Maybe divorce is the answer… June 10, 2014Posted by mareserinitatis in career, engineering, family, feminism, research, science, societal commentary, work.
Tags: feminism, hyphenated names, marriage, names, proposals, reviewer comments, sexism, stupid
I think I am going to change my name. It’s very annoying.
My last name, anyway.
If I had it to do over again, the one thing I would’ve done when getting married is to keep my maiden name. Hyphenation was not the best idea by a long shot.
This has been an issue (a lot) because I worked with my husband for so long. I suspect it will die off as we are no longer coworkers. However, one of the most bizarre things that has come up is that I recently received some reviews of a proposal that we wrote before he changed jobs. One of the reviewers noted that as a co-PI, I had the same last name as the PI and so a conflict of interest was a possibility.
My university has a clear and very detailed conflict of interest policy, and I’m not clear how this applies. As far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with conflict of interest as these policies are almost exclusively focused on outside financial obligations. I checked with the funding agency, and that was all they had listed for conflict of interest, as well.
If he were supervising me or vice-versa (that is, one of us was a subordinate), such a scenario would violate internal policies to the university. However, even if he is PI and I’m a co-PI, we both reported to someone else. Further, a PI isn’t necessarily a supervisory role. Do faculty members who collaborate on research supervise each other or collaborate? (My experience says there are very few faculty who view their role as co-PI is that of being supervised by the PI.)
In any case, it’s a completely ridiculous comment to make on a proposal review because we could have been two completely unrelated colleagues who happen to have the same last name. I can think about some of the areas of research I do, and I know of several groups of researchers, particularly in Asia, where many members of the team do have the same last name. I never once jumped to the conclusion that there was a problem with this.
Of course, it’s obviously my fault for the name, so I should probably fix it. Do you suppose it’s cheaper to go through the legal name-change process or to just divorce and quickly get remarried?
Responsive regardless April 24, 2014Posted by mareserinitatis in education, feminism, research, work.
Tags: academia, discrimination, racism, sexism, students
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NPR did an overview of a study showing that there is a bias in academia against minorities and women. The study looked at response rates by professors to solicitations by potential students to meet. The letters were identical except for the names attached. They found that women and minorities received a different response rate than names that appeared to belong to white males. They also found that the bias was greater when the faculty were at prestigious private schools or in fields that are more financially lucrative.
My response: “Well, Duh!”
In the comments to the article, some people were complaining about how many letters they get, particularly from Indian and Chinese students. How could they be expected to answer every. single. one?!
While I admit I’m not inundated with such letters, I have gotten several. As one of the other commenters mentioned, form letters are great for dealing with these, and I pretty much do that. I also use an additional filter: “I currently don’t have funding for an additional student, but if you want to discuss what you’re interested in, we could look into avenues to fund such a project.”
It’s amazing how I never hear anything back.
But you know, I always do respond. And I am hoping one of these days that I get a response back.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for… February 21, 2014Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, feminism.
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Before I make a small announcement, I’m going to provide a wonderful piece of advice. If you plan to marry an engineer, add a whiteboard and some markers to the registry. You’ll need them in case you ever have an argument with your soon to be spouse.
Now that that’s out of the way (and you’ve waited for a moment, so that the title of this post is appropriate…although I have to admit waiting much longer than that), I wanted to thank the folks at Engineering Commons for inviting me as a guest on their podcast. I discussed the issue of women in engineering (among several other things), and it was quite a bit of fun. If you’d like to listen, you can find it here: http://theengineeringcommons.com/episode-49-women-in-engineering/
Please let me know what you have any thoughts on the conversation!
Even the students do it… October 29, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, feminism, teaching.
Tags: cluelessness, mistaken identity, secretary, students
I was on campus and, after teaching my class, decided to go sit at the department office for adjuncts to do a bit of grading. As I was walking through, there were a handful of students waiting for the admin assistant. There was a sign on her door stating she would be back soon.
As I was walking past a couple students and another professor who happened to wander by, the students jumped in front of me.
“Hi. We’re waiting for the admin assistant.”
“Oh, well, it says she should be back shortly.”
“Yeah, we have our registration forms filled out.” The student extended his form in front of me. I’m guessing he didn’t want me to check things over to make sure they were correct…because it had already been signed. I’m pretty sure he expected me to take care of entering it into the computer.
To be honest, I came very close to responding, “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?”
Fortunately, the admin walked in before I started swearing, and I was able to say, “Well, there she is. She can help you out.”
Because really…what was I supposed to do with it?
You could be a teacher October 16, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in career, education, feminism, research, science, teaching, work, younger son.
Tags: education, high school, higher education, math, teaching, younger son
The older boy snickered.
“I like to think so,” I responded.
There was a brief silence followed by, “Welllll………you’re good at math, and you’re a teacher…maybe you should teach math at a high school!”
