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so which is it...

Pemwrez2009's picture

Ruskai's article was a great read. She was clear, to the point, and captivating! By page two of her article she had already fleshed out what she saw to be some of the problems concerning the gender gap in the sciences. 

On page two, Ruskai talks about stereotypes that have created what seems like a stigma preventing females from studying physics. When you look at the statistics that she presents, it makes me think about what is perpetuating these stereotypes. She talks about how most women choose not to study physics before they are even introduced to the topic. Stereotypes seem to be only a fraction of the problem, Ruskai makes it seem like something is actually scarring these women away from pursuing a science line of study! 

One other thing that struck me in particular was when she wrote "Unfortunately, these conferences were exceptional in their inclusion of women scientists; more frequently, women scientists have been excluded from the discourse about gender and science."(p2) I felt pretty passionate reading this quote. It is unfortunate that it is being noted that a conference is either good or bad in their “inclusion” of women in the first place! Not that it is particularly surprising, but just awful that we are crediting how women-friendly certain environments are!

The most important factor in this article to me, was on page 3 where she talked about how scientists seem to pay little or no attention to the early ages and scientific integration! This whole gender and science conundrum makes me so frustrated for just this reason. Maybe we need to be paying much much much more attention to the “early years”  as she puts it. If our early years are crucial in the development of our “gendered differences” captivating young girls seems to be an interesting way to look at the differences in interest in the sciences. When she talks about the teaching of science classes to cater to women I thought again, of my introduction to computing class with Kumar and how he integrated robots in his teaching to captivate us, as a class of pretty much all females.

The last idea that Ruskai brings up which interested me on a personal level was when she says: “the problem with this viewpoint is that it ignores the great differences between individuals within a given category, whether that category is defined by gender, ethnic classification, or some other parameter, such as having a scientific career...By introducing gender as a category for analyzing a subject one necessarily emphasizes normative behavior rather than diversity. There is, therefore a grave danger that studying gender differences will merely aggravate the existing emphasis on conformity to the norm, rather than encouraging women to pursue a greater diversity of interests.”(p4)

For me, when gender is introduced as a way of examining it can be problematic, or rather, it is inherently problematic because it forces definition onto the idea of “gendering” any concept. This puts perameters or limits around ideas of gender. As if gender...or biology for that matter aren’t limiting enough!