Reflections on Women in Science – Diversity and Discomfort: Jocelyn Bell Burnell at TEDxStormont
Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a Professor of radio astronomy and astrophysics from Northern Ireland. She tells about her experience of obtaining a physics degree at Glasgow University, where she was the only woman studying it. Before it, being the first-year student in Lurgan, she came to her class for the first time and heard the announcement that the girls should follow to one room, and the boys to another. Thus, the girls were considered to be able to study only domestic science, while the boys came to a science laboratory. They were divided, and no one asked for their opinion on the matter. However, Burnell’s and some other girls’ parents complained, and the next time three girls were studying alongside the boys. Nonetheless, the teacher did not seem to make any notice of them. Since that moment, Burnell felt that she was not like others, and she wanted to study astronomy in spite of any obstacles. She became a professor of physics and the first female President of the Institute of Physics.
The most significant ideas of the speech are the following:
- Only 15 percent of professional astronomers around the world are women.
- 37 percent of female astronomers are in Argentina, and 6 percent are in Japan, which means that the number depends not on women’s abilities but on culture.
- Professor Burnell recommends creating divergent groups of scientists, which would guarantee more creativity, flexibility, forcefulness, and success.
- In order to change the culture, it is necessary to encourage women to apply for higher positions and persuade men to take their paternity leave.
- “Well behaved women rarely make history” (Burnell).
Where Are the Girls and Why Aren’t They Here?: Dr. Jenna Carpenter at TEDxMonroe
Dr. Jenna Carpenter begins her speech with a description of stereotypes that have not changed during the last twenty years. The culture of American society believes that natural studies are suitable for one gender, not for both, Thus, when a girl has a dream to invent a cure against cancer, it will be destroyed when she enters the University. Dr. Carpenter gives the following example.: she creates two identical resumes and signs them “David” and “Maria”, shows these resumes to a hiring engineering committee, and, even though the information is identical, they are more likely to choose David. Moreover, everything begins at the earlier stage, as in schools, teachers appeal to boys more often than girls: in symphony orchestras women are considered to play with lesser power than men. All these problems are because of implicit bias or hidden prejudices, which are more dangerous for women than stereotypes. The aim should be put on their break and making an effort to use objective opinions instead. The parents are to teach their girls to desire to achieve more, whether it is engineering or science, they should be allowed to dream about making the world better.
Important ideas of the video are:
- Only 17 percent of engineering major freshmen are female (Carpenter).
- In 2004, the National Academy of Engineering created the list of 14 great challenges for engineering that included sustainable solutions for abortions and creating a cure for cancer.
- Girls study harder and better than boys; that is why it is important to give them a chance to study engineering, science, and math.
- Creation of a diverse team (people of different genders, races, and socioeconomic statuses) will result in a team of experts.
How I Succeeded as a Woman in Engineering: Cassandra Cole at TEDxUW
In the video, the speaker is a third-year mechanical engineering student Cassandra Cole. She tells that she always enjoyed dancing, even won the competition medals for it at school. However, once she paid her attention to racing, she fascinated with it. Thus, Cole decided to change the stereotypes and study mechanical engineering. At the university, she met a team of people who designed and built cars, which she could not join because they were male, and she felt intimidated. Afterwards, Cole describes how she appeared to be close to death in the hospital, and, when she survived, she decided to follow her insane wishes till the end. She joined the team of those boys, while continuing dancing and modeling, and even participated in racing. Moreover, she became the second Team Lead of the Formula SAE team in the last 25 years. The main recommendations of Cole are the following:
- Changing stereotypes.
- Making crazy decisions.
- “You have to choose the crazy, and accept the things that come with it, if you are ever going to reach your goals” (Cole).
Why Are We Still Talking about Women’s Issues in 2013?: Linda Salane at TEDxColumbiaSC
Dr. Linda Salane talks about the gendered world. She begins with a brief history of women’s development in society and follows with three reasons of why women are still a minority when speaking about leading positions. Those are “toxic air, brain research, and dirty little secrets” (Salane). First, women are expected to be demanding, to create families and be nice. Second, women’s brain is smaller than men’s, although both genders have to work on its development. Third, women prefer a company of men instead of their own, simply because they do not like women.
