Not this again (anti-sexism rant coming up)

“What a strange decision for a young woman – to study physics.”

When one (female) is told this by one of one’s parents’ acquaintances (male – whose spouse is observing the conversation and, to her credit, looking slightly embarrassed), and the customs advise to not violently speak up for oneself, the remainder of the conversation becomes a bit stilted.

Especially when more comments were to follow. From which I can summarise that the speaker feels that women (“girls”) ought not to study physical sciences or engineering as the pace of these subjects in future working environments (at least he permitted the thought that a female might work in such an environment) would be difficult, what with having to take breaks to have children, and care for both the young and the elderly of the family.

I decided not to doggedly argue the reverse case, because I did not feel like insulting my male friends in similar fields, by implying that they are less capable of taking care of family members, or showing the responsibility and maturity required to raise children. Which is effectively what would have become of it if I have indulged my argumentative vigour.

Or, I am a massive wimp, for not dismissing customs and going with gut-feeling.


2 thoughts on “Not this again (anti-sexism rant coming up)

  1. Still irritating after all these years.
    Recently was in a hospital room when I heard the woman patient start to ask the male in the room a question – but was told that he was just a tech. and the woman standing beside him was the surgeon. The woman looked surprised and said, “Oh, I didn’t know they allowed women to be doctors.” The surgeon handled it with grace, but you have to shake your head over the woman’s odd perceptions.

    1. Indeed! I cannot help but feel that part of this issue stems from customary traditions: I have heard of friends’ grandparents questioning television presenters of certain skin-colours, etc. In a way, it’s all about what we’re used to.

      However, on the matter of women in science, I really feel that we been there, done that, and bought the small holographic key-chain. Sure, when I was doing my undergrad studies (not overly long ago), 25% of my year was female, and that was a good year, but I remember the medics being pretty much 50:50 M:F.

      I have been humorously scolded by a friend over this post (for not speaking up), so perhaps I really do ought to separate myself from menial (?) circumstances such as being academically and biologically junior to my conversation partners, and step up in the principle of my own opinion. 🙂

      p.s. I read your comment during my tea-break, and decided to reply at once, but am in a slight rush, so apologies if eloquence has left me.

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