Some of my favorite women are graduate and post-doctoral level scientists and science educators.
Whether or not they know it, they are inspiring me to encourage my daughter to not only advance her education, but also investigate, question and hypothesize. If you’re reading this, science-smarty lady-friends, I thank you.
It’s no secret that women are under-represented in the areas of math and science. For my part, I did alright in both of them, though less so as I moved into later high school. I also happened to display an early aptitude for writing, and so was always encouraged in that direction.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered an awe for the natural world. Instead of arty movies about poets, I choose dinosaur and astrophysics documentaries. This isn’t to say that I fully grasp them – far from it. But I can’t help but think a different pedagogical approach might have nudged me and some of my female peers to at least give science careers a try.
I do wonder if a religion-based education, to a degree, inhibits some of that awe. Often, when science and religion mix, there is a point when questioning stops, because a supernatural answer (a mystery) already exists. The awe is transferred to a deity, and the reverence for what science can explain is overshadowed.
For some, this might be the point, and I’m not looking to start a debate here. Besides, I’m getting way off base. This post is about funding women scientists.
Women scientists in the UK are not as well funded as their male colleagues. The theories on why this is may range from suggested differences in male and female neurology to lingering social oppression. Further investigation is needed.
The point I’m taking away is that it is up to me (and my husband) to nurture Iris’ mind, wherever it might take her. That means feeding her well, respecting the mind-body connection and, ultimately, encouraging her to do what she loves, and work to be compensated as she deserves. It’s everything, from healthy diet to negotiation skills. It’s making the world better. It’s a lot of pressure. Parenting a daughter is the science career I never saw coming.
With that, the time for Cosmos doth draw nearer…