Yesterday I got to help out at a science fair as one of the judges. It was a pretty cool experience, ranging from seeing the kids who really didn't give a shit (as was to be expected) to the kids who had done awesome experiments and obviously put a lot of effort into their data and its presentation.
The highlight for me was a poster detailing one student's quest to find out how to store coke to prevent it going flat; refrigerated or not and with the lid on or not. As a heavy drinker of pepsi (I am trying to cut back, I swear!) I could really relate to this. Other honourable mentions include comparing different types of diet drink in how they react to mentos and the really dedicated group that grew three plants, feeding them monster energy drink, powerade (it's got electrolytes! they're what plants crave!), or water and measuring the plant height every day.
After the judging was over, the school invited us into the staff room for a cup of tea and a biscuit. I walked in, all smiles, and was greeted by a middle-aged teacher who was sitting at the table eating his lunch.
The following exchange occurs:
Him: You can't be an engineer! (smiling, joking way)
Me: Why? (expecting a comment about my age, funnily enough)
Him: You're a woman! Women are meant to be at home cooking dinner. (again, clearly a joke and meaning nothing by it)
Me: Dude, that's not funny, not even as a joke.
I am really proud of myself for saying something back, even if he got a little bit offended by my reaction. He made some justificationy comments like "I'm not a sexist, my sister in law is an engineer and when she was presenting to some businessmen in Dubai they mistook her for the tea lady and asked her to bring them coffee".
But seriously, you might think my reaction was a bit much, but imagine someone saying something like that to a black man. Doesn't that just horrify you and make you super uncomfortable, thinking about someone joking that a black engineer shouldn't be engineering but shining shoes or picking cotton or whatever the racism is?
Why the hell does our society let people make comments like that about women?
Oh, and the best thing? He was the home economics teacher.