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Thoughts on gender stereotypes and approaches to science [Sep. 28th, 2007|09:33 am]
Physics Chicks

physicschicks

[chesneycat]
I was interviewed for a postdoc job the other day, and some of the questions got me thinking.  [Just as a bit of curiosity, and certainly not as any kind of it's-so-unfair whinging.] Here I am, enjoying my field, and finding the nitty gritty details equally as important as the big picture.  In the past year, I've seen some fantastic work being done which hangs on that very approach - work which has completely transformed a particular field, because those details ARE hugely important to the whole.

And yet... the interview panel, all male, were giving off very strong vibes that the best research is always involved with finding the next big thing, and that details are inconsequential.  [Or maybe it was just the fact that the strongest vibes came from the theorist...]   I tried as well as I could to convey the message that just because you know the gist of things, it doesn't make a certain subject or specialism boring, done and dusted... because you never know when some new snippet is going to transform the whole field, and without that thorough understanding of the physics, what have you learned, really?

In the past, I've heard that this is typical of the different mindsets of the stereotypical male and female scientists.  But this is the first time I've become aware of it in practise.  So I'm curious on the thoughts of others - how aware are you of the two different slants in your own work? Is there an inherent bias in the system towards more 'male' ways of thinking, and does that approach make for genuinely better science?  Is it any accident that the example I gave in paragraph one was the work of another woman?
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Comments:
From: dearestdear123
2007-09-29 10:08 pm (UTC)
unfortunately I am totally into details.

well, I do think that being "small picture" oriented is a major distraction and one of the main reasons, why my grades are not as good as those of some other students in my courses, although they don't learn as much as I do.
getting distracted by those nerve-wrecking details takes soooo long (in my case) and you need twice or thrice as much time as other students to understand some problem fully.

It really gets on my nerves. But in the last semester I learned how to do much better, but I still have that "handicap", when I don't concentrate on seing the "whole".

(ah, and sorry for bad grammar or... everything, I haven't been writing and speaking english for aaaaaaaggges)
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