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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Excuse me miss, may I please go to my German class now? [20071122|13:08]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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I taught for the first time in ten years today. I did first-year computing lab demonstrations. There are four demonstrators (three male, one female <= that's me, in case you didn't know) and forty students. Of the ten students in my group, two are female. Somebody explain to me where this vast improvement in male:female ratios in the sciences is supposed to be coming from?

The course content, while easy to manage for an experienced programmer, can somehow become challenging, especially since students seem to have this amazing knack for figuring out new and fascinating ways to make mistakes. Being able to answer most of their questions did boost my ego just a tiny bit. Okay, a big bit.

It was occasionally taxing and stressful, particularly with the student who was completely failing to read or comprehend anything on the lab script, as well as being incapable of copying code directly from the script onto the screen,* but mostly, it was fun. I've really missed it. I want more!

* Dear god(s),

I understand you must think it quite clever that as soon as someone declares something to be "idiot-proof", you design a better idiot. However, I must protest that surely it would be better to use your powers for awesome, such as inspiring animators to make more ludicrously over-the-top action films like Beowulf in 3D.

Thank you,

[User Picture]From: taische
2007-11-22 16:27 (UTC)
Wonderful- it's great to see you smile through the ink! It took me a long time to realize* that my ambivalence with respect to teaching was really a matter of attempting to reconcile my very personal disdain for structured institutional obligations (the real reason I pursued fellowship after fellowship) with the joy of sharing ideas and the human dynamic of guidance and instruction. Thanks for prompting the re-examination. Never a fallow Thursday with you...

* actually, right up until I read "I want more!" above.
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[User Picture]From: seismic
2007-11-22 18:14 (UTC)
Somebody explain to me where this vast improvement in male:female ratios in the sciences is supposed to be coming from?

Scientific fields other than yours? Of course, I say that and then remember that I'm the only female in my lab. But! My last three jobs it was about 50:50!

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Sounds like it was a good thing. =)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2007-11-26 17:37 (UTC)
The ratio seems to vary a lot depending on the institution/company, and often on the individuals in control. For instance, we have a couple of groups in physics with a disproportionate number of female postgrads & postdocs, and I suspect it's because the PIs have made a deliberate effort to recruit them.

Yeah, I do like doing lab demonstrations. Next time I should probably volunteer for chemistry though, as it's wet lab work that I really miss, not squinting at computer screens at lines of text. That's what I do all day anyway.
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From: tdj
2007-11-22 23:56 (UTC)
Computer labs can be even more exhausting than wet labs, if only because you can never say, "Well, after adding A to B, your sample's kind of ruined, so it's mulligan time."

Code is never unalterably broken. (Though some finite element models come close.)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2007-11-26 17:39 (UTC)
That's true. I don't think I've ever had to talk students through things quite as extensively as in computing lab. Particularly in chemistry lab, students seem a lot more willing to try (and screw up) a bunch of times before they go running for help.
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