Geometry, Shirts, and Forrester

— Eldest is taking geometry honors. This is a problem from his textbook.


— I have been (sort of, but not really) following “the shirt” developments. I must be jaded beyond belief that the shirt did’t even register. I couldn’t muster even a little bit of shock or disdain. Perhaps all the male colleagues in socks and sandals have forever desensitized me to any potential fashion faux pas  committed by a geeky man. I am not sure why I don’t care about the women on the shirt; I know I should, but I don’t.

Systemic misogyny is a societal feature, no doubt about that. But there is only so much energy I can devote to swimming in the bottomless cesspool of hatred. Instead, I am perhaps more hopeful than I should be about the women in STEM fields. When I teach a class, like I did today, to a bunch of 18-to-21-year-old boys, I show them that women kick butt in their chosen field. They are nice boys and they will become nice men, and perhaps they will treat their fellow female coworkers just a little bit better because they had me and other women professors around. Who knows?

To my Eldest, I am the go-to person for math homework. My DH is, of course, every bit as capable of helping as I am, but Eldest seems to prefer asking me for homework help. When I mentioned to him a while ago that there are people who feel women are not supposed to be doing work in certain fields, that women are considered a priori inferior just because they are women, he looked at me like I’d sprouted a second head. He could not fathom why anyone would think anything so stupid. I know the kid will turn out alright.

A graduate student joined my group a couple of years ago, after having spent several years doing very different type of work in another lab. While he was in that other lab, he took a couple of courses with me. One time, in class, I came into the classroom and the desks and chairs had been rearranged. In order to be able to access the board, I had to move several desks. I started moving them around, and commenting how it would be nice if I had some help. That student remarked along the lines of “Well, you want to be equal.” (I don’t remember how he phrased it, but it was a definite reference to us women wanting to be equal, so as a result we should move heavy desks by ourselves.) Anyway, a couple of years later he’s in my group, and after a bit of initial friction we have been working well together. He would not be the first one to find out that behind the smiling woman who cracks really stupid jokes in class is someone who knows her science, is not all that warm and fuzzy, and is actually effective as an advisor.

So, one person (dude or dudette) at a time.

— Lastly, this post is a testament to how you can start a post while having absolutely no idea whatsoever what to write, but you just do it, you start typing, and — voila! — here’s a post. And a near-cohenent one at that.

I saw this concept for the first time many years ago in the movie Finding Forrester. Sean Connery’s Forrester mentors a young wannabe writer Jamal Wallace (played by Rob Brown). He basically says to just take a piece of old writing, and just start typing in the middle of it (there were typewriters involved!), no matter what comes out, and sooner or later you will find yourself actually writing what you are supposed to. This idea blew me away at the time. And it is so very true and apparently one among the well-recognized tips for writing.

— In other news, Mondays are tough. Mostly because I have to recuperate from a differently tough weekend.


  1. With the shirt, as I noted on Cloud’s blog, it isn’t the shirt itself that’s an enormous problem, that did merit an eye-roll, but the reaction to women rolling their eyes. The death threats, the rape threats, the other misogynistic nastiness.

    (And, you know, that someone should have said, hey, you’re gonna be on camera in front of school kids, might wanna take that off. But nobody did. I get that point too.)

  2. … the reaction to women rolling their eyes. The death threats, the rape threats, the other misogynistic nastiness.

    I hear you. Honestly, I just don’t have the energy to follow closely. It’s too depressing, and it seems like a continuous stream of unbearable venom (the shirt, before that it was gamergate,…)

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