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Confessions of a Cook and a Chemist

FairerScience friend Miriam Vishniac is working as an intern at Emily's List. Her first post is an interesting and depressing view of what it means to be (or not to be) a woman in science in today's world.

Some of her thoughts:

But the more I pursued Chemistry, the more I noticed how few other women there were in the lab and in my science classes. Of the eleven professors who taught Chemistry during my first year of college, only two were female. Of the seven labs I was in over the years, I only ever had a female partner once. All the labs I worked in outside of school were mostly male.

I also noticed a difference in the way I was treated by others versus my male counterparts. My professors sometimes seemed almost blind to the gender of their students, but other people I came in contact with always had an opinion. Explaining my major to people usually resulted in the comment, "A woman who likes science, huh? Interesting..."

As soon as I processed these first few differences, it became easier to spot a professorís look of surprise when they saw the female lab intern, or the patronizing tone other scientists would occasionally use. Science eventually stopped being so much of a refuge for me.

Miriam explained:

I have always been aware of the inequalities in society and the world, but these experiences made me more knowledgeable and passionate than I would have been otherwise. I couldnít take it anymore. How could I feel comfortable in a world where insurance companies sometimes think of being female as a pre-existing condition? How could so many other people ignore the fact that women are paid less, treated badly and underrepresented in certain fields, and unable to control their own reproductive future? If I canít control my own body and make my own personal decisions, how can I ever hope to control the other aspects of my life?

So I decided to take a job that would be a part of something with far reaching consequences. I wanted to fight against the restrictions placed on myself and women across America and do everything I could to foster equality.

Thanks Miriam and thanks to Emily's List for helping to make her voice heard.