A few months ago the Science Mentor told me about a new science blogger, La Cientifica. So I went on over to her blog and came across her post, Please Refrain. In this post she shared some of the crazy comments she gets as a woman in science. Here are some of the comments that stood out to me the most:
- Come on angels.
- Women live longer than men because they don’t work as hard.
- The only intelligent woman I know is my wife.
- You don’t dress like a scientist.
- Do you plan on having a baby anytime soon?
I can say that I have heard these before. Have you? These comments are inappropriate, disrespectful, and unprofessional. I remember reading a few articles about this topic and the Women in Astronomy (Is Science in the Eye of the Beholder?) and it does not make sense how common these questions get asked.
When did society make it okay for people to make rude comments to women in STEM? This is unacceptable and has to stop. As a Mademoiselle Scientist I should only be judged by the work that I do, not what I look like. Since I look young and dress stylishly I often get the comments like: “you look so young”, or “real scientists don’t care about how they look, this is not a fashion show” and sometimes I don’t get taken seriously. The last time I checked there is nothing wrong with being feminine or taking pride in my appearance.
Have you ever heard, “you don’t look like a scientist”? Or how about, “You are too pretty to be a scientist”? If so, this has to spot. Let’s come together change the narrative and make a chances so our voices will be heard that we are scientists.
What can we do now?:
1. Think about why you decided to pursue a STEM career?:
You are the author of your own story. Share why you became a scientist with others. I enjoy hearing about the many STEM career pathways, often nonlinear. I decided to become a scientist because I loved all things STEM and wanted to make an impact in society. As a young girl I envisioned how my life would be as a scientist. Even though there were not many people who looked like me in STEM I believed it was possible for me. Now, I am using Mademoiselle Scientist to give back to science and society so that the next generation of scientists can be supported.
2. Build a strong support system:
Having mentors and other women in STEM in your circle will help realize that you are not alone.
3. Mentor the future generations:
If we show the next generation of scientists that they can do it they will believe it. We have to start early in the STEM educational pipeline and show them what STEM careers are out there. If we provide access to resources and mentoring to underrepresented groups, we can increase STEM diversity.
4. Showcase both sides:
Don’t let anyone put limits on what you can do. We are more than just scientists. We are DIY-ers, fashionistas, creatives, runners and performers. Accept all of the identities and be authentically you. Scientists have many interests and we should not be put into one box. Share them with others.
5. Keep doing what you are doing:
Excel in your courses. Take leadership roles. We have to make sure we are present.
6. Remember there is not a “look” for women in STEM:
If someone asks you what does a woman in STEM looks like tell them, “She looks like me!”
What is the craziest comment you have ever heard as a woman in STEM? Share below.