Tag Archives: discrimination

STEMarginalized (or Why I’ll Never Take Another Class Outside the Humanities)

by anonymous, ’14

My mother likes to tell the story of how I applied for Stanford as a hardcore biology major with a concentration in genetic engineering, then called her after one quarter to come out as a drama major. For perspective, I’d never been involved in theater in any shape or form before college. For her, this makes an amusing anecdote about the liberalizing/artsy big blue blob that is California. For me, it’s a sobering reminder of just how alienated I felt in the STEM courses I’ve taken at Stanford.

It’s not that the material is too difficult or uninteresting—I was actually really engaged with my biology, physics, and calculus courses in high school, and looked forward to working in labs and doing research when I “grew up.” My shift from STEM is rather due to the different approaches to discussing (or not) marginalized peoples in the humanities and sciences. Whereas most of my Theater and Performance Studies professors (and especially my Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity professors) regularly use examples and materials that validate and explore the experiences of people who aren’t at the top of the privilege food chain, my STEM professors often make me feel angry, invalidated, and anxious. In TAPS and CSRE courses, I can speak to and learn about the lived experiences of people like me (and unlike me!). In STEM courses, data which appear to be objective often show that marginalized groups are inferior to dominant groups, without including a discussion of the systematic challenges that can produce those data. Put another way, we don’t discuss confounders that happened before we began our study.

Let me give you an example from a popular statistics course at Stanford. Continue reading

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Let’s talk about Trans Rights, And That Means You

by Elizabeth S. Q. Goodman, third-year graduate student in Mathematics 

I use some terms in this article which may be unfamiliar to many readers. Here is a useful glossary that gives definitions I believe to be current. Also, trigger warnings for several brief discussions of violence.

A full-time blogger named Natalie Reed recently wrote about an upcoming bill, C-279, which aims to make gender identity protections in Canada. Many Canadians, she says, assumes that transgender people already have protections against discrimination; but these laws are not sufficiently explicit, have been subject to interpretation, and even a court case about discrimination against a trans woman ultimately ruled that such discrimination was legal. Please read her article, skip my piece if you already care about trans rights, and if you’re Canadian, I hope you’ll write to your MP. Even if you’re not, you can sign this petition which is gaining momentum, and you can spread the word.

So, why should cis Canadians worry about trans rights? Why should cis Stanford students or Americans care? Even if we do care, what good will it do to talk about rights for transgender people, particularly transsexual people? Continue reading

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