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Stereotypes are good because they’re true February 3, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in feminism, societal commentary.
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A couple weeks ago, I was talking with someone who mentioned an email about stereotypes of women.  He apparently thought it was funny, and I made the quip that I hadn’t seen it because obviously no one would be stupid enough to send something like that to me.  There was some effort at defending the email, but I said that stereotypes aren’t defensible because they cause you to judge all people who fall into a particular category the same way rather than viewing them as unique individuals who may or may not resemble the stereotype.

In particular, I talked about my experience when I first started going to college.  A frequently overheard comment my first year or two of college is that, “Women are only accepted here because of affirmative action.”  Dummy me, I started to believe it.

It was a couple years later when I realized it was bunk.  I was working on a website for the women’s center, and I was asked to put up statistics that compared female and male admitted students.  It turned out that the stats came from my particular class, and one of the things that I was putting up was a comparison between SAT scores of the two groups.  I found it interesting that there was only about a 10-point difference between men and women. What really got me was when I found out that my SAT scores were actually higher than the average male SAT scores.  I was livid.  I’d been told for so long that I had only been admitted because of my uterus that I would’ve never believed it.  That meant that my SAT scores were better than more than half the men in my cohort.

Going back to the conversation, I became even more irritated when someone else jumped into the conversation, making the assertion that stereotypes are just fine.  Apparently, in this person’s world, the people they misjudge are apparently acceptable casualties because “most of the time,” it’s true.

Sadly, I doubt this person would understand how their judgments impact other people.  In fact, I think they’d be especially reluctant to agree with this article about how stereotypes are bad even when they’re good.

I admit to having caught myself assuming stereotypes of people.  It’s something that I have to work on constantly.  It’s disappointing, however, that there are still people who think stereotypes are a reasonable approach to human interaction.

When you think of a scientist… January 26, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in science, societal commentary, younger son.
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On the way to school yesterday, the younger boy started telling me that Dr. Frankenstein wasn’t a real scientist.  I asked him what he thought of when he heard the word scientist.  He was very quiet, and I started feeling anxious that this was going to end up in a “dude in a lab coat with beaker”.

I interjected, “You think of your mom, right?”

“No,” he paused for a few moments more.  “I think of someone who is already dead.”

Oh great.  So to be a scientist, you can only be recognized post-mortem, right?  I wondered if it was someone crazy like Tesla.

“Already dead?”

“Yeah, she discovered radium, I think.”

I was kind of stunned.  He wasn’t thinking of guys in lab coats – he was thinking of Marie Curie.  Upon conversing further, it turned out that he knew quite a bit about her.  There was a Magic School Bus book on science fairs at his classroom, and he had read about her in there.

I had to admit that I was hugely relieved that not only did he suffer from a common misconception about what a scientist is but that his first thought of a scientist was actually a very accomplished female scientist.

Although I’m still a tiny bit sad he didn’t think of me.

Frances Allen August 4, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineerblogs.org, feminism.
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I wrote a post over an EngineerBlogs today. If you don’t know who she is, go check out the post: Real women write compilers.

If women in engineering isn’t your thing, you can go take the Famous Women in Science quiz. (Incidentally, I got a 17/20.)

Linkety Link July 31, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in feminism, links, math, science.
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I came across this fascinating article on the history of research in global climate change.  I am greatly amused by the fact that methods used for oil and gas exploration were later utilized to validate theories on climate change.  Irony.

Anyway, it’s a fascinating read:  The Discovery of Global Warming

I’ve also been remiss in not posting a link to this sooner.  (As you can tell, blogging hasn’t been at the forefront of my brain.)  GEARS wrote two great posts on diversification in STEM fields: Diversification In Stem Fields and On Diversification: with Dr. Anna Garry and Professor Ursula Keller.

Of course, there’s a lot going on at EngineerBlogs.  I wrote a post recently titled Died-in-the-wool Engineer.

For fun, you should think about whether math should be taught in schools.  (And yes, the video is a spoof.)

Linkety link January 6, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in links.
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Women in science with children are disappearing from the professorial pipeline, but not nearly as fast as bumble bees. Grizzlies are also dealing with the effects of habitat encroachment.. I wonder if this is similar to dispatching Topsy the Elephant to show the dangers of AC power.

On the up side, Brazil and other countries are eliminating poverty at incredible rates and LA County residents are attempting to save their night skies. (The last sentence was hilarious.)

On a more practical side, Female Computer Scientist has some fashion tips for interviewing while Chad discusses online first impressions.


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