Monday, July 04, 2005

Biological Differences, Eh?

A close family member of mine, a post doc in the natural sciences, recently shared a story about soft discrimination against women.

Over the last four or five years, she has been carefully producing and studying a data set that she has begun to prod into general applicability. Her research has ramifications in the politically charged field of climate change research.

Background almost done. She has a young child, about a year and a half. The child does half-day daycare, while my relative jiggers her schedule and her more 9-5 husband makes compromises.

So. A national scientific conference, which political movers and shakers on climate change were slated to attend, where handshakes, cocktail conversation, and personal understandings would probably determine grant allocations. My family member's lab is invited. The big guy, my family member's thesis advisor, designates another person to go to the conference to present, in large part, my family member's data.

She asked, as casually as possible, something along the lines of "Why was so-and-so asked to present and not I?"

And the very casual answer she got back was: "We assumed that, with your young child, you wouldn't be able to go."


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