Where Have the Ladies Gone?

Where Have the Ladies Gone?

Paying for a date, even as the only party in a pair with a job, while identifying as female has gotten me a funny look. It’s a look I’m familiar with: martial arts, AFL umpiring, shopping at Bunnings, science, skepticism — I see these looks often. That’s not an exhaustive list; I’m used to male-​​dominated situations. I’m not blind to what’s been happening in this community, online or really anywhere that isn’t Scandinavia.

I can take an attack, a disagreement on opinion, objectification on myself but I’ve seen my female heroes, friends and role models pinned down, like my peer Holly Warland. Gender discrimination by any other name tastes just as bitter.

Feminism versus equal rights is a topic of instant controversy, so I’ll use a phrase (ironically) more neutral: gender equality. It is incredibly likely that if it weren’t for the early equality movements, I wouldn’t have an education. I wouldn’t be considering physics as a career. I couldn’t be registering to vote in two years. I probably couldn’t use words with 5 syllables correctly. Socially, Australia is getting better.

My role models and the women that have gone before me have already been beaten down, but I’ve barely started my life and I know many women like me who will go where the people aren’t assholes. Last week I went to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) open day. The first thing I said after stepping into their Faculty of Engineering was “They’re all men”, and funnily enough lecture closest to me at that point was “Women in Engineering.” It was a beautiful moment of defiance and hope.

If when I had entered the Faculty of Science lectures all I heard was derogatory and discriminating, I would have pursued my favourite personal trainer and gone into health and fitness, or sat down to do some landscape design where my thoughts would probably be appreciated.

I’ve been defying social norms for a long time, and I’ll keep defying them while people are stroking my ego and encouraging me to go against the trend and go into hard science fields, and I can say the same for many of my fellow badass women. But among the discrimination, why should we bother when the pastures are greener elsewhere?

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by argonne]