Monday, March 03, 2008

Upcoming events - International Women's Day

Mark your calendars! March 8th is International Women's Day. It is a date to celebrate the contributions of women to society in all realms (social, political, economics, natural sciences, etc.). For me, it is slightly bizarre to have such a day (and before I get bombarded with negative feedback, let me explain why).

Let me start with the most important woman in my life, my Mom. My mother is highly educated, undertook her PhD in political science when she already had grown kids, has lived abroad, maintains a leadership position in her school and has many amazing qualities. The thing is, to me, that has always been completely normal. We (my brothers and I) were raised in such a way that gender really didn't matter. All that mattered was that she was(and is) amazing, period.

Then, let me continue with my friends. As some of you may know, my first degree is in chemical engineering. Traditionally, there has been a distinct absence of women engineers (I have observed this trend particularly in three fields: chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and civil engineering). But the funny thing is (and to my male peers' surprise) that the top six students in my class were the only five women in the class and yours truly. So much for "male superiority in the engineering field"!

As a matter of fact, the person who made me fall in love with chemical engineering itself is a woman (the most beautiful professor of Separation Processes, and Process Control ever). Fashionable, trendy, and extremely bright. To this day, AMVG and I remain really close friends (we became friends after I finished my undergraduate). She was by and large my favorite instructor in undergraduate.

The vast majority of my girlfriends are experts in their fields, some of them in non-'traditionally female' areas. They are urban planners and epidemiologists, geographers, computer geeks and nurses, project managers and strategy consultants, specialists in environmental issues and policy analysts. I have them in all flavors and sizes (and all of them astoundingly beautiful, but that's just a bonus) and they're all leaders in their fields. And some of my best former students are women!

Of course, I am not about to suggest that there haven't been historically gender disparities. I was quickly scanning a report online mentioning that women engineers were earning 70 cents per dollar earned by their male counterparts (sorry that I don't provide the link, I was just quickly browsing and didn't save the source). Income disparity is an unfortunate but real fact of life.

So please join me in celebrating the achievements of women and their contributions to humanity. And to all my girlfriends, sisters-in-law, nieces, fellow bloggers, former students, female colleagues, and former professors: Happy International Women's Day!


Phaedra said...

I was lucky enough to hear about your mom first hand - she sounds like an amazing lady, as she raised an awesome son like you!

Raul said...

Awww, thanks so much Phaedra! Likewise :) I think you're awesome too! :)