Friday, December 21, 2007


Apparently women scientists are all very very unhappy. James pointed me to the "I am woman I do science and I'm not telling you my name" blogs. I even subscribed to one. But I'm giving it up. I find it boring. I'm not sure if it's the anonymity or the boasting about how great their science is that bores me most. Or is it really that I just don't share any of their experiences?

As far as I can make out they all live in countries which actually have anti-discrimination laws, where many women can have careers, by which I mean not just a job with no prospects where they are treated basically as slave labour and blamed for everything which goes wrong. In fact it seems that in their countries any women with a degree can expect to have some sort of career! wow!

I was really starting to wonder how can they bear to almost everyday write another post about every perceived unfairness in their lives when I came across this post.

And it was at that point I realised that for the last 6 years I have been living their dream. I'm not very girly by nature. Once a year I go away to the "Women's Conference" at Amagi Sanso to see what women are like. I really enjoy that, especially since it is only 2 days long. Americans are so noisy! :-) My status here is foreigner first and woman, well - I don't really count as one of them at all. Luckily. Women in Japan get a really bad deal. Here I am treated equally with James. This was not how it was in the UK, but to be honest I think their problem was more that they liked to put all their workers into little boxes ... and the memory is fading.

Everyone here takes my scientific opinion as seriously as anyone else's - actually more seriously in some ways, because I'm a Westerner. And yes, all you girls, who so sadly have never experienced this, it's great. After a while you start to get less angry, less shrill, and to take people as you find them. You start to think before you speak because you realise that when you speak people will listen and act! That bit is a real shock the first few 100 times it happens. So, bloggy sci-wimmin with side degrees in wimmin's stuff, please come to Japan - Japan seriously needs feminism! Well I think it does - the Japanese female workforce is seriously under-employed, and by the same token the men are employed above their natural station. I tried pointing out to my female friends that Japan is 91st in the world in male-female equality but they didn't seem to react at all to the news... which was very puzzling. Bring in the pros!



DrOtter said...

Nice post. I am a little surprised (in a good way) to hear that it is like this for you in Japan. I had (mistakenly) assumed that you would be treated firstly as a woman and secondly as a foreigner and therefor not as well as James. I'm really glad to hear that my assumptions were wrong. Japan's reputation for treating women less equally did put me off even considering looking at jobs there.

Would you mind if I put this post in for the Scientiae carnival at the end of December? I think it would be a great reality check for some of us anonymous sci wimmin bloggers who don't know how lucky we are ;)

jules said...

Dear Doc-san,

"I had (mistakenly) assumed that you would be treated firstly as a woman and secondly as a foreigner and therefor not as well as James."

Japan is far too bizarre and mind bending a place for it to be that simple. :-) The wimmin-thing is certainly not the reason to not come to Japan! The main thing you need as a foreign scientist is to secure collaborators that will work and share with you. There are some around - look for people who have spent some years doing science in foreign themselves.

Exceptional women who go to good schools and the right university (Tokyo) can have careers. My boss is a woman! I'm not sure how much discrimination they suffer. I think it may be a bit like the early days of women doing engineering back in Western culture when they were all so exceptional that really they were better than most of the men. It is the education, intelligence and creativity of the women I know at the dead-end sectretarial level (which is almost everyone) that is truly shocking.

Don't mind what you do with my post...


C W Magee said...

In the US, Lincoln Chafee was appionted to fill his fathers Senate seat when John Chafee died, but Chafee Jr. lost re-election in the big Democrat sweep of '06. I think he was a mayor before that.

US Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ, and one of only 3 legislators to have a PhD in a science) had a father who was a senator from West Virginia.

If you wanna wiki all 435 reps to get some statistics, go for it.