Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I'm back and this is what I have to say

So I had a big presentation today. Of course, in true procrastinator style, I had been putting it off since it was scheduled, a month or so ago. Of course, the thoughts were all there, you know, I was thinking about it. Then I chose to post about womens' issues on Friday night and invite all those comments and arguments. I was itching to answer each comment as it came in, but tried my best to focus on work instead..and failed miserably.

So yeah, I went to bed saturday night without a single slide made, and had a nightmare that I was shouting feminist slogans in my presentation, in a room full of professors. :0 So I decided to get serious and get to it..then there was the soccer final, and then, and then, oh well. It's over, it went well, some of them laughed at my joke, and now I'm just glad it's over.

So I'm sorry I took so long getting back at you all (especially the ones that disagreed with me ;) ) but here I am.

Ahem, will ignore that IM-like convo between me and aarti ;) and get right to business.

Smiling girl, I was not lobbying that an inferior candidate be given the position "just" because she was a woman. In terms of qualifications and capabilities, both #2 and #3 came really close. The 85-90 ranking was assigned by the dissenter, J, not me. It is possible that the faculty got to make a better evaluation of the candidates in their one-on-one meetings, etc, and that cannot be ruled out. Neither am I pushing for "reservations" as some pointed out. We invited and evaluated applicants of either gender, and they were both evaluated in the same manner. We happened to find a candidate who was excellent, and also brought something more to the table, by being a woman.
well.. this doesnt hold good for the normal female bosses and guides though..:).. Most of them are normally khadoos..

:-) hehe, I cannot disagree. that seems to be a well known fact. But I have come to believe that it is not without good reason. More about that in some other post, some other day.

For sirius and others who raised the issue about how a woman would react when offered a job 'because she was a woman", if I were her, and it was explained to me correctly, I think I would understand the need for a female professor in the department, and do my best to mentor students and make myself available to female grad students for counsel. I would take my job as being a female professor quite seriously and try to bridge the gap the best I can. Does that sound too naive or oversimplified? I was not intending for it to be a "Sympathy offer" to #3.
And yes, in an all-boys school , if majority teachers are ladies, and the boys did have certain gender-specific issues, I think it's fair to want to have more male teachers to be able to address them.

Which brings me to Satya's comment. :-) It's clear that you disagree, ;) and I hope you're still ready for the brickbats. :-) Most grad students are spending 5- 6 years of their prime time life in grad school. Issues like marriage, family, managing to balance the two, come up. And no, men cannot address them in the same way as women do. Several male professors in my dept have stay-at-home wives that take care of the kids. I want to see a female professor who's juggling the act of lab, home, kid, being a successful scientist and see how she does it. I am not talking about rules so much as I'm talking about issues, for which no rules exist.

The post was not intended to be "feminist". But it could've seemed that way. So? have a problem ? *raises militant feminist eyebrow* :-) j/k

Satish, yes, as many others have said on the comment space too, women have not had it easy. A little bit of tweaking to level the playing field is required. And that is the reality.

Andy, I would've definitely not made the argument had the differences in merit been huge. You are right, (not about me having a smooth sailing with my thesis, but thanks for that vote ;) ) the small difference in their merits, to me, seemed less significant than the positive outcomes of hiring a female in a male-dominated field.

Libran, I am sure she got another, equally good offer. The loss was ours, more than hers.

Confused? hi! me too. well, for that potential free beer when I come to south jersey, I'll be nice to you. I am not asking for an all-woman club, but is asking for a move to restore a little balance too much?

Prashanth, yes. We can either wait for eons to women to stick it out, fight it out, and make their place.. or give them reasonable, deserving nudges to push them forth, and make the struggle a little easier for them, in a bid to achieve equilibrium faster.

Nirwa
, *drum roll* Ab mujhe Nirwa se koi dar nahi hain!

Erimentha, hello there! very well said! Why didn't I think of putting it like that earlier? Would've saved me so much explanation! Or would it?


