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The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys' Club (Inglês) Capa Comum – 6 set 2016


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Sobre o Autor

Eileen Pollack is the author of the novels Breaking and Entering (a New York Times Editor’s Choice selection) and Paradise, New York, as well as two collections of short fiction, an award-winning book of nonfiction, and two creative-nonfiction textbooks. Her work has appeared in Best American Essays and Best American Short Stories. She is a professor on the faculty of the Helen Zell MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. She divides her time between Manhattan and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Trecho. © Reimpressão autorizada. Todos os direitos reservados

Even in the 1970s, the sexism I experienced was rarely obvious. I grew up in a privileged, loving home with few barriers that might prevent a bright, confident young woman from succeeding in whatever field she took it in her head to enter. All this led me to suspect that the reasons for the scarcity of female physicists must be subtle, and those reasons must lie buried in the psyches of the women who loved science and math but never completed their degrees or, like me, earned their degrees but left their fields. . . . By trying to understand why I didn’t become a physicist, I hoped to gain insights into why so many young women still fail to go on in science and math in the numbers their presence in high school classrooms and their scores on standardized tests
predict.
 
What I discovered shocked me. Although more young women major in physics at Yale than when I attended school there, those young women told me stories of the sexism they had encountered in junior high and high school that seemed even more troubling than what I had experienced: complaints about being belittled and teased by their classmates and teachers, worries about being perceived as unfeminine or uncool. . . . The same forces that caused me to feel isolated and unsure of myself at Yale continue to hem in young women today, acting like an invisible electrified field to discourage all but the thickest skinned from following their passion for science, a phenomenon that turns out to be less true in other countries, where women are perceived as being equally capable in science and math as men.

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Amazon.com: 3.8 de 5 estrelas 36 avaliações
Esta avaliação foi considerada útil por 61 de 64 pessoa(s):
2.0 de 5 estrelas Right mission, wrong flag-bearer 5 de dezembro de 2015
Por doubutsu - Publicada na Amazon.com
Formato: Capa dura
I care about the under-representation of women in STEM fields, and it pains me to give a book on this topic a low rating. Pollack expertly describes many of the subtle obstacles and pervasive barriers that deter women from STEM, but... These accounts were presented in the context of her own experiences, and I found many of her statements (and her own motivations) counterproductive to the stated mission of this book. Many things she said were outright insulting.

The first sign that something was wrong appeared in the book's preface:

"Even women who grow up to be feisty, successful feminists spend much of their adolescence obsessing about their appearance, romance, sex, and their popularity with female friends. ...girls may dumb them themselves down, hide or repress their interest in classes or activities their peers deem nerdy. <b>They may develop crushes on their teachers and other older men, who don't see them as threatening and are all too happy to reciprocate their affection. A boy might pursue a subject because he respects the man who teaches it, but unless he is gay, he won't fall in love with that teacher, as so many young women do." (p. xx)

My reaction: WHAT?!

Her words reminded me of biochemist Tim Hunt's offensive statement that female scientists shouldn't work with male scientists because "You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry." Pollack's statement implies not only that sexual attraction will create problems for female students of science, but that such problems are common. That will only deter male scientists from mentoring female students!

It only got worse as Pollack revealed again and again that romantic attraction motivated much of her scientific pursuits. While I appreciate her honesty, in this context honesty is damaging, especially because she portrayed her own motivates as commonplace instead of unique to her personality. Her story creates the impression that many women pursue science for male attention, and that romantic tension is a regular occurrence in interactions between male professors and female students. That is not only inaccurate (from my experience, anyway), it is incredibly counterproductive to the mission of getting more women in STEM fields.

This was such a theme in Pollack's story that I started a document to record unsettling and/or offensive quotes from the book. I nearly stopped reading altogether when I reached page 35, when Pollack reveals she had a romance with her high school debate teacher. I was disgusted. Three pages later, she describes how she visited Yale after receiving an offer of admission, and she decided to go there because she was attracted to a male physics professor after watching him lecture.

