Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's like they're writing about me...

(They are, sorta. I was a research subject at SMPY at Iowa State, although they don't seem to have used data from those years in the referenced study.)

The harpies who continue to push Title IX into places it wasn't meant to go now want the federal government to start insisting on hiring quotas for women at research universities.

I've spent 20 years observing all this "chicks in science" stuff from the inside--from special summer programs to jobs at companies that make a big show of hiring women and minorities first--and probably the only thing I can say with some certainty is you can't make women who'd rather play with babies be interested in calculus or debugging circuit boards. Especially if they don't have the abilities to do calculus in the first place (remember the variation amongst women is greater than the difference between the male and female average, thanks).

Ms. Pinker, a clinical psychologist and columnist for The Globe and Mail in Canada (and sister of Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist), argues that the campaign for gender parity infantilizes women by assuming they don’t know what they want. She interviewed women who abandoned successful careers in science and engineering to work in fields like architecture, law and education — and not because they had faced discrimination in science.

Instead, they complained of being pushed so hard to be scientists and engineers that they ended up in jobs they didn’t enjoy. “The irony was that talent in a male-typical pursuit limited their choices,” Ms. Pinker says. “Once they showed aptitude for math or physical science, there was an assumption that they’d pursue it as a career even if they had other interests or aspirations. And because these women went along with the program and were perceived by parents and teachers as torch bearers, it was so much more difficult for them to come to terms with the fact that the work made them unhappy.”

Wow. That sounds exactly like me. Lots of encouraging talks from men and women in science/engineering careers about how exceptional women should go on and succeed; lots of scorn and derision from women not in science/engineering about how women shouldn't bother (men outside frightened away by my job title, sigh). And I've tried to leave the field twice post-college, and ended up unemployed and broke both times. I love science, I liked math enough, but the business is soul-destroying.

I'll have to pick up a copy of this book.

I'm sure I could rant much more, but it's time to watch Ben Sheets and Ryan Braun and Corey Hart. :) Keeping focused on what's important here...

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