Interviews

Third wave feminist explains dearth of women in STEM

09/10/2018 Jeff Dunham

Jeff Dunham from UnHerd speaks to online-third-wave-feminist, Ally McPheal. Ally is under the mistaken impression that Jeff is a software engineer at a start-up. Jeff plays along.

Ally: Why are tech firms so unwelcoming to women? Why aren’t women encouraged to prioritize STEM?

Jeff: What exactly do you do for a living?

Ally: I’m a travel blogger. By the end of this year, if things are on track, I’ll become a published author by a traditional publishing house.

Jeff: Congratulations! That’s wonderful. May I ask what your book is about?

Ally: It’s about navigating the globe as a female solo traveler. Through the lens of patriarchy across cultures.

Jeff: Congrats again! It’s an honor to be published by a brick-and-mortar publishing house. You must be really solid at your work.

Ally: Don’t patronize me. You work in a tech start-up that encourages men to succeed over women.

Jeff: Quite frankly, my tech start-up is encouraging big quotas to be filled in by women, especially black and Hispanic women. 

Ally: Whatever. I sometimes wonder if I should have pursued STEM.

Jeff: Any reason you didn’t choose Computer Science at university? It’s not too late to learn, even without a degree. There are great courses online. Most firms are keen on hiring women nowadays. And of course, there are many positions in tech that don’t require a Computer Science degree.

Ally: I didn’t take up Computer Science because it was considered too ‘nerdy’. All the role models on TV are males. It’s what happens when you have the patriarchy in control for generations. Have you even seen the show Silicon Valley?

Jeff: Yes, I quite enjoy the show. Gilfoyle’s my favorite. But I doubt the show would have influenced my choice of profession. I’m curious. Did you choose your university major based on what you saw on TV?

Ally: Umm ... No.

Jeff: What did you major in, assuming you went to university?

Ally: Of course I went to university. It’s made me who I am. I majored in Gender Studies.

Jeff: And why did you choose Gender Studies?

Ally: Because my besties were considering it.

Jeff: Not because you saw someone choose it on a TV show?

Ally: I already told you I chose it because my two friends were doing it, and we thought we could debate and study together. We decided to smash the patriarchy together.

Jeff: So you blame the lack of female role models on TV for your decision not to pursue STEM, but don’t blame the lack of role models on TV for your decision to choose Gender Studies?

Ally: But there were neither male nor female role models for Gender Studies on TV. So I made a collective decision with my friends.

Jeff: Fair point. Is there anything or anyone stopping you from currently learning a programming language online, or taking a course on UX?

Ally: The patriarchy oppresses me on a systemic level. And programming is not tailored to the different ways in which men and women learn.

Jeff: So you feel that men and women learn differently, or may be interested in different things? 

Ally: Don’t put words in my mouth. Male and female brains are equal. But cultural patriarchy has twisted women over history, telling them what they can and cannot do. Besides, if I worked at your start-up, I’d be rather uncomfortable dealing with the bro culture at your office.

Jeff: Are you well versed with the bro-culture at my start-up?

Ally: Duh! Everyone knows that male brains degenerate when they congregate.

Jeff: Well, to each his/her/their own. I notice you’ve never mentioned trans people in this conversation. Well, not yet, at least.

Ally: Hmm... That’s implied. So sneaky with your questions. Third-wave feminists are allies of the trans people. And black people. And Hispanic people. And disabled, queer people who are half-black and half-Hispanic.

Jeff: What about white males? Are you allies with them?

Ally: Launches a monologue about smashing the patriarchy.

Jeff: After you smash the patriarchy, do you intend to replace it with something else?

Ally: Duh! Once we smash the patriarchy, there were be equal representation of men and women in all fields, including STEM. And all oppressed people will also have equal representation. 

Jeff: By oppressed people, you mean all persons of color, trans and disabled people?

Ally: Basically, yes.

Jeff: And what about people with chronic illnesses, alcoholism and parental abuse?

Ally: Okay. Them too.

Jeff: And those who were bullied as children, incarcerated for a few years, and homeless?

Ally: They must be persons of color. That stuff rarely happens to white people. And if it does, their privilege helps them succeed in life, despite obstacles.

Jeff: I see. So, to clarify again, in the US, anyone who is not a white person is oppressed?

Ally: Yes! Exactly. Now we’re seeing eye to eye.

Jeff: And white people are oppressors?

Ally: Goes without saying.

Jeff: You’re white, too, right?

Ally: Let’s rephrase that statement. Anyone who is not a white male in the US is oppressed.

Jeff: Got it. What exactly does feminism mean for you?

Ally: Feminism is about equality of the sexes. Sorry, I meant genders. Don't tell anyone I goofed up there.

Jeff: Okay. So, besides STEM, will you also fight for equal representation of women in the military, and construction jobs? And will you fight to reduce the percentage of women in medicine, veterinary science, nursing and students at universities, where they are disproportionately represented?

Ally: As long as the number of women are increasing in the field, it’s fine. After all, we’ve all seen how the patriarchy has oppressed not just women, but society as a whole.

Jeff: How can feminism be about equality of the genders if takes objection to disproportionate representation of a certain gender only in some fields?

Ally: Feminism is about smashing the patriarchy, and replacing it with more a egalitarian
culture, where we can apply feminist theory to traditionally patriarchal structures.

Jeff: It appears that once you smash the patriarchy, you’ll achieve your version of utopia. I wish you the best in your journey to take down the patriarchy.

Image Credit/s: Ryan Riggins

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