Posting here until the technical difficulties with my wired blog can be fixed and I can post it there
A transgendered scientist speaks out about his experiences in science as a woman and as a man, and why fewer women go into science than men.
It might surprise you know that I was a top math student in my K-12. But in 11th grade at th estart of the term, I got pneumonia and was out of school for a month. My trigonometry teacher was the only one who refused to send homework home or to help me catch up upon my return. (This is the same man, football coach, who said that girls shouldn’t do math. He said this out loud and I didn’t kill him. I must have been feeling tired that day.) Because he did his best to promote the boys and block the girls, I dropped at the semester and took honors choir instead.
My mom is a math genius and changed careers a few years ago to become a math and science teacher. She could have taught me trig, and did, enough to pass the class until I could drop it.
I regret sometimes that I didn’t fight harder, but you know what? It would have been for the principle, not the passion. I sing almost every day; my first after-college purchase with My Own Money was a soon-to-be-antique piano. I get such joy from music, and my career has not suffered without trig and calculus. At the same time, I’d always half-planned on going into science (comparative planetary science, actually; like geology but with other planets too), so being cast aside in high school would have put me behind my university peers had I gone that way.
I’m happy and I do not lack confidence when it comes to math/science. I figure if I don’t know how I can learn how — it’s just that I don’t have the passion for it anymore, and therefore it’s not high on my priorities when I set up my schedule. But sometimes, talking with friend T who is an atmospheric physicist working on some amazing things, I get wistful. It’s not that I miss working crazy hours for little pay and being kicked around for years as a Ph.D. student and post-doc and publishing papers that my professor took credit for. But the discovery aspect, the research, the learning … the Being a Scientist (and I swear, I’d wear a white lab coat, even if I didn’t have to) … that would have been cool.
I had lunch with a scientist today, in fact, and she got totally animated when talking about her work. She’s in cloning and has a background in botanicals.