Posts Tagged ‘Women’

My Big Day Out

// July 27th, 2009 // 7 Comments » // Blog

As I mentioned in my last status update, Thursday 23rd July ended up being quite a productive day for me, māshā’Allāh. For a start, I was actually active between the normal working hours of 9.30am and 4.30pm. Amazing! I didn't even manage that during my PhD.

The day involved two major meetings, each relating to the two main projects that currently dominate my unemployed life: Deaf Muslim initiatives (e.g., SignLabs), and blogging. As the content of both meetings was pretty much confidential, I'll skip the details, and just describe the basic aims.

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Don’t Play Shaytaan’s Blame Game

// July 10th, 2009 // 10 Comments » // Blog

I attended the much hyped (my own doing) “Emasculated Muslim Men and the Feminist Hijabi” debate this evening. I actually bumped into my good blog buddy, Sumera, prior to the start of the event; so I know that I wasn't the only intrigued blogger in the audience.

Anyway, I don't have much to say about it all. Partly because I was asked to film it, so I was too busy paying attention to my camera, to soak in much of anything. I can tell you that it was a very mature, rational discussion, māshā’Allāh; there wasn't really any kind of 'debate' as such, as all the speakers pretty much agreed with one another (even though the panel consisted of Muslims and a non-Muslim, men and women – “Yey!” for social harmony).

However, one tidbit that made a lasting impression, was offered by the entertaining, yet informative, Imam Shahnawaz Haque (Psychotherapist, Teacher and Khatib), in response to an audience member asking why all the attention was being placed on the deficiencies of men – what about women's deficiencies?

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I’m Bringing Bio Back

// July 6th, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

I have spent the past few days with my head in various biological research journals, in preparation for a last-minute interview that took place earlier today. I was asked to select a recently published paper to review in the form of a five minute Powerpoint presentation. Five minutes is impossibly short for a blabber-mouth like me, but I think I managed it somehow!

Though I had several 'blonde' moments (for example, when asked to explain what 'p<0.05' meant, I began to mime a bell curve, clearly illustrating my poor grasp on statistics. Agh! That one's going to haunt me forever…), at the end of the torture session, amazingly, I was still offered a position by the interviewers. Alhamdulillah! However, I won't know until next week whether I'll be accepting it or not, as it depends on the funding they have available.

I don't really want to give away what the interview was for, right now – mainly because it may cause many of you to roll your eyes, and think I'm even more crazy. Especially in light of various statements I have made on this blog in the recent past. Dang, I knew this blogging business would come back to bite me one day!

Anyway, it's been a while since I sat down to read a proper research paper, and I have to say, I quite enjoyed the experience. It was a pleasant surprise for me, as in the past I'd find the same activity quite tedious – maybe because I was already tired and stressed from conducting my own research; having to read about someone else's became too much like hard work.

If you're interested, this is the paper I ended up selecting:

Cox, B., et al (2009) Comparitive systems biology of human and mouse as a tool to guide the modeling of human placental pathology, Molecular Systems Biology, 5:279.

In simpler terms: the study aimed to assess the usefulness of the mouse as a model for human disease at the molecular level, by comparing gene expression profiles in the placental tissue of both organisms. They focused on the placenta as healthy samples of this tissue are relatively easy to obtain, and the two species share physiological features. There is also a clinical need to better understand the mechanisms behind the development of placental abnormalities that can lead to conditions such as maternal preeclampsia and/or fetal intrauterine growth restriction, that affect around 5% of all human pregnancies.

A summary of the findings can be found on the group's website. In short, the group identified several thousand orthologous genes that were co-expressed in mouse and human placenta. Using an online mouse mutant database, they further narrowed down this group to a pool of approx. 130 genes that have been shown to display a placental phenotype when mutated in mice; it is hoped that these genes may serve as potential biomarkers for placental insufficiency in humans.