What followed was a long explanation about how I just physically can’t handle the idea of teaching K-12. Teaching 6 hours a day, grading, prep, etc. Actually, it’s mostly the teaching. Teaching more than 4 hours turns me into a puddle that can’t function until I’ve had a good night’s sleep. Teaching high school is not the ideal profession for introverts. There’s also the fact that, frankly, it would get boring to teach high school math after more than a year or two. The math is what interests me more than the challenge of helping students to understand (though that is an interesting problem when the material is also sufficiently intellectually stimulating). I think he gets it, but he still likes the idea of his mom as a math teacher.
This did bring to the surface some thoughts I’ve been mulling over. Does he see me as a teacher because he already knows I teach or does gender roles have something to do with it? I’ve been pondering this a lot because I get the sense that there are some academics who really do view teaching through a gendered lens and therefore think I’d be better off at a community or liberal arts college. In fact, I imagine there’s a blog post where I discussed someone telling me as much, but I’m not going to dig it out now.
One thing that has occurred to me is that, if I want people to look at my research, I may actually actively have to avoid things that will stick ‘teacher’ into their heads when they think of me. That is, it’s probably a good idea to actively avoid involvement in education conferences and societies except at a cursory level. Teaching should be kept at a minimum. I enjoy the service work component and the idea of exploring interesting aspects of STEM education. I also really enjoy interacting with students (but not all day long). I don’t like the idea that it means that my other abilities and accomplishments will be overlooked. Maybe that’s taking things too far, but I don’t really know how to cement the ‘researcher’ thing into people’s brains unless that’s the only thing they see when looking at my CV. Maybe once the ‘teacher’ version of me has been wiped clean, it’ll be okay to begin dabbling in serious educational research pursuits.
That’s obviously not what my son was worried about. He simply wants me to have a job I enjoy…and maybe there’s a bit of an ulterior motive as he hopes I’d be home more during the summers. It’s a nice idea, but the other nine months of the year probably wouldn’t be all that enjoyable for me…especially if doing research was secondary, or worse, nonexistent.
All that being said, I think that if I do ever become a math teacher, I want the above tshirt. (You can get it here, if you’re curious.)
Good morning, Gentlemen. October 7, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in feminism, societal commentary.
Tags: feminism, honorifics
Almost as soon as I got to work this morning, I was pulled into a conference call. I was rather amused because, after everyone on our end of the call was introduced, the person immediately responded with a, “Good morning, gentlemen.” The other people in the room with me laughed a bit. I smiled, and in one of my moments of goofiness, attempted to muster a bright, cheerful (and somewhat high-pitched), “Good morning!”
I suppose I could have been annoyed at the assumption that all of the people in the room were men, but that didn’t seem right. After all, this person could not see who was on the other end of the line. Aside from that, there was an apology afterward for not realizing there was a “young lady” in the room (although that was amusing as both of those terms are relative, too).
I just tried to imagine it was like the Star Trek universe…if everyone were called, “Sir,” I don’t suppose I would be bothered if I were addressed that way, as well. And it sure beats being called, “Miss.”
A manly woman September 19, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, feminism, societal commentary.
Tags: feminism, gender equity, sexism
I recently read an article about a woman, Norah Vincent, who went undercover to become a man. It was very interesting, particularly the difficulties she had dating and the preconceived notions that were shot down in the process. It sounds like the process was horribly stressful for her, though, so it should give us thought about how difficult it can be to actually *be* a man. I’m impressed by her willingness to go through with the experience and try to see things from another’s point of view.
This got me thinking, however, about the fact that I spend most of my time around men. I work with mostly men, my kids are both boys, and even a lot of my closest friends are men.
I came across a gender analyzer that looks at the text you write and tries to assess your gender. (If you’re curious, it’s here.) It’s interesting to me that every piece of my own writing that I analyzed ended up giving a male result. In the notes below the analyzer, it said:
For example, a woman who has spent 20 years working in a male-dominated field may write like her co-workers. Similarly, professional female writers (and experienced hobbyists) frequently use male writing styles.
That makes sense…but it made me think about how, as an engineer, I have to pretend to be male in order to be accepted. However, accepted and respected are two different things. I often wonder if I would have better luck accomplishing the latter if I took notes from Norah Vincent: maybe I need to get a buzz cut and start wearing a fake 5 o’clock shadow.
Making fun of Fix the Family September 13, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in feminism, religion, societal commentary.
Tags: college, daughters, fix the family, sexism
I came across a blog post on facebook. It was one of those that’s so absolutely stupid that you simply can’t help but respond. I realize I’m potentially feeding trolls here…but you have to see it to believe it. The one redeeming value in this post was that, for once, it was actually worthwhile to read the comments.
What post is this? Six reasons not to send your daughter to college Except it’s not six reasons: after posting, two more reasons were added.
Yeah, seriously. Not only do people still believe this crap, they’re apparently stupid enough to post it in a public place for all to mock. They begin the article by supposedly diffusing all claims that they’re misogynist and sexist (not to mention blatantly anti-feminist). Here’s what they have to say:
- You don’t believe in educating women. Sure we do…as long as it’s to become a stay-at-home mother.
- You believe in oppressing women. Bingo! But we’re not going to call it that because we’re in denial about our position of privilege.
- You believe in taking away opportunities for women and trapping them into a subservient role. As long as she’s only subservient to her husband…cuz God says so.
