THE BEST WOMAN FOR THE JOB
I realise I am treading on dangerous territory here. But, after all, taking risks is what Popular Mechanics people do.
The subject of women in technology shouldn’t be an issue in 2016. That it still is says something about perceptions of our roles in society. You know, the idea that some of us get our hands dirty and some of us are seen as decoration. Kind of like forwards and backs in a rugby team.
Although “Technology’s Secret Weapon is Women” (page 43) focuses on Silicon Valley, its insights are pretty universal. It’s a fact that women have been subtly – sometimes overtly – encouraged to seek other, ostensibly more appropriate roles than those traditionally designated for men. To overcome the glass ceiling, we note, you have to break things, think different, change the outlook.
Disrupt. (Disclaimer: I’m not talking about our overall roles in society, which is a debate for another day. And for a braver man than I.)
Speaking of risk-taking, the subject of our cover story is the quintessential Big Dream: the flying car. We’ve been writing about this most enduring topic for, well, more or less as long as Popular Mechanics has been around – since 1906. Ready for take-off? Go to page 32.
More down to Earth, the annual Science Lens competition encourages scientists to share their world with us through the medium of photography. Whether it’s an iridescent vista, captured at microscopic level, or glowing pinpricks and swirls in a night sky celebrating the International Year of Light, these striking pictures give us a glimpse into an eerily beautiful, yet often unfamiliar, world. We took this opportunity to speak to the photographers themselves, to get a feel for what inspired them.
The image I was particularly drawn to was of the view through glass of the three scientists making notes on the glass itself, in the category Science in Action. Like outsiders, voyeurs even, we study an alien civilisation at work, yet at the same time it feels like we are participants in their world.
By the way, the four category winners are all women.
To underline the fact that science research in South Africa is alive and well, we feature some of this country’s groundbreaking work in the area of lasers. It’s worth reminding ourselves that this country is a pioneer in laser research and applications.
So much for what our scientific thinkers of today are working on. Importantly, this month also sees our initial focus on the world of younger Popular Mechanics readers and those who shape their thinking. We’re not quite sure where this is headed yet, but we know this: our future is based to a large extent on how we cultivate our country’s inventive and innovative young minds.
Finally, as I write this, I’m taking a break from work to undertake a particularly pleasing kind of adventure: the kind involving family, friends, a boat and a marathon through one of the world’s great cities. Okay, perhaps not the marathon so much.