It's an interesting paper to read, especially if you're into Reproductive Biology and/or Bioinformatics. I was intrigued by the number of online resources they used to verify and improve upon their own data. It gave me the impression that one could carry out significant biological research using nothing more than a laptop and a broadband connection! That's my dream career, right there… inshā’Allāh.

The Tree of Bling

// May 23rd, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Photos

I was testing some new AA batteries out on my camera. Their half-life was terrible (a matter of seconds), but I managed to capture this before the camera died.

Mums Say The Funniest Things…

// May 19th, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Blog

Scenario: iMuslim enters the living room, illuminated by the soft glow of the tellybox, and sits next to her mother on the sofa.

iMuslim proceeds to kiss her mum on the cheek, and notices a flowery scent.

Me: “You smell of talcum powder…”

Mum: “Whaaat?!

Me: “I said: 'You smell of talcum powder'…”

Mum: “Ohhh… I heard something else…”

Me: “What?”

Mum: “I thought you said, I smelled of cow ka powder.”

Me: {guffaws}

Mum: “I was thinking: 'Cow ka powder is milk!'”

Mother and daughter erupt into giggles. Dad looks on in confusion.

And thus a new parent-child in-joke is born.

Saturday Shopping on Green Street

// April 5th, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Photos

I decided to be a typical Asian female, and take a walk down Green Street – an East End, ethnic shopping district – on a Saturday afternoon. But unlike most Asian females, I didn't spend any money whilst I was there. Instead, I took pictures, and enjoyed the the beautiful weather, in the company of my current house guest (who happened to be one of the few, non-Asians on Green Street that day).

The Taqwa Store Saris Green on Pink

Attention to Detail Burnt Rainbow Smile Mmm... Cake

Men Really Are From Mars

// April 1st, 2009 // 15 Comments » // Blog

I attended a workshop a couple of days ago, titled “Positive Presence and Image”, that aimed to help Muslim women create a greater personal impact within their professional environments.

The female instructor gave us several pieces of advice, but the one that stuck in my head the most was how to effectively communicate with male colleagues. A very important topic, considering that the workplace is still somewhat of a “man's world”.

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Wanted: A Little Slack

// March 3rd, 2009 // 9 Comments » // Blog

This rantish piece was originally intended as an email response. I then realized that I was 'blogging' at the recipient. Blog rants belong on blog posts. Hence my decision to paste it below for public viewing:

Well, if I was happy to stay in research, I wouldn't have a problem finding a job either, Allahu 'alam.

It's because I cannot tolerate that claustrophobic, isolating environment any longer, that I decided to look elsewhere for employment.

Unfortunately, I am quite clueless as to what I should concentrate on in the long term. I have to factor in the remote possibility of future wifely and motherly duties, which realistically, precludes the pursuit of any career that demands a great deal of my time and energy. This is not helped by the dearth of part-time jobs in my sector (the ones I find are either managerial roles for which I am underqualified, or technician jobs for which I am overqualified).

Add to that the fact that this is the first time I am job seeking as an “obvious” Muslimah (i.e., avec hijab), which does actually put some employers off.

Then there is the debate about whether Muslim women should be in the Western workplace at all. Yes, I do think about such things, and definitely don't miss the regular angst of 'handshaking' incidents, and having to constantly reign in my blabber-mouth personality in front of the opposite gender, all of whom so far have been non-Muslim, and thus don't usually understand the internal conflict that their “friendly” behaviour (and even antagonistic behaviour, at times) can pose for me.

I know I'm not the only one going through this. But my point is that I'd like people to cut me some slack.

Alhamdulillah, I am not in debt. I live at home with parents who can afford to house me. Indeed, if it wasn't for the pressure that they're placing on me, I wouldn't even bother looking for a conventional job. I am happy to tell friends and strangers that I am officially unemployed, but spend my time on other important pursuits – leaving the exact details vague, so as not to show off.

