Women scientists at this age may not face an enormous amount of sexism as their predecessors in the early 19th century. Namely, the tragic betrayal story that happened to Rosalind Franklin, the unsung mother of the double helix. In the 1950s, Franklin was working on the structure of DNA by developing x-ray crystallography technique. This technique led Franklin to obtain the first image of DNA’s double helix structure. However, the academic culture at the time was not very friendly to women. One of her men colleagues, Maurice Wilkins, took her experiment data without her consent. Later, Wilkins showed that data to Jim Watson and Francis Crick, who also worked on finding DNA structure. Shortly after interpreted Franklin’s data, these men published their manuscripts without giving her any credits, and they ended up winning the Nobel Prize for the breakthrough they stole from her. Franklin’s unfortunate story is only one of the examples of how women in science struggled with sexism in the past. Luckily, the wave of women empowerments in the late 19th century has gradually changed the science environment into a more enjoyable place for women than it was before. Nowadays, any woman can participate in science courses and independently publish their research paper. We may also see some of them take an important role in the development of science, so what is the problem?
I also used to perceive gender disparity in science as a story of the past. Primarily since the ratio between women and men during my study in chemistry was roughly equal and also because there was no significant gap in excellency between both genders. It was not until I graduated from my Bachelor degree that I realized those two points could not be used merely to justify that gender partiality in science is already gone. At that time, I was triggered by the fact that only a few of my women colleagues continue to pursue their career or education in the chemistry-related field. With different reasons, the rest of them decided to give up their chemistry degree for another opportunity when they should have been able to maintain it. Surprisingly, this phenomenon is not only happening in my field of study. UNESCO and Korean Women’s Development Institute (KWDI) reported that the number of women interested in science and technology major was indeed quite high all over the world. However, that number enormously dropped by half for a higher career position. Gender disparity in science becomes obvious again from the stage of doctoral education and continues to the upper structure of the institutional organization. This leaky pipeline phenomenon makes me wonder if gender bias is still a significant issue in science.
However, it is now more than difficult to prove gender bias in science for the reason that is deeply entrenched in its culture. Although many scientists would deny when accused of doing gender discrimination, recent studies show how they still perceive women as less competent in this field. Josh Terell and his colleagues found that the acceptance rate of women in an open-source software community, GitHub, is slightly higher than men only when their gender is unidentifiable. However, these women are rejected more often when their gender identity is exposed. The previous experiment by Corrine Moss-Racusin and her team also confirmed a similar attitude toward gender favoritism in science. Their study showed that the resumes bearing men names were rated significantly higher than identical resumes bearing women names. The women applicants also offered lower starting salary compared to the men for the same job position. These studies are just glimpse of proofs that gender prejudice has a significant effect on women career in science and that biases against women are often subconscious. Therefore, I think it is necessary to draw more and more awareness toward this issue, especially in the science community in order to prevent us from keep losing all of these gifted women.
Gender disparity in science can be minimized only if we fully acknowledge the importance of reducing this gap. Without any of that, we are just going to walk in a place and getting further from achieving fairness in science. In my opinion, the main reason for that is nothing else than to ensure that everyone gets an equal opportunity in education and employment in the science field regardless of gender. For many years’ science is perceived as men predominately. Therefore, many women are held back from doing science just because they are not men. Moreover, there is also a belief that science is too hard for women because they are only expected to become a housemaker and raise children. An English philosopher, John Stuart Mill, argues in his essay that mankind should not over-intervene the strengths and weakness that nature has given to women. Consequently, we should never prevent women from trying something just because of their nature. He also convinces that equality will not only benefit the woman as an individual but also men and humankind development. However, we never truly know what women nature is because sociocultural expectation has a significant contribution to how we raise them and shape their character. Thus, we never know how far these women can accomplish in science if we never encourage them to try.
