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Gender-appropriate engineering June 30, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in feminism, research, Uncategorized.
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There are a lot of stories talking about how women can offer a unique perspective in engineering.

I might have had one of those stories, had I not chickened out.

Some people I’m working with are interested in non-invasive medical sensing devices.  While they were talking, I realized that one idea had a great application.

When I exercise, I often wear an integrated GPS/heart-rate monitor.  The system uses a chest strap to send heart signals to a receiving monitor, which is usually something like a wrist watch.  The chest strap is usually a sensor and battery embedded in a plastic strap which attaches at each end to an elastic band.  I was saying that it might be good to try something different because the chest straps were so unbearably uncomfortable.  One of my coworkers enthusiastically agreed…and the rest gave me no response.

I wondered later if the rest of the people in the group (also males) were uncomfortable with my statement because it brought to the fore that there was a woman in the group.  You see, I’m sure none of them have ever had the joy of trying to wear a chest strap under a bra, and they didn’t particularly want to think about it.  Either that, or they had no idea why chest straps were uncomfortable.

Having my great idea shot down, I was less inclined to bring up a very good criticism of another idea.  They were talking about how it would be cool to simply hold a sensor against someone’s body to measure relevant body functions.  One area mentioned was the chest area.  I wanted to scream, “Are you crazy?  The last thing I want is someone, even a medical professional, doing something that might resemble groping.”  Of course, it would draw attention to the fact, yet again, that I am a woman and may have a body different to that of my colleagues.

I say we should just start using medical tricorders, like they have in Star Trek.  No groping.  No chest straps.  But, unless you’re a woman, you might not know why that’s important.

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Comments»

1. JohnS_AZ - June 30, 2011

If it can eliminate the standard procto exam, we (men) are behind you 1,000 %.

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