Friday, March 16, 2007

Charles de Gaulle's women

I made it. Last week I went overseas to a meeting to present my work. This was the first time I have been away from the kids for so long - and so far away. And guess what, SciDad did a great job. He did profess to being tired but the kids did well. I had a great time giving my presentation and walking around this beautiful European city.

On the way over and back, I went through Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Now that was an interesting experience. First, I was in Terminal 2 and the directions to get you to where you want to go were awful. Second, the terminal was so "skinny" in places that when flights were boarding, the people blocked any flow of other passengers trying to get from one gate to another. In addition to that, it took over an hour to get through security with plenty of French AND Americans trying to cut in line.

But in one instance, while raising my fists and eyes to the ceiling and cursing the state of travel, I noticed something very interesting. Large banners with faces of women, one of which looked very familiar to me. My ability to decipher the French (three years in Montreal) helped me determine that these were women scientists and these were the women selected for the 2007 L'Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science awards! One from each continent, faces displayed like rock stars in one of the world's busiest airports.

The face I recognized - Mildred Dresselhaus. She's an MITer who you can't get through a science stint at MIT without seeing a picture of or hearing about. There's a nice tribute at eQuarksDaily.

L'Oreal-UNESCO also gives International graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. Yet another example of how Europe is way ahead of the US in supporting women in science.


Anonymous said...

I went to school in one of the small European countries (physics major) and from my experience Europe is quite behind the USA in supporting women in science. They might have big posters of women in science at the airport in Paris, but there is still a lot of prejudice about woman's abilities, especially in "hard" sciences. I am in the USA now and although situation is not ideal here, it is better. I am taken much more seriously by my teachers now and I feel like I actually have a shot at a decent career in sciences if I stay here. One more thing - Europeans can also be quite bigoted, which is something you might not experience as an American in Europe though. But if you are not from the "right" country, people from "right" countries are not going to treat you well. This is something that is much better in the USA as well.

BTW, good luck with getting your situation at work straightened out, hopefully you will find another position soon where you will be appreciated.

price per head said...

This blog is an exact representation of skills. I appreciate the blogger for posting the most excellent thought.