Afterward, it is also important to emphasize that encouraging more women into science is not an attempt to tell the world that women can perform science better than men, neither to dominate this field of study with women. It is nothing more than to prove that women can do what society thought they could not. Subsequently, we need to consider that women make up almost half of the total population in this world but traditional prejudice in our culture cause most of their potency still have not integrated yet. I believe by giving the same standard of education, equal opportunity, and a good dose of encouragement, women, and men could achieve the same level of expertise in science. Therefore, by giving more opportunity to women, that means we also increase our chance to solve more problems in science. This escalation can be seen from the most recent breakthrough in science, namely when scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Project successfully captured the very first picture of a black hole. This groundbreaking achievement is inseparable from the role of Dr. Katie Bouman, a computer scientist who led the development of a computer program that made it possible to capture a 40 billion km away black hole. Her contribution definitely gives a huge impact on the development of astronomy. This is just one of the unimaginable facts of what science can accomplish just by making it more inclusive for both genders. Imagine how fast science can progress if women scientists do not have to battle the prejudice wall that is built by our culture.
Unfortunately, the fight against prejudice in science often clashes with the sociocultural and religious perception that is nurtured in the heart of our society. The idea of feminism often considered against the nature of women. Raised in a developing country with a strong influence of eastern culture, I grew up with a robust experience of how patriarchal ideology still dominates every corner of our lives. This condition has been worsened by the presence of an antifeminist movement that is recently gone viral in my homeland, Indonesia. This movement started their campaign through Instagram account Indonesia tanpa Feminis (Indonesia without feminist). They claim that their campaign is driven and based on Islamic law, known as Sharia. In their campaign, they argue that feminism is a part of western culture and will never be in line with Islamic creeds. As this community gained more and more followers every day, I am worried this idea may discourage Indonesian Muslim girls from achieving their full potential. However, I perceive this campaign as a shallow interpretation of feminism and Islam. They clearly ignore the fact that it was Islam that elevates women, glory them, and giving them the full rights on many things far before feminist exists. There are also many Muslim women figures that are both religious and success at pursuing their career. The most well-known example comes from the first wife of Prophet Muhammad, Khadija Bint Khuwaylid. Khadija’s success story as an entrepreneur shows that Islamic principles and feminism should not always perceive as black and white. I also believe that social norms and religious values are never meant to hold women back from achieving their dream but rather to help them achieve it in a better way.
Conclusively, we know that gender prejudice in science and technology is not truly gone; it just becomes less obvious. Therefore, it is necessary to address this issue because science could never achieve its true potential without contribution from half of the world population. It is also essential to maintain the commitment from the science community in minimizing gender disparity. Any form of gender biases in science should not be tolerated anymore. Working space and appreciation should be given fairly regardless of the gender to prevent one feeling discriminated. Additionally, in some cases, it is also useful to find the middle ground between science and traditional or religious beliefs in society in order to gain more awareness of the importance of women participation in science. Finally, we also have to consider that over exaggerating one group of genders may influence the psychology of the opposite group due to the impression of being underappreciated. Even though it still seems too far from happening, one day such a shift could happen if we weighted the encouragement only to one gender. Some of the methods to prevent this include providing gender-sensitive learning material and equipment at school, reinforcing more collaboration work between both genders, and removing prejudices that are based on inferiority or superiority of one gender. In the end, women may have an interest in other fields outside science, and that is not a problem. It becomes a problem when women want to do science, but then the prejudice stops them from doing that. That is when we have to stand up.
- BBC News. (April 11, 2019). Katie Bouman: The woman behind the first black hole image. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47891902
- Bokova, I., G. (2015). UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030. Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/unesco_science_report
- Fachriansyah, R. (April 1, 2019). ‘My body is not mine’: Indonesia Without Feminist Group Starts Online Campaign. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/04/01/my-body-is-not-mine-indonesia-without-feminists-group-starts-online-campaign.html
- Fathurrahman, I. (April 10, 2019). ‘Indonesia without Feminism’: Break down walls of communication. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2019/04/10/indonesia-without-feminism-break-down-walls-of-communication.html
- Guera, C., L. (2016). Rosalind Franklin: DNA’s unsung hero. Retrieved from https://ed.ted.com/lessons/rosalind-franklin-dna-s-unsung-hero-claudio-l-guerra
- Mill, J., S. (1869). The Subjection of Women. London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer.
