When I started looking for jobs in the newspaper right out of high school, every single ad had some version of standard Equal Opportunity Employer text. There were two specific ones I remember seeing over and over again. “minorities and women encouraged to apply” and “preference given to minorities and women”.
In the language of today’s social justice warriors, these innocuous sounding phrases were microaggressions. Pretty dumb way to put it, but after listening to a woman describe how hard it was for her to choose a rigorous science vocation due to all of the discouragement from men she received, it came to my mind, as I was wondering if there were times when I had felt like I was being discouraged. I do remember being frustrated by that. Another example, after graduating college I applied many times to a company and every time, they responded with a questionnaire to fill out my sex and ethnicity. After multiple attempts to get an interview, I finally just lied and said I was a minority woman. The point is, the survey itself seems to indicate “Caucasian males need not apply”. That’s an exaggeration, but it’s just as valid to me, as having a professor tell a girl that science isn’t for girls is to a woman who went on to get a degree in science anyway.
Maybe I idealize women too much, but I get a little ticked when I hear yet another social media mob attack. It seems to be the way of the internet: “Hey, everybody, let’s pile on this hapless jerk for something he said.” You see, I’ve known many smart successful women, and to me, they didn’t need all of this bullying others into submission crap that goes on every day in the world of social media. I recall a study mate who was simply the hardest working person I’d ever met. I think she might’ve been silently aware of the attention she received from professors who it seemed to me were rooting her on, but she earned every point she got. I’ll admit it bothered me that there seemed to be some professors who were a little too interested in promoting the “girls in science” narrative over just dispassionately teaching and mentoring science. In any event, from my point of view, the women who wanted to excel in science did just that, all other factors aside. It’s the people who just want to dwell in the realm of all other factors front and center that kind of bug me.
Part of what I see is that this promoting of gender over science has to do with power. Many women seem to feel that they are being denied access to higher earning power because of a perceived oppression. I have nothing against women getting into whatever career interests them. No doubt they are going to be encouraged to find other careers that might be more fulfilling in the eyes of the person who they feel is discouraging them.
Where I live, there are a lot of women’s groups, and groups that aren’t exclusively for women, but women seem to thrive in them in a way that I haven’t witnessed many men have. Now, I don’t usually *try* to be offensive, it just comes out that way, but let me go ahead and say something that someone somewhere is bound to find offensive. It seems to me like women are better at these kind of social groups. This is just an observation that women seem to be inherently better at something than men are. I don’t think anyone disputes this simple example, but I felt like I had to establish that as a baseline. Women seem better at social networking than men do. There are probably a lot of reasons, but the important thing is, that to suggest that men might be better, in general, at something else is the red flag of the social justice warrior mobs. I am not saying men are better at *anything* here, but no doubt someone will read that into my words and rally up a lynch mob. No, probably not. I’m well aware not too many people read what I write here, but boy, if there was something that would be sure to generate a lot of page views for all of the wrong reasons.
Speaking of social media lynch mobs, a facebook friend recently called me out last Friday night, when I made some comments she took offense to. “CALLING ALL WOMEN IN TECH” Come see what this jerk has to say about *this*. Oh, lovely. The first lady that replied made some weird comments about ball gags, and an innuendo about my size. No idea what kind of tech work she does, but thought it was interesting how quickly this woman resorted to sexualized terminology. To me, I was raised when the whole workplace sensitivity thing was really taking off, a man would *never* start off being overtly sexual in conversation with the fairer sex. The second lady that replied did go into detail about how she felt she had been discouraged in pursuing her career because of her sex, before ending with a bunch of personal insults, as well. So, okay, colour me chastized, I guess. Maybe this is how women in groups do things, and why they get so good at social interactions in groups, I don’t know.
Anyway, back to the “women in science” meme. It was a very noticeable campaign when I was in college, and with a few years of experience, I am starting to understand how that works. Politicians create initiatives, professional researchers apply for grants writing about those initiatives, and get funded to find favourable results that agree with the politicians’ initiatives. Then, if they’re lucky, they get a job as an advisor to the politician. Colleges will promote those initiatives because that is largely where the funding and jobs are. So, that is why you will find “women’s studies” degrees offered at all of the major universities. Because, women in science. It is a huge market, apparently.
So, that’s the power of women in groups.
There is a lot of talk about crippling student loan debt, and how people get out of college and can’t find a job in their chosen field. With the emphasis on these kinds of social science programs over the hard sciences that have more tangible real world applications, it’s not really surprising.
A footnote that came to me as I sat here reflecting on this. I remembered thinking that the professors I had who were sort of openly promoting the “women in science” thing were also the most likely to use overtly sexual language, the kind of language I had learned to avoid in the business world before going to college. I remember at the time saying that they had turned into the thing they set out to destroy. They were acting out aggressively in just the way they complained they had been treated when they came up through the ranks. That was the first time I had witnessed that, but I’ve seen that in just about all other identity political groups.
*An old saying my Uncle Hobart used to say a lot, that has stuck with me through the years.