Sorry it’s been so long. I’ve been all kinds of busy preparing for heading back to England. I’ve been booking flights, sorting out my accommodation for the last couple of weeks, making a list of things to do before I go, looking for jobs, writing papers, and (I wanna say dancing, but it’s not come up that much, and my dancing is fairly poor at the best of times, so let’s go with…) drinking at the zoo?..
As my Timehop is so keen to point out, this time 3 years ago I was on a plane to San Francisco to go hang out in the Tenderloin. Admittedly, this holiday was amazing; I travelled to Truckee, got to hike thoughout the Donner Memorial Park in my (fake) Converse (which was a dreadful idea), hit up Portland, had an awesome Couch Surfing experience, fell in love with Powell’s bookstore, went to La Jolla, had a dreadful experience with a breakfast burrito, went to Lipid MAPS, schmoozed some labs, ate carnitas, wandering through the Tenderloin in the wee hours, and threw up in a urinal at San Francisco Airport. It was a great holiday, and basically got me my postdoc.
So, in what I’m sure you’ll agree is a beautiful little send off, the Lipid MAPS conference (which got me my postdoc in the first place) is now giving out registration fee waivers to students and postdocs. I put together a short little abstract, but was abruptly told that the waiver is for those underrepresented in science; namely minorities, females and those with disabilities. As a straight, white, European male, I am, if anything, completley overrepresented in science. All I’d need to be is old, and I’d basically be Captain/King O’ Science*.
Strangely enough, the two woman in my lab told me that that was rubbish, and that reverse-sexism is not the correct way to correct years of people being dicks to women.
Being the great big leftie that I are, I completely disagreed. I then realised all that the nonsense I learnt at the weird little equality and equitability seminar I “helped” teach, was actually relevant. This comic from Everyday Feminism explains it perfectly.
If you’re too lazy to click on a link, or find feminism stupid, I’ll explain, and you can do one, respectively. Us white men have depended on women, minorities and the like to get where we are now. Therefore, equality isn’t just given everyone an equal playing ground, but allowing everyone to reach the same level. Science has an appaling record when it comes to treating woman equally, and the way Henrietta Lacks was treated is disgusting. This isn’t even getting into the terrible experiments on syphilis. There’s even an entire Wikipedia entry dedicated to “Unethical Human Experimentation in the United States“; the majority of which involve, or focus entirely on, minorities.
And I haven’t even mentioned the N-word.
Oh crap, the N-word I meant is nazis, not the other entirely- offensive–regardless-of-the-amount-of-black-friends/family you have-word.
But yeah, the nazis suck.
They then told me horrible stories about how sexism has affected them, including the need to move to an entirely different country! I’m not going to tell these stories here as they’re private, but it’s awful to think of the struggles people better at science than me go through, just to get the same oppurtunity. And all I did was turn up with a poster…
When I worked with the Manchester Access Programme, the point was to encourage folks unlikely to go to university, to actually go. My BioPathways interview was basically talking about how awesome science research was, but when I re-watch it, my friends Suzy and Liz (who was in charge) no longer work in research science. I’m not saying this is due to sexism, but it’s awful the amount of females who drop out.
I feel I should probably end this on a happy note, so if you look at this picture of me at Lipid MAPS 2012 looking like a scrunty grobbler. Follow the middle palm tree down, until you see a checkered shirt. In my defence, my pale English complexion couldn’t deal with the 2PM heat.
EDIT: After I wrote this, I saw this being shared around. Apparently a reviewer claimed the study would be better done if a man had looked at it or preferably get credited as a co-author. Whilst they haven’t explained which journal it is, it’s a member of the PLoS family; a journal we’re currently writing a manuscript for. I think all of the authors are men, so I wonder if we’ll get told to add a female co-author…
* I’m totally aware I have refered to myself as “King O’ Science” a lot of times, and Charlotte has defintiely called me “Captain Science” but they’re pretty sarcastic** really.
**Not ironic. No matter how much you incorrectly call it that ‘murica.
Today’s quote is from George Carlin.