The last few chapters of the book depict solidarity among women who want to pursue STEM until they're discouraged or turned away, but this comes too late. Earlier in the book Pollack made it clear she disliked and felt competition with other women as a student. She had awe and respect only for men and wanted nothing to do with other women:

"But the women's movement seemed to mean women ended up spending more time with other women, and something called 'consciousness-raising groups,' and the last thing I wanted was to spend more time with women. If women ran the world, society would be less competitive. But I loved competing. How else could I prove to the brilliant, powerful men who rules the world but I was as smart and strong as they were?" (p. 21)

This passage was particularly offensive:

When describing the only other female physics major: "And as much as I enjoyed the sight of her shining, smiling face, I can't say we were friends. If a person's self-worth derives from being the only woman in the field, how much affection can she feel toward another woman who might challenge that claim to fame? Erika's decision to pursue a bachelor's of arts degree rather than the more demanding bachelor of science struck me as cheating. It was as if we had signed up to be marines, and here we were at boot camp, each wearing the same uniform, but Erika got to stay in the barracks and buff her nails while the rest of us jogged fifty miles in the rain." (p. 47)

Holy s***! Majoring in physics isn't easy, even if you're pursuing a B.A. instead of a B.S. The analogy she used--Erika buffing her nails, Pollack jogging fifty miles in the rain--was so insulting. Clearly Pollock thought very well of herself. Far from being a proponent of female representation in STEM, she wanted other women to abandon the field. She wanted to be the only woman in physics because it made her feel smart and special.

At this point, I was disgusted by Pollack, and I often paused my reading to vent to my husband whenever I encountered another offensive passage. But I kept reading, and it became more and more obvious that Pollack's pursuit of physics was at least partly motivated by a desire to attain men.

"Could anything be more exciting than carrying a pristine notebook embossed with 'Lux et veritas' to a lecture hall where I would finally begins the life I had been waiting eighteen years to start? My status as one of only two women in the auditorium struck me as less frightening than erotic; it was like going to a movie with 118 dates. I was even more excited when the professor turned out to be the same dark, bearded young man whose class I had visited the spring before." (p. 53)

"My new powers of understanding might have flowed from nothing more than Professor Zeller's voice murmuring seductively in my head: 'You can do it. Stick it out.'" (p. 58)

"My attraction to my professors kept me working to please them long after I might otherwise have given up." (p. 128)

Despite these criticisms, there were many things I did like about this book. Pollack describes the subtle ways women are discouraged from pursuing STEM, and the firsthand accounts of other women's struggles were great. I heartily agree with the message of this book, and more people need to know why we have too few female scientists. But at the same time, Pollack's own story could be counterproductive. Normally I appreciate honesty, but I wish she hadn't disclosed these things about herself. If readers assume her romantic motives are present in other women, it will exacerbate the problem.

In addition to her apparent disdain for other women (she only respected men's opinions), Pollack also derogates scientific disciplines that aren't physics. This passage angered me:

"As to why there are more female chemists then physicists, my hunch is most chemists aren't looking to explain the universe, only to produce a fabric that doesn't wrinkle or absorb odors, a vanilla pudding that tastes more vanilla-y, a bacterium that eats up oil." (p. 202)

She just insulted the ENTIRE FIELD OF CHEMISTRY! That is so offensive! As if physics is the only real science, the only one that truly requires intelligence and passion.

My last complaint about this book is how woefully it covers scientific research on gender disparity in STEM fields. (Ironic, isn't it?) There are hundreds of psychology experiments on this very issue. She briefly mentioned one study on stereotype threat (without describing the phenomenon of stereotype threat itself), but she completely ignored a vast literature whose inclusion would only bolster her arguments. For example, social psychologist Amanda Diekman has conducted terrific research on why some women avoid STEM and how to change this. (See: htt[...]) But you know what? I bet Pollack doesn't even consider psychology a science.

Again, I'm totally on board with the mission of this book, but I wish it had a different flag-bearer.
Esta avaliação foi considerada útil por 1 de 1 pessoa(s):
5.0 de 5 estrelas If you are a scientist, a teacher, a university student or a parent, you need to read this book. 29 de outubro de 2015
Por Bryan G - Publicada na Amazon.com
Formato: eBook Kindle Compra verificada
If you are a scientist, a teacher, a university student or a parent, you need to read this book.

