to be respected and comfortable in his own skin makes a difference.

              When I was in college, I was sometimes the only woman in my class. It was pretty disconcerting to have an elderly professor call on me and say, "elfling, give us the woman's perspective on this" as if I spoke for all women. Or to call up my TA for an extension and have him know by my voice who I had to be before I even met him.

              Little things like that are jarring and stressful and they do add up over time.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 08:29:56 AM PDT

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    •  Role models and mentors show us the way (2+ / 0-)
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      hdwh, elfling

      If you'll forgive me for putting on my "information scientist" hat, here -- mentors are also information aggregators.  Role models pattern what we want to do, but we can't get specifics on "what's the best approach to this" and "what schools or programs are the best place to go if we want to go out in the world and (I dunno... lead field teams to dig up dinosaurs, for instance.)

      You can spend a lot of time searching for the info, or you can "go to the expert."  Searching info through your experts may get you some biased information but it also gets you targeted information and very rich information very quickly.

      (does that make sense?  I haven't had coffee yet, and that's a theoretical basis of information acquisition.)

      •  There are so few female african-american (2+ / 0-)
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        Odysseus, kurt

        physics PhDs even now that you can count them all out. Someone I went to school with is something like the 12th female black physics PhD.

        She's a little bit older than I am, and I only discovered recently, reading her bio, that she and I had one of the same mentors. He was a great guy and I suspect responsible for the final molding of a lot of excellent engineers of both genders.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:33:38 AM PDT

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      •  To me that describes a (0+ / 0-)

        generic resource. I ask questions of people all the time who are not my role models. some of them I downright dislike. Beyond that most people answering the "who is your role model" as a kid probably picked someone like Michael Jordan.

        I think it may have even been fair for them to say that. They wanted to be like him do as he did. But they probably never asked him a question or even really used his biography as a resource.

        Does this make him not a role model? Or maybe one just in name only.

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