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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Twisted Sister (We're Not Gonna Take It)

My sister phoned me up a few months ago to give me the latest on what's hot and trendy in the academic world as pertains to getting one's offspring into an institution of higher learning.

She had just returned from a parent hosted potluck put on by my niece's school where she had bumped into a professor from a nearby wanna-be ivy league school. Well aware that her own niece was currently in the process of applying to college, she pumped her for information on what the college admissions officers were looking for this year, hoping to gain some insight that might give my daughter an edge.

Sadly, gone are the days when straight A's, off the chart test scores and an impressive list of awards and extra-curricular activities made you a shoe-in for a spot at one of the coveted universities. Your best bet is to be a member of an "underrepresented minority group" and have a really good sob story. The challenge is to figure out which underrepresented minority group you belong to and then tailor your college application accordingly.

This is not as simple as you might think. "Yellow" is the new "White" and all "Brown" are not created equally "disadvantaged" and who knows where "Black" ranks these days, now that they are "The Man". Plus, there are new categories: The Undocumented, Children Of Single Mothers, Those Who Come From Countries We Have Recently Invaded - the list goes on and on.

Out: Asians wanting to study math or science, white females NOT wanting to study math or science, and to a lesser extent this year, I hear, white males wanting to study anything, kids of any race or gender who had the gall to attend college prep schools in the misguided assumption that demonstrating ability in a rigorous academic environment would be a good thing.

Based on what my sister was able to glean from the professor, we decided on a strategy of Girl Wanting To Study Science, But Not Pre-Med. It seems that the Dr. Frankensteins who come up with the "diversity" criteria upon which college admissions are based have decided that there is a need for more women in science. (We briefly entertained the thought of belonging to the Those Who Come From Countries We Have Recently Invaded group, but it has been over 60 years now since the US first occupied Germany, and I don't think that would count anyway.)

Just why we need more women in science is still a bit unclear to me, I wasn't aware that women are somehow being barred from the laboratory, but then who am I to argue with the self-appointed body of social engineers who are busily trying to re-create society according to their vision. I stupidly thought that if a gal wanted to go into science, she would simply declare it as her major, sign up for the classes and that would be that.

It seems, though, that there are unseen forces at work that have blinded girls from their natural love of science, instead forcing them down the path of law, medicine, marketing and communications or art. These forces behave like some sinister social riptide, whisking girls further and further away from their beloved bunson burners, until they ultimately wash up on shore somewhere, bewildered, disoriented, and haunted by a vague sense that they must buy new shoes. (I just had to work in shoes somehow...)

Bad, Bad, unseen forces!

Not to abrubtly change the topic, but did anybody see the most recent episode of House? I kind of view popular TV shows as barometers of society - I realize it's fiction, but at the same time, the topics are usually reflective of some aspect of society.

In this episode, besides having some horrid malady that only House could diagnose, the patient happened to be a brilliant medical researcher on the verge of developing the cure for a specific type of cancer, except that she decided not to because after 8-10 years of education and a decade in the lab, it turned out not to be "her thing". Funny, isn't it?

Instead, she chose to do what makes her "happy", which was taking cooking classes and joining a book club. My guess is that upon further inspection, we would discover that she also wanted to have a positive influence over young people and help guide them through life. In other words, what she really wanted to be was a housewife!

Now that's twisted, sister!


1 comment:

ModConMom said...

As a woman who actually did study both science and engineering you so got this right. There are no real or metaphorical barrs to girls wanting to enter the sciences.
And while it is all fine and dandy to have women in these fields it is not, in my opinion, inherently better a ratio number of women in these fields.
Any why aren't they trying to recruit more men into teaching or nursing?