Sunday, 18 March 2012

My Posts: The Women's Collective is Cool

So guys, sorry I haven't posted much, I've been at uni for the past month and it's just been really hectic. So, on this lovely Monday morning, I have decided to share with you the bag that the women's collective gave me on market day.

Because remember everyone 'Nothing is sexier than consent.'

Monday, 23 January 2012

My Posts:It's all about the Body and Not About the Brain

"The media treats women like shit" - Margaret Cho

If there's a documentary you should see, this is it.

The conditioning involved in both young women and men and the misrepresentation of women in the media, basically as Margaret Cho so aptly described it, it treats us like shit. The media portrays women in such a false way that it's affecting young girls, shaping their minds. As one student in the film, named Maria states, it breaks her heart to see her younger sister self-harm because she's bullied, bullied on her looks.

What we need to do is improve media literacy amongst young people, to undo the messages that young people are sent from an early age onwards.

The media needs to also stop the degradation of not only women, but women in power. Calling out Julia Gillard (Australian Prime Minister) for her clothing choices, or her hair cut, is frankly absurd, she's running the country, she has better things to do. The same goes for Hillary Clinton, people are suggesting she be involved in some form of plastic surgery.

The point is, I really don't want my future children, male or female to live in this culture. It's disastrous to the psychological development of these children. But for now, I think more media literacy is needed to educated, and more psychological help available for young women affected by this, whether it has led to depression or anorexia.

Monday, 16 January 2012

My Posts: Check this Out

Hey everyone, recently I submitted an article on teenage feminist website the F Bomb, I didn't really expect it to get published, but it did.

Here's the link for those who are interested

I thought you should know that it was this submission that inspired me to start this blog. I think my hunger for mentorship and to see women in academia, well gave me the drive to start this blog.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

My Posts: Cereals - The Ultimate Guilt Trip

Two cereal ads, one from the 1950s and one from the 21st century. In both ads women are the main targets, as purchases of the product.

He's the first ad

Now okay, the ad was made in the 50s, so the comments of the man failing at his job, not because he wasn't organised but because his wife didn't give him his proper breakfast, is coercion. Now before you ask why am I bringing this up, that was almost sixty years ago. I believe that even now women are still being coerced when it comes to buying cereal.

Take this 'Special K' ad from the UK (2011)

Whilst the first ad coerced the woman by the 1950s context of housewife and caretaker, the one who is in charge of buying the food, thus giving her husband good meals and making him successful, the 2011 takes on a similar coercion, but in a modern way.

The 2011 one coerces us into buying the cereal for us to fit in with the 21st Century standard of beauty. Also, the association with beauty, slimness and a relaxing lifestyle for me does not go unnoticed. Sometimes I eat Special K, and when I do I hope it would give me the energy for educational purposes, or work purposes. None of the women in the ad are indulging in a healthy lifestyle, due to the fact that it isn't just Special K that keeps you healthy. They're all posing, or lounging about, none of them are engaging in anything like office work, the most physical strain I can see is the woman with her suitcase. The emphasis on jeans also creates this false impression of slimness and something I call 'Clothes Control', which is a theory of mine. Clothes control is, basically, the idea that due to 21st beauty myths clothes have great power over us. It's like when formal time rolls around, and I see all those girls I know diet so they can fit in their 'perfect dress.' It's the idea that there is a powerlessness involved when purchasing clothes, due to ideals that society sets upon us about perfect size. Clothes control gets out of hand when I know women who don't buy their own size, because they have unrealistic goals

Lastly the thing that annoys me the most about the ad is the language they use. The contrast of words such as 'squeeze you' or 'hug you', kind of makes you think about how your jeans fit, it's basically a guilt trip, it's like saying if your pants are squeezing you, they must hug you, otherwise you're obviously gaining weight. Finally the phrase 'And see if you can turn your meanest critics into your greatest assets,' also disturbs me. It's creating a false myth that women aren't valued on their intelligence or skill, but that you, the consumer, your value should be judged by a pair of jeans.

So, that was just a small rant on cereal ads, and this is part one, part two is going to involve coercion in the context of motherhood. So look out for that.

Academic Profile: Christa

Christa, last name available upon request for those that do not know already

The Netherlands

Profession (what it entails etc):
I am a scientist in Cognitive Neuroscience. I am specialised in how the brain processes (sensory) information for perception, action and learning and how we can use this knowledge to improve the design of new products. I have done both fundamental and applied research in this area and supervised master and PhD students with their research.