Eileen Pollack crystallises so many unspoken ideas, zeroing in on some deep set problems in how we teach ideas, differentiate between boys and girls, and train the next generation of scientists and engineers. This book is full of stories of tragedy and lost opportunity in physics and astronomy - an unflinching indictment on me and all my colleagues who love this field and who claim to want to pass that excitement onto others. However, there is hope for the future, both in the small things we can all do to mentor and encourage, and in the deep societal changes needed to meet the challenges of the future.
Esta avaliação foi considerada útil por 5 de 6 pessoa(s):
4.0 de 5 estrelas Compelling but flawed 8 de outubro de 2015
Por Terry L Clayton - Publicada na Amazon.com
Formato: Capa dura Compra verificada
I loved this book and read it in two sittings. I found it compelling, but flawed. My reaction is mixed because while I could relate to and appreciate her story, the book was not what I expected. The last third of the book goes the direction the sales blurbs suggest, an informal study of why women leave STEM. Instead, the book, for the first two-thirds, is more of an explorative memoir analyzing why the author herself did not survive STEM. Then she seeks to find a confirmation of her one dimensional conclusions through other women's experiences or opinions. This by no means invalidates her experiences, and she's not wrong, but hers is more of a consensus of opinions than a hard hitting study and analysis. There are a few things she forgets to mention, such as the reason she was one of the first two women to get a physics degree from Yale was because Yale had only just started to admit women. Other women studied the hard sciences at many national and regional universities for many years before she showed up at Yale. However, I am certain every one of them faced very similar experiences in their fights to finish. I know this is so because I was an Applied Mathematics and Engineering major in the early 70s, pre-dating her, and there was not one day I felt accepted or welcome or comfortable. Everything she says has a ring of truth. But for those of us who persevered and then continued out into the world to make our marks, the adverse environment of college was just the beginning. So, for me, her memoir, full of self analysis, feels like regret and seeking validation for her choice to leave it behind. But in the end, this book is very much needed, and one I will recommend and buy for friends and family to read. First of all, so little has changed in forty years. Second, no nation can afford to close the door to half of its most talented people and continue to progress. Women now make up half of all medical school students and more than half of all law school students, but in STEM fields the numbers hover in the low double digits. For example, less than fifteen percent of engineers are female, up from the one percent when I began, but nowhere near what it could be. Why is that? If we can be a doctor who delivers babies, or a surgeon who operates on brains, or a lawyer who takes on the big pharmaceuticals, we can be an engineer who works on engines or roads or power plants or missiles, or a scientist who discovers new galaxies or finds a new subatomic particle or cures a disease. Eileen Pollack may have cracked that door open a sliver wider by asking the right questions, but what we really need are better answers.
Esta avaliação foi considerada útil por 1 de 1 pessoa(s):
5.0 de 5 estrelas Courageous Recounting of A Woman College Days at Yale 26 de setembro de 2015
Por Dr. Adele M. Scheele - Publicada na Amazon.com
Formato: Capa dura Compra verificada
Eileen Pollack has written a courageous and highly personal agonizing account of her undergraduate days as a physics major at Yale. Her experiences with indifferent to sexist professors bites. My own student days at UPenn, years earlier, were the same: discouragement and outright misogyny. Few of us escaped without scars. No wonder we went west. Pollock's memoir is a challenge to change: support young women.
Esta avaliação foi considerada útil por 1 de 1 pessoa(s):
5.0 de 5 estrelas Want to give women more power? 16 de novembro de 2015
Por Charlotte Fairchild - Publicada na Amazon.com
Formato: Capa dura Compra verificada
This presents the facts and how changes MAY happen. It reminds me of the book Smart Girls Marry Money by Daniela Drake, MD. The fact is the percentage of women in business and in science means we have to follow the money. Facts don't lie. Teach your daughters science from an early age.