a little comment here, a little comment there…

Laura writes: “I’m gonna be utterly shameless now and ask a favour: I’m trying to help out my old physics teacher with some outreach and mentoring of students and I’m rapidly running out of ideas; could I link your blog on my site so the guys can see into a real scientists life? (they get bored of my student life, I’m sure)

At the moment I’m just another evolution of the academic, but I’m always happy doing science outreach. If you think they’d enjoy it, link away! As for a Q&A with them, how about the oh-so-fuzzy answer of, “As time permits”?  If they post questions in comments, I’ll answer a few here & there when I get time; if you compile a list I’ll probably do the same thing I did with Joe (horde it as my not-work-project for a long time, then release a giant splurge of writing).

chevron7 writes: “I would have been interested to see Samantha Carter’s progression if she wasn’t employed in the military. Did it help or hinder her?”

(Thanks for the alt.-to-.ppt tip before; I think my computer has developed stage fright. & where in Oz?)

I think Carter ended up with pretty much an ideal career. In the military you don’t need to waste time writing grant proposals all the time, so the downside is applications (feeling like all your research gets corrupted into new ways of killing people) and classification (never getting to publish). I never noticed Carter having huge moral quandaries with what she was doing, she got to have practical applications to some pretty astrophysically-far-out theories, and there’s enough occasional references to her publishing (even a book!) that she doesn’t suffer McKay’s problem of it’s-all-too-classified-to-write. To me that sounds way better than the alternative-future they gave her in “Continuum.

astrumporta writes: “I wanted to say I didn’t realize you’re a woman from your name (I know a male Mikka!) and I don’t think Joe used a pronoun, otherwise you might have gotten more “women in science” questions. […] And I think most fans would say you have the dream job of all geek dream jobs!

Yeah, being in physics/science means that unless a name is clearly feminine, it’s often assumed male until proven otherwise. It’s understandable, especially with my name looking like a typo for Mike (and I’ve also known a male Miikka, one of the grad students in the cosmology lab I worked in). I also get a lot of people guessing the gender right but thinking I’m Japanese in other blind Q&A sessions I’ve done for other outreach projects. It’s too early to have a solid hypothesis, but I’m wondering if it’s because we’re so accustomed to seeing “normal” gender balances in scifi that it’s easy to project that into real life and not consider women-in-science a strange enough occupation to ask about it.

Yup, totally my dream job. I really hope I get to come back for more!

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