Tag Archives: CUNY Science & the Arts

Truth Values: women in the equation

26 Oct

It’s evolved into women in science month here at Webb of Science.

On October 9, I saw Gioia De Cari‘s one woman show, “Truth Values: One Girl’s Romp through MIT’s Male Math Maze” at the CUNY Graduate Center. Larry Summers’ now infamous comments about women in science inspired her to turn her own experiences as a  math graduate student at MIT (she got a Master’s degree) into theater. My immediate reaction: this woman gets it. She articulates the experience of being a woman in an insular male-dominated world.

To be fair, I expect that chemistry is more female-friendly than mathematics, but some of De Cari’s stories– the office mate who professed his love to her even though she was married and the macho dynamics  of other offices– complete with posters of nuclear weapons– reminded me of some of my post-undergraduate experiences. Though I did my Ph.D. with a woman chemist, I spent a year in Germany in a department where most of the women were secretaries (one ran the stockroom, and there was another woman, an American, doing her Ph.D. on another floor). My adviser and my immediate colleagues– though all male– were tremendously supportive.

But I still had one jarring incident where I left a computer lab for a few minutes and returned to find a screensaver installed– a digital bare-breasted woman bouncing across my screen. I didn’t know how to deal with a situation like that in English, much less in German. I suspected that a student from another floor, a frequent user of the computer lab, had rigged up “bouncy babe,” but never knew for sure.

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