Aarti, S.G,
thanks. :-)

Sayesha
, and what did you think? The rechristening won't happen for a while now. For a more comprehensive answer to that question, watch this space. :-)

qsg, I liked your powerful post in response, and understand that it was not meant to be argumentative. But I'll pick up a couple points anyways, One, the fact that the few women stalwarts made it on their own and did not wait for role models is great (and inspiring) but like I said to Prashanth already, it's not enough to bridge the existing deep gap between genders and opportunities. A lot more is needed, and deserving opportunities like the case of #2 versus #3 are important instances where the difference can be made. Finally, it is insulting to a woman if she's wanted in a place because the old boys do not have enough eye-candy. But if she's wanted for what she can bring to the table in her capacity as a woman (and i'm not talking about being eye-candy) then I don't see why it should be insulting or self-esteem shattering.

Sudipta, waiting for a "visible" or "tangible" problem to arise to fix it seems to me an approach which lacks foresight. The signs are there, although I admit, nobody in the students population came out and said it outright. Perhaps we should've done that to make it more "visible". And like I said, we don't get to hire a new faculty every day, it's the first search I've witnessed in the five years I've been at this univ.

Sunil, yes.

T.C.O, will go there and read. :-)


Round 2 commences here. Bring it on!! ;-)

30 comments:

qsg said...

Well, first congrats on Desi Pundit. Didn't realize I missed it!

I agree that women do need some opportunities. I do however believe, that we can very easily fall in the trap of hoping that opportunities will present themselves, and don't work on fixing some of the issues that could be a hindrance in our progress, like presenting ourselves etc. We really need to be more aggressive and push forward. As soon as you realize that some help is available, the personal push tends to ease up. That's not good.

The esteem point was related to only one thing: the realization that one was probably picked not for merit but because of your gender - eye candy, or diversity - same difference!

Like I said, not argumentative! ;-)

Abi said...

While NYTimes has been writing about the skewed women/men ratio among college students (it's 58/42, in favour of women!), those numbers are for the entire student body. In the sciences -- with the exception of biology, and (from what you said about your department) chemistry -- women are grossly under-represented. As you move up the hierarchy, their numbers also dwindle fast.

Keep writing on this issue; we need more such posts. You have made a fine start, and it seems to have touched more than a few (raw?) nerves.

Anonymous said...

Aha.. new template.. Cool!
Now let me get back to the topic of the day..:)

Well.. I understood what you meant, but my point was that I was just confused as to which side I was in. Did I support the point that we need more female profs or Did I want everyone to be here on strictly merit basis...
But at the end of the day, I am one of those women whose heart swells with pride to see a woman at top in anything!!:)

-Smiling Girl (Cant login yaar!)

greensatya said...

As much as you were itching to reply, I was strengthing my
shield. So, I am 'go' for the brickbats.


Say, if the two applicants had not mentioned the gender, who would have been selected? I am not saying giving preference to women is wrong. There might be reasons, as you outlined, for affirmative action(s) in favour of women in scientific field. Even otherwise, it is prerogative of the university to set any criteria. It is fully within their domain and no one can question it. But that has to be clearly mentioned.

The gender criteria can't be factored in merit. To take this
further, if the male candidate was disqualified, he should be told the reason.

My disagreement is to the logic that a particular gender is needed for scientific world. No, it is not. A person, who can think scientifically is needed and not their physical characterstics.

Now moving on to the next part. Do we really need women to have women related rules ? No, we do not. If that was true then there would have been very few women based policies. If more policies are needed we can't wait for a woman to frame them. I totally discount this logic for affirmative action
for women.

We do interact with both men and women on any day. Do we always get conscious of the gender?

Lastly, if you think like a feminist then you would get the
notion that I am opposing your logic of selecting that
woman. But if you think with your 'non-feminist' hat then I
am actually supporting it with a different rationale.