Master in (Applied) Experimental Psychology
PhD Psychophysics of sensori-motor control (Human Movement Sciences)

Favourite aspect of your job
Exploring new questions and thinking of ways to research them.
Making other people’s life easier by translating scientific progress to society
Stimulating young people’s interest in science
Hand them acquire the knowledge that they need to excel.

Hahahahahaha, I guess I like most aspects of my job.

What do you think it means to be a female academic?
A lot of hard work. As my PhD supervisor once said, as a woman you need to perform twice as well to get the same rewards as a male academic. Fortunately, this is not difficult.

What was the biggest challenge you face working in your field?
1. Working every 2 – 4 years in a new lab, sometimes even in a different country, for about the first 7-10 years of your career. This makes it incredibly hard to stay in science if you have family obligations.
2. Getting grants for your own research ideas

What can you suggest to other women who want to enter this field?
Realize the impact this career choice will have on your life. It is very hard to be involved with someone outside science because they don’t understand the crazy hours that you make for almost no money. You need to also be aware that this career choice will result in a highly unpredictable future, which makes family planning very difficult.

What are your interests outside of academics?
My family, science, writing crappy SF/vampire/mystery/romance novels, reading (no specific genre as long as it is good), sports, social media and their stupid games on which I spend way too much time, meeting up with friends, drinking and dancing.

Are you a mother? If so, how do you balance work and motherhood?
Yes I am; I have two boys. Sybrand is 1.5 and Findlay is almost 5.

I work 4 days a week of which 2 days at home and 2 days a week in the lab. The boys go to nursery 2 days a week, my husband takes care of them 1 day a week, so do I and so does my mum. So they see a lot of family, only not at the same time. The oldest goes to preschool. In Holland, both working conditions at university as the available childcare are pretty flexible, making it possible for me to stay within academia.

What are the most challenging aspects about being a mother and your work
Motherhood prevents me making 60-hour workweeks, which is normal in my field. I am often the only young researcher with children; most other parents in academia are at least 10 years older than me. This sets me back in publications, weakening my chances at getting a position. Fortunately, I work very efficiently; I seem to do nearly as much in a 40-hour workweek as my peers in their 60 hours. It seems that motherhood has enhanced my organisational and cognitive skills.

Another problem I often encounter with my peers at university is that they don’t understand that sometimes my family come first. A lot of them still live student-like lifestyles and don’t understand why I can’t go partying two days a week.

How did you do during your school life and university life?
My school and university life was pretty much average. Let’s just say I had a lot of other things on my mind besides studying.

I didn’t start to have an interest in science until I did my first experiment that was part of my master internship. Finally the reasoning behind all the courses in Psychology became clear and I really enjoyed setting up and performing the experiments, analyzing the data and finding an answer to the question I was investigating. Also, I found it extremely satisfying that my results were directly translated into specifications for the design of a new device for the visually impaired.

Were you extremely social?
Not extremely, but I make friends quite easily and I am very loyal, I like to stay in contact even when the person is at the other side of the world.

Or were you someone who preferred science over people?
To have a career in science you need to network, so I wouldn’t be where I was now if I preferred science over people in general. But I do prefer science over some people.

Any last pieces of advice to leave female kind
• Be yourself and don’t let others dictate how you should behave or what choices you should make.
• Let nobody ever tell you that you can’t do something. Most often they are wrong. But know your limits and adjust if you reach or cross them.
• Don’t act on impulse; sleep at least one night over every big decision that you need to make.
• Not only think of the direct consequences of your decision, but also of those that might arise 1, 5, 10 or 20 years down the road.
• Always have a back-up plan.
• You don’t need a man or woman to be complete. But it is nice to spend time with somebody that you really like.

Friday, 13 January 2012

My Posts: Riley on Marketing

This girl is only six, and already she understands the fundamental gender flaws in children's toy products. Because toys shouldn't be gendered, in my opinion I think children should have the opportunity to play with all toys. Boys can play with dolls, girls can play with trains, toys shouldn't have a gender. All toys are important in cognitive development, we shouldn't be convincing children that certain toys aren't appropriate for them in terms of gender, we shouldn't be conditioning children as it creates a culture of subtle bullying. All it takes is that one comment on the playground, the one 'trains aren't for girls' or 'dolls aren't for boys' and we've already created a culture of gender stereotypes being propagated by six year olds.

Wake up toy companies! If a six year old 'gets it' then why can't you?