Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–January 1, 2017
January 21, 2017. Be there.
In a New York Times article titled “What It’s Really Like to Work in Hollywood (*If you’re not a straight white man.),” Mindy Kaling discussed her internal struggles:
My personality and [that of other women] I know is to want to please. It can sometimes feel alien to just say, “I need this to happen, because it’s my show,” and not feel afterward that you’ve been unprofessional simply by stating the thing that you want.
This is an issue not only among the creative workers of Hollywood, but among women in general. And this issue applies equally whether you’re directing a movie, or participating in a marriage. For women, simply stating the thing that you want is never simple. Especially if the thing that you want has the potential to strike at the male ego of your partner or other men around you.
When women push back, they [are perceived as] bitches or divas. I just made a slight demand that wasn’t even that bad. And at the end of it, I’ll send bagels [to the staff]. Please forgive me for asserting myself in a small way.
Katie Dippold, screenwriter of The Heat and Ghostbusters, had this to say in the same article:
I definitely think about what I’m going to say before I say it, because I do feel that I’m more likely to offend just by being female and having a strong opinion on something.
The wonder is not that Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College vote, but that she managed to win the popular vote while being a woman with strong opinions.
Last week, Serena Williams was quoted in the Washington Post:
“I think being a woman is just a whole new set of problems from society that you have to deal with, as well as being black, so it’s a lot to deal with — and especially lately. I’ve been able to speak up for women’s rights because I think that gets lost in color, or gets lost in cultures. Women make up so much of this world, and, yeah, if I were a man, I would have 100 percent been considered the greatest ever a long time ago.”
In an open letter to women she wrote:
As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success. One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw. People call me one of the “world’s greatest female athletes.” Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.
I added the emphasis above to highlight the phrase I found most arresting. No, we are not men. Why is that considered a flaw? She is right, but why must women be judged first on their gender and only secondarily on their accomplishments?
It has been 53 years since a woman has won a Nobel Prize in physics. In 1963, Maria Goeppert-Mayer was a joint winner with J. Hans D. Jensen “for their discoveries concerning nuclear shell structure.” Marie Curie was a joint winner in 1903 with Pierre Currie “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel.” Henri Becquerel also shared that year’s award.
Not receiving Nobel recognition was Vera Rubin, who passed away on Dec. 25, 2016. Working with fellow astronomer Kent Ford, Dr. Rubin proved the existence of dark matter in the 1970s.
“The existence of dark matter has utterly revolutionized our concept of the universe and our entire field,” University of Washington astronomer Emily Levesque told Astronomy magazine this year. “The ongoing effort to understand the role of dark matter has basically spawned entire subfields within astrophysics and particle physics.”
Born in1928, Rubin attended Vassar and received her master’s degree from Cornell University and her doctorate from Georgetown after being rejected by Princeton, which did not accept women into its graduate program. She was a trailblazer in her field and constantly lent a hand to women who wished to make a career in astronomy:
Everywhere she went, Rubin fought for more women to be included. In 1976, when she found out that the first-ever Smithsonian Air and Space Museum planetarium show on the history of American astronomy would feature only men — all but one of them white — she lobbied for months for women to be included (her efforts were unsuccessful). She was part of a cadre of scientists and scholars who pressured Washington’s exclusive Cosmos Club to admit women. She criticized the National Academy of Sciences for its dearth of female members. She met with politicians to discuss the need to create more opportunities for girls.
“All of us, men and women alike, need permission to enter and continue in the world of science,” Rubin wrote in a 1986 editorial in the journal Science. “… While such permission has generally been granted to bright men, it had always been less readily granted to young women and continues to be denied to many women even today.”
Women today are facing challenges as great as those faced by Vera Rubin in the 1950s and 60s when she was starting her career in a male-dominated field. Dr. Rubin faced legal discrimination, but she was eventually supported by a government led by rational men. Today, we are looking at a government that will be led by a man whose only ability to communicate is restricted to 140 characters, who sees women as sexual objects, and who has no problem appointing abusers to his circle of advisors.
It will be no panacea, nor will it necessarily change any minds. But we must do it anyway—for women like Vera Rubin, Princess Leia, Serena Williams, and all of the others who deserve so much more than they have ever received.
We must do it because there is so little else that we can do. And we must do something.
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