- Moss-Racusin, C., A., Dovidio, J., F., Brescoll, V., L., Graham, M., J., Handelsman, J. (2012). Science Faculty’s Subtle Gender Biases Favor Male Students. PNAS. 109(41). 16474-16479. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211286109.
- Terrell, J., Kofink, A., Middleton, J., Rainear, C., Murphy-Hill, E., Parnin, C., Stallings, J. (2017). Gender differences and bias in open source: pull request acceptance of women versus men. PeerJ Computer Science. 3:e111. doi: 10.7717/peerj-cs.111.
- UNESCO Office Bangkok and Regional Bureau for Education in Asia and the Pacific., Korean Women’s Development Institute. (2015). A Complex Formula: Girls and Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Asia. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000231519
- United Nations Human Rights. (1979, December 18). Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CEDAW.aspx
“Seribu orang tua hanya dapat bermimpi, satu orang pemuda dapat mengubah dunia”, sebesar itulah kepercayaan Bung Karno terhadap kekuatan yang dimiliki oleh seorang pemuda. Ungkapan penuh asa tersebut saya kutip dari autobiografi beliau yang berjudul Bung Karno : Penyambung Lidah Rakyat Indonesia. Aktif, dinamis dan selalu menuntut akan perubahan tampaknya menjadi karakter pemuda ideal yang ingin dideskripsikan oleh bapak proklamator Indonesia tersebut.
Dewasa ini bangsa Indonesia dihadapkan dengan kemunculan generasi pemuda yang menyebut dirinya generasi milenial, pemuda milenial, yaitu mereka yang lahir di antara tahun 1980-an hingga tahun 1997. Tumbuh di era serba digital membuat pemuda milenial memiliki pola karakter yang berbeda dengan generasi – generasi pemuda sebelumnya. Hasanuddin Ali dalam bukunya Millennial Nusantara menjabarkan 3 karakter utama pemuda milenial, yakni kreatif, percaya diri, dan pandai bersosialisasi. Saat ini sekitar 32% dari total populasi di Indonesia didominasi oleh pemuda milenial. Mereka inilah yang sekarang menjadi wajah bagi bumi pertiwi, warna yang mereka torehkan saat ini akan menentukan bagaimana nantinya dunia memandang Indonesia.
Menjadi pemuda milenial berarti menjadi pemimpin masa depan Indonesia dan saya rasa sudah tiba masanya bagi pemuda milenial untuk semakin giat berkontribusi serta mempersiapkan diri demi menyambut tongkat estafet tersebut. Namun tidak sedikit dari rekan milenialis yang malah tergulung ombak apatisme bahkan menunjukkan tanda – tanda adanya degradasi moral akibat tidak bisa mengimbangi dan menyaring derasnya arus globalisasi. Sebagai bagian dari pemuda milenial, memposisikan diri diantara orang – orang positif dan berintergritas menjadi salah satu upaya yang saya lakukan agar terus termotivasi dalam memperbaiki kualitas karakter yang saya miliki. Dengan memegang teguh nilai – nilai positif saya berharap kelak bisa membantu mendekatkan bangsa ini dengan apa yang dicita – citakannya.
Menjadi pemuda milenial berarti pula berkarya tanpa batas. Dibesarkan di salah satu pulau terluar di negeri ini tidak lantas membatasi diri saya untuk berkembang. Sebaliknya, segala keterbatasan dan permasalahan yang muncul di daerah menjadi dorongan bagi saya untuk bisa menjadi bagian dari solusi permasalahan tersebut di masa depan. Keputusan untuk menimba ilmu di universitas terbaik negeri ini merupakan langkah besar yang tidak pernah saya sesali. Tak terhitung banyaknya pelajaran yang saya dapat selama 4 tahun bersusah senang di kota pelajar kala itu. Kegiatan demi kegiatan yang membangun saya ikuti tidak lain demi mencapai visi utama hidup saya, yakni bisa menjadi manusia berkualitas dan bermanfaat bagi sekitar. Pertemuan dengan beragam individu dan segala proses yang saya lewati sejauh ini menjadi sumber dari perbaikan demi perbaikan yang membentuk pribadi saya yang sekarang.