The most important ideas are:
- Women should stop caring whether other people like them or not.
- Women need to start negotiating.
- Men have to listen to the point.
- Men should withdraw their competitive nature.
- Women consider representatives of the same gender to be mean and nasty, and the situation will not alter until they change their mind,.
- The problems are within society, biology, and the media, and it is high time to influence them and provoke a change.
So We Leaned in… Now What?
It is an interview with Sheryl Sandberg, where Pat Mitchell asks her about her book Lean In and her TED talk. Sandberg never spoke about women and their leadership skills publicly. However, when her manager Mark Zuckerberg asked her what she would do if she were not afraid, she answered that she would speak about women on TED Talks. After the speech, she wrote a book full of data and tables, but her husband assured her that no one would read it. At that point Sandberg realized that she had to write more about her personal experience. Presently, she helps to find a personal voice of every individual, both male and female.
The most significant information in the video is:
- Almost in every country, the problem of gender stereotypes is the same – men are leaders and women are subordinates.
- Sandberg and her team created 12 thousand clubs that help different women become more self-confident in 50 countries (Sandberg).
- Women’s salaries did not change since 2002.
Take the Lead Challenge
Sheryl Sandberg is the author of the book Lean In, who teaches women to develop their leadership skills. At the beginning of her speech, she asks the audience to stand up and say loudly: “I am going to be a governor.” After that, she explains why people would not stand up. The first reason is that they are not sure whether they can do it or not, as their self-confidence is low. Sandberg claims that when a man succeeds, everyone thinks that it is due to his skills, and when a woman achieves something, she is considered to have been working hard, getting help from someone, or just being lucky. Consequently, people are used to perceive men as successful and self-confident.
The second reason of people not standing up is that they think it is cultured. Sandberg states that they do not have high ambitions. Moreover, from the middle school boys receive leadership positions more often than girls, since they are more ambitious. When a girl is commanding, she is perceived negatively and called bossy, and this stereotype forms the girls’ attitude toward leadership.
The third reason is that women do not want to attend to their own needs as they want a proper family and children, or already have them. Sandberg teaches women that it is time for the change and making personal decisions in order to achieve success.
The major ideas and recommendations from the video are:
- Stop calling little girls “bossy”; instead, people should say, “she has the leadership skills” (Sandberg).
- Women perform 30 percent more housework and 40 percent more child care than men.
- It is time to create mixed clubs where people help each other and lead each other to the goals.
- People should think about what they would do if they were not afraid, and just do it.
Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders
Sheryl Sandberg explains why so few women have leadership positions. She states that people deliver wrong messages to their daughters and women in general. Only 20 percent of women are in the top positions, and the problem is in the culture. Sandberg does not claim that it is necessary for every woman to be in a workforce. However, those women who really need it should understand that it is hard, and they will always feel as though it is wrong, but it is not. The main messages of Sandberg are the following:
- Sit at the table, which means that women should not hide behind men’s backs and be afraid of saying something important.
- Make your partner a real partner, which means that it is time to share domestic work and child care with a husband.
- Do not leave before you leave, which means that women begin to think about future children too early, and they forget about themselves and lose the possibility to promote themselves.
Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Engineers: Debbie Sterling at TEDxPSU
The speaker in the video is a female engineer Debbie Sterling. She tells her story of choosing the engineering major. At the beginning of the speech, Sterling asks the audience to close their eyes and imagine an engineer, and almost everyone imagines a train driver. It happens because of the stereotypes of American culture, where girls are supposed to be princesses, and boys are considered scientists and mathematicians. Debbie Sterling was one of such girls, and when she finished her schooling and entered the university, she did not know what major to choose until her mathematics teacher offered her to try engineering. Thus, Sterling entered Stanford University, where she was in a minority among the male students. However, she found out that the engineers are not the train drivers, but inventors, as they invent and design everything they want. When Sterling began to study 3D drawing, she could not do it well and wanted to give up, but her friend helped her, and she understood that the boys were not smarter, they just studied hard. Finally, Sterling got her Engineering degree and invented “GoldieBlox” toy for the girls.