A Singularly Unfeminine Profession MOBI ¶ A

A Singularly Unfeminine Profession MOBI ¶ A InMary K Gaillard became the first woman on the physics faculty at the University of California at Berkeley Her career as a theoretical physicist spanned the period from the inception in the late s and early s of what is now known as the Standard Model of particle physics and its experimental confirmation, culminating with the discovery of the Higgs particle inA Singularly Unfeminine Profession recounts Gaillard s experiences as a woman in a very male dominated field, while tracing the development of the Standard Model as she witnessed it and participated in it The generally nurturing environment of her childhood and college years, as well as experiences as an undergraduate in particle physics laboratories and as a graduate student at Columbia University which cemented her passion for particle physics left her unprepared for the difficulties that she confronted as a second year graduate student in Paris, and later at CERN, another particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland The development of the Standard Model, as well as attempts to go beyond it and aspects of early universe physics, are described through the lens of Gaillard s own work, in a language written for a lay audience A book with a lot of potential that suffers from being poorly written The author jumps around temporally a lot, and uses a lot of names in a familiar fashion which means I rarely know what or whom she is talking about In addition, the physics in this book is above what a lay person can understand, much in contradiction with the back of the book which says that it was written in a language written for a lay audience Indeed I have a PhD in engineering and I could not get through her discussio A book with a lot of potential that suffers from being poorly written The author jumps around temporally a lot, and uses a lot of names in a familiar fashion which means I rarely know what or whom she is talking about In addition, the physics in this book is above what a lay person can understand, much in contradiction with the back of the book which says that it was written in a language written for a lay audience Indeed I have a PhD in engineering and I could not get through her discussions on particle physics This made her professional life rather inaccessible to me A lot of the interesting part is in the last 2 3 chapters where she discusses the sexism she encountered throughout her career As a woman in STEM 30 40 years later it s sad to see that so few things have changed I think this book would have been so much better if it had been well edited, she had tamed her particle physics discussions, and focusedon being a woman in particle physics A pioneering female theoretical physicist writes about her professional life from the late 1950s to the present, with the motive of encouraging women who are thinking of entering physics She is a physicist first, so much of the book describes the problems she was working on which many non scientists readers will not find so interesting and which almost require some previous exposure to particle physics theory To me the valuable parts of the book are her experiences with other physicists she w A pioneering female theoretical physicist writes about her professional life from the late 1950s to the present, with the motive of encouraging women who are thinking of entering physics She is a physicist first, so much of the book describes the problems she was working on which many non scientists readers will not find so interesting and which almost require some previous exposure to particle physics theory To me the valuable parts of the book are her experiences with other physicists she worked with many of the biggest names in theoretical particle physics and the challenges she faced as a woman in a very heavily male dominated field, beginning before the women s movement opened things up for women generally She notes in the last chapter that difficulties for women still remain, both in children s and young adults education and on the professional level, though she has seen dramatic improvements in the attitudes of male professionals towards women This is a very objective treatment and I think she still finds discrimination against women, such as she experienced, completely mystifying Mary K Gaillard, a theoretical particle physicist, recounts some of her experiences during her career both personal and professional mainly professional She was involved in some theory for the standard model, I don t really know what Really, that is the problem, I could not tell you what theory she really did because that bit was incredibly dull and I stopped paying attention I have a degree which involved several modules on this stuff and I am reminded how boring I found it then and it s Mary K Gaillard, a theoretical particle physicist, recounts some of her experiences during her career both personal and professional mainly professional She was involved in some theory for the standard model, I don t really know what Really, that is the problem, I could not tell you what theory she really did because that bit was incredibly dull and I stopped paying attention I have a degree which involved several modules on this stuff and I am reminded how boring I found it then and it s still boring to me now Unfortunately, the middle section of the book is a lot about the work she did This bit dragged on and on even though it is a short book and I couldn t quite follow what was happening In my opinion, skimming these bits does not detract from the rest of the work at all The book is interspersed with blocks of text to describe some of the ideas behind what she s working on for example