Sayangnya menjadi pemuda milenial memiliki batas masa. Peran menjadi pemuda milenial suatu saat pasti akan tergantikan oleh generasi – generasi selanjutnya, sementara diri ini akan menjalakan peran lain yang jauh lebih rumit. Oleh karena itu, kesempatan menjadi pemuda milenial harus bisa saya manfaatkan sebaik – baiknya dengan berkontribusi dan menjaga nama baik bumi pertiwi.
Okay, this time let me start over. My name is Inandha Dian Briliani. People used to call me with various nicknames since my name is kinda “unique”, that I found many of them made an amusingly confused expression when I first introduced them my name, or by the time I went to coffee shop and their barista never spelled my name right, or perhaps it’s their job to spell their customer name wrong. Well, this time I am not going to talk about my name nor the list of my nicknames. Some of you might think I’ll probably have changed my name by the title “start over”. Oh haha, no. I’m so grateful that my parents came out with this beautiful name that is full of meaning and hopes. It really makes me who I am today. You can call me with whatever you comfortable with. it’s okay.
So, let’s jump out to the actual thing. which is blog writing.
Oh my dear, what’s so special about it?
I used to love blog writing. Even though it was never a serious type of blog where you talk about your opinion toward certain topic or type of blog with touching poems and beautiful words, it was more likely about my daily life and all of its nonsense, but I really enjoy filling my blog with all of those feelings and stories.
A couple of days ago, I googled my self. I know, it sounds like a waste of time, but since I have a lot of time to waste so yeah I did it. actually, it was because I just applied for a job and I remember about something called “cyber footprint” or “digital footprint”. Which is a trail of data left behind by all users on digital and social media, which includes both passive and active data. This basically allows recruiters to form an opinion without even meeting you. And since social media is a big-big thing nowadays that people spend most of their time on it from they wake up till they rest, it’s kinda easier to judge your personality by examining your activity on social media. Even though it will never be accurate, moreover if you build a different character for yourself on socmed, then who knows. That’s why these days as the social media getting addictive and wild you will find many persuasive messages to be more cautious about what you share on socmed, so it will unlikely ruin your “real life” as you’re on a job or scholarship application process, because the recruiter might track down your socmed activity.
Well despite as I recall I never did something crazy on my social media, I was still aware of what will they find if they google my name. So I acted like one. My LinkedIn profile, Facebook page and my Researchgate account (? lmao what) were popped out as the top result, followed by my Pinterest account and the digitalized form of my bachelor thesis. But something unexpectedly also stroked in. That was my 2010ish-blogger-account-that-i-create-when-i-was-too-young-too-dumb-to-realize-that-i-should-have-fabricated-a-weighted-content-that-all-i-posted-was-everything-my-future-self-would-regret. Well actually it wasn’t that bad, it’s just like a typical teenage girl’s blog full of babble. So don’t ever look for it because.. it’ll just waste your time (PROMISE ME!!). The sad thing is, it’ll be forever there because I forgot the email ID I used for this blog, let alone the bloody password.
While I still shocked by this finding, I carefully read that 8 years old left blog, entry by entry as I recall what happened 8 years ago. I barely remember everything in details, but this blog somehow reminds me of how clueless I was 8 years ago. it reminds me of my old pets, my favorite books, of how excited or upset I was by something. this blog then referred me to another dark blog of mine. well don’t expect something wild, it’s just the older version I made a year earlier. nothing much there, I wasn’t even using my real name for that blog (fun fact: I wrote there that I ended up forgetting the signing information as well at that time, ah such a habit I guess). there I found a writing about the struggle I went through while preparing myself for my secondary national exam and how happy I was when all of those struggles paid as I scored really well and got appreciation from my school. isn’t it satisfying to read about your own process? I’m not talking about achievements, but more like of personal development. isn’t it fun to recall how stupid you were and realize how less stupid you are now? lmao, but that is what I feel after I read my old blog.
