Event 1: The other day the friend of a friend asked me with disbelief, “Are you a scientist?” He started at me with eyes so big I thought they would pop out of the sockets like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
His disbelief stemmed from the fact that we had just had a gala time dancing and singing on top of our voices.
Of course, scientists aren’t supposed to have fun in life!!! They are supposed to be buried under books and experiments!
Event 2: A co-passenger on the flight and I got talking about our love for movies and I was probably over-enthusiastic, courtesy my love for cinema. And then the conversation veered to what I do for a living and I said I am a scientist. “Are you serious?”, he asked with a mock smile.
Of course, scientists aren’t supposed to watch movies. They are supposed to analyze data!
Event 3: My schoolmate and I got chatting on the very popular Whatsapp! One of the most obvious questions popped up in our conversation – “So what are you upto these days?”. I told her that I am heading for my PhD to Edinburgh later this year. In my heart I was jumping with joy. This whole PhD thing has just sunk in and I still smile a lot (and go crazy with pride in my heart) when I tell someone I have been accepted at the University. And the usual replies are – Congratulations; Oh my God, that’s great; Wow, Edinburgh is an amazing place, have fun; Woohoo, when were you going to tell me girl?, etc. What does this friend of mine say instead? “How much do you scientists have to study?”
Of course, scientists only study all the time. They don’t take breaks, don’t celebrate, don’t go out drinking – NOTHING!
A few other stereotypical questions/statements that have come my way over the years…
“Oh you are a scientist…will you eventually work for NASA and go to space?”
“Hey with your eyes, I thought you’d be a model!”
“What do you think about these Sci-Fi movies? You must hate them!”
“Where are your glasses?”
“Your dressing sense is amazing for a scientist!”
Some other random questions that I am very often asked, even my members of my extended family.
“Hey your cousin sister suffers from PCOD. Do you know of any cure for it?”
“I feel slightly nauseated and am running a fever…what could it be?”
Give me a break!!!
Let me clarify a few things. Firstly, I am a scientist, not a medic!!! If you are running a fever or suffer from PCOD, go visit a doctor!! Secondly, not all scientists work for NASA. I am a biologist, for God’s sake (that doesn’t mean I can’t work for NASA but I’m saying it’s highly unlikely I end up there).
No, we do not study all the time, we have as much fun in life as you guys do. We just need to complete at least our PhDs to be taken seriously by our peers (but along with my PhD I am also looking forward to being in a new city, exploring that part of the world, meeting new people, learning their culture, etc). We watch movies like any common audience does and we like Sci-Fi movies just as much (not everyone analyzes details of everything!) – X-Men is my favourite (don’t even dare say a thing against Wolverine!). A scientist need not look shabby all the time and have an eye-sight so poor that he needs to use huge glasses (Einstein has set a really bad example, hasn’t he?)! I am an average person with a passion for biology who loves to dress up, who cares about what she wears and how she looks and loves her tinted lip balms!
And no, I’m too short to be a model!!!
These are just a few stereotypes associated with my profession. Have you ever been asked stupid weird questions about yours?