Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Real Men & Diversity

Discussion at a faculty meeting:

Department Chair: Some of you may be interested in an upcoming visit to the university by a group from University A to share information about their program to increase the participation of women in science, engineering, and math. [hands around an informational memo, including the list of names of the visitors]

Young Male Colleague: Hey, I know X! [mentions name of one of the visitors]. What is HE doing going around talking about women's issues? He's a real scientist! And a guy!

Me: Men can be involved in helping solve the problem of the underrepresentation of women in science, engineering, and math.

Young Male Colleague: No, I mean, this guy isn't effeminate or anything. He's really a.. a.. a.. a guy!

Senior Female Colleague: Perhaps he is transgendered.

Young Male Colleague, missing the obvious sarcasm, and offended on behalf of the Real Guy: I can assure you that he is nothing of the sort.

Me: He must be a eunuch then.

[Chair steps in and changes the subject]


I wish I were making this up, but alas, I am not.

37 comments:

mapletree7 said...

That made me laugh out loud.

Kate said...

*begins to pull out hair*

Jane said...

Oh. My. God.

Sounds like your colleague needs to be beaten with the Clue Stick.

Jackie M. said...

Are you taking volunteers?

Twirly said...

I definitely think it's Sexist Wednesday....

Anonymous said...

That is the reality, so we have to accept it.

Anonymous said...

That's the reality, so we have to change it.

-prosaica-

socialpolicyuk said...

'Real men' want to see more women in science - so (to annoying male colleague) what does that make you?

Angry Professor said...

FSP, you've been tagged by a fan.

Doug Natelson said...

I'm relieved and saddened that my department is not the only one that includes faculty members incapable of detecting sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

You need something to hand out at these meetings for times like these.

Anonymous said...

Yet another piece of evidence that not only can idiots obtain PhDs, they can also secure a professorship. Excellent.

Anonymous said...

Someone gave me a paper copy of something called "Sexist Bastard Bingo" for playing during faculty meetings. Check off the prejudiced, absurd, or simply clueless comments as you hear them, and the first one to get four in a row wins! Unfortunately, I can't find it on the web. I'll have to make my own and post it.

I am about to enter the faculty world, and stories like this scare the crap out of me.

geonerd said...

Wow. Reminds me of one of my colleagues who, upon hearing that our dept was targeting women and minorities for "opportunity hires", cried out: Isn't that an egregious form of reverse discrimination ?!?

Get a clue, white boy.

Jessica said...

I agree, male colleague is an idiot.

I don't want to derail the comment thread, but seeing as I don't have my own blog in which to vent, I need to complain about something that just happened to me (and my all-male grad student colleagues are not being sympathetic). I've been a grad student in my (need I say, mostly male) engineering department for 4 years! I've never had any problems. I am active in the department, attend lectures and meetings. One professor in my department (with whom I have never directly spoken because he teaches and researches in a different area and works in a completely different building, but still I have seen him around and at lectures), approached me in the office while I was sending a fax, and asked me something about office supplies. I said (looking perplexed), no, I had no idea about the status of office supplies. He looked at me and asked "Oh, don't you work here?" (as in, aren't you one of the office girls?). I said, yes, I am an RA for Dr. X. He said, oh sorry. And in truth he didn't mean any insult. But had I been a male student, the thought of my working as a secretary would never have entered his mind.

Anonymous said...

Just realized what you need to hand out and say:

"Here's your sign."

Ah, the meeting of the academic and the redneck. Never did we think the two spheres could come so close.

Female Science Professor said...

Don't be scared! It was very funny how my senior colleague and I ganged up on our delusional young colleague and the chair had to step in and rescue him. The more women there are, the more reinforcements there are for us all!

Elli said...

the "real man" bit actually bothers me less than the "real scientist" bit. when someone sees a scientist who is devoting some of their precious time to women/minority issues, there's often as assumption of "oh, they're not doing REAL research, their doing this silly equality stuff instead."

it must have really blown his mind that someone can devote time and attention to equality issues and STILL be a "legitimate" scientist.

Global Girl said...

Yeah... that's BS. I really hope things are better in industry ><

Female Science Professor said...

jessica - Yes, that's a common hazard for women -- to be standing in the department office. When I was a new assistant professor at another school, I used to avoid sending faxes during the day because men would rush in and hand me things to fax for them.

Anonymous said...

What I don't get about stories where female scientists are mistaken for secretaries is this: doesn't anyone bother introducing the faculty to new professors and graduate students when they arrive? Or is it just that these clueless guys don't interact enough with other people in the department to remember who others are?

AnotherFemaleProfessor said...

You're going to have to make your own Sexist Comment Bingo, this game is called "Bullshit Bingo." But thank heavens for Web 2.0, there is a Multilingual Creator site for your to help get going. No pull-down item for sexist yet, but we could request an update...

Anonymous said...

Okay, found it! Here are some of the squares in "Sexist Bastard Bingo" (this seems to be the hiring committee edition):

She overlaps with us too much
He will build on our strengths
The good women are all taken
Stanford will get him if we don't
We can't let diversity affect quality
You're a woman and you were hired
I've supported a woman in the past

At the bottom there are "testimonials", including: "The dean was stunned as eight of us screamed 'Sexist Bastard!' for the third time in 2 hours." :)

Lumo said...

