Wednesday, 29 October 2014


Link to this post
I have been thinking about stereotypes today. 

This is a rant, so those people who do not like rants, please skip this post.

My thoughts have been dwelling on this topic for a few days now.  The final trigger is sitting in a Starbucks with a Macbook typing into a blog.  Currently, there are several people typing into their shiny Macs in this Starbucks. There is is only one person using a non-mac in the entire place.  It is expected that people in coffee shops (especially Starbucks) should be typing in their Macs.

Various things have been flitting around my head: overheard comments on the train, news articles or people general thoughts. 

  1. Men knitting. The encounter of the lady and going to my local knitting group filled made me feel different. The local knitting group are a fantastic group of people and the only comment was, 'oh, I thought someone nicked our space' then followed by 'oooh what are you knitting... that is lovely...' So it was a momentary short feeling of 'your a man knitting.' I felt welcome by the knitting group and I will go again.  

    This I am fine with this. In my experience humans find differences very interesting and want to ask questions. I am fine with this and actively encourage questions.  Part of me has felt that I should produce business cards with top ten questions about knitting. 

    The thing that riles me is perceived gender roles.  A man and a woman may encouraged to be more predisposed to a certain role owing to social convention rather than ability.  I am have certain feelings about this. I prefer to be seen by a woman Doctor, since they take no nonsense from men. However, no person should be paid less or excluded from a job because of their gender. Also, they should not be derided for that role. This article from the Mail, states that Rachel Riley as the "letters and numbers girl." This makes me so annoyed. The Mail is a
    very bad, poor, dreadful, terrible, frightful, atrocious, hopeless, inadequate, inferior, unsatisfactory, substandard, laughable, lamentable, execrable, crummy, pathetic, rotten, useless, woeful, lousy, appalling, abysmal, dire, poxy, God-awful, chronic, rubbish, a load of pants, vulgar and egregious little rag that is only suitable for lining a septic tank. 

    The most clever Astronomers and Astrophysicists I have met are women and also called Emma (I know three). Sciences seem to be male dominated and they are after post-doc level.  I think that this is quite a disgrace.  

    I am not stating that you should have an 'x' per cent quota on the number of women, because 'positive' discrimination is still discrimination.  I believe it should be easier for women and men, to come back to the sciences after a break, such as trying out the private sector (and finding it a horrid place), child rearing etc. 

    The aspect of having short 2 to 3 year post-doc placements at any place around the world can put a lot of strain on relationships. I know of two astrophysicist couples that have made it work and I have know a lot of couples that have split owing to long distances. 
  2. Are foreigners loud? I am sitting in the coffee shop, I can hear two conversations. One to the left is from a German family and the second is from the teenage couple to my right. They are the same distance apart. They seem the same loudness. i.e. the noise is the level seems the same. 

    I have picked up on the family to my left first. Why? They are speaking a different  language and my brain is focusing on this difference. The couple to my right are louder, since I can make out words, I cannot hear the words from the family to my left (I know some German). Therefore, the people on the right are louder, since the family on the left are speaking at volume which is below level of intelligibility (i.e. they are too quiet to hear what the words are).

    Personally, I think that certain policies by certain politicians use Europeans or immigrants as scape goats. Look they are different, things are happening, it must me their fault.  This basic argument is fundamentally flawed.  The recent election in Clacton in Essex (does not have diverse demographic), voted in UKIP.  This vote is mostly for people who voted for the same MP (The MP defected from the conservatives to UKIP).

    Immigration has been at a steady level for the last few years ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 per year (source: Office for National Statistics). The average  for the last 10 years is 161,386, the last few years have been 241,192 (2010), 166,878 (2011), 129,749 (2012) and 154,689 (2013).  The population of UK is about 64.1 million. If everyone you emigrated to the UK stayed, they would make up 1 per cent of the UK. This completely ignores people leaving and UK nationals leaving and the previous few years.

    Immigration is not bad. It can be very useful and essential for a country. Basing a policy and your government and blaming a small population of your country (despite where they are born) in my opinion is wrong, shortsighted and fascistic.

    This following picture is a good illustration of UKIP.
Rant over.