Monday, September 04, 2006

Don't hate me because I'm smart

Did I say “smart”? I meant “pretty”!

Over at Pharyngula, PZ Myers has posted a link to Who's the hottest scienceblogger? If your personal list of pin-up models is lacking in depictions of science bloggers, you might wonder just what they have to work with. In fact, you might even be thinking, “Not much, I'll bet!”

If so, you're just capitulating to nerd stereotypes: Jocks are hunky and nerds are chunky. Athletes are hot and math geeks are not. Really, it's a wonder that science types ever manage to reproduce. (It may help that a lot of those athletes get fat and gimpy after school, while nerds remain preternaturally young and sound.)

The August 15, 2006, issue of The Advocate struck another blow at the nerd stereotype. I suspect that edition of the magazine got passed around in more math departments than normal. “You are not going to believe this!” What's not to believe? An article titled Is porn an option? delves into the burning question of how one pays one's way through school. Here's the part that drew our attention:
Tom Stephenson, 21, doesn't fit the typical image of an amateur porn star. He's a junior [in college], has been on the dean's list every semester, and was president of his high school class.... Stephenson says he isn't worried that his porn work will affect his dream of becoming a college math professor.

Okay, that took me by surprise. I should consider this a test of my laissez-faire attitude toward life and lifestyle. My current colleagues came to our college math department from such diverse venues as industry, secondary education, the military, government service (me!), and right out of grad school. We mostly know these things about each other's past, especially since candidates tend to pitch their backgrounds as part of their qualifications for faculty appointments.

So what do we do if one day Tom Stephenson (a nom de porn, I presume) is sitting before our hiring committee and it's time for the ice-breaker at the beginning of the interview? “So, Tom, please tell us a little bit about yourself, where you were educated, and what experience you would bring to the job. And oh, by the way, I really admired your work in Tommy does Tensors.”

I'm sure we'd be cool about it. Mostly. But I do worry a little about competing for students in low-enrolled classes. “Dammit! Professor Stephenson's section has a waiting list again and my section is on the verge of being cancelled!” Unfair, I tell you. Unfair.

No comments: