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Sexism Redux

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suze
1315023.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:00 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
At the risk of stating the obvious, no one has flown to Mars, whether they believed it or not. Nor is anyone likely to in the foreseeable future.


I expect Neil Armstrong's teachers said something similar to him when he graduated high school in 1947. In the 50s, even Patrick Moore didn't think the Moon landing would happen until around 1990, and he was dismissed as a fantasist when he said it would happen at all. But if Mr Armstrong hadn't believed that if it could be done, he was the person to do it, then he wouldn't have been.

Right now, we just don't know whether a trip to Mars is going to be feasible in the next quarter century or so. The technology can be done in the time, but the money and the politics may take longer. But if it is feasible, I don't want any girl who leaves school this summer wanting to do it to go away thinking that it's only for other people, or - worse yet - that it's not for girls.

If it can be done without the penis being involved in the process, then a girl can do it. If the young women of 2019 believe otherwise, are being told otherwise, then I am disappointed.


crissdee wrote:
I think suze believes her job to be getting the girls to believe that whatever is even theoretically possible is open to them. In which I wholeheartedly agree, and long may she continue to do so. I only wish I had more/any teachers like her in my school.


Quite right too. Every year, we send a bunch of confident young women out of our doors believing that they can do whatever it is they want to do. If a school isn't doing that, it needs to take a good long look at itself - and if parents aren't giving their daughters the same message, so do they.

 
GuyBarry
1315024.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:26 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Every year, we send a bunch of confident young women out of our doors believing that they can do whatever it is they want to do.


And that's irresponsible. Only a very small proportion of people are going to end up flying to Mars or becoming Prime Minister. Why kid your pupils into thinking that they can do something that almost certainly won't happen?

 
PDR
1315025.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:26 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:

At the risk of stating the obvious, no one has flown to Mars, whether they believed it or not. Nor is anyone likely to in the foreseeable future.


I don't think it's stating the obvious because I don't think it's true (the second part, not the first). NASA and ESA have the technology route-map defined and have been consistently addressing the required enabling technologies for about 15 years now - the long term ones are things like the life-support and propulsion systems, but there are plenty of others. For example NASA has pumped money into robotic surgery and "telemedicine" (using low-skilled local hands guided by a remote high-skilled brain to undertake complex medical procedures). I happen to know about the telemedicine programme because we looked at using the concept for other purposes - but essentially the UK (surrey university and hospital) is one of the world leaders. NASA money had been flowing there for several years with the objective defined as "developing the ability to remove an appendix using on-site skills no greater than a navy corpseman".

And that's just one of the enablers - there are dozens, all being worked on. To these people the first manned mission to mars is very much in the forseeable future. Some of them even have a date in mind...

PDR

 
GuyBarry
1315026.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:33 pm Reply with quote

Fine. It still remains the case, though, that hardly anyone is going to end up going to Mars.

Suze clearly thinks that her role as a teacher is to set her pupils up with unrealizable fantasies. She might as well set them up to think they're going to win the Lottery, because they've probably got more chance.

 
barbados
1315027.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:38 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
suze wrote:
Every year, we send a bunch of confident young women out of our doors believing that they can do whatever it is they want to do.


And that's irresponsible. Only a very small proportion of people are going to end up flying to Mars or becoming Prime Minister. Why kid your pupils into thinking that they can do something that almost certainly won't happen?

There is a big difference between "can" and "will"
True only a very limited number of people will become Prime Minister, or fly to Mars, but there is an infinite number that can become PM or fly to Mars. The thing that separates them is the belief they can should the want to.

 
Dix
1315030.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:54 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
Fine. It still remains the case, though, that hardly anyone is going to end up going to Mars.

Suze clearly thinks that her role as a teacher is to set her pupils up with unrealizable fantasies. She might as well set them up to think they're going to win the Lottery, because they've probably got more chance.


To me, suze's statement is a commitment to not limit her pupils' ambitions by swatting them before they have had any chance of being tested by reality.
The precise ambition need not be Prime Minister or astronaut but perhaps something as simple as getting qualificactions for a better job than your parents had the chance of getting - being a vet, teacher, scientist, artist, or a pretty darn good carpenter.

I believe we should leave it to Suze to express what she thinks.

 
suze
1315031.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:56 pm Reply with quote

Absolutely. I don't think Guy is deliberately misunderstanding, but he is misunderstanding all the same.

In reality, there aren't all that many people who even want to fly to Mars. If PDR knows the date that people he has met have in mind he's certainly not at liberty to tell us, but I'm sure it's within a timeframe that makes it a feasible aspiration for someone who leaves high school this summer.

I've never actually met anyone who has that as her career goal, but I absolutely have met people who want to save lives in the less developed world as a doctor, fight injustices as a lawyer, save lives in Kent as a firefighter, make ten million pounds in the City and retire when they're 40, and all sorts of other things. By now, I've been in the job long enough that I've heard of young women that I taught who have been through university and are well on their way to achieving whatever it is.

Some schools will tell a girl who states one of these things as her aspiration "That's not for people from round here, maybe think more about working at the cat food factory" - and they shouldn't be doing. Worse, some schools may tell her "Girls don't do that, maybe think about becoming a hairdresser".

