Identities | #2

The additional challenges that women in STEM fields are widely acknowledged, but as someone who falls into that demographic, it’s not something I generally think about unless a) it’s relevant to a discussion, or b) I’m being actively reminded of it. This time, it was less blatant than being ignored or being told directly by a classmate that he’s not listening to me. However, having your own research project (incorrectly) explained to you by someone less experienced in the topic is another reminder that you’re not seen as the default. That we’ve all been taught that we aren’t as smart, or as capable.

Often, the small things like that are overlooked. They accumulate, and this actively hostile environment pushes women out of STEM fields. This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced something like this, and I know it won’t be the last. I think that this particular instance reminded me that my two identities as a science student and a woman aren’t separate, no matter how often I might think of them that way.

2 thoughts on “Identities | #2

  • June 19, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    I really appreciate your reflection on the role of identity in your internship site. Being told how to do your project by someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing sounds like a very frustrating situation. I’m curious as to how you handled that situation in the moment and afterwards? Was there something that you said to this individual to get them to stop explaining your project to you? Was there a follow-up conversation with your supervisor, or something like that? Particularly if you have a supervisor or mentor who is sensitive to this topic, it might be a helpful conversation to have.

    • June 26, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      I don’t think it was what I said to get him to stop explaining it, but rather how I said it. I decided to be as professional of a scientist as I could, and explained it as concisely as I could with all of the proper terminology. This particular incident actually occurred with someone not affiliated with my lab, so I didn’t pursue a follow-up conversation with my PI.


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