Interview with Professor Eileen Pollack

Interview with Eileen Pollack on Gender Discrimination in Academia and the Workplace

I had the privilege of interviewing Eileen Pollack, who is currently a Creative Writing Professor at the University of Michigan. She has very interesting experiences that pertain to women in education, particularly in the sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), and she was able to share some of her experiences in this interview. The interview is tailored around six questions that I felt were necessary to fully capture Professor Pollack’s experiences. It was difficult for me to come up with these questions because there was so much more I wanted to ask, but I think limiting it to these 6 questions (which are shown below) worked very well for the purposes of this blog. As I mentioned earlier in my blog, Professor Pollack currently wrote an article called “Why Are There So Few Women in the Sciences,” so this interview talks about her article as well as her experiences at Yale, while at the same time describing the gender discrimination that still exists in the 21st century for women in the sciences.

I hope you enjoy this interview, I know I did!

Questions for Eileen Pollack:

1. For people that have not yet read your article, can you talk a little bit about your experiences at Yale, while earning a bachelor of science in physics?

2. In the article, you say that many men you wanted to date were put off by your physics degree, would you say this type of bias still exists today?

3. “Perceptions of discrimination are evidence of nothing but subjective feelings.” This is what Judith Kleinfeld said in your article, what is your reaction to this?

4. “The most powerful determinant of whether a woman goes in science might be whether anyone encourages her or not,” is what you emphasize in the article. If you could say a few words to women pursing a degree in the sciences (physics, chemistry or biology), what would you say to these women?

5. In the article, you talk about how you walked away from your dream and why so many other women still walk away from theirs. If you could go back and do it again, would you make the same decisions?

6. You are currently working on a book about women in the sciences. Would you say this is your way of encouraging women to pursue a career in the sciences or to warn them of the hardships?

I would like to thank my group member Gabrielle Valentic,  who was able to capture this interview for me. Also, if you would like to learn a little more about the difficulties women face in academia while at the same time trying to maintain their feminine qualities visit Belle’s Blog here.

Lorna

Videographer/Editor: Gabrielle Valentic

[This is a private interview conducted with Professor Eileen Pollack at the University of Michigan for classroom use in English 340: The Historical Hinge. Usage for other purposes is strictly prohibited].

The Colbert Report: Interview with Malala Yousafzai

“Education is very important. Education is a power for women and that is why the Taliban terrorists are afraid of education, because with education, women will become more powerful.” This statement is said by 16 year-old Malala Yousafzai, who is a strong activist for women’s education, and was shot by the Taliban because she became an instant threat to their regime. I am absolutely astonished by the bravery she has shown by speaking up for women’s rights in her country since she was 11 years old in her Pakistani hometown. She spoke to every media channel and newspaper that would listen to her, in order to inform others of the negative impact the Taliban have imposed for the women in her community. She describes the struggle of being confined to the four walls in her house and being forbidden to go to school and learn. Malala shows us how women in the Middle East in general are struggling to for their freedom to be educated and just how much these women want to learn and pursue higher education.

In the United States (US) we are so incredibly privileged because women are able to go to school and are told they can be anything they want to be. However, as Eileen Pollack’s article has shown us, there is still a bias that exists and it not just men that think such things, but also women themselves. There is this mindset that still thrives in our American society that men are more competent than women and at times this prevents these women from pursing their dreams, such as occurred to Pollack and many others in her field. I think that if Malala read Pollack’s article she would be appalled at how many women in the sciences do not follow their dreams because of the lack of encouragement, lack of self-esteem that comes from professors, their families, and others. From seeing this three-part interview, it is clear that if Malala were to speak to these women giving up their dreams, she would say “women are more powerful than men,” which she confirms in the Daily Show. She truly believes that women and men are equal in every aspect of life, and women in the US need to think this also, because anything can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.

Lorna