If anyone does that in my hearing, he will get a rocket up his arse. It might have been defensible in 1959, but in 2019 it really really isn't. And yes, it upsets me if school-aged girls in 2019 are thinking like that, and simply because no one has ever told them that they shouldn't be.

 
crissdee
1315036.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:19 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
In reality, there aren't all that many people who even want to fly to Mars.


If I wasn't 56 years old and reliant on medication to stop my giblets self-destructing, I would be on that career path.

 
Leith
1315037.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:42 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
NASA money had been flowing there for several years with the objective defined as "developing the ability to remove an appendix using on-site skills no greater than a navy corpseman"

I know minimising payload mass is critical for such missions, but that sounds a rather extreme approach.

 
suze
1315038.  Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:45 pm Reply with quote

A mission to Mars would necessarily take nearly two years. You have to go at a time when the planets are aligned to each other in the right way, and you have to come back at a time when the planets are aligned to each other in the right way.

People who travel from England to Australia tend to stay awhile. It would be a bit daft to go all that way just for the sake of a day trip, so people usually stay for at least a week. So it is with Mars, and in fact a three month stay fits in with the alignment thing. (The "alignment thing" is explained in more details by NASA here.)

During that period of nearly two years, the intrepid astronauts would have limited access to real food, limited access to water that wasn't actually recycled urine, limited access to the QI forums, no access to alcohol (under NASA protocols, although it has been alleged that Russian protocols may differ), no access to sex (likewise), and so on.

It wouldn't be for me.

 
PDR
1315043.  Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:13 am Reply with quote

Leith wrote:

I know minimising payload mass is critical for such missions, but that sounds a rather extreme approach.


Again - genuine LOL!

PDR

 
PDR
1315046.  Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:04 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:

In reality, there aren't all that many people who even want to fly to Mars. If PDR knows the date that people he has met have in mind he's certainly not at liberty to tell us,


It's not a secret as such AFAIK - it's simply something you've also alluded to. The "ideal" time to travel to/from Mars is strongly influenced by the relative position of the planets and other astronautical stuff, the time of year (season) at the launch site and several other things (I'm not familiar with the details - this was a conversation I had with my dissertation mentor a few years ago). So there are certain specific dates which provide the best opportunity with the shortest mission duration and lowest overall risk. I *think* I remember Jim saying that these ideal points occur every fourth opposition (about 8 years).

NASA have a rough estimate of the time it will take to mature the enabling technologies, and another for how long it would take to build/qualify the necessary vehicles and equipment. Based on that they then pick the next most likely ideal point and use that as a target launch date. They can therefore genuinely say they have a planned date and time for the launch with high precision, but it's a bit tongue in cheek because it's a low-confidence (large uncertainty) estimate. At every quarterly review they assess progress, update the estimates and decide whether they need to change the launch date - I was told they've changed it several times (in both directions).

The actual date doesn't matter much, but it is important to HAVE a target date because that's how we do project management. If you have an open-ended project it's difficult to motivate people and measure earned value, and impossible to project a total programme budget, so you set a target date and then you manage the variance.

But having said that, whilst they may not have high confidence on the specific date they've chosen they are very much of the view that it will be that one or the one following it - so they are confident that it will be within eight years of that date. I don't know what the actual date IS, but a throw away remark at a Q&A recently was "we believe that the captain of the first mission to Mars has already been born".

PDR

 
PDR
1315047.  Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:49 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:

And that's irresponsible.


I think you'll find yourself in a small minority with that view

Quote:
Only a very small proportion of people are going to end up flying to Mars or becoming Prime Minister. Why kid your pupils into thinking that they can do something that almost certainly won't happen?


That's true, but it's not what she said. Suze didn't say that all these girls would become astronauts (or any other specific job). She said that they will leave with the attitude that they can do what they want to do and be who they want to be - that their grasp should not be constrained by a feable reach. They will not believe that have to take what oithers dole out to them; they will have choices and they will be prepared to put in the hard work that may be required to achieve their desires.

Now I know you feel you were let down by "the system" because your view is that you were not properly prepared for a world in which you have to take responsibility for (and thus control of) your own destiny. There are others who feel that perhaps you were expecting someone else to constantly manage your life to achieve those things which you wanted to do, and to create your opportunities for you.

Personally I don't think either of these positions are completely accurate, and the reality may lie somewhere between them. But I would suggest that you are a specific case which is an outlier rather than the mode of the population - the attitude Suze looks to instill is a "good thing[tm]" for pobably over 99% of the population, and probably over 99.99% of the population of her (selective) school.

IMHO

PDR

 
tetsabb
1315052.  Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:48 am Reply with quote

There is a film coming out soon called The Boy who Stopped the Wind Or similar, about the lad in Malawi whose parents could no longer afford to send him to school. He went to his local library and found a book on building a wind turbine to produce electricity for his village.
He built turbines, and his village has electricity.
Very inspiring.
I think that is the kind of spirit suze is talking about.

 
AlmondFacialBar
1315056.  Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:54 am Reply with quote

I think so, too... FWIW, I was by and large brought up in that spirit, but nevertheless haven't amounted to much because I didn't know how to go about fulfilling my dreams in practical terms and was too shy to ask. On the other hand, the most successful woman I know was pretty much brought up in a 1950s time warp, so she was almost completely driven by defiance. Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks I guess...

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 

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