Saturday, November 8, 2008

skirting the gender gap in my fellowship application

I submitted my NSF GRFP proposal at 4:59 pm on Friday and now my goal is to forget I even applied. But before I forget I do want to blog about it.

This year I abandoned chronology in my personal statement and instead shaped it around how I'm going to increase diversity in science in many ways. One way I plan to do this is by supporting women and underrepresented minorities, such as Ukenzagapian students.

I began the paragraph about increasing diversity of participants by saying, "Historically, scientific fields (including ecology) have been dominated by white men." Then I went on to say how I would change that. However, some people commented that I might be alienating the white men who were likely to be reading my essay. Herb in particular thought I should cut it. So did my mom.

I clung to it somewhat stubbornly and talked to my friend Cora (who received a GRF) about my essays on the phone. She didn't think I should cut it either. It was a statement of fact. How could any reviewer deny that? In the end, though, I cut the whole sentence. It didn't really add enough to justify the risk that I might offend a white male reviewer.

Kate's post for this month's Scientiae carnival said that women are tricked into thinking gender equality exists in science when it doesn't yet. Perhaps our reluctance to make statements like mine make us silently compliant to the status quo?

No comments: