poisonwood's Diaryland Diary

Date: May. 30, 2009 . Time: 9:20 a.m.

celebrating the differences Entry:


celebrating the differences

Interesting article on where Soto mayor grew up.

I find it interesting that the comment on the old white man and Latina woman I posted yesterday was apparently "pounced on" by the conservative media (so says the liberal NPR, of course). In any event, it was the first thing I read in the first WSJ article I opened. I suspect most conservatives are upset - rightly - at the suggestion that a Latina woman would necessarily make a better decision than a white man. However, if this is the worst thing she's said in 20 years, she's in great shape.

What upset me is that I have been told directly by older male colleagues a few times and subtly and non-so-subtly by various types of media a million times that I think differently and approach problems differently than men. (They say this as if it is simply an interesting observation and my different approaches are no doubt a boon! Right.) My experience in grad school was that how you approached a problem was driven primarily by what country you completed your undergraduate education and secondarily by what country you completed your high school and primary education. I didn't notice any differences in approaching engineering problems due to gender. Maybe true geniuses approach problems on the basis of their gender, but most smart people use the tools they've developed through doing problem sets in high school in college. I really don't see why gender would play a role.

I don't think that's what Soto mayor was talking about, and I imagine gender does influence one's answer to, say, an essay question on abortion. However, for me, as a female engineer, I don't find focusing on differences between the genders (and/or races) particularly productive.

(I imagine the male colleagues who are convinced I approach problems differently would hesitate to make the same statement to my few racial minority co-workers. Why is it acceptable to "celebrate" (sarcasm) the differences in women and men's math and science skills when I suspect it's not OK for a difference in races?)

9:20 a.m. - May. 30, 2009


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