Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,
Spacefem
spacefem

One successful woman does not mean the world is perfect

Here's a fun challenge. Read the comments on an article about a successful woman in history. See how long it takes to get to a sentiment along the lines of "See now, she just did what she wanted and broke through without having to march down the street wearing a vagina hat, just worked hard and pulled herself up by the bootstraps and proved herself, what's wrong with women these days just wanting it handed to them. If a woman wants to be a doctor/pilot/scientist she can DO IT this is proof."

That is one way to look at it. I see it differently... the one successful woman is proof that women have something to give to the field. Then I look at the field and see that the numbers are still very skewed, and think this field is lacking. It's picking its talent from half the brains available to the world. Isn't that a problem FOR engineering/science/medicine?

In the stories about these women, there are little anecdotes of "there was sexist bullshit, but she persevered!" Again, some people think perseverance is proof that the sexism doesn't matter. I'd rather ask why there is sexism.

For every woman who makes it through in a sexist field, I know that...

1) Another woman could have been a great contributor to the field but never realized it was a remote possibility because it was just never in her head, so she didn't try.

2) Another woman saw what was going on, said "No I'm not dealing with the pressure of being only girl in the room" and left.

3) Another woman tried and had to deal with even WORSE experiences than the successful woman, and left.

4) Another woman was lacking some other small advantage that the successful woman had... maybe the successful woman was able to persevere because of some financial backing, race privilege, smart parents, good looks, in other words something that men could lack and still make it. But for a woman to make it she needed every puzzle piece available before she could start.

5) Even the successful woman had days when she could have achieved more, but she was snubbed/not listened to/just tired. We didn't even get the best of her.

Bottom line: as humans, we all work better when we're part of the family, not an oddity that people treat with skepticism. If you want science to benefit from all that humans have to offer, we need to keep asking questions about what can be fixed, not look backwards and pretend it's all okay.
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