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A Gendered Lens

August 21, 2010

In my mind, one of the most important parts of being a feminist is noticing sexism. It can be really difficult to notice the ever so subtle institutionalized sexism that pervades our everyday lives. But it’s important to notice it because nothing can change without that first step.

That’s what I really like about Stieg Larson’s Girl with a Dragon Tattoo books – they’re totally feminist. Not because the main character is this bad ass woman who destroys sexist men – but because of the little details. For example, in the second book when the reporter dude is tired of giving interviews about the book he wrote but decides to make a special exception for one news station. He had noticed that the woman reporter who was the first to interview him had been cornered out by all the male reporters. He agrees to interview at that news station, but only if she interviews him. I like that the reporter dude noticed that. That happens all the time in real life and often no one notices except the person who is being affected.

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to comment on the gender dynamics aboard the ship. In general, there’s usually a pretty good number of women in the science party. More and more women are in the sciences so that’s not too surprising. In the crew, there’re 1-2 women AB’s (depending on the trip) and 1 woman engineer. Plus, 1-2 women marine techs (me + the next trip will have another woman tech). Now that we have the robot on board, there’s a whole group of people associated with that – but no women are in that group. In general, there’s enough women around that I don’t feel like I’m only surrounded by men but not quite enough that it’s unusual to be the only woman in a room.

In general, gender is a non-issue. But of course, there are always little things. If there is more than one tech in the room – whoever has a question will usually ask the male tech (perhaps this is because I am also the youngest/newest tech, perhaps not). Sometimes the female AB’s complain that the male AB’s re-do their work unnecessarily. Little things like that. Nothing bad enough to upset anyone, but just enough to be grating after a while. Even out here, it’s the same as everywhere else.

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