Famous Indonesian celebrity like Raditya Dika, Evita Nuh, or fashion designer like Dian Pelangi started their career from blogging. I was one of hard die fans back then around 2009. their words inspired me to start my own blog even though I didn’t have interesting life or passion to begin with. and I was like 14 years old, so what do you expect. What I did was substituting my conventional diary to a digital form, so-called blog. I always find my self hard to express thought inside my head within small talks between my circle. I am more into the listener type and always avoid any discussion about myself. I feel uncomfortable being center of attention. but doesn’t mean I don’t have any problem or story to tell, I am just not a good storyteller in real life. So journaling and blog is my kinda sweet escape. I expressed my feeling and anxiety through writing.
talking about my blog writing journey, earlier in 2011 I was exposed to Tumblr. that’s why I left blogger and start forgetting all the signing information (fool!). it was the longest period yet the most glorious moment of my blog writing history. while I got only 2 or 3 readers on my blogger (which probably consist of my cousins and myself haha) I got more than one thousand followers on my Tumblr. it doesn’t happen at a glance though, I really took my time and worked on it. I started practicing my English actively since most of my followers were living abroad. I also learned how to edit pictures to support my blog post.
I was getting a lot of new friends, but I was living behind a pseudonym (think chocolate!) . it was common to use a pseudonym to make your blog more interesting or to match the content you support. but then I realize that I was too enjoy gaining followers than self-relief as I become more anxious during my final year in high school. so I created a new page as my personal diary that is connected to my main Tumblr. there I mainly talked about my ambitions, friendship, favorite TV shows, let everything that crossed my mind at the time. I continuously write on that blog during my gap year after graduating from uni, this captured most of my grew up progress really well even though I barely post due to my schedule during college. thank god I still can access my Tumblr right now, but the site itself has been banned by Indonesian government due to some infringement. hope they open their ban soon!
advanced in technology really shifts the way people use certain platforms to express themselves. nowadays there is countless social media platform have been developed. let’s talk about the most hyped one like instagram or youtube. you might find some public-figure names that I mentioned earlier have shifted their bow to these platforms. I admit it’s easier to deliver messages through photos or videos and vice verca it’s simpler to understand too.
I found myself spend most of my leisure time on both platforms recently. especially Instagram where I frequently posted all of my daily activity though mini clips that will last in 24h. instagram is fun, youtube too! I posted some videos there as well (❤). I also found myself enjoy taking photos and video editing but I feel the need to compliment all of those stories with words, moreover, I feel like there are numbers of event that was off camera and was notably meaningful for me. I mean sometimes you just enjoy that good ‘ol time without even bothered to take a picture/videos. and most of them were instead the one that carried so much memory.
it was a mixed feeling after I read my long-left blog stories. at some point, I feel embarrassed regarding what my 14 y.o-self have posted there, but in the other side, I feel like.. like great. it’s great to see how that clueless little girl has gone through so much and being tough day by day. and I start feeling bad for not posting frequently before. I begin to forget memories I made about 8 years ago, what if 10 years later I can’t even remember the euphoria I felt today?
so this time I decided to start over my blog journey. this time I’ll be more cautious about contents I want to lift about, I’ll be more active too (hopefully). I want to share something that will inspire other or at least my future self when something goes bad in the future. this blog going to be a little reminder as well as a self-reflection for myself. I do not dedicate this blog to anyone but me. I hope 20 years later, or 40 years later when I already sentenced with Alzheimer (lmao) I still can remembrance they way feel and think in my 20. the world may have changed in the future, maybe blogging is not a thing anymore or maybe I’ll be getting busier, but I hope this blog footprint will be here forever captured the most beautiful moment of my life.