Every once in awhile, someone writes or tells me that I am seeing things through the gender lens. I have probably used those words at some point too.
I have a feeling that only women are told that they see things through the gender lens. What exactly is the gender lens? To me, the gender lens brings things into focus. Most people who use the phrase, however, seem to believe that this lens causes distortion, and therefore, because my vision is obscured or skewed, I am likely to interpret a remark or incident as sexist.
In fact, I do ‘see’ sexism quite frequently; that is true. When you have been told directly and/or indirectly nearly every day for more than 20 years of a career as a female science professor that you are not as serious, intelligent, mature, interesting, technically skilled, quantitative, creative, or professional as men with equal or lesser talents, you do start to get the impression that sexism is pervasive.
If there is a gender lens, it is like an excellent (although perhaps unstylish) pair of sunglasses that lets one see things clearly even in harsh light. Those without such glasses are squinting into the glare and unable to see some very obvious things. I highly recommend a pair of gender lenses to those who are unable to see sexism even where it is rampant and pervasive. They don't make you see something that isn't there -- they just let you see.
1 month ago