When I was first hired as a tenure-track professor at another university, the local newspaper did an article about me because I was an FSP in a place without many of them, despite the presence of more than one large university in the region. The article was accompanied by a photo of me surrounded by scientific-looking research equipment. I hated the photo, but I thought the article did a good job of explaining my research and why I find it so interesting. I also thought that it was in general a good thing to highlight the fact that women science professors exist.
Over the years, I've been in several other articles or projects whose intent is to show the world (or at least some people in a region) that there are FSPs. This might sound contradictory coming from someone who writes a blog intended for that same purpose, but a recent request for my participation in yet another one of these things made me feel sad, weary, and angry that I am still so exotic, 20 years later, that these believe-it-or-not-FSPs-exist projects are still being done.
My husband, who has never been asked to be interviewed or photographed as a Scientist, asked "Aren't you glad you're still special?" (<-- sarcasm).
Being photographed surrounded by Scientific Things again is getting boring, but I can think of a few other dramatic possibilities. How about if we FSPs are photographed surrounded by our numerous male colleagues, department chairs, and deans? How about if we are photographed doing menial service tasks that our male colleagues can't or won't do? How about if our photographs have captions like "I can't believe she's a real professor!". How about if my photograph and article from ~ 20 years ago is juxtaposed with a more recent one, with the same headline about what a rare creature I am.
I am not (entirely) serious about these alternate suggestions, of course. These FSPs-exist projects are well intentioned, and while clearly not sufficient motivation to inspire swarms of young women to become (and stay) scientists, it would be nice to think that someone somewhere is somewhat encouraged by this evidence for the existence of FSPs.
5 months ago