Women of Color and the Scientific Community

1047 Words 5 Pages
Race and gender play a role in how people are treated in almost every aspect of society. Banu Subramaniam’s Snow Brown and the Seven Detergents is a story that is meant to shed light on the issue of how women and more specifically women of colour are treated within the scientific community. It is intended to help create understanding of the challenges facing women of colour who attempt to enter the sciences. The author describes a world which is intended to be an allegory and parallels the actual reality of scientific exploration. Subramaniam uses the template of the fairy tale Snow White to show the hierarchy that exists within science. This story works better as a vessel to help foster understanding in individuals who are already …show more content…
It is instantly clear that she is foreign even without the subsequent description of her origins. By giving her this name the author hopes that the reader will associate her mistreatment with the white patriarchy and realize the fallacy of dismissing someone and her or his ideas based on physical characteristics. Subramaniam also throws the title patriarch around liberally. For example, there is a “Supreme White Patriarch” and students are referred to as “Budding Patriarchs” (Subramaniam, 40). All of these patriarchs are there to symbolize the generations of men who formed the modern conception of scientific study. It is meant to show the struggle that anyone who doesn’t fit the mould might have when trying to fit in. However people reading this story with no other background in gender studies may focus not on the allegorical style of the story but instead narrow in on the absolutely unredeeming features of every single man in the story and in its place see a story demonizes men without exception.
As Sneha transitions into Snow Brown at the urging of the mirror, she makes several changes. She divests herself of her foreign sounding name and her accent. She completely relinquishes her culture and identity finally becoming white in an attempt to fit in. All of this is done with the help of the “Wise Matriarch.” The “Wise Matriarch” was once in Snow Brown’s position but failed to live up to the standards expected of her and was relegated