My daily commute to the lab is rarely eventful, it is exactly thirty minutes from my house to my lab bench. Thirty minutes spent listening to my daily dose of Freshlyground, scrolling through my Twitter feed, and planning my day. It is a routine I am accustomed to — a routine that brings me serenity and much-needed structure. You see, structure and routine are very important to me. I have every hour of my day planned out and I know what to and when to do it. But, today’s commute was different.
As the métro began its approach to my intended stop a thought popped into my mind, and I as I slowly walked up the stairs I followed this train of thought, spurred by what I had seen on my Twitter feed. My fellow SAYAS blogger Sipokazi Nyeleka wrote an amazing piece on women in science (here). My intended blog post for this month was on the importance of mentorships in graduates school. I began to think about the numerous women whose work has directly or indirectly influenced how I do science. It was at that moment, at that precise moment when I reached the top of the stairs that I realised the hurdles women face in science, and the amount of privilege my sex and gender has awarded me.
It is from this place of understanding that I began to write this blog post. Like most things in life, the more you think, the more you know. I became aware of the damage and hurt that patriarchy has inflicted upon women and the disenfranchised. Like my fellow blogger, I want to express my boundless gratitude to those amazing scientist who inspired and continue to inspire to be a better scientist. As men, we are made to feel that every space was for us to occupy. And it is this sense of entitlement that puts many men in a position where they are unable to understand the obstacles of many women face in academia — how could we possibly understand if have never experienced it? As with other minority groups, women have always had to work harder, speaker louder to simply have their voices heard. I am fortunate enough to be in an environment that fosters mutual respect and acceptance for all — women, LBGTI, physically challenged groups etc… In closing, I wish to see academia be filled with the spirit that our country has; the Rainbow Nation. It is only through welcoming diversity into the workspace that we can truly transform the academic landscape.