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  1. Zugzwang
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    18 Oct '15 22:357 edits
    Here's one woman's interesting though flawed (in my view) memoir:
    _The Only Woman in the Room_ by Eileen Pollack (2015)

    Eileen Pollack (born in 1956) is an American writer of fiction and professor of creative writing.
    As a young woman, however, she dreamed of becoming a theoretical physicist.
    And in 1978 she became one of the first two women to earn an undergraduate
    degree in physics from Yale University. Nonetheless, she became discouraged
    and decided, as a graduate student, to quit physics. Her book attempts
    to explore why she made that decision and why she believes that a dominant
    culture of sexism deters American young women from careers in silence.

    "Like many smart girls, I made astonishingly stupid choices."
    --Eileen Pollack

    "I came to see that my long-suppressed feelings about my body and my
    femininity, my teenage desire to think myself popular, sexy, cool and my
    anxieties about my ability to attract a man played an embarrassingly large
    role in my decision to give up physics."
    --Eileen Pollack

    Not all women have been culturally conditioned like Eileen Pollack.
    But most white American women seem afraid of being perceived as 'too smart'.

    What do I think? While I can relate to being 'the only woman in the room'
    (or the chess club), I have to say that I am quite different from Eileen Pollack,
    and I don't think that she can speak for all women, even all American women.
    First of all, Eileen Pollack comes from a much more affluent, privileged background
    than I did, and she seems to have grown up with a major sense of entitlement.
    Sometimes she seems to blame her shortcomings on not being given
    enough encouragement--on account of sexism--by her male professors.
    Well, earning a PhD in physics is not supposed to be easy, and many
    men also drop out. (Some male friends of mine, who are very intelligent,
    told me that they despaired and came close to quitting PhD programs.)
    The attrition rate is expected to be high. And, apart from institutional
    sexism, being a woman having to deal with potential issues of marriage
    and motherhood tends to make it harder to be single-minded about pursuing
    a PhD. (I know women who probably could have earned PhDs if they
    had not been sidetracked by events such as unexpected pregnancies.)
    I encountered much more adverse discrimination and received much less
    support than Eileen Pollack, a highly privileged white American woman, did.

    Eileen Pollack blames her failure in physics on a lack of encouragement:
    "If a single professor had said, 'You know, Eileen, you really are quite at physics',
    I would have been quite good at physics. *In fact, I would have been quite great at physics.*"
    --Eileen Pollack

    I wonder how much flattery Einstein received as a young student.
    Eileen Pollack seems to have delusions of grandeur. She needed to
    develop confidence within herself, not have it handed to her on a plate.
    (When I was a child, my teachers told me that I was hopeless in mathematics.
    Within a few years my nominal teachers asked me how to solve problems they could not.)
    If Eileen Pollack had been really 'quite good' at physics, then she should
    not have needed a chorus of approval. Her pretensions of 'greatness'
    seem to be her 'compensating' fantasy. When I was asked if I was any
    good at mathematics, I would say, "I don't know. But I expect that I can
    solve this problem that's in front of me now." Self-confidence is developed
    one step at a time, by solving one problem at a time, not through flattery.

    "...women don't know how good they are at science or math because no one tells them."
    --Eileen Pollack

    Really? I thought that test scores told students how good they are at science or math.
    When I got one of the highest scores in my country, I did not need flattery to confirm it.
    In my family, some women (who grew up, not speaking English, in a slum)
    earned undergraduate and even graduate degrees in science or engineering
    at American universities. They did much less whining than Eileen Pollack did.
    I suspect that the young Eileen Pollack, so obsessed with being popular and 'cool',
    would have looked down upon these much less privileged women in my family.

    Eileen Pollack did interview four women who earned PhD in physics.
    She asked them to explain how they had succeeded when she could not.
    They told her: "We're the women who don't give a crap." That's right.
    A woman can succeed in physics or mathematics or chess as long she's ready,
    if necessary, to withstand sexist harassment, abuse, and hatred from men.
    (Not all men in these fields are that bad toward women, but many of them are.)
    To sum up, there is (unfair) sexism in science, but a woman can succeed
    in science as long she as she's very tough as well as very smart.
  2. Zugzwang
    Joined
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    19 Oct '15 03:412 edits
    At the GoodReads website, Angie (a physics professor) wrote a review of this book.
    She seems to concur with several of my criticisms of Eileen Pollack. She also thinks
    that Eileen Pollack's trying too hard to impress people with how smart she supposedly was.

