Monday, May 26, 2008

Sexism-Driven Science

There are surely untold numbers of excellent scientists who are sexist, but I know of at least one example in which sexism is resulting in Bad Science. I should say at the outset that I am not enraged, outraged, or even upset about this. I am rather entertained because the sexism-driven science is becoming absurdly bad, to the detriment of the scientific reputation of the Sexist Scientists, and I think that is a fair outcome of their behavior and actions.

The (vague) details:

A particular international group of scientists do not like a certain part of my research. I have maintained outwardly cordial relationships with them, but there have been some rough patches over the years. For example, one of them is the notorious pay-per-reviewer I wrote about last year at about this time. They have engaged in some sneaky behavior to find out what my recent research activities are -- they could just ask me and I would tell them, but I suppose that wouldn't be as much fun. They have written some 'attack' papers, mostly in low-impact journals. And I have heard some rather unambiguous rumors from more than one colleague to the effect of "International Professors X, Y, and/or Z hate you", even though I have not even met some of them in person.

Well, if they don't want to be my friends, then I don't want to be their friend either. Oh wait! We aren't in first grade anymore! I forgot for a moment.

I am reasonably sure that they hate me and my work because I am female. Circumstantial evidence: They do not similarly hate my male colleagues/coauthors who work closely with me on this research and similar topics, nor do they hate other male scientists with whom they disagree on various scientific topics. They focus their hate and anger on me specifically.

I have not done anything personally to attract such negative feelings. I have, however, published research that perhaps they wish they had thought of first. Or maybe my publications offend them for some other reasons. I really don't know. I just know they hate me and my work, and the best explanation is that it offends them that I am female and have published a lot on a certain topic.

Oh well, so I can't be universally loved and respected by all. Lucky for me these guys are not very influential or even particularly good scientists, although they are not non-entities either. And they are very busy in their dislike of me.

I was thinking about this situation recently because a colleague emailed me after attending a small international meeting at which my name "came up quite a bit" in discussions. My colleague did not provide many other details, except to say that he got upset by some of these discussions and attempted to leave the room. He had to be convinced to stay. It would have been nice if he had challenged the rude people to a duel, but perhaps the fact that he expressed his severe discontent with the tone and content of the discussion somehow registered with these guys.

I can afford to be bemused rather than upset about the situation because it has very little effect on me. I am enjoying this part of my research immensely (for scientific reasons) and have continued to receive funding and publish my work. I suppose that sounds smug, but a more accurate word would be "contented". I love my work and am happy with how it has been going so far.

I can also afford to be bemused because the work they have done in response to my research has become increasingly bizarre and desperate over the years. It's as if they are willing to propose anything as long as it is different from my ideas and observations, even if what they propose is not based on data and/or violates the laws of physics, thermodynamics, and reason.

For example, if I say that there are purple kangaroos hopping around on Jupiter, they will say that there are green kangaroos hopping around on Jupiter; or that there are purple kangaroos, but not on Jupiter, they are on an extra-solar planet that has yet to be discovered; or that there are purple creatures on Jupiter, but they are definitely not kangaroos, they are bandicoots. If I provide absolutely solid and reproducible documentation of the purple Jovian kangaroos, they say that in fact they knew there were purple kangaroos and knew it before I did even though they didn't get around to publishing this fact, but I am still wrong about the mechanism by which the kangaroos hop, the average height of the hops, and the shade of purple of at least a few of the kangaroos. And furthermore, even though I didn't say anything about the effect of kangaroo hopping on Jupiter's orbit, if I had said something about this topic, I would have been wrong.

I therefore conclude that sexism is driving them mad and that this is dramatically decreasing the quality of their research and that, in this case, sexism is the cause of bad science. If only it were so in more cases.

Note: Comment moderation will be sporadic this week, but I will get to all comments as time permits.


Anonymous said...

I am reasonably sure that they hate me and my work because I am female. Circumstantial evidence: They do not similarly hate my male colleagues/coauthors who work closely with me on this research and similar topics, nor do they hate other male scientists with whom they disagree on various scientific topics. They focus their hate and anger on me specifically.

