Thursday, September 26, 2013

compare and contrast:

this article "Turning Practicality into Passion" about a new male BYU faculty member and this article "Developing a Taste for Research and Mini-Muffins" about a new female BYU faculty member.

Stacey is awesome and a fantastic scientist, and I'm really happy for her that she got this position. However, I'm really disappointed in how they wrote about her. From the college's facebook description (how I found the article), "I'm not sure which I like more: Research? Or Muffins? For Stacey Smith, she may have found a way to combine both!" First of all, it's misleading. I thought she was randomly doing some sort of food science research at first, which would be strange considering her training is all in hardcore physical and materials chemistry. Second of all, it undermines her scientific accomplishments. Two thirds of the article is about her life outside of science, compared to maybe a sixth of the male professor's. What is she going to be researching at BYU? Who knows, but she does enjoy running!

It reminds me of the first paragraph of the New York Times obituary for Yvonne Brill, a brilliant rocket scientist:

"She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. 'The world’s best mom,' her son Matthew said."

Now, this is not to say that I'm anti-muffin or think we should ignore female scientists' lives outside of science. I'm sure that Yvonne Brill considered being Matthew's mother one of her greatest accomplishments, and motherhood should never be trivialized. I just don't like that whenever we talk about female scientists we have to remind everyone that they're female or make them cutesy and domestic. Muffins! Beef stroganoff! Can you imagine a NYT obituary for a male scientist talking about his cooking skills in the first paragraph? No, because the story would be about his SCIENCE. As it should have been for Yvonne and Stacey. As it should be about any scientist, regardless of gender. That's all I ask. 


Sara said...

Wow, just the titles give that bias away.

kylie said...

amen and amen and amen and amen

naomi said...

That NYT article ticked me off too. There was a massive hullaballoo about it (rightly so)