The document “Science has a bad gender”

And seven Nobel Prize winners! And not a woman awarded at the beginning of the week, in any of the three fields: physics, chemistry, medicine-physiology. Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. with the Crispr-Cas9 technique. ⁇

This is the exception to the rule. Because there is an undeniable fact and the numbers are there to prove it: the sciences lack women and very few stand out for their pioneering work. In France, in a sector as fundamental as digital, which will transform more or less 8 out of 10 professions, there are only between 10% and 15% women. As for the ratio of women engineers, it has been declining since the 2000s and is currently stagnant at around 22%. Antoine Petit, CEO of the CNRS – the largest research center in Europe, which has a third of women researchers on its staff – laments in an important interview published by The research (1) “too low proportion of female unit managers”. “And for the initial hiring?” we asked him … “We are not very good” he acknowledged.

Trust me

The film of France 2, visible until December 3, 2021 recording on the platform france.tv, with the deliberately provocative title “Science has a bad gender” recalls in a comment these slightly depressing figures (2) . Fortunately, his pace and his images are anything but gloomy. We even discover sumptuous Norwegian landscapes, where one of the four scientists that director Laure Delalex has chosen to embody her subject evolves in extravagant autumn forests. No melancholy to begin with the determined Solène Lallart, hull and earrings, delighted to show “her” workshop, where this mechanical engineer pilots the construction of the giant ships Chantiers de l’Atlantique. “Engineers are useful”, she says, as she explains what she does every day in front of a group of high school girls who came to see her at work and wonder about her future. This building of trust is crucial, because prejudice dies, which can disrupt the path of those who are oriented toward the sciences, especially the so-called exact ones. The female brain is incapable of coping with math, computer science, space vision and other nonsense …

These received ideas, especially on mathematics, Pascal Huguet, research director of the Laboratory of Social and Cognitive Psychology (Lapsco, University of Clermont-Auvergne – CNRS) brings them to the screen, after his MRI experiments on brain activity d about thirty students. . Surprisingly, after measurements that show the same female-male ability to solve calculations, in a second phase observations are introduced subtly insinuating that there is a difference. Interestingly, the prophecy comes true, and even for brilliant math students (as it says in the commentary), whose brain images are analyzed. In fact, the latter is activated both in the areas dedicated to the calculation and also in the areas intended to compensate for this idea of ​​lesser aptitude. “Hyperactive”according to Pascal Huguet, it leads young girls to lower yields and many of them “stay below their capabilities.”

“Things are getting better, but too slowly”

Equally amazing is the way social and even academic discourse evolves over time. Thus, several decades ago, computing could be seen as a female activity, because it had to be typed, a reminiscence of typewriters (!) When software design resembled working with language. Isabelle Collet, a professor at the University of Geneva, author of “The Forgotten Digital” (3), recalls that the first programmers were programmers, mathematicians. But today that the profession has gained prestige, it is the male view of the coding geek that prevails. New prejudice against which the work of the computer school Ada Tech School, which claims to be “feminist, accessible to all”. “It’s urgent”believes the mathematician and deputy Cédric Villani who, in a beautiful formula, says that he cannot imagine only a future “born of men.”

“Things are getting better, but too slowly”observes Antoine Petit in the interview with The research cited above. The film confirms this in abundance, among Agathe the computer developer who believes in him “You have to show your fangs” find his place and Mathilde the biologist who still does not get a permanent place, despite years of fieldwork in the northern forests, on the trail of deer. In Norway, Trondheim University of Science and Technology (NTNU), voluntarily pushes young women into robotics or artificial intelligence and prefers to assign a place to a woman with equal competence given the general imbalance of ratios. in teaching and research. . Example of an institution that has taken the measure of inequalities. Isabelle Collet, from the University of Geneva, continues to train colleagues and students on the subject of discrimination. Which shows, in turn, the path that remains to be done everywhere, as noted by various associations, also grateful in the credits of the film, as “Elles Bougent”, “Femmes et Sciences” (4) “Women and mathematics” … Because we must never stop in the field (educational, social, political …) to prove, against all prejudices, that science is not a question of gender.

Available for playback until December 3, 2021.

1) No. 567, currently in newsstands.

2) Presented on October 5 at Cnam https://www.cnam.fr/ and at the National Museum of Arts and Crafts https://www.arts-et-metiers.net/

3) The forgotten digital, Isabelle Collet, Le Passeur, 2019, 214 p., € 19.

4) From 8 to 30 November, 48 photographs from the “Science size XXElles” exhibition, developed by the “Women and Sciences” association, will be awarded at Paris City Council.

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