    "But the telling (of her story) lends too much importance to the author (Eileen Pollack)...
    She really really wants us to think she's smart. And she really really wanted to be
    told so more often, then and now. ...
    *I think she makes the mistake of thinking that all women are like her.* ...
    Certainly having a romantic relationship with a teacher (which Eileen Pollack did) is
    not the norm. And she seems to have had a crush on most of her young male professors
    in college, relying on a desire to please them more than any intrinsic desire to do well
    and learn physics. I don't want to invalidate her experience, but it doesn't match mine
    and it doesn't match what my female students have shared with me.
    ... the hubristic implication that she (Eileen Pollack) speaks for all women."
    --Angie

    I was really irritated that Eileen Pollack kept acting like she's speaking for all women.

    In her review of the book for the 'Washington Post', Marcia Bartusiak condemns the
    dominant sexist anti-intellectual culture of Americans:
    "In many other countries (outside the USA) there is no backlash if a woman is smart or science-savvy.
    Some men even consider it a coup if they can attract a female PhD. In this country (USA),
    meanwhile, there is a growing atmosphere of anti-intellectualism and a fascination with
    celebrity looks that puts even more pressure on women to focus on their makeup and
    clothes over the content of their minds."
    --Marcia Bartusiak

    My father once told me that I should be respected, if not admired, for my brains in every society.
    I smiled and said that I doubted that would be generally true in the United States.

    In American chess, almost all of the top women and girls are from subcultures, either
    immigrants from the (former) USSR or from Asian (primarily Chinese) communities.
    Evidently, these subcultures don't stigmatize women excelling in a 'mind sport' as much
    as most 'normal' Americans do.
  3. Standard memberbill718
    Enigma
    Seattle
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    19 Oct '15 04:13
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    At the GoodReads website, Angie (a physics professor) wrote a review of this book.
    She seems to concur with several of my criticisms of Eileen Pollack. She also thinks
    that Eileen Pollack's trying too hard to impress people with how smart she supposedly was.

    "But the telling (of her story) lends too much importance to the author (Eileen Pollack)... ...[text shortened]... tures don't stigmatize women excelling in a 'mind sport' as much
    as most 'normal' Americans do.
    This is sadly true the "dominant sexist anti-intellectual culture of Americans" is not something American's want to hear, but perhaps they need to. America is a real world example of the term "might makes right". Who needs education and intellect when you can blow up the world with the push of a button, and have more guns in circulation in your country than people. I've seen some subtle progress in the last 10 years though. America is still a young country by Asian and European standards, an adolescent in many ways, but things seem to be slowly moving in the right direction.
  4. Joined
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    19 Oct '15 13:22
    Originally posted by bill718
    This is sadly true the "dominant sexist anti-intellectual culture of Americans" is not something American's want to hear, but perhaps they need to. America is a real world example of the term "might makes right". Who needs education and intellect when you can blow up the world with the push of a button, and have more guns in circulation in your country than ...[text shortened]... andards, an adolescent in many ways, but things seem to be slowly moving in the right direction.
    So where is your sexist utopia? Saudi Arabia?
  5. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
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    19 Oct '15 17:35
    Originally posted by whodey
    So where is your sexist utopia? Saudi Arabia?
    How did you get from what Bill718 wrote to 'sexist utopia'? Doesn't make much sense.
    Is that supposed to be a rebuttal?
  6. Joined
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    19 Oct '15 18:051 edit
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    How did you get from what Bill718 wrote to 'sexist utopia'? Doesn't make much sense.
    Is that supposed to be a rebuttal?
    Bill, as do most left wingers, continually attack the US.

    So who is better and why?

    It has always been a man's world. Look at Brazil where men are allowed to beat their wives, providing the club is small enough. Look at Saudi Arabia where children have more rights than women. Where is the outrage there?
  7. Germany
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    19 Oct '15 18:37
    Originally posted by bill718
    This is sadly true the "dominant sexist anti-intellectual culture of Americans" is not something American's want to hear, but perhaps they need to. America is a real world example of the term "might makes right". Who needs education and intellect when you can blow up the world with the push of a button, and have more guns in circulation in your country than ...[text shortened]... andards, an adolescent in many ways, but things seem to be slowly moving in the right direction.
    Actually, the United States, as a nation state, is fairly old compared to many of its European counterparts, which often did not adopt a nation state form of government until the 19th or even 20th Century.
  8. Germany
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    19 Oct '15 18:44
    Originally posted by whodey
    Bill, as do most left wingers, continually attack the US.

