We Need to Start Believing Each Other

Straight up.

I woke up this morning and this was on my mind. Flipped through more of the commentary on the latest feminism-in-STEM debate – Dr. Matt Taylor’s decision to wear a colourful shirt covered in scantily-clad women during the video livestream of the ESA’s Rosetta mission.

comment We Need to Start Believing Each Other

I had to expend pretty much zero effort to find examples

And in answer to one commenter’s opinion that Kim Kardashian is doing more to harm women’s causes than one scientist wearing an inappropriate shirt: the Kim Kardashians of this world exist, in part, due to insidious, ever-present, and super-subtle discrimination that make women like her believe that using their sexuality is a good way to get ahead. (And are they wrong?) It’s death by a thousand cuts.

Here’s the thing. I’ve read a lot of comments from people who say “this isn’t really news” and “here go the feminists again” and “why is this even being mentioned in the context of of such a great scientific accomplishment?” And you know what, I get it. I get that the worldview of these particular commenters is not such that they are aware of why this is problematic. Subtle discrimination doesn’t affect them. It’s invisible, unless you’re part of the minority of women who work in STEM, and then every single time something like this comes up, you say “Yes. THIS. THIS speaks to my experience. This is real.”

And we’ve got to start believing each other. I am so tired of explaining to people who don’t get it, and don’t want to get it, why this is a problem. Please just believe us when we tell you it is. So fine, the immediate effect on a young woman, say, who sees offensive imagery in her workplace, is not necessarily huge or measurable. It’s not affecting her health, or her life, directly in ways you can see. But it’s just another instance of people not believing each other’s experience matters, and that can have widespread and incredibly deleterious effects.

The reason that it matters what someone is wearing during a video stream of a major scientific event is by the nature of its magnitude. That many more eyes are on it. That many more people will see it as “no big deal”. As the norm. And it shouldn’t be, not in 2014.

And we’ve all seen how that can be horribly immediate on people’s lives in the past couple weeks. A major radio personality can, for years, abuse women, and even after so much has come out, people are still not believing it. They’re not believing the victims.

jian We Need to Start Believing Each Other

Who believed Rehtaeh Parsons?

Let’s believe each other. Most people, by and large, have no reason to lie about their experience. Why should they? So let’s believe the young boy who is being bullied about his sexual orientation. Let’s believe the people of colour who say they are passed over in the workplace. Let’s believe the women who keep telling us that there are still real issues today in the workforce holding them back.

Once we start listening, really listening and believing each, then make we can start to make some changes. And those of us who spend so much energy trying to educate the world can just get on with the work we want to do.

I’ve been busy… and this happened :)

It’s been a busy year… kind of too busy, and I’m working to reduce the number of commitments I’m taking on (check with me in another year as to my success), but apparently some of the things I’ve been doing have been appreciated. I was pleasantly surprised last night to receive the KW Oktoberfest Women of the Year award for Entrepreneurship. Kind of surreal, really – there are so many amazing women in this community.

My shiny award:
WOY 300x225 Ive been busy... and this happened :)

For those who are interested, some of the things I’ve been doing are:

Samarian Woman 28 collective | Hackademy for Kids | The Bright Spot | The Renaissance Singers

And now, time for a hot chocolate and a cuddly book…

Notes to a Young Female Engineer

Screen Shot 2013 06 28 at 3.42.50 PM 300x223 Notes to a Young Female Engineer This post is based on notes I wrote for a talk given at the University of Waterloo on June 27, 2013 for their Women in Engineering week.



Last week I was invited to speak to students at the University of Waterloo as part of their Women in Engineering week. From my notes, I’ve created an article covering:

  • When and why women leave the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields
  • What can we do about it? The advice I would give myself as a young engineering student:
    • Don’t forget that you are still a pioneer in the field.
    • Find a mentor, or be a mentor.
    • Men and women are equal, but different. Be yourself.
    • What makes you unique?
    • Have confidence in yourself!
    • What to do in the difficult and serious situations that will (inevitably) occur.
    • Have fun!
  • List of resources

Please read and share with anyone you think might benefit. Thank you!

Ignite Waterloo 9 – Tonight! (June 12, 2012)

Just a quick update of where to go etc. Ignite Waterloo 9 is tonight at the Perimeter Institute. For all details, including how to watch the livestream, go to ignitewaterloo.ca.

Doors open at 7:30 with talks beginning at 8. I’m the second-to-last speaker so will likely be on shortly after ten. Hm… just had my first hint of nervousness. Thought I might avoid it! Oh well…

I’m looking forward to it; will be great to see one at the PI – what a fantastic space. Good luck to all the other speakers as well!

Grand Porch Party 2012

This past Sunday, our newly-formed band had a great time playing the Grand Porch Party in Uptown Waterloo. Thanks so much to Tenille and her team for organizing what is becoming a wonderful annual event!

It’s a busy week so I have no pictures etc. to share of the event; however Darin White made a great photoblog of it here. Thanks Darin!!

My lovely and ever-patient sister was kind enough to record our set at the price of her arms going numb (thanks chickadee!) so when I get that, if it turned out, I will post a few songs. In the meantime, have a wonderful day!

PS – looking for something to do? Check out Ignite Waterloo tonight (in person or streaming) – I’m speaking. 🙂