I would also be offended whenever a real scientist is working on this feminist sh*t and on all the outrageous lies about discrimination etc. In fact, I *am* offended. It's a scary disease.

All my sympathy goes to the young male colleague of the blogger.

Irie said...

OK, now that was funny!

Ms.PhD said...

I want to play Sexist Bastard Bingo! I will have to have a daily count.

I also want a Clue Stick with which to beat these guys. Does it have to be soft, or can it have nails sticking out of it?

Ooh, I'm feeling violent today. Thanks for your story. Agreed that the concern about being a 'real scientist' bothers me more than the 'real guy' perception.

PonderingFool said...

A real scientist? A guy? Hello clueless jerk. Real scientists like to surround themselves with the best and the brightest to debate with, to collaborate with, to think with, to learn from, etc.. Guess what making a hostile environment for over half the population isn't going to enable you to do that.

Righteous Bubba said...

Anonymous must scan the sexist bingo and e-mail it around. It's worth posting.

antisexistczech said...

LuboŇ°ku,

Ty vole!

Yvette said...

Your post sort of reminds me of my own experiences within my own department- I'm the only female physics major, so a lot of the guys joke that I'm "a boy in disguise" because it makes more sense. Fair enough for banter, but whenever I do something like wear a skirt or use a purple pen, everyone suddenly gets rather confused. Apparently "boys in disguise" are ok in our club, but girls still have cooties so their mannerisms should be ignored.

And I thought the physics department would be a bit more advanced than primary school!

Anonymous said...

to "geonerd" - the chauvinistic comments cited in the original post and in other comments are in a whole different world from what you are complaining about.

Your colleague was merely arguing that making hiring decisions based on gender or ethnicity is a form of discrimination - by definition.

Your counter-argument (summarized eloquently as 'get a clue white boy') is perhaps that this particular form of discrimination makes up for injustices and creates a more diverse, and perhaps less discrimination-prone environment so the ends justify the means.

But what your colleague said is at least technically correct.

Frumious B said...

I really hope things are better in industry

Sorry to shatter your hope, but no, no they are not.

Scott said...

As a male science professor, I'm disgusted by your colleage's behavior, and proud to see people like you representing the noble endeavor in which we work. I'm glad you're among us, and sad that he is as well. I'm confident and hopeful that our students in 20 years will hear these stories and say, "Did that sort of thing really happen?". Thanks for representing the best of what we hope to be as educators and scientists.

HoosierHoops said...

A REEAAAL Man? oh thats funny...
Listen to this..last week i played a young lady who is our highschool 5'2" basketball guard to a couple games of Horse..I thought me being the master of the basketball world I would easily beat her..I never won a game..well it wasn't close really. She not only had skills..but boy could she trash talk...So the leason to all this professor lady, while you are beating your collegues brains in at work..make sure you trash talk and put em in thier place...Geez it's not still 1950's is it?
Well it's my first time here and i'm just going to read a few of your articles...
Kind Regards,

Katie said...

Back in the late 80s, I was an astronomy major and 50% of my graduating class was female...me (yes, it was a very small department). There were actually a good number of women for such a small department. However, the faculty (at the time, as it has significantly changed since) was a little dated. When several of us passed one of the professors in the hallway one day, he greeted the two female students as "Miss ____" and the one male student by his first name (we were all in his class, so one assumes he knew our names). The same professor allegedly (I heard this second hand) told a female student that she couldn't be an astronomer because women couldn't handle the all-night observing sessions (?!?!).

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding like a FOX News viewer, i am moved to ask the question:

What business is it of ours if women are "underrepresented" in the sciences?

Why should we care? Is science crippled by a lack of ovaries? Would women bring better ethics into science? I'm somewhat doubtful (though i wish it were true).

If women have less aptitude for science than men, why should we want to attract them? As you can tell, i'm not sure i buy the claims made by some that somehow women are driven away from science at a young age. That would be suggestive of self-pity from those who can't handle difficulties in the classroom. Males face the exact same things, but rather than dwell on it, they tend to keep it to themselves (IE., boys don't cry).

It seems to me that the only reason for coddling "minorities" to draw them into our sphere is that we think there must be some benefit in doing so. Is there demonstrable evidence that women are better at science and will improve science? Clearly, no. So is the suspicion that there will be a social benefit in trying to get females involved in the science worldview? If so, what is it? Doesn't this presuppose that females aren't science-minded to begin with?

I'm not trying to be provocative. I had a similar discussion today with a woman who was lamenting about the "whiteness" of a "movement" we're involved in. I suddenly wondered why we should bother to target any particular group for outreach. If they're not ready for certain ideas, why bother?

If we are to target groups, we need to be honest with ourselves about why we think we need to do it.

Anonymous said...

Males do NOT face the exact same things.

Males do not have their job applications discarded just because they are male.

Males do not walk into a job interview and get treated like dirt because they're only being interviewed to meet equal opportunity requirements (even though they're more qualified than the other applicants in the pool).

Males do not get ignored in the classroom while the instructor asks and answers questions only of the other gender.

Science is best when it incorporates as many different points of view as possible. By systematically excluding people from certain groups, the quality and diversity of science that can be done is diminished.