Beware of the women scientists!

There’re 7 scientists in this photo – 5 with PhD titles (Doctor of Philosophy), 1 PhD candidate and 1 Master of Science candidate.

You better don’t mess with them.

They will secretly take your hair back to the laboratory  and mutate your DNA. Be warned, you might wake up having blue hair and fish scales on your body on the next day .

Their expertise also includes mixing rainbow-colored chemicals and make an explosive bomb. Their lab is full of needles, syringes and formaldehyde which is used to preserve human samples. Notice the water bottle that they bring everywhere? That’s acid.

They also like to discuss about serious issues during lunchtime. Their favorite topics include the latest cancer discoveries by Japanese researchers, global warming, or Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Smart women are mad and scary. Ha-ha-ha. *laugh sarcastically*

When people ask me what I do for a living, I’d say I’m “a staff in a laboratory”. Once I explain that I’m a PhD candidate and a “scientist”, people immediately think that our job is to create atomic bomb or some fish-chicken hybrid alien species.

I need to bust some myths about women scientists.

Myth #1: They know everything about science and medicine.

Even though we are technically “people in science”, we hardly master anything that is beyond our own field of expertise.

Please don’t ask me to explain Einstein’s theory, or ask me what medicine your mum should take as a diabetes patient.

Myth #2: They are bossy and difficult to deal with.

Some people generally perceive smart women as “bossy, difficult to deal with, and hot-tempered”.  I’d suggest that you broaden your social circle and witness for yourself how some smart women can be “interesting, charming and sexy”.

Myth #3: Smart women are intimidating. 

This is probably the most common misconception about women scientists and other women with successful careers. My colleagues, who are single, feel that their job titles as Ph. D. holders and women scientists intimidate most men in Malaysia. I understand that this concept is deeply rooted in the past generations. But man, this is 21st century. Come on, keep up and work on improving yourself!

Guys, if you’re excellent and you continue to grow, there’s no way you’ll be intimidated by women. Case in point, Alexis Ohanian, the husband of world’s legendary tennis player Serena Williams, said it’s absurd that men felt threatened by successful women.

A woman doesn’t transform into a robotic Super Woman after she gets a degree or a good job. She needs love and attention too.

Personally I rely on my family and my partner A LOT. I might already have a Master’s degree, but in reality none of them think that I’m really that brilliant.

I’m good in analyzing things and thinking logically. I don’t get emotional and unreasonable, but I’m terrible in remembering things, looking at maps or keeping my things organized. I need them to support me in many aspects.

In a nutshell….

Women deserve the freedom to choose whatever she wants to do. Accept the fact that she’s smart and she has a voice. Don’t define her by her job title or academic qualifications.

Talk to her. Listen to her opinion. Brain’s the new sexy.

Put in the work

Recently our Prime Minister Tun Mahathir caused an uproar because he feared that the Malays and Bumis couldn’t compete with 3 million Chinese from China that were expected to come to Malaysia.

He said, “If we bring in another three million people from China, what will happen to us? They are strong, able, knowledgeable in business; they come not as labourers but as successful entrepreneurs…. Can we compete with them?”

Naturally the Malaysians aren’t happy with his statement. “Are you saying that we aren’t capable? Are you saying we will lose our competitive edge?!”

Honestly, I agree with him. We can’t compete.

Outside a wholesale mall in Guangzhou. These clothes will be delivered to other cities in China or abroad. People are hustling all day.

My one-month stay in China has completely opened my eyes on what it means to work hard.

When I was young, my grandma who was raised in China always taught us that the only way we can change our lives is through hard work. That strong commitment and dedication to hustle is deeply interwoven in their DNA.

I still see this work attitude in China today. The people I met here are extremely committed to their work.

The bread shop near my apartment is open daily from 7am to 12am with the same staffs. The cosmetic shop on the same row is constantly playing loud music and welcoming customers. The fruit store on the other street is open until midnight too.

Everyone is hustling to survive in a country crowded with 1.4 billion people.

Last train of the day. Need to snap a photo for memory because the train was NEVER empty.
Anyone who has read about Elon Musk would surely be fascinated by the Tesla cars in Guangzhou showroom.
Corridors of a students’ hostel was full of clothes waiting to be dried.

My professor is a Chinese man in his 50s. One day he was explaining a science theory to me in Mandarin. Although I can speak Chinese fluently (in Malaysian’s standard), I still struggled to understand what he meant. He knew I couldn’t grasp what he said.

On the next morning, he explained the whole idea to me again, this time in full English. I’m so impressed. He must have spent the night reading about the topic, in English. He didn’t have to do this, but he did it because he’s dedicated to his work.

“In a mega crowded place like China filled with people smarter than you, the only way you can stand out is to work hard,” his words stuck with me until now.

This is why they have TenCent, WeChat, Alibaba, Baidu, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo… a the cutting edge technologies and convenience that we have yet to see in Malaysia. This is why they develop so quickly in the past ten years.

This experience left a major impact on my life. I always thought that I have tried and given my best. Sometimes I gave up and got intimidated by a task too early.

Now instead of giving up, I always ask myself, “Is this really the best that I can do?” Sometimes this question makes me anxious, but it also pushes me to think and take action beyond my usual comfort zone.

We ordered drinking water from this dealer. He would carry it to our apartment in the 5th floor.

You might ask, but hey, what about work-life balance? Things like art, leisure, love and all the other things are equally important too!

I don’t have an answer for that question yet. I am also finding my own balance. But from what I observe from the people in China and here in my country, I think we Malaysians are pretty good in balancing between work and life. We certainly know how to enjoy life.

What we lack is the drive and ambition to take action and move forward.

The only distance between your dreams and reality is called action.

If anything that you want to achieve takes 10,000 hours, are you willing to put in the work?

If you feel inferior, jealous or even threatened by your competitors ask yourself – have you really put in the work?