Through my twitter feed I came across this video:
It’s a campaign of the European Comission to encourage women to work in science/research fields, where they are underrepresented. So apparently to convince women to use their brains for science, the trick is to show them that the finality of research/development could be as well beautification, make up and fashion. After all who are we for being interested in scientific careers for sake of, say, heal cancer, solving mysteries of the Universe or find alternatives to nuclear energy? No, all we want is privilege to develop new lipsticks!
This video is not only very offensive because it suggests women are interested only in their own standardized feminity, it fails also in adressing the real issues of underrepresentation of women in research and science, such as:
- Many female students, few female researcher: the issue is not to bring women interested in science, on a student level they are even majoritary in some fields and have average better marks, the problem here is that women tend to not pursue a scientific career although science interests them. The reasons of this gap between female students and female researcher can be structural (see points 2 and 3) as well as cultural, in a world where women making what is perceived as a “man’s job” is not yet fully accepted.
- Unstable careers: science grants are generally given for 1-2years projects. For example, if a woman quits for a maternity leave, she does can’t be sure the contract will be reconducted at end of the year or if by the time she comes back to work if there is still any work. The other important effect of this is that people who undertake a scientific career have often to move from one country to another before to find a stable position; if the female scientist has a partner or husband, it is generally not accepted socially that she moves and the man generally doesn’t move with his wife. Moreover, if the man is also a scientist (a subtancial part of scientists have a scientist partner), women generally sacrifice their career to follow men.
- Realm of phallocracy: even when having a position, female scientists are lesser paid, obtain fewer top positions and less talk time in conferences. This disparity is due to the fact that in science/research world, many informal decision criteria count, top of them being that generally decisions are taken by committies of men with few or no women among them.
At the end, what worries me is not really women in science, because they will inevitably build their path and obtain equality, but that in 2012, European Commission misunderstands the issues they should be qualified for!
The first drafts of the Tunisian Constitution are published these days. The preamble of the Constitution now mentions the Tunisian support for the Palestinian cause “above any other cause”. In my opinion, this is not appropriate at all, for the following reasons:
- the only countries that mention another country in their Constitution are colonies mentionning the “mother land”. And those countries had their colonizers in their constitution only because they were forced to. Besides this case, it’s a unique example of a free country listing another country’s cause as the cause “above any other”, meaning above national interests. Why is a Tunisian cause less important to Tunisia than a foreign cause?
- Tunisian first constitution ran for 98years, the second one for about 55years. Writing down support for Palestinian cause in the third constitution of the country means it is here to stay: indeed, what would be the point of Palestinian cause in our Constitution the day Palestine is liberated? In other words, Tunisian deputees put Palestine in the Constitution because they think that in the long term it will not be free; and if they think it, its simply because its not in their interest for it to be a free country. Simple: if Palestinian cause doesn’t exist anymore, how will demagocic governments of MENA region excite the feelings of their people and bring them away from their own problems? Arab dictatorships always used the rethorics of Palestinian cause while secretly helping Israel to root in the region: secret business deals, bad treatment of Palestinian refugees, etc. We made a revolution for our rulers to stop selling us metaphysical ideologies while working for our loss. At the very least, if Tunisia really wants to help Palestine they should start by believing there exists a solution for the crisis to end within the next few years.
- As much as I care for Palestinian cause, I can’t accept the fact that because it’s an “Arab” cause it is above any other. It would simply mean that support goes with ethnicity not with justice. In many places in the world people experience situations at least as horrible as Palestinians, and sometimes much worse. Dying of hunger in Somalia or killed by a Taliban in Afghanistan or a Jenjaweed in Darfour is nor less important nor less painful. By favoring Palestinian cause, Tunisia would send the message that not all victims are equal.
Tunisia has a long History for supporting Palestine (Souha Arafat wife of the late leader Yasser Arafat has even obtained in the past a Tunisian citizenship!), it certainly does not need to write it down in its constitution for Tunisians to feel concerned by the fate of Palestinians.