Recently, one of my colleagues at Company started a story on how his closest friend’s daughter committed suicide. Obviously, very sad, and a tragedy. Then he continued that he blamed her mother because she was always a bit lost in this cloud of feminism, you see. Uhm, no… I don’t?
According to his reasoning, women can either have a career or a family, but not both because, you see, that’s how evolution made them. And men can, because you see, they are biologically different. And then he had the gall to call upon evolutionary psychology to support his theory.

*eyeroll* I told him flat-out he was talking bullshit and wandered out of the coffeecorner, because there was no way I was gonna get pulled into a long drawn-out discussion where he would barely listen to my arguments because he’s made up his mind.

Recently, I found this in my inbox:
_______________________
Keynote Speakers
_______________________

CBR’s “girl-power” is well represented by our two high-profile invited
guest speakers:
– Professor Susan Craw, Director of the Research Institute for
Innovation, DEsign And Sustainability (IDEAS) at the Robert Gordon
University, and
– Professor Edwina L. Rissland from the Department of Computer Science
at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Obviously, it isn’t enough that there are high-profile guest speakers. Their status as “girls” has to be emphasized and accentuated. One has to wonder why… Taking a quick look at the previous conferences, apparently there have been female speakers before, although the invited speakers have never been only “women”. Hmpf.

Usually, when coming back from a conference, my head feels incredibly full and yet, at the same time, like a stack of umbrellas opened up in my head. Straight, upside down, left, right, on top of eachother, through eachother… it’s an image taken from Dianna Wynne Jones, but very useful, because ideas and questions are just going any which way and it’s hard to capture them on time, or even verbalize them in a way that might later on make sense.

It’s one of the reasons that I always make copious notes at conferences, because when I read them over later on, the feeling might come back and ideas could be verbalized. One of the things the last conference made me realize is that the world is small. There was a PhD student who works with measuring behaviour in severly physical and mental handicapped people. It isn’t my field at all, at least not the people who are her target group, but how awesome would it be to be able to measure whether somebody is comfortable or not without having to ask them constantly? Not to mention, my mother actually works with multiple handicapped people, and I’m fairly certain she’d be interested in the follow-up. I’m actually bursting to tell her, and ask her whether she would like to cooperate with the PhD student!

Another exciting thing of the last conference: there were so many women! I’d almost forgotten there could be conferences where women are almost half the participants (and then I’m not counting the salesgirls). It was extraordinary to just look around and not feel so … isolated. I admit, that’s a very good feeling, and one that encourages me to keep believing in my own possibilities and capacities. Hopefully, that way other people (women) can take strength from me in return.

Sometimes, it’s good to rant about the way things are in life, for example sexism in academia. However, most of the time I can’t complain about sexism, overt or not. This isn’t because it doesn’t exist, but mostly because I haven’t experienced a lot of it during my carrier as student. What I have experienced is more along the lines of positive discrimination, probably. When you work in an environment with a lot more men than women, the women will stand out, whether they want to or not. As such, it is easier to be noticed when one accomplishes publications, etc. (of course, it is also easier to be noticed when one screws up completely).

As FemaleScienceProfessor mentioned, if you are in a category of which there are few representatives, you can have more options, and can allow yourself to be picky. This seems to be rather rare, though. Either that, or people find it not worth mentioning, because it isn’t really something to rant about. So I’m left wondering whether it is really rare, or whether my perception is at fault here.

When I went to MUniversity, to study psychology, it was actually quite a shock to be in an environment with so many women/girls/females, because it is not at all what I was used to and it became a lot harder to stand out, just based on your appearance. Although a lot of people wish for neutrality in judgement, it seems that this is out of the question. Well, if that’s so, I’d rather be prepared than sitting in a corner crying because I was taken unaware by a sexist pig. Anybody care to give me some chances to practice my skills?