I wish She had Spent more Time Sharing Their Stories

Eileen Pollack has heard from many women from many different backgrounds because she had an article published in the NY Times, and lots of women told her they found something in her story they could relate to. That's wonderful and true, and, like I said, I wish she had spent more time sharing their stories. But we also need to realize that this sort of study is the kind that invites corroboration but not dissent. There are other stories out there. And the tone of the last part of the book admits that. But the first 2/3 of the book contradicted this.


She mentioned in the course of her memoir that one of the difficulties in being a female science major is that male students don't get crushes on their teachers, so they don't have to deal with that additional layer of complication. Ummm. That actually offends me. If it's not clear why, then maybe I'm the weirdo. But does this mean that when I'm in front of my intro classes full of primarily male engineering students, I'm making life more difficult for them? I'm really not sure where the heck that argument goes. I'm willing to believe that I'm an abnormal person in many ways. But Pollack seems adamant that she is not, and I wonder whether that's really true, or whether it has to be true for her account to be meaningful. I don't think so, but she might disagree with me.

But okay, I've made my point. The last third of the book is very good. The first 2/3 is well written and intensely personal, which wouldn't be a problem except for the hubristic implication that she speaks for all women. I got a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley, and I'm sure they got more of a review than they bargained for in return.

It was quite poignant to have finished reading this about the same time as the backlash after a Nobel-prize winning scientist, Sir Tim Hunt, remarked that women scientists don't belong in labs because three things happen: the men fall in love with the women, the women fall in love with the men, and when you criticize the women they cry. This is the perfect epitome of what I imagined the book was going to examine, on a large scale—rather than the incredibly micro scale that was offered. If you're interested, you can find out more about the backlash on social media following Sir Hunt's remarks here.

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