- God calls women to use their talents. As long as those talents are raising children and keeping house.
- A woman needs to have something to provide income in case her husband dies, becomes disabled or leaves her. But this never happens to people who are responsible. If this is a problem, it’s because you stupidly didn’t take care of it when you could have, you idiotic woman. Or you weren’t subservient enough to keep that dead-beat around. Either way, you’re still stupid.
So now that we’ve established their real stance, let’s take a look at the actual reasons women shouldn’t go to college. I tried to provide a translation to make the meaning more transparent:
- She will attract the wrong types of men. You see, college men are the wrong types. They’re all lampreys, seeking the perfect woman to support them and take care of them while they sit at home and play video games all day. Once they have the perfect woman trapped, they will inevitably give up their career goals and sit at home eating bon-bons all day while she wears the pants in the family. None of them would consider actually being responsible, pursuing a career, or desiring to marry a woman who is actually an equal in the relationship. Obviously, a man’s life goals are going to crumble in the face of that particular temptation.
- She will be in a near occasion of sin. You see, women are too inept to actually be able to handle sexual temptation. They might find out they like having sex, and that’s not okay unless they’ve been duped into marrying someone. Then it’s okay to like sex because it blinds women to mens’ faults (which is the only way to maintain a civil marriage), and more important, it makes teh babiez!
- She will not learn to be a wife and mother. College is useless, you see, because women are only there to raise kids and take care of their husbands (as long as they remain subservient to them). So obviously it’s not teaching her the right skills. If she wants to have the right skills, she must get hitched and start making babies immediately, obviously with a man who she meets at church because those college guys are just too lazy…otherwise she’s just wasting her life. Baby bootcamp is the only way to go…and women should get there as soon as possible.
- The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup. You see, men are obviously worth more in the marketplace, so it makes economic sense for women to only take on menial labor tasks until they can find someone who has real economic value to take care of them. Then they can do the job that they were meant to do: make babies!
- You don’t have to prove anything to the world. Women only go to college because of peer pressure. In reality, fulfillment and independence really have no place in the decision. The only fulfilling thing a woman can do in her life is raise kids.
- It could be a near occasion of sin for the parents. Parents are financially responsible for their children might not pop out as many babies as physically possible, so they’re just a bunch of sinners. Parents should only be responsibly financial for their sons because girls don’t really need educations: they’re only going to be mothers, anyway.
- She will regret it. Women may think they want to go to college after high school, but once they are a bit older, they’ll wish they’d made more babies instead.
- It could interfere with a religious vocation. If she doesn’t want to be a mother, she might want to be a nun, and college degrees are useless for nuns and may make them ineligible, as well.
I guess I’m lucky I don’t have any daughters and I’m not Catholic or I might be in a quandry right now.
I am a feminist because I have sons August 25, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in family, feminism, older son, societal commentary, younger son.
Tags: feminism, older son, stereotypes, younger son
One thing that should make any mother a feminist is having a son go through school. Having two boys makes it doubly bad.
“What is ‘it’?”, you may ask.
In my experience, boys deal with an excess of stereotyping that is just as pervasive as what girls deal with and often times is more rigid in it’s ‘enforcement’. I’ve had teachers complain because both of my sons played with girls. I’ve lived in fear that my kids will get picked on because they like nail polish or My Little Pony or Dora or pink things (discussed here). I’ve had to deal with parents who think it’s inappropriate that I let my little boys cry in public rather than getting them to suck it up. And oh so much bullying.
I came across a graphic on Facebook this weekend that nicely sums up the situation:
This is not a realization that came easily to me. When it finally hit me was when the older son was in kindergarten. I was taking a sociology class on gender roles, and I was lucky enough to have a teacher who focused a significant portion of the class on male gender roles. She described how men are raised to be unemotional and competitive. She described how forcing them to be stoic could later cause problems when emotionally bonding with a partner or how they can be depressed if they can no longer be involved in competitive activities (primarily sports) when they get older, especially if their identity centered around their participation in these activities.
The class was an eye-opener for me. Having spent so long defending myself against stereotypes about women in science, I had really not had the opportunity to observe how stereotypes were affecting the men around me. I can certainly appreciate where some of them are coming from now, though I still need help now and again to understand why I perceive circumstances a lot differently from some of the men around me.
It wasn’t long after that I got the first comment about the older son playing with girls. (At nearly the same age, the same thing happened with the younger son.) It was fairly apparent that neither of the boys was as rough and tumble as some of the others, and they preferred interactive/imaginative play with girls to dog-piling with the boys. I was more disturbed that the teachers thought this was a problem.
Having one child who has nearly reached adulthood, I feel that reacting to these teachers by saying, “So?!” was definitely the right thing to do. The older son now has an amazing ability to pick out stereotypes of both genders and explain exactly why they’re ridiculous. It’s impressive, and I hope it’s helped him to feel comfortable with himself and not like he has to adhere to some societal norm that’s simply not him.
Being comfortable yourself and not having to adhere to someone else’s expectations is exactly what feminism is about, and it’s just as important that boys are able to break out of stereotypes as girls.