(Now something in lighter vein :P)

As with having problems with 'feminist', I was just
wondering if it is a coincidence that feminist has the same
suffix of 'ist' as with racist, casteist, sizeist, fascist,
etc? Don't know whether 'ist' has postive or negative connonation? Mind telling me :)Either way, I am always terrified of them. I am a poor soul, please spare me :)

Most of the times I have found feminists to be opposing(doesn't matter what). "Oh, you made policies supporting woman, doesn't matter, we are feminist so we got to oppose it", this happens quite often, don't you agree ?

hehe,
(don't mind, I was just kidding)

greensatya said...

Ah, missed out few things.

The new template looks good, though a shade more serious vibe coming out of it.

And I join others in congratulating you for coming on desipundit.

confused said...

heh!

Seems you had a beer before you wrote this because I actully supported your position that the woman professor should have been hired. Just did not agree with one specific part of your reasoning because I don't think that should be a consideration.

Your beer awaits. :)

Sorry, had posted the comment on the wrong thread.

Since I am here , let me clarify a little more.

I did not agree that your reasoning that the woman professor should be hired because woman students are in majority. Because if that is not the case, woman professor should not be hired? As I said, other grounds exist for hiring her including historical discrimination.

And here is my counter question. You say 67% of the students in your department are female. Would you advocate affirmative action for men to even the sex ratio? Why or why not? :)

Abi,

er...scouting for more bloggers for the other India site? :):)

Janefield said...

change of color scheme! easier on the eye than black I guess.

have been wondering if your friend/dissenter J opposed the lady only becoz all you gals were rooting for her? and could it be that the 'boys' didn't wanna lose this argument and pulled together more votes just to get the male prof in?

and sorry about taking my comment to gemini's, i read her post after i read yours and so typed in my 2c there. you can kick my lazy ass if you so wish.

;)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

All, I hope your family and folks are doing okay if any are in Mumbai. I haven't seen Aarti make an appearance on here yesterday/today and am a bit worried. So if anyone else heard from her, please do tell.

Also, I don't like this template. I changed it so that bolding the commenters names in my response post earlier was clear. But I think I'm going to change it back. It's kinda pale and..not really reflective of my "deep thought" :-)

QSG,
I agree with the fear of one falling into a "Comfort zone" if too many things are provided on a platter. Wouldn't want that to happen..and again, I will repeat like a broken record, women should not be picked "just because" of gender, disregarding merit. In my case, candidate #3 wouldn't have been chosen for the interview even, if she didn't meet certain criteria.

">not argumentative! ;-)"

that reminds me of this ad. :)) A little kid and his kid sister lying the beach, on vacation, and the pesky brother keeps going as near as possible to the sister singing in a droning voice "i'm not touching ya...i'm not touching ya.." sort of going as close as possible but "not touching". Perhaps rules were laid down about it earlier by parents.....don't know if you saw it..but yeah..if you did, you got the drift. :-) else please to ignore weird sidenote and move on.. ;)

Abi,
thanks for the reference to DP. (i suspect A = Abi), safe assumption, ya?
I should clarify that I work in a Biology dept, and not chemistry, as your comment seems to imply..??
I do not have the numbers about gender distributions..but yes, the higher you go, the lesser women there are, even in Bio.

Thanks, yes, I will write more after doing more research, when I can spare time from what I should be researching. ;)

S.g,
got you. it's indeed a grey area, and there are no simple answers.

Satya,
:-) good that my delayed reply gave you time to fortify your defense. ;)
I will pick up your second point, since I seem to have come off wrongly there.

"Do we really need women to have women related rules ? No, we do not. If that was true then there would have been very few women based policies. If more policies are needed we can't wait for a woman to frame them. I totally discount this logic for affirmative action
for women."


There is no doubt that there already are several women-based policies, not necessarily put in place by women, and I am not saying that men are completely unaware of womens needs , or need for rules to benefit or help women.

