I receive the weekly newspaper from Claremont, California. This program announcement from Harvey Mudd College of course caught my eye. Dr. Bruce J. Nelson was a 1974 graduate of Harvey Mudd; at the time of his death, he was chief science officer at Cisco Systems, where he guided the company’s long-term strategies for technical development.
Now! Social Justice and STEM
The time for social justice is now. In wide-ranging presentations from leading scholars, activists, journalists and artists, the 2016 Nelson Series explores contemporary issues of social justice and investigates how those with an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics may—and must—incorporate social justice work in both their daily practice and long-range goals.
My person addition to the above ad is this : We cannot simply insert women into the world of politics, business, social and technological priorities without addressing the values that have created and guided these priorities. We think that women by virtue of their (what?) can change the world without admitting that Patriarchy has created those values and priorities. And has an ENORMOUS stake in maintaining them.
Because perhaps a majority of women know they are oppressed, it is MEN who are the most damaged by the patriarchal norms, values, and goals that control their lives. Most men have NO IDEA how to think of “being a man” or “being successful” or “being human” apart from the military/football/ monetary/capitalistic/woman-as-prize air they breathe every day. How could they? (Have you watched the DVD “Miss-Representation”?)
Do I know what a “normal, healthy, just” society looks like? Do I know what normal, healthy, equitable male/female relationships look like? No. I doubt most people do. Some men and women, of course, have either an innate rebellious or a learned ability to see clearly the universal deceptions and have created in their personal lives a path toward equality and mutual respect.
But to assume this structure doesn’t exist and to “forge ahead” as though it isn’t there is going to result in a huge number of women falling away, whether from exhaustion, disillusionment, or defeat. Or capitulating to the expected norm.
I’m still burdened with my struggle with STEM. It isn’t that I don’t think girls/women are capable of highly intellectual accomplishments. I’m quite sure that women are as good as and better than men in many of these areas; but to what are they contributing? We’re going to Mars (really, not “we” but either rich people who want to get away from the Earth that is dying, or companies that want to exploit yet another planet the way Earth has been exploited and ruined). We have a responsibility to learn how to care for Planet Earth and to live together in peace as one people BEFORE we ever move beyond. Now, our primary exports will be violence, greed, pollution, and the propensity for war.
And before women join corporations and technological think tanks (and the military), we/they need to think about the world we/they are helping to build, foster, perpetuate.