On March 9, 2013, I attended a seminar called Women in Science Day at Towson University for women and their supporters. Three female presenters told compelling stories about their academic achievements, career growth and experiences against gender biases. The first presenter named Ava Marie had studied atmospheric science and became a meteorologist for WBAL TV 11 News. She shared some challenges that women would face in science. These challenges were balancing work and life, being outnumbered by men and sexual harrassed on the job and falling into the “female nerd” stigma. Although hearing about the “female nerd” stigma was new to me, I had experienced similar backlashes for choosing to even attend college. However, I would always remember what my uncle told me. He told me to never be like someone else. It stuck with me until this day. As I could put it quite generally, these backlashes only derived from the notion that, in my opinion, women who chose to be more than sexual partners would not be available to reproduce with men. If I am bullied for controlling my reproductive system, then I would encourage the “bullying” some more, because I would know that, from society’s reaction, I, a woman, will have more control.
The second presenter named Nina M. Lamba, PhD, had started her own company CCL Biomedical, Inc. From her presentation, she quoted the most inspiring statement: “Inclusion based on merits brings societal improvements and social justice.” I would agree. Dr. Lamba encouraged every woman to create her own path. She also cited an article from Miss Representation that reported 18% of women were in leadership positions. Hence, there would need to be significant growth of women in leadership positions, or in science, to have some type of valid representation of women in male-dominant fields.
The third presenter named Flora Lichtman had studied journalism and environmental science at Yale University and became a multimedia editor for NPR. Not only that, she had co-authored a book called Annoying with her co-correspondent, Joe Palca, from Science Friday. Lichtman was the most passionate presenter when it came to the subject about not enough women in science. She argued that there needs to be more women online. Currently, from her statistics, only less than 30% of women were online. The media might be male-dominant, but the tools should be gender-neutral. Women should also utilize these tools to their benefit and build this representation that could encourage more women to get more involved, especially in science. In Lichtman’s conclusion, she believed that, to get more women involved, there must be a connection between science in school and science in the real world that will not dull women.
Before the three presenters told their compelling stories, a male presenter gave an introduction to Women in Science Day by acknowledging women’s accomplishments and obstacles. In a portion of his speech, he announced the love that he has for his wife by simply calling her, as I quote him, “a pioneer in her research”. I felt that, on March 9, 2013, it was a great day to be a woman. This Women in Science Day event left a lasting impression on me. I learned even more about how incredible and accomplished women really are, despite the backlashes. No longer could backlashes sustain their position. Over time, negative criticism towards women achieving beyond their sexual duties would lose its sting—also, its meaning. If not already, when forced to be marginalized, women will wholeheartedly dispel patriarchal ideals and move towards establishing one of their own: matriarchy.