Before going to grad school, I taught middle school math for a year. Whenever I met someone new and they asked me what I did, I almost universally got the response "I hated middle school and I hate math." Encouraging, I know. I developed a standard response explaining how teaching middle school is not the same as actually being a middle school student again, and how middle schoolers are often nicer to their teachers (remember, we're not their parents) than they are to each other. I never did figure out how to address the second half of the response.
As a computer science Ph.D. student I get a very different response - "You must be really smart." It's been 5 years, but I still haven't figured out how to respond.
It never occurred to me, until pointed out last week, that male computer science Ph.D. students don't get this response. (You don't, right? I still find this shockingly hard to believe.) What's actually being said to me is, more honestly:
You do computer science? But that's a field that men do, and you're not a man so that doesn't make any sense! Men are just naturally better at computer science than women. And you're getting a Ph.D.? But that's something men do, and you're not a man! I guess the only explanation is that you must be really smart.