Yeah, it could be that. Or, you may just want to see "sexism" where there is nothing more than personal antagonism among competitors, something that exists in our profession even among scientists of the same sex (ask any of your male colleagues).

The situation which you describe, for example, applies almost identically to me. In fact, some of the details that you mention are eerily similar ("Professor X hates you" is something I have heard too). Even in my case, the person seems to have a beef specifically with me, not with colleagues or collaborators of mine with whom he has the same disagreement.

Now, you say "Since I am a woman, it has to be sexism -- what else can it be ?". In my case, since all persons involved are men, it can't be it. I shall thus assume that it must be because I am so much better looking than him (I can't really blame him or anyone else for hating me for that...).

Psych Post Doc said...

This made me smile. Doing good Science and watching them falter because you're a woman. Ah, the sweetest revenge.

I feel bad for your colleague, most academics are not the best at confrontation and the poor guy seemed to be truly disturbed by what was being said about you.

PhysioProf said...

Sexism or not, it is definitely ubiquitous that certain members of any given community arouse surprising levels of rage in others. Those who arouse such rage, not surprisingly, tend to be visible, outspoken, and highly successful.

And those who are aroused tend to be less successful, and harbor a certain bitterness at the ease with which the target of their rage seems to achieve success. (I recall that you have posted about people complaining that you achieve your success with what appears to be undue ease.)

Finally, the rage aroused can be so overwhelming, that the enraged lose all ability to think clearly, reason logically, or--in some circumstances--even spell correctly. Of course, such reactions only serve to display for all the world to see the wackaloon tendencies of the enraged, and can be totally fucking hilarious.

PhysioProf has enraged certain bloggers in exactly this way, and elicited exactly this kind of response. It is best to consider it one of the appurtenances of prominence and success within a community.

Helen said...

Okham, you lost all hope of sounding like you're arguing from reason and evidence when you threw in the 'you may just want to see "sexism"' red herring. (I'm trying not to laugh over the scare quotes on sexism. Is it that frightening a word?)

If you want to sound in favor of arguing from the evidence, it'd work better to start with, "Given the well-documented omnipresence of sexism in the STEM fields, it certainly is worth considering that sexism is acting in this situation, but it could also be something else."

Anonymous said...

I am sorry my introductory remarks were not up to your standards. I am sure that you are right, I must be frightened (I thought I was just "annoyed", but, whatever...).
My point is simple: there is sexism, no question about it, but there is also such a thing as the abuse of certain terms, which typically does not help one's cause in the long run. If one is going to call "sexist" (pardon my quotes) any behavior that is mean, reprehensible, dishonest or otherwise unfair, whenever the victim happens to be a woman (and ostensibly only because of that reason), then the particular meaning and connotation associated with the word may eventually be lost in the noise.

Aerik said...

@okham: She already took that into account when she talked about how similar resentfulness is not directed at male colleagues for similar advantages over the haters.

You're projecting a lot of strawman into your idea of what women think about when they try to evaluate negativity towards themselves. You're a part of the problem.

ScientistMother said...

I am not sure if its sexism or not but this post made me think of a story a friend told me. When my friend was completing her undergrad in physics, she was partners with another female friend. They both enjoyed each others company AND the physics labs they were doing. Hence they were getting good results (in the top 3 of the class), learning and having fun at the same time. Her and her friend ended up being separated and accused of cheating. She was recounting this tale many many years later and feels that they were separated because nobody could really belief 2 women could be doing so well AND enjoying the physics lab. This women being older than me, would've been taking this class ~ 15 years ago.

Buffalo Sally said...

"He (or she) who throws mud, only loses ground." Fat Albert

Anonymous said...

believe it or not I read what FSP wrote.
I question her inference that "since she's a woman, and she's the only apparent target of this person's resentment, then she must be the target because she's a woman". I think it's a logical fallacy ("cum hoc, ergo propter hoc"... I am not using dirty words, I swear...).

