I started trying to write a post about how I reluctantly became a feminist. But as I tried to form a story, it occurred to me that I don’t consider myself a feminist. I consider myself a person who wants to be taken seriously. I am a tall, chubby, brown girl. If during a debate, you pick any one of those attributes as a basis for dismissing my thoughts, you have chosen poorly. I will demolish your argument and then think less of you as a person.

There’s a quote by Liz Feldman about equal rights for gay couples that has been going around, “It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or as I like to call it: “Marriage.” You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car; I didn’t gay park it.” That’s exactly how I feel about sexism at work. I don’t really care where the discrimination comes from. I don’t want to deal with it. But it exists and so I deal with it.

The reason I became vocal recently is because I went through a really stupid ordeal. My field happens to be filled with people who are much more awkward both outwardly and inwardly than I am and the attribute they decided to focus on to ridicule me for is my gender. It has never been in my nature to be quiet. I have a brother with special needs and immigrant parents, I learned how to recognize discrimination and so I started fighting.

In the end, I think leading by example does much more than getting angry. Whether I like it or not, I’m a role model. I believe in setting a good example and I don’t think sitting back and letting people disrespect you on any level falls under that category. Recognizing the existence of any type of “ism” is important in battling it, but sitting around becoming bitter about it doesn’t further my career or benefit the world. In the end, my desire is to excel at what I do. I want to be remembered as a great scientist and friend. The tall, chubby, brown girl parts of me are all secondary to that.