STEMinist – The Case of the Indian Woman

The more I travel and work in various cities and countries, encountering difficulties as a mechanical engineer in a male-dominated industry, the more I am aware of my privilege growing up in a feminist Indian family. At 12 years old, when I had only recently moved out of India, wanting to be an engineer seemed anything but unusual. Of course, it was convenient for me that most parents in India are obsessed with pushing their children towards STEM-based careers. Girls often outperform boys to bag the coveted 1st rank in the highly publicized senior board exam results, with impossibly perfect grades in mathematics and science.

1: The toppers of Central Board of Secondary Education final 12th grade exams in 2019, with their grades
As I stepped out of India and met the rest of the world, I found myself more and more alone in classes and then workplaces. Research at Open University found that 35% of specialist technology roles in India are filled by women, compared to 17% in the UK. I found…

Do We Still Have a Victorian Mindset Towards Women?

We often ridicule the Victorians for their backward views, conservative ways, and blatantly sexist mindsets. However, studying Victorian literature, there are some notable parallels between their attitudes then and our attitudes now. Fiction is a vision into the past– it shows opinions, both personal and public, and manages to convey the wider context in a way studying statistics cannot.
It is important to remember that literature is of its time. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ would not be considered a pioneering feminist novel nowadays, but in 1813 Elizabeth Bennet’s character completely defied the perfect, ‘angel of the house’ archetype that women were expected to strive for; intelligent and fiercely independent, she turned down marriage proposals for her own sake, rather than accepting them as she was expected to.
The point is that in an ever-progressing society, these views should have changed. We view ourselves as superior to the Victorians, but in fact, these examples from literature prove…

NASA's First All Women Spacewalk

Meir and Koch. Picture:
On October 18th, 2019, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history. They were the first all-woman team to perform a spacewalk on the International Space Station (ISS). Koch and Meir follow in the footsteps of other pioneering space women. For example, the first female spacewalk took place 35 years ago.
The Historic Spacewalk

Koch during the Spacewalk. Picture:
At 07:38am (North American time), Koch exited the ISS in an extravehicular activity suit (space suit), followed a short time later by Meir. The two women went to work replacing a faulty battery charge/discharge unit. The device is one of a few pieces of equipment that is responsible for regulating the station’s power. It had failed the previous week but was not critical to life support. However, the task needed to be completed because it was hindering upgrades on th…

Vulvas: A Labia of Love

Pornsites reinforce an ideal physique, breast size, shape, nipples, anticipated behaviours and, just as worryingly, vulvas. Generally speaking, porn is the first exposure many people have to the uncensored human body. Its power grabs at our concept of self, dictates how we perceive our sexuality and love our bodies. 

Image Description: Photo of a woman with pale skin, standing in white underpants, holding a red love heart over her pubic area.
It seems people are more self-conscious than ever about attaining the ‘ideal vulva’. For those playing at home, the vulva is made up of several well designed and useful parts, starting with the labia minora and the labia majora. The labia majora are the outside lips, the ones seen straight away. The labia minora are the inside lips that are externally visible for some and not for others. The “ideal” vulva, most often portrayed in pornography, has a uniformly pink, small and symmetrical labia minora that does not protrude past the majora. 
In recen…

Who Really Got Girl Power Going?

Ah, 1996, a time when the concept of Girl Power (!) on a mainstream front was still relatively novel. To a generation of young girls, the Spice Girls represented a fundamental embracing of everything it meant to be a girl growing up at the end of the 20th century: a celebration of femininity, sexiness, and sisterhood in five unique caricatures. For many, it was the start of accepting that it was okay to be an out-and-proud, female, sexual being, to demand respect, and to be unapologetically loud about it all. It felt, in short, revolutionary.

Image Description: Photo of someone's calves and ankles from the back. They are wearing black pants, rolled up, and long white socks with "Girls Rule" written on them in black, block letters. The person is also wearing maroon heels. 
Except that … It really wasn't. In fact, the term "Girl Power" was coined by US punk band Bikini Kill. According to lead singer Kathleen Hanna, it was inspired by the "Black Power&quo…

Elizabeth Magie: The Forgotten Woman Who Invented Monopoly

It’s the game we bring out for guests or late at night on holiday with family, the staple for board-game-day with friends: Monopoly. If you take a closer look at the label, it says this game was created in 1935 by Hasbro Games. But, in reality, Monopoly was created 32 years earlier by the long-forgotten and uncredited Elizabeth Magie.
Elizabeth Magie was born in 1866 in Illinois. She was the daughter of a newspaper publisher and orator, James Magie, who travelled with Abraham Lincoln in the 1850s. She inherited her father’s passion and said she was “described as ‘a chip off the old block’”, which she took as a compliment. She also disregarded gender stereotypes in that she did not try to find a husband until age 44, and instead chose to work as a stenographer by day and a comedian by night. She was reported to draw huge laughs from the crowd.

Image description: a black and white portrait of Elizabeth Magie as an old woman. 
Her father, James, ran for office soon after the Civil War and l…