You're projecting a lot of strawman into your idea of what women think about when they try to evaluate negativity towards themselves. You're a part of the problem.

Hey, look, I must be, because I honestly have no idea of what you wrote means.

Anonymous said...

I am with okham on this. FSP, I know, this is your blog and you can say whatever you want, but you have to consider all the possibilities. You might have had a rough life dealing with hard-heads that cannot understand women can, and are, as successful as men, maybe even more.

Situations like the one you describe on this post happen all the time to people of both sexes. In your case, it might be sexism, but what bothers me is that you made it sound like it will always be the only reason no matter who this happens to.

Anonymous said...

More power to you FSP! I have the same nonsense happening in my field. I have 15+ publications to my name ("Science" on down the line) and the good ol' boys club not only spreads their word that "she doesn't know what she is doing" and "we don't work with HER" but the stupid asses also refuse to cite me or use my publicly available data for their lowwww impact "attacks" and non-studies. I am always amused when I get asked to review their crap because I KNOW they aren't getting asked to review my papers and I certainly don't accept papers (as an editor or reviewer) on "my field of study" without references to my work. Other reviewers have taken to bringing up that my work isn't cited or used to the point where I am sure the boys club suspects THOSE reviews are from ME!! You keep plugging away FSP!!!! I love what I do, I know what I am doing, I have funding, and every now and then, some distinguished person (dude or dudette) reminds me that I have great ideas, that they know who I am and they read my stuff, and they offer their wisdom to me. I don't waste my energy anymore looking to see how far back the schmucks are... I just do my thing. They can keep working on their purple bandaloos on Mars.

Helen said...

Oh look, Okham has taken up concern trolling.

That pretty much ends any reasonable assumption that Okham is arguing from evidence instead of agenda.

sarah gann said...

The kangaroo example was so very, very fine on a number of levels. I can think of many situations in my own professional life (which is miniscule compared to yours) where I have been similarly undermined but never until today had any kind of framework by which to explain that frustation, to myself or anyone else. Excellent.

Anonymous said...

Like others, I don't see the sexism. Maybe you didn't give us some other evidence, like, do they target other female researchers in the field? It does seem like a childish personal vendetta, though, and it is amazing that people -- people, a group! -- are willing to put their reputations and integrity at risk for the sake of messing up with someone they dislike.

On the other hand, maybe that is not so amazing. It just goes against the stereotype of scientists as dispassionate truth-seekers.

Anonymous said...

I strongly "dislike" this scientist who happens to be a woman. She is manipulative and sneaky. Case in point - I just got an email from colleague about how she started a collaboration with him, then essentially stole his samples, published a paper where he was not acknowledged in any way. This guy seems to dislike her too - I never told him how I feel about her.

There is at least one man in the field who I do not dislike (there are numerous others who I like or dislike, but this is beyond the point).

Based on your logic, I am sexist - there's a man who I do not dislike, and there's this woman who I dislike. Obviously it must be because of sexism.

Okham is right - random accusation of this type (I am a woman, so it must be sexism) not only add to the noise, but eventually prevent people from making real progress. It also helps people dismiss any serious complaints because of hysteria surrounding cases like yours.

Of course if you and your support group want to claim that myself and okham and others are also sexist in our attempts to protect sexist behavior, go right ahead. One step forward, two steps back, here we go.

Becca said...

@Okham- I was amused by your comment on assuming you were being targeted due to jealosy over good looks. If you are looking to be persuasive, that tone works quite well.

The "yeah, right..." tone, not so much. If you are truly concerned about accusations of sexism being taken seriously, you can point that out without sounding so aggressive.

If you are simply annoyed by what you see as sloppy thinking, then I humbly suggest you tone your aggression way down- being persuasive about logical fallacies depends on sounding cool and rational.

Ms.PhD said...

Well FSP, I see some of the same buggers have found you as have been harassing me.

I know exactly what you're talking about. You're in a field that is vastly majority male, so it stands to reason that if they're particularly inflamed by your work, there is likely a component of the inflammation that is, shall we say, intensified by the fact that you're female.

