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Telling Stories: February's Scientiae Carnival

This is a wonderful set of posts. Thanks so much to all. The good news is that Women in Science bloggers write really well. The bad news is how little things have changed in the many, many years since I first heard "you're too pretty to be a math major."

Enough—let's get to the stories and the tellers of stories. Science Mama starts off the carnival perfectly asking us if we are tellers (those who will tell just about anyone practically anything about themselves) or not so much. We are, this month, tellers.

One of the tellers, A Lady Scientist , writes a series of sad and achingly familiar vignettes about her youth where "two things are expected from females: (1) to be A Lady and (2) to land a man." Science Girl too writes of similar discouragements that so many of us face. Her strategy of developing a "death glare" sounded good to me, but like her, I'm saddened by the people who assume she cannot do what she has set out to do. Another story of youth comes from Cherish (Faraday's Cage is Where You Put Schroedinger's Cat). Her "Really Nerdy Fairly Tale", called "Because I wish I had a dragon…." takes us with imagination and hope through our heroine's life to date. Also speaking of life to date is Early To Bed's lovely story of how her grown up life has evolved and what it is and isn't.

Dr. Medusa writes of her grown up life as an academic and wonders about how you deal with colleagues, who are professionally supportive and generally "good guys" but whose humor is sexist and degrading. Jokerine asks "How do we portrait ourselves to other people, publicly, to ourselves and our friends?" Her thoughts on the aspects of ourselves that we do or don't share in different settings and what it says about who we are, are thoughtful and touching.

Skookumchick tells some "stories of an academic panel discussion" and they aren't pretty. In just one panel discussion, she experiences so many of the stupid sexist behaviors we've all experienced, it is a miracle she didn't hit someone. What she is doing instead is much wiser; she shared it with us "and will share it with others, and I hope you will share it with others. It can live on in people's disbelief, outrage, and desire for change." In her story Zuska provides some great advice for Skookumchick's fellow panelists. The advice is good, her analysis great and her conclusion, "The story of diversity is not that white males are bad, it's a story of a power struggle.", speaks for itself.

And just in case you are worried that things are getting too serious, CAE ( VWXYNot?) has a great post on "more drunk dancing scientists" dancing the ceilidh, in which kissing is required, even if that means kissing a professional hero. Speaking of kissing (well sort of) Digital Cuttlefish pens a lol-poem about the woes of the "male enhancer" Enzyte, which it turns out doesn't enhance at all (they lied). To keep us telling stories, Young Steller Objects, writes about how telling, and writing stories helps in so many other parts of our lives. And as we are telling stories, Alexis reminds us that "truths wax and wane and become more true within closed communities."

Some of us tell stories of others, Twice Tenured tells a story about teaching climate change, the consensus of the scientific community, scientific vs political beliefs and what we owe society through our teaching. It is an important story, please go read it. Science Woman is also telling stories, but these are ones she is telling her students are about the researchers in her field. While she says "the slideshow history of -ology may feature a bunch of old white guys," she is hoping "that the next chapter will be multi-ethnic and fully populated by both women and men. She figures telling stories is one way to help make that happen. So do we at FairerScience where we post about a teller of stories about women in science and the stories he tells. Propter Doc agrees that stories have their place but makes it clear "you don't always need the stories of the famous, big names. The last grad student to leave a group may have a story that resonates and helps you far more."

Kylie (Pod BlackCat), takes on the stories of others in a different light. Through a review of Full Frontal Feminism, she looks at how the modern interpretations of feminism are limited in the narrative they gives of young women and those who might seek higher education in the sciences.

I can't think of a better way to close this month's Carnival than with the "story plotlines" from Kate ( A K8, A Cat, A Mission):
• We need to build explicit, formal mentoring networks.
• We need to form diversity committees in our departments and national organizations and societies. We need to work on making these committees actually stand for something.
• We need to learn about the kinds of issues that hold back underrepresented groups from achieving in our labs and classrooms, and implement appropriate changes.
• We need to be honest about what it takes to be successful, and we can't try and do it alone. We need to find resources and allies to make it so that we thrive as humans, not so that we make it by the skin of our teeth.
• And when it's time to fight, WE FIGHT. We don't say, that's for someone else to do, or I have a child, or maybe I don't care that much, or I'm safe so it's not important. We fight.


Yay Yay Scientiae! Thanks for the great carnival, Pat!

ps...Scientiae readers, today I discovered that our community is listed in the appendix to "Who's Afraid of Marie Curie: The Challenges Facing Women in Science" as a resource. Neat!

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