The Fiji Times » A no-win situation – ‘Man smart, woman smarter’

Man Smart, Woman Smarter” — how many of you have heard this calypso song by Harry Belafonte?

I was reminded of it when I was reading an article my wife highlighted and gave to me about successful women.

She complained that there are far too many success stories about men and that if she saw another one about Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk she just may lose it.

Since that ominous warning, if I see anything about them I hide all the knives and her favorite lethal weapon — the rolling pin.

But it seems like a no-win situation for me – now Musk had to buy Twitter.

Thanks Musk. If I was in the US, I would have sued him for causing me emotional distress, but I digress.

Back to the article my wife asked me to read. The making of a movie like “Toy Story” is an enormous task many of us will never comprehend.

But imagine working on this project every day and then, having a random event delete the entire movie.

That’s what happened to “Toy Story 2”. Two employees working on the project noticed files suddenly start to vanish into cyberspace.

They found out later that someone had run a command on a system commonly used to delete unwanted files.

In a panic the team went to their backups. They were dead too. When the team’s technical director, Galyn Susman, learned of the issue, she said “I have a copy”.

While away on maternity leave she’d been given a company laptop to work from home. She had a copy of the entire movie on it.

The movie was saved so generations of children could watch it.

What saved the movie was a smart woman who made a backup of her own in case anything happened.

I really did not think it was that smart, but I have kept that opinion to myself on the interest of domestic bliss.

Now to the second smart woman. All her family were farmers. But Gladys West had no interest in becoming one.

She became a mathematician which allowed her to escape the boring humdrum prison of a farm.

It felt like a good choice because men dominated it. She was offered a job at a navy base as a programmer.

She felt inferior to all the men, but it did not deter her. She worked harder than anybody else. Her first success was an “award-winning study of the regularity of Pluto’s motion relative to Neptune.”

This led her to co-ordinate a project for a satellite used to monitor oceans for the first time. A model of Earth was needed to make it all work. She made it quietly without making too much fuss.

This tiny model became what we now call GPS, which powers Google Maps.

The achievement at the time went unnoticed. After retirement she had a stroke.

Things got better and she finished her PhD. Her classmates were speechless.

They were friends with a woman who did a huge service for humanity. And thanks to her, men do not have to ask for directions any more.

But in a cruel twist of fate, the person giving directions is a woman “Mansplaining” is when a man thinks he is smarter than a woman and keeps correcting her.

I tried this once with my wife – it was one time too many. Anyway, in 2011 a young scientist Jessica McCarty attended a NASA Earth meeting. She started sharing a few ideas about the cause of fires.

She’d made a groundbreaking discovery into why arctic fires are burning earlier and farther north.

These landscapes were supposed to be fire-resistant. She changed a lot of minds with her research.

A male post-doctorate stood up and rudely interrupted her: “You don’t understand, you definitely need to read McCarty.”

She looked him in his eyes with a fierce gaze, pulled her long black hair back to reveal her name badge and said, “I’m McCarty”.

This story on Twitter created a viral trend of other women sharing the “mansplaining” stories.

Dr Nancy Langston recalls giving a similar presentation and being interrupted multiple times by some jerk.

Her talk was on ponderosa pine fire history. The man spoke over her multiple times trying to tell her what “really” happened with the forests.

To end the constant interruptions she asked: “Where did you get your information from?”

It was from Langston’s Forest Dreams- a paper she wrote.

I do think men have to acknowledge (albeit grudgingly) that women are smarter and Harry Belafonte proved it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are the lyrics of “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” of his song:
… I say let us put man and a woman together To fi nd out which one is smarter Some say man, but I say no The women got the men beat, they should know (Chorus) And not me, but the people they say that the men are leading the women astray But I say that the women of today Smarter than the man in every way Ah, ever since the world began Woman was always teaching man And if you listen to my bid attentively I goin’ tell you how she smarter than me (Chorus) Samson was the strongest man long ago No one could a-beat him, as we all know until he clash with Deliah on top of the bed he told her all the strength was in the hair of his head (Chorus) Hey, you meet a girl at a pretty dance Thinkin’ that you would stand a chance Take her home, thinkin’ she’s alone Open de door You find her husband home (Chorus)

Today is May 7. It is my wife’s 75th birthday. So I am dedicating this opinion piece to
her with all my love.

She does not look a day over 60 (which, I believe, is the new 50 whatever that means).

She is beautiful. I am glad our three daughters look like her.

She is definitely smarter than me and makes the right choices.

Look who she is married to.

  • ARVIND MANI is a former teacher who is passionate about quality education. He lived in the US for 35 years and was actively involved in training youths to improve their speaking skills. The views expressed are his and are not shared by this newspaper.

Christin Hakim

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