explaining how successive rotations in space could break symmetry, or how hidden dimensions could be embedded in our own which I could understand readily enough, but it was never obvious to me how these actually related to what she was studying Nearer the end there is an explanation of what evidence there is for physics beyond the standard model, which is standard but well written Muchinteresting, and where the book finds value for me, is when she is recounting her personal experiences at CERN, Fermilab, in France, and so on Specifically, her experiences of some of the sexism and highlighting the ingrained attitudes many felt were very interesting to me Even if the barriers to her weren t explicit, it became obvious to her that in many places she simply wasn t wanted or valued This didn t have to be told to her If you think about any personal group experiences you ve had where you ve been shunned you know this sort of thing doesn t need to be said Most of the personal experiences she talks about are only related to her work She mentions somewhere that she deliberately did not include many details from her private life, these are the bits I most like in biographies.One thing interesting to me in her career is that it gives lie to the idea that a theorist is finished by the age they are thirty Biog G139g 2015 Really interesting insights into what life was like for a female particle physicist, especially in the 1970s and 1980s Some good CERN gossip Personally I didn t find physics bits particuarly well done, but then I m not really the target audience I mentoned it this article Really interesting insights into what life was like for a female particle physicist, especially in the 1970s and 1980s Some good CERN gossip Personally I didn t find physics bits particuarly well done, but then I m not really the target audience I mentoned it this article They, like most of the Western participants in the Seoul conference, were on their way to Tokyo So it added particular insult to injury when CERN staff member Daniele Amati approached me just after my complicated travel plans had been arranged He told me that Guido Giuliano had given up his place as a CERN delegate would I like to go in his place In other words, CERN was now willing to pay be to go as a simple delegate, while they had refused to finance my trip as a principle speaker p 10 They, like most of the Western participants in the Seoul conference, were on their way to Tokyo So it added particular insult to injury when CERN staff member Daniele Amati approached me just after my complicated travel plans had been arranged He told me that Guido Giuliano had given up his place as a CERN delegate would I like to go in his place In other words, CERN was now willing to pay be to go as a simple delegate, while they had refused to finance my trip as a principle speaker p 104Ah, the joys of being a professional woman, and having that gut feeling that you are being put in your place so clearly confirmed Really mixed feelings on this one Somewhere near the end of the book Gaillard talks about how she s always been a physicist first and a feminist second and so I suppose the fact that around half the memoir is dedicated to explaining particle physics to a budding grad student reflects that.It just didn t feel particularly organised and it would have been better if the Physics and memoir were organised into distinct chapters or if there was a Physics and a memoir portion per chapter rather than i Really mixed feelings on this one Somewhere near the end of the book Gaillard talks about how she s always been a physicist first and a feminist second and so I suppose the fact that around half the memoir is dedicated to explaining particle physics to a budding grad student reflects that.It just didn t feel particularly organised and it would have been better if the Physics and memoir were organised into distinct chapters or if there was a Physics and a memoir portion per chapter rather than it changing page to page The parts of this memoir that are not Gaillard explaining Physics, but rather where she recalls the process for getting to those ideas, the collaborative efforts, and her work and living situations in the various countries she visited and lived in were really interesting.I m completely astonished at her experiences with Cern vs Berkeley as they are the diametric opposite of what I ve heard from another prominent female physicist an experimentalist in HEP , who has also worked for both labs during the same time period.The last chapter Reflections is worth the whole book to read So too is the report she briefly mentions in the book Report on women in scientific careers at CERN check it out if you get the chance The Physics portion of the book was less easy reading Interesting anecdotes were interspersed with pages and pages of textbook style information about the standard model beyond I understand the motivation, to provide a bit of background to her career and give context to her discoveries, but much of this is over lengthy I m an experimental particle physicist mostly on the border of instrumentation and Physics , living and working as a grad student at Berkeley Lab and also working for CERN, so I recognised quite a few of the character s in Gaillard s memoir You could also argue that I m the intended audience for this book so I feel confident in saying that the Physics is NOT presented for a lay audience but rather for a graduate student or an particle enthusiast undergraduate I m really glad she wrote this and that I ve read it but it s not as an enjoyable reading experience as other Physics autobiographies by theorists and experimentalists alike that I ve read before

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