In fact, the only two things that I miss from my eleven years of working are:

  • A regular, stable source of income. I am useless at budgeting. Therefore, when I try to save money, it usually ends up that I don't spend any money, whatsoever. Miserliness sucks, and so I do need something coming in to avoid that extreme. Plus, I hate scrounging off my dad.
  • A regular, stable source of human company. My personal tradition has been to make friends through school, university, or work, usually because that is where I have spent most of my life. Recent exceptions have been some sisters that I met through local classes, such as self-defense and Islamic studies. But they work/study full-time, which means Mon-Friday, I am friendless, bar the odd evening meet-up.

Yes, it's a little embarrassing that a woman with three degrees, and the title “Dr” before her name should be unemployed, and more than that, is now facing a problem that most people sorted out in their late-teens/early 20s: the question of “What should I do with my life?”.

However, the embarrassment factor is relative. People make me feel ashamed, by inferring that I have something to be ashamed off.

Did I purposely pick the wrong career path, so I'd end up in this position? Err, no…

Could I have thought about it more before deciding to pursue a PhD? Err, maybe? Allāh knows best. Hindsight is 20/20, after all.

I am not looking for anyone's sympathy. More like: I want to be left alone. Unless you have a real job to offer me; then hey, I am all ears! Other than that, general concern is welcome, but making me feel small, and a bit useless, is not. Maybe I am being overly sensitive, but there you go.

DR Congo… Rwanda Rerun

// November 13th, 2008 // 3 Comments » // Blog

I've been reading about the Rwandan Genocide for the past hour… I can't describe how I feel right now. My guts… feel liquid.

To think that anyone in power could sit back and allow anything close to that to happen again… words fail me.

Maybe this time, it's not about ethnic genocide.
Maybe it's just about diamonds and coal.

But right now, dark-skinned women are having to make a choice:
Stay in squalid camps and let their babies starve.
Or return to rebel-controlled lands and face gang rape.
Some have already faced both.

Subhanallah… how?

How do they sleep?
How do they sip their morning coffee?
Kiss their wives on the cheek, and pat their children goodbye.
Sit in leather-clad offices.
And do absolutely nothing to stop this madness.

I… just don't know what to say.

Sign the Avaaz Petition: STAND WITH THE PEOPLE OF CONGO

Make dua. Now. Please.

Media Hypocrisy On The Female Image

// October 26th, 2008 // 10 Comments » // Blog

I'm sat here watching the News, trying to motivate myself into getting ready for the second day of the GPU. You'd think being a hijabi means I don't have to concern myself too much with my “image” but you'd be wrong.

I wouldn't say I spend hours agonizing over what to wear, or how to make sure the colour of my headscarf matches my shoes, which should also match my handbag, and shiny hijab pin. I only own a handful of handbags and shoes, which usually makes my choice simple: black, white or pink (c'mon, I'm a girl!).

Then I see a report that reminds me that McCain's VP, Mizz Palin has spent $150K on a recent “makeover”. I remember being mildly shocked at the amount when I first heard it a few days ago, but this time my reaction was more sympathetic:
“Of course she did. Imagine the headlines if she was seen twice in the same outfit!”.

Though I could never agree with anyone burning that much cash on cloth, nor am I any kind of fan of Palin, she really is in between a rock and a hard place being a female public figure.

Male politicians are expected to wear suits, which all kinda look the same; the most daring mark of self expression and individuality being their choice of tie colour. As long as the shoes are smart, it matters little how much they cost, or how many times they've been worn.

But not for women. And here, female commentators are the worst. Positively bitchy! Whether it's the fashion mags or the News at 10. Slim women are “anorexic” and blamed for poor body image amongst teens, but then are ripped to shreds when they put on a few pounds.

Shut up you silly mares! Honestly, get a real job! Stop bringing your own species down with your back biting and hypocrisy. Ergh!

Anyway, now I'm running late so I better head off. I'll continue this rant another day (no doubt!).

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