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Archive for July, 2011

Last night, on my way from work to watching my girl play beach volleyball, I stopped to watch the Space Shuttle pass over for one of the last times. My parents had called me about it and mentioned that I had watched the shuttle fly over for the first time when I was a little girl. My mum even said that I had asked “Is it going to land at the coast?” So I pulled over and parked by the local train station, commuters rushing past me, and I looked up into the darkening sky for a light in the west. Then I saw it! A bright light moving relatively slowly across the sky. It looked like a plane, but there were no flashing lights and it appeared to move differently to a plane. And so I saw it! a piece of history in the making. I can tell my children one day about it. Science nerd? Yes!

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I’m a red lipstick wearing, pin-up girl loving alternative feminist, scientist and writer. I’m out and proud about my sexuality. I am engaged to my wonderful girlfriend of fours years. I love pin-up girls of the 1940’s & 1950’s, particularly the alluring mixture of beauty, subtle sexuality, femininity and confidence. I also admire burlesque (including retro style burlesque) and the Rockabilly culture. I like also the fashion and style of the 40’s & 50’s along with alternative fashion. I’m also a feminist who stands for many ideals including – equal rights, human & civil rights, animal rights, socialism, environmentalism & conservation, social justice, acceptance of all people, the end of war and violence and encouragement of scientific, health & medical research. Professionally I am a scientist and former research student (in medical/health research) and I aspire to become a fully fledged science, health and medical writer. My dream is to write about science for a female audience and specifically a lesbian/bisexual/queer/transgendered audience. In this blog I wish to explore being a lesbian scientist along with my other diverse interests.

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I work long hours and I want to spend time with my girl – my fiance, but my desire to write is strong. So I write my blog, read scientific papers and brainstorm novel ideas while lying in bed next to my girl. Week nights and saturday and sunday mornings spent writing. I fit it in when I can, because my girl and our relationship are number one. No matter what!

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As an original and retro styled pin-up girl fan and a scientist, I think it would great to have scientist pin-up girls. Empowered, intelligent, lady scientists with retro styled fashion and make-up. Oh, red lipstick would look a treat with a crisp white lab coat and funky sneakers! As a sex positive feminist, lesbian and an empowered woman who is proud of her female and lesbian sexuality and her intellect and scientific abilities, I think this would be so fun, empowering and a chance to express science and sexuality. I’d promote this and join in. Maybe this would also help get a lesbian audience interested in science and the achievements of female scientists, all but in a kind of around about way. Bring on the retro styled lady scientist pin-ups!

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It’s a simple fact – sex sells and promotes. You pick up a lesbian magazine and there is a certain amount of ‘sex’ and sexy women (including real lesbians) used to promote and symbolize and ‘speak’ to a lesbian audience of an event, movie, book or sex toy. But i also think that young lesbian women view this in a certain way – from an empowered, feminist, sex positive, non-exploitative way. They recognise the sexiness of the woman, but also see her as a fellow woman, not just an object of sexual gratification. I do think there is fine line between objectification & trivialization and empowered sexuality in making science sexy (in the form of sexy female scientists) for a lesbian audience. But I believe it can be done and be used as a tool to encourage more women, and particularly lesbian women to be interested in science. Could an image or a number of images of sexy, intelligent, empowered young female (including lesbian and bisexual) scientists be all it takes? Female scientists in lab coats, latex gloves and closed in shoes (the slightly uunsexy stark reality of working in a lab)? As a lesbian scientist I’d have to say this would spark my interest and I’d want to read more.

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Although I am a trained scientist and a former research student, I work in administration in a calibration lab. In Australia this field is known as Measurement Science and Technology – the science of testing and adjusting an instrument to ensure it is measuring correctly and determining the level of error for these measurements. My company has a number of branches around he country and all admin staff are women. And I find it quiet interesting communicating with other calibration company’s female admin staff also. But even more inspiring was finding out about other women with technical and quality control positions. I think it is fantastic that women hold and are taking on technical roles in a male dominated field. I used to say to my former boss that we should get more female technicians. I was even tempted to get to know the process. With a growing requirement for NATA accredited laboratories to test customer’s instruments, a change in ratios of women to men in these fields and the subsequent changing of attitudes I think this is all very encouraging.

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As a reader of lesbian magazines, websites and blogs I don’t see many, if any, articles by science journalists or writers. Why isn’t there coverage of science in the lesbian press? Is it because it is seen as being boring or nerdy? Or is it just because the readership would not be interested? I am of the opinion that this should change. After all scientific discovery has contributed a significant amount to modern society.

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