There are two aspects to my argument. 1) I feel that we need women around to be available to if I want to discuss something about say, how is one a good mother, and a good lab P.I? Is being a good mother the same as being a good father? There is no other place for me to go to to find this answer, if there are no female professors in my department.
2) There are indeed finer aspects of policies and rules that need some tweaking to accomodate womens' needs. If there aren't women to express this, then there's probably little awareness right now, for anyone to take any kind of action.

When I say this, I fear that I come across as saying "Women are needed so that they can be accomodating or forgiving to perhaps less than optimal performance by other women, by understanding that , for eg, bad performance can be attributed to that time of the month or tardy work ethics can be forgiven because of a sick child". NO. That is not what I mean. I am not asking for lowering of standards for women, and a sympathetic sisters group to be understanding for that.

I don't think I can explain or justify more. So I'll let that be, or may be take it up in another argument.

"Most of the times I have found feminists to be opposing(doesn't matter what). "Oh, you made policies supporting woman, doesn't matter, we are feminist so we got to oppose it", this happens quite often, don't you agree ?"

lol. you are lalkaarofying the militant feminist in me. :)

Confused,
No, no beer then. ;) I noted that you agreed with me. I was just responding to one point in your comment, about an "All womens club".

Perhaps I drove the attention from my main point with my reasoning about more female students therefore more female professors.

I did not agree that your reasoning that the woman professor should be hired because woman students are in majority. Because if that is not the case, woman professor should not be hired? As I said, other grounds exist for hiring her including historical discrimination

that is not the only reason why i wanted the female professor to be hired. Just one of them, and a perspective of a female grad student. Again, that does not mean I wallow in self-pity and say "oh, we don't have enough role models, we don't have any female professor-cum-shrinks so we really have everything against us.".

And here is my counter question. You say 67% of the students in your department are female. Would you advocate affirmative action for men to even the sex ratio? Why or why not? :)

you did not state how many points that question was worth. ;)

But that's a tricky one, but actually highlights how my arguments must have probably been misconstrued.

First, please refer to above answer for extra clarity. So, affirmitive action today is necessary for women because they have been disadvantaged, and are still at a disadvantage. Nothing is stopping men from applying to grad school programs. Women have real barriers to rise up in the ladder going from getting out of grad school to becoming a professor. In deep_thought00, #2 versus #3; 2006, I saw an opportunity where a woman should have got the job BECAUSE she was well qualified and deserving. I was upset that it was not given enough consideration.

Did I answer your question?

T.C.O,
yaar, I read your comment on QSG's and agree with you, there are no clear answers. No issues about your posting there! But since you offered, one flying kick to your lazy butt anyways, just like that. :p

"have been wondering if your friend/dissenter J opposed the lady only becoz all you gals were rooting for her? and could it be that the 'boys' didn't wanna lose this argument and pulled together more votes just to get the male prof in?"

Well, at the dinner table where the argument took place, we were 2 girls and 2 guys. 3 in favour of #3, and J against. Before that, in the student discussions, nobody openly argued about the woman factor. The student vote went to #3. As far as how #2 won out, I imagine that the reasons were simply qualifications, experience, and the small area in which #2 outdid #3. I am not ruling out that the difference could possibly be much more than 85-90, and if that is true, have no qualms about getting a better professor in the dept. But if it was indeed little, as I (and others) felt it was, then the gender should have been considered.

That said, you never know, after all, these men.... ;) JUST KIDDING RELAX EVERYBODY!

I am not going to say any more on this for a while. But y'all are free to counter-attack. I will come back to it sometime later..well..unless someone makes a really provocative statement. ;)

P.S thanks all, the DesiPundit mention made me happy, and I'm glad that it got some more people thinking and telling me their thoughts.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

Added after afterthought.

And finally, I respect all opinions made here and don't want to come off as defensive. This is indeed a grey area, there are no rights/wrongs and I don't expect y'all to agree with me. So if I sound like that, blame the medium. ;)

qsg said...

Like the new colors - the black template with white letters hurts my eyes! :( I keep seeing black and white even after finishing reading! :p

confused said...

heh!