    So who is better and why?

    It has always been a man's world. Look at Brazil where men are allowed to beat their wives, providing the club is small enough. Look at Saudi Arabia where children have more rights than women. Where is the outrage there?
    Who is better and why?

    Fortunately, this question has been seriously considered.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Gender_Gap_Report

    By the way, don't you "continually attack the US?"
  9. Zugzwang
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    19 Oct '15 22:30
    Originally posted by bill718
    This is sadly true the "dominant sexist anti-intellectual culture of Americans" is not something American's want to hear, but perhaps they need to. America is a real world example of the term "might makes right". Who needs education and intellect when you can blow up the world with the push of a button, and have more guns in circulation in your country than ...[text shortened]... andards, an adolescent in many ways, but things seem to be slowly moving in the right direction.
    I once had dinner with a Russian woman who had been an electrical engineer in the USSR.
    When an East Asian man heard that she was an electrical engineer, he was very impressed,
    and made some compliments about the quality of engineering education in the USSR.
    He seemed more interested in her than if she had told him, say, she was a receptionist
    and a part-time model. After he left, she smiled and said that she usually did not get that
    kind of response from American men, who tended to have less concern for a woman's mind.

    It seems to me that Eileen Pollack's priorities were like this:
    1) Convincing other people that she's very smart and persuading them to tell her so again and again.
    2) Being popular ('cool', sexy) among American men, particularly the teachers on whom she had crushes
    3) Learning physics because she's really interested in that subject.

    I hope that readers will not assume that Eileen Pollack must represent all women in science.
  10. The Catbird's Seat
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    19 Oct '15 23:30
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    I once had dinner with a Russian woman who had been an electrical engineer in the USSR.
    When an East Asian man heard that she was an electrical engineer, he was very impressed,
    and made some compliments about the quality of engineering education in the USSR.
    He seemed more interested in her than if she had told him, say, she was a receptionist
    and a pa ...[text shortened]...

    I hope that readers will not assume that Eileen Pollack must represent all women in science.
    I wonder if being butt ugly, and still not having any mental capacity makes a woman attractive to somebody? I suspect you might know.
  11. Zugzwang
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    19 Oct '15 23:34
    Originally posted by normbenign
    I wonder if being butt ugly, and still not having any mental capacity makes a woman attractive to somebody? I suspect you might know.
    Normbenign, a rape apologist, again shows his fanatical sexism in addition to his obsessive hatred.
  12. Joined
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    20 Oct '15 00:421 edit
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Here's one woman's interesting though flawed (in my view) memoir:
    _The Only Woman in the Room_ by Eileen Pollack (2015)

    Eileen Pollack (born in 1956) is an American writer of fiction and professor of creative writing.
    As a young woman, however, she dreamed of becoming a theoretical physicist.
    And in 1978 she became one of the first two women to earn ...[text shortened]... ence, but a woman can succeed
    in science as long she as she's very tough as well as very smart.
    Duchess. "But most white American women seem afraid of being perceived as 'too smart'."
    Hmm, do you have evidence that is not anecdotal for this belief or is another one of your personal assumptions about U.S. citizens in general?

    In 1967 I declared geology as my undergraduate major. At the time I had a 3.8 GPA out of a possible 4.0. One day soon after, I received a call from the secretary of the geology department chairman. He made it very clear that geology was a man's field and I'd never be more than a glorified secretary. Frankly, I felt I was not smart enough to challenge this perception and did not relish the thought of spending the next 40 years constantly defending myself. Of course today this would be illegal but back then this was accepted behavior, at least in the U.S. I now expect to be torn limb from limb by Duchess. Sigh.
  13. Joined
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    20 Oct '15 00:44
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Who is better and why?

    Fortunately, this question has been seriously considered.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Gender_Gap_Report

    By the way, don't you "continually attack the US?"
    I attack those who are destroying it.
  14. Germany
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    20 Oct '15 14:47
    Originally posted by whodey
    I attack those who are destroying it.
    I see. Well, don't take that auto-mutilation too far, you might get hospitalized.
  15. The Catbird's Seat
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    20 Oct '15 14:56
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Actually, the United States, as a nation state, is fairly old compared to many of its European counterparts, which often did not adopt a nation state form of government until the 19th or even 20th Century.
    Irrelavent!
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