By Suzanne (The Glowing Maid/Radioactive Girl) MacNevin
I, Suzanne MacNevin, am a highschool chemistry teacher in Ontario, Canada.
In my offtime I write quirky articles for the Lilith Gallery. But this isn't always what I wanted to do with my life.
When I was 15 years old, I wanted to be a PLAYBOY BUNNY!
And now I am basically a full-blown lesbian with only minor bisexual tendencies.
I keep fit. I am in good shape. I have a good weight for my height. I can hurdle a couch with no problem. How many people do you know that can do hurdles?
But when I was younger, and much more shy, my dream was to be well-liked, popular, and have BIG TITS.
And so, to be a Playboy Bunny sounded like a pretty kewl idea to me. I could live in the playboy mansion, be extremely popular, and yes, I would have big tits.
Today, I am only a 36C. I feel very average. I can squeeze into a 34B and it will look like a push-up bra. But I will never have 38 double D tits. Its just not going to happen. I simply don't have the genes to create that kind of volume.
So instead I am a chemistry teacher by day, and caped crusader at night... Radioactive Girl! Fighting corporate crime with her radioactive superpowers!!! I wish...
No, I must humble myself. I am not that fabulous. Or am I?
I am in a field predominated by men. Chemistry, or science in general, has long been dominated as if it was a "males only club". Women scientists? Women super-geniuses? They don't exist, or do they?
For years, the mad scientist in me has been wanting to get out... its been creeping along slowly, the pressure in my veins growing until it seems like I might explode into a She-Hulk-like rage...
She-Hulk... now she had nice tits. I guess the artists thought that if they were going to make a She-Hulk, they better give her a really nice rack.
Afterall, much like the science and technology industry, who reads comic books except for men and boys?
Well, for starters, me.
And Rachel Ross probably does too. Rachel Ross is the science and technology reporter for the Toronto Star. This article is actually a homage to an article she wrote. Indeed, I put it on the Lilith Gallery without her permission and later it had to be removed for copyright reasons... for which I am truly sorry.
I can't even show the photograph of her due to the copyright.
But I can change the photograph and make it look very different! Now its an art piece and there's nothing they can do about it! Mwahahaha! The Evil Scientist inside me wants to get out and wreck havoc on the art world...
Except there is no such thing as an evil "mad" scientist.
Indeed, the field of science is quite bereft of "mad" people in general. They are statistically quite down to earth sane people.
They are also statistically more often than not, male.
The problem is not that girls and boys don't want to become a scientist when they are little, the problem is in the education system.
And I can say this accurately, because I teach it.
The standard learning method in science is memorizing facts. Its called axiomatic, and is a learning method dating back to Greek times and probably before.
The problem is that memorizing facts is quite BORING.
You want to bore 20 students to death? Start reciting boring facts out of a science book.
Many of these facts the students already know, which makes it even more boring.
So the entire field of science can appear to be quite boring, just from the outlook. Try as we might to make science textbooks look interesting and exciting, its still a boring textbook.
Also, even if you were to go into a scientific field, what is there left to invent? When children think of scientists, they tend to think of an inventor, which is not what all scientists do. Most scientists never invent anything. What they do is study and learn about something, hoping to understand it better and perhaps even use it somehow.
Why would anyone WANT to study microwaves? But the advantages of studying them and learning how to use them to cook food, that is a different matter.
It was a stroke of genius.
And the result was a tool that made the lives of people easier. No more cooking over a hotstove. Pop some frozen food in the microwave and out it comes hot. Easy as apple pie.
Or perhaps I should say easier?
The microwave has made many people lazy when it comes to the preparation of food.
But that is good for women, because it means there is no necessity these days to stay home and cook and clean. They are no longer "forced" to live the life of a domestic housewife.
The world is their oyster, indeed, it always was, but so many women simply don't realize they have more options.
And science is certainly one of those options.
Even though the National Science Foundation's 2000 report stated that "at all levels of education and in employment, women are less likely than men to choose science and engineering fields."
The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE) has a study they did that shows that the percentage of women in engineering has improved in the past 25 years, but women are still seriously under-represented. The percentage of female students who have completed undergraduate degrees has risen by less than 2 per cent in the past five years.
In Canada, only 11.8% of computer science undergraduates are female.
In the United States women make up only 23% of the science and engineering workforce, which is a statistic that has not moved since 1993. It has stayed constant.
Of course, there is also many women who work for "technology-based company", but that doesn't mean they are a scientist or an engineer. Sad to say it, but women are usually given clerical duties and customer service jobs.
Rachel Ross worked in Seattle during the 1990s, with her husband, who worked for Microsoft. The team he was with had 22 people and only 2 people were female. From her experience of meeting other Microsoft design teams suggests that that statistic is fairly accurate for all design teams within Microsoft.
Of course, that is not Microsoft's fault. I am certain they would hire more women if there was more female engineers to actually hire. If there isn't any however, beggars can't be choosers.
Do the numbers matter though?
Here's why: We don't have enough technology workers. Companies are shortstaffed and need more people. If more women were interested in these topics they would fill a gap that desperately needs to be filled. The shortage is actually getting bigger because demand is now higher and we need more and more people to do the work.
But there isn't enough people. If women were equally as interested in technology jobs, the number of workers in that field would easily go up 90%.
But hey, shit happens...
Sometimes you get pregnant and decide to have a baby.
Sometimes women drop out of highschool or college or university... for whatever reason.
You're young. It happens. We all make mistakes, but women are the ones who suffer the consequences more often.
In 2005, 46,000 new jobs were created in the technology sector... but there was less than 10,000 new graduates to fill those jobs.
Of course we can't push women into jobs they don't necessarily want.
Some people, in general, don't even know what they want to do with their lives. Some just want to travel.
Surveys show women are equally as interested in a career in technology, so pushing is not necessary.
What is needed is encouragement.
Teenage girls making decisions on their careers have to weigh their options...
In my case I could have been a hair dresser, a musician, a physio-therapist or a geneticist.
I did study bio-chemistry, but during university I switched over to a concurrent education program so that I could become a teacher instead.
I am still tempted to go back and study my masters, maybe study cloning.
But at the same time I feel I am doing something very important here in highschool, teaching, being a rolemodel. All the other science teachers are men... I am setting an example for young women in my school, because frankly...
THERE'S NOTHING STOPPING THEM.
Rachel Ross has an interesting quote in her article:
"The smurfs had an interesting kind of community going. Each smurf was highly specialized, so that their life revolved around one basic trait. There was Jokey smurf, who was always playing practical jokes, Baker smurf who made a lot of pies for Jokey, and brainy smurf who generally drove all the other smurfs nuts relaying his wisdom.
Then there was Smurfette. She didn't do much, beyond brushing her hair and looking in the mirror."
Except Smurfette is just a story. You don't have to be a Smurfette.
Handy Smurf, now thats more my style.
He was an inventor, an engineer, a well-rounded and very useful Smurf. Very well liked too. My personal favourite.
But why does Handy Smurf have to be male (are they really male under those little white shorts)?
Well, he doesn't (and maybe they're asexual anyway).
There really is no reason why Smurfette couldn't be every bit as handy and talented.
That sounds so much better.
Meanwhile for myself, I will continue being Radioactive Girl, fighting sexism and corporate crime with my teaching powers! :)