I was actually pulling your leg :)

So, your argument for affirmative action is historical discrimination? Right? Yes, that is a view I share. So the woman professor should have been hired because woman have been historically discriminated and not to ensure that the sex ratio is even. (then your argument about majority of girl students goes out of the window :) )Correct? It is an important point because when we talk of representation, then there are many other issues involved. For example, should it be gender, race, economic background and such. A lot of people including one of the commentators above see equitable representation as a reasoning for affirmative action. Also, the yardstick of historical discrimination can only be applied till we have reached a stage where the effects of such discrimination have been removed and not in perpetuity. For example, I see no case for girl students being given any AA at undergraduate level as they already outnumber male students. Not only that they outperform male students too. Please note, by my yardstick of historical discrimination, males will never be elgible for affirmative action even if they have zero representation at college level unless they belong to a disadvantaged group for example African Americans. That is why I oppose OBC reservations in India and also any sort of AA for Indian-American students. They do not deserve it.

Fair enough? :)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

2 beers later....

righto righto, confused, all is fair.

:D

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

meek P.S in slurring voice

So, your argument for affirmative action is historical discrimination? Right? Yes, that is a view I share. So the woman professor should have been hired because woman have been historically discriminated and not to ensure that the sex ratio is even. (then your argument about majority of girl students goes out of the window :) )Correct?

How do you separate one from the other? (uneven representation from historical discrimination? clearly H.D has led to U.E)
Why is the sex ratio uneven? Historical discrimination, and, believe-you-me, quite prevelant current imbalances & discrimination, some of which just don a different garb from what happened 50 years ago. So if I say I want to restore some "balance" to ratio, to effect equitable representation, it is a bid to set right the effects of historical discrimination.
do i make sense?

However, my argument that more female students therefore need more female professors was not to set the ratio right. We are not counting students and teachers in one group here. So it's not going to help tilt the ratio in that sense. (I suspect thats what you are implying, I could be wrong)

My argument that more female students was to say, there are so many girls studying in our grad program, it would help them to see more of their ilk make it to the top. It would give them access to the female viewpoint on issues that plague the woman who's trying to strike a balance between work and home, etc etc. Lots of people don't agree with that argument either....


Round and round we go. :-)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

QSG,
you like this colour scheme is it? Why didn't anyone tell me that black/white was difficult to read??? :-)

I will experiment some more....tell me what you think.

Abi said...

You are in biology? Oops. I must have been thrown off by the reference to 'pippettes' in your profile ... Apologies.

'A' certainly is for Abi. Never quite figured out how the 'bi' got left out.

Cheers!

confused said...

''How do you separate one from the other? (uneven representation from historical discrimination? clearly H.D has led to U.E)''

Ah! Is that so simple? So how do you explain that woman students outnumber their male counterparts at undergraduate level? This data is not resticted to just one school but true all across U.S. How do you explain that 67% of students in your department are female?

''My argument that more female students was to say, there are so many girls studying in our grad program, it would help them to see more of their ilk make it to the top.''

My counter argument is that should on that basis AA be extended for male students in your graduate program so that incoming students can see more role models e.t.c?

Round and round we go :)

Ok, my basic question is simple. One should be very clear about what is the basis to demand AA. Is it historical discrimination or is to ensure diversity? As the examples I cite show, UE doess not flow from HD, always.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

confused,
no, I am.

UED does not always flow from HD. agreed.

But in case of women, HD led to UED, largely.

should on that basis AA be extended for male students in your graduate program so that incoming students can see more role models e.t.c?

To answer that, i need to know, what is responsible for the low male student ratio? Is it an outcome of social injustice? (Here's one for the proponents of reverse discrimination). If so, then yes, we've a responsibility towards it. If not, then no.

How is the weather up there in Jersey? Have you seen Krrish yet? what did you think of the world-cup finals??

:-)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

and @ Abi,
yes, I take quite some offence at being labelled a chemist. ;)
some days, pipetting is all i do..

confused said...

Hi!

