Monday, March 22, 2010

A Feministic Step

The other day I attended a meeting to plan an upcoming panel discussion about space exploration. As someone was reading the list of professors that agreed to sit on the panel, I realized that not one of them was a woman.

I brought this point up, and there was just silence for a couple seconds. Then, the organizer (who is a woman as well), said "I didn't even notice that! That's not good!".

It's funny. Us ladies in physics/astronomy are so used to being around men all the time, that it doesn't even dawn on us when something is totally male dominated (even though it doesn't have to be). I'll fully admit, two years ago I would have never noticed such a thing. I think it's all these blogs about women in science I have been reading!

The whole group started brainstorming names of women we could invite. I was proud that a) I had the guts to bring it up (and I didn't even give it a second thought) and b) that the group was keen on finding a solution.

Yet, at the same time, I felt slightly "bitchy" for saying that there should be a woman. Like I was the pushy feminist trying to force a woman to take part. In fact, someone else (another woman) mentioned that we shouldn't just put a woman on the panel simply because they're a woman; they should be qualified as well.

That attitude scares me, especially coming from a woman. It's like we've been convinced that women can't possibly be as qualified as the men...that the only way they can achieve the same positions is just because they're a woman. Again, I would have found myself saying something like this a couple years ago, when I was young(er), naive, and ignorant about the situation.

I know things have gotten better, but this is just another example that it isn't there yet. Women do not pop to our minds as experts or leaders in the field - even (especially?) to other (younger?) women. Is this attitude from younger women a generational thing, an age thing, or something else? In any case, it needs to change.