A slew of recent studies show that the problem for women in math and science is related to something both larger and more nuanced: culture, Newsweek reports. In 1972, when Mae Jemison was just 16 years old, she arrived at Stanford University, where she intended to pursue a degree in engineering. But it wasn’t long after arriving in Palo Alto that she learned that the university’s science departments weren’t nearly as enthusiastic about her as she was about them. In one of her freshman science classes, she recalls, the professor looked at her like she was “bonkers.” “I would ask a question, and he would look at me like it was the dumbest question and then move on,” she says. “Then a white guy down the row asks the same question, and he says, ‘Astute observation.’ It makes you start to really question yourself.” In the nearly four decades since, Jemison has proved repeatedly that she deserves a place at the table. She graduated from Stanford with a double major in chemical engineering and African and African-American studies, got a medical degree, and eventually became the world’s first woman of color to go to space. She is, without a doubt, exceptional.
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