Sorry, for driving you nuts. :) My point was solely that when we talk of AA, we must be clear on what basis we are demanding it. My point about your department was retorical as you might have guessed. I hope this discussion has helped both of us. :)

Jersy is fine, no, have not seen Kkrish. A little wary of mainstream Hindi movies.

World cup finals? Ah! Seems you have not been reading my blog. :(

Sigh! Zidane...

whass up with ye?

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

confused,
oh..driving me nuts..was a fait accompli, a long while ago. don't worry about that. :-)
yes, i saw your rhetoric. but... :S.

hehe i will go and read the ongoings in a confused mind soon.. :-)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

and yes, the discussion helped.

Rebellion said...

3 days I was away & I missed quite a few posts dear!!!

All said & done out here, don't think I need to add anything...
I agree with what you say TGFI & I rest my argument at this :P

And don't worry, as said earlier, am all fit & fine, in ONE piece.. God doesn't want bad people up there so ul will have to jhelo me for a loooooooong time now :P

Take care sweets,
Aarti

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

hey aarti,
yes, this turned into quite a big debate. it still rages, in my head. :)

we are happy that you are well. you were constantly in my thoughts. where did u disappear for 3 days?

Rebellion said...

TGFI..

//"you were constantly in my thoughts."
Thats soooooo terribly sweet of you bacha :)
You got me all emotional with that!! Don't get me soo used to ul are (I already am actually).. Dunno how il live after a few months without blogging & blog reading, in short.. ul !!!

I wasn't home when this incident happened.. I had gone to stay at my sisters place for a day actually which stretched a lil long so couldn't log on to the net! Had I known someone out here would be bothered so much about me, I'd have logged on from the cafe & made my presence felt! Darn.. you got me allll senti yaar!!!

Anyways, Thanks a ton sweets..

Take care,
Aarti

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

awwwww. BIG WARM HUG to you, aarti!!! :)

and why will you not be blogging/reading blogs after a few months? don't go away like that.

Rebellion said...

Thanks TGFI...

Well needed hug that was!! I was really, all senti senti y'day!!

Am getting married in a few months sweets & would be off the blog world for quite some time! I've been addicted to quite a few blogs, one of which is yours dear! Dunno how my life would be after that but for sure, il miss ul !! Though il try my best to make the break as short as possible but it would definitely last for a few months at least!! :(

Take care bacha,
Aarti

PS: Why am I so emotional yaar!!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

hey there
shaadi mubarak!! :-)
yaar, chalta hai, senti hona. thats just you, eh?
and don't worry, sometimes we surprise ourselves. so however addicted you think you might be, you will easily get over it in the middle of all the other craziness that comes with marriage. we will wait for you to come back. :)

take care..abhi bohat busy hogi, fir, tayyariyan mein?

Rebellion said...

Tayyariyan and all to chalti rahengi yaar!! I need to finalise my marriage outfit soon, thats the main thing actually!!

Pata hai bacha, y'day only I was getting senti about staying away from blogosphere and today only I came to know that govt has banned blogspot in India :(

I couldnt open any blog since y'day!! I actually emailed Sayesha with an all frustrated self almost yelling and cribbing about what'll I do without ul. Not that I blog much, iv recently started blogging but more than blogging, reading blogs was what I was bothered about. I do have a blog on wordpress and I'd planned to shift this one on wordpress too if need be but what wud I do w/o ul?? :O:O:O

3-4 blogs am really addicted to! Basically am too senti na, loves to make friends and in my life, people pass this stage from strangers to friends very quickly and I guess by now you know how senti I am about my friends :)
So the thought of not being able to get in touch with ul was making me furious!!!

Thanks to Sash, she gave me an alternate to get thru blogspot blogs and here I am, with you :)

Baap re, bohot kuch bol gayi.. Excited for being back on your blog bacha :)

Btw.. hope you're fine now..
Here's a Jadoo ki Jhappi for you swthrt :)

Keep Smiling bacha,
God Bless You Always,
Take care,
Aarti

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