I've been having my 15 minutes of (very minor) fame this week. I'm not sure how to blog about the details of all this while remaining anonymous. I might give up on that next week as it will all get much more interesting, but for now I'll remain cryptic and just tell you that for some reason there was interest in writing about me as a role model for women in science in the local and university papers - so I had to have my photo taken.
So obviously I made some effort to not look like the stereotype of a scientist. I wore a dress, and jewelry and even (shock horror) make-up. I think I did a good job. The photographer for the local paper commented that I didn't look how he expected. In his own slightly sexist way he went on to comment about how it was weird that his picture of a scientist was an old guy with white hair. He said I look nothing like Patrick Moore and that's a surprise according to him.
There was a builder in the kitchen/common room the day I was having my photos taken and he was obviously curious and asked the reason for all the attention. I explained to him and he looked a bit taken aback. "Women in science he said.... hmmmm.... you're not one of these doctors are you?". I said I did have a doctorate in astronomy. Obviously something he didn't expect either.
As women in science we are surrounded mostly by men who are quite used to our presence (in their own way). It doesn't take much to be reminded though that to the vast majority of the public the idea of women doing science is still totally alien.