In creating a blog with the fact that I am a female in math, I figured at some point I’d get to this topic. I just didn’t think it would be so soon.
There are so many articles dedicated to how women are treated in STEM majors or anaylsis on why women don’t go into STEM majors. The idea I hear most lately is that women tend to have more anxiety towards math due to the anxiety their female teachers had towards the subject. I think it’s a little bit of that but also that you really get picked at, in the name of “I’m just joking with you”.
I’ve personally heard the following comments when struggling with my work:
“Men are just better at math. It’s how their brains work.”
“It’s okay that you don’t get math, men are just better at it.”
“You’re not a man/Asian. So you’re just not naturally good at it.”
“It’s a really hard subject. And you’re good at English/biology. So don’t worry about it.”
And then there’s the other comments when I excel at my work:
“We all know what you did to get that grade.” *insert handjob motion*
“Why do you go to ____’s office hours so much? Do you have a crush on him?”
“I think ____ helps you so much because he’s attracted to you.”
Most of the time I just roll my eyes or give an uncomfortable laugh. I really hate making enemies with people I have to work with so I just kind of take it. But this week, I am really uncomfortable.
I did really underwhelmingly on my analysis midterm. There I said it.
I fully get analysis. I just don’t enjoy it, it kind of bores me. And when something bores me I just ‘meh’ my way through it. And it always seems to backfire. And it backfired.
I don’t know what went on behind the scenes but I am gathering that my analysis professor who smells like my dad met with Dr. Dreamcrusher to figure out what kind of student I am and if this is something expected from me. There was some sort of conversation about what Dr. Dreamcrusher knows about me and my analysis professor emailed me last week for a meeting.
I guess I should also mention that I got into that program that Dr. Dreamcrusher wrote that late letter for. So he also wanted to talk about that, since the program will cover analysis.
There was a closed door (and walk to the on campus marketplace) meeting where he graciously offered to incomplete me for the quarter even though I will finish as if I am in the class so I could do the program and audit in the fall for an attempt at an A instead of a C or whatever I am getting now. It seems he’s really trying to guide me towards graduate school and explained an A in analysis is the key.
And I am grateful as fuck.
(Side note: I am a little shocked A) Dr. Dreamcrusher cared at all. 2) remembered anything about me enough to pass along information to my analysis professor. Then he just got really weird in the next office hour asking me “how I am doing in analysis.” Bitch, you already know. I know you know because my analysis professor said you fools chatted. Don’t play this game. Just tell me you know I did bad and offer whatever you’re gonna offer. Don’t beat around the bush, dude. Also, stop asking me uncomfortable questions with a bunch of people around. I am not going to give an answer or I am gonna lie. Ugh. Also, this new ‘caring’ thing is scaring me. The man is an odd bird.)
That said, the guys in my analysis class saw that I met with our professor and now there are comments about how I am doing sexual favors for a good grade as it was a private, out of office hours meeting and they saw me walking with him.
I haven’t told anyone what I have gotten on my midterm because I generally don’t share my grades good or bad. I find if they are good, all of a sudden you have several ‘new friends’ who want to copy off you, or if they are bad all of a sudden you become the butt of their jokes. So I just don’t.
So I just uncomfortably laughed and told them to fuck off. But it continued for a little while longer. Then it continued the next day. And the next. And I am already tired of it.
I don’t want to explain what the meeting was about to these guys because it’s a favor that my professor doesn’t have to do. I don’t want the entire class to find out and 1) be upset, and 2) expect the same treatment or 3) my professor get in trouble for doing tricky shit.
And this isn’t the first time I have gotten this. When I took multi-variable calculus, I had a professor straight out of Berkeley and had zero clue on how to teach. He was smart, but not good at instruction. We started the semester with about 20 students. I was 1 of 2 females in the class, and the first day of instruction the guys were joking in the hallway that I was the most likely person to drop because I was 1) female and 2) not of an “approved math ethnicity” because I am Mexican. So less than 8 people ended up at the final and 1 person had an A in the class. That was me.
They attributed it to the fact that I must have had sex with the professor. I didn’t, I actually was the only one who fully completed the massive packet of semester review he assigned. So I got an A.
(Side note: not that the A meant I mastered multi-V. I remember almost nothing. It’s sad.)
But sometimes these comments get to me. I start wondering, did a professor give me leniency because I am a female? Am I getting preferential treatment because of my gender or they think I am weaker? I didn’t even want to tell the school about being sick last quarter because I didn’t want to think I got good grades because my professors felt bad I was sick. I hate that shit. I want to get my degree because I earned my degree and that alone.
I just don’t understand why if I show up for office hours constantly, I must have a some sort of romantic feelings. It can’t possibly be that I know my weaknesses and know I need to hear the material in several different ways so show up to get help? Or in hearing what other people ask, helps me get hints? Or I genuinely want guidance about my major? Or I know I have anxiety about this subject and in order to feel more confident about it I seek affirmation from my professor? Or I work better one on one because I get incredibly nervous asking with a bunch of people listening?
Are these guys serious with what they say? Probably not. But it’s annoying and old.