I think that while Okham and physioprof and some of these other guys (like the friend I posted about today) do experience some, shall we say, blowback, from being successful, outspoken, good-looking, etc. they don't really know the vitriol we experience as women.

They admit that it probably exists, but then people like Okham (and others like him) try to tell us we can't ever call anything sexism, even when that's what it is.

So saying that it "probably exists" but then denying any instances... effectively they are saying it is all hysteria. Not a very original tactic.

Yup, the yellow wallpaper. It's real. Unfortunately they have to take our word(s) for it, since we can't anonymously disclose all the gory, offensive details. I guess that will never be good enough to drive the point home with some of these guys.

Anyway despite the comment section, which inflamed my ulcer and was no fun to read whatsoever, I liked this post. I'm really glad you're in a place in your career where this doesn't affect you, and your response can be one of simple bemusement.

I am having a harder time with it. My instinct, when it is really bad, is to duck and cover, or quit. Some days are better than others. Mostly I hope I can get to where you are, so I can afford to stand up for myself without worrying constantly about the risk of inflaming the situation further.

I would encourage you to consider deleting some of these comments when they get to be ulcerific. But Helen and Becca gave good writing advice to Okham. He should take it.

Jennifer said...

Perhaps there are details that you are not providing (and can not provide) that would back the example you gave?

I have no doubt there is sexism in STEM fields. I have been told many times "You got this job because you're a women... you're research is cute... etc." I've also received "wow, this is fascinating work... exactly what we need..." My CV and the quality of my work can speak for itself.

Science should be about the science. Unfortunately, traditional gender roles do seem to get in the way for thick headed morons. Luckily, they are getting fewer.

Anonymous said...

I'm not real keen on Helen's tone with okham, either. I'm certainly an outright feminist, and fairly convinced by FSP's example, but I recognize the right of others to disagree with her analysis.

Might I offer a possibility for reconciliation by suggesting that the "personal antagonism" that FSP has picked up on, is in part fueled by a covert level of sexism in these particular men who don't like her (as opposed to her work)? And that there are many other possible reasons for such personal antagonism, which means that men are certainly going to run into such unfair behavior as well?

PhysioProf said...

Oh look, Okham has taken up concern trolling.

I don't know if you are being sarcastic, but this kind of concern trolling is nothing new for him. He does it on others' blogs as well as his own.

Anonymous said...

I would encourage you to consider deleting some of these comments when they get to be ulcerific.

Ms PhD -- For my part, I hope you keep writing whatever you please, wherever you want. No matter how questionable and out of line I find much of what you write, I pledge to you that I shall never ask or suggest to anyone that your comments should be deleted.

Anonymous said...

"it is definitely ubiquitous that certain members of any given community arouse surprising levels of rage in others."

Sometimes this is because of their success, but sometimes it's because they do shoddy, sloppy work that litters the field, and hurts the field. (Not FSP, of course, and her descriptions of what follows when people follow-up on the work shows that). It's part of what happens in a new field as it matures -- the early entrants do do "sloppy" work because it's exploratory, and the techniques are new. But, at some point, as the field matures, the work needs to be cleaned up. Some of the early folks never clean up their act, but still have enough clout to keep going.

The answer, is, as a junior scientist (one who I expect to be both successful & solid) said to me "to drive out the bad work with good work. "

Your opponents seem to be trying to drive out the good work with bad work, and fortunately, although it's plenty difficult to drive out the bad work, it's much harder to drive out the good work.

Anonymous said...


Although I think that it's difficult to tell whether sexism motivates the antagonism here, I would suggest that's another burden female scientists carry (especially those who have experience explicit sexism) -- to worry about whether the antagonism is motivated by their gender.

Helen said...

This comment thread has been good for a chuckle. I'm not sure what Okham et al are getting so emotional about.

The funniest part is the whole theme of demanding that a fairly calm and dispassionate blogger should seek the opinion of random internet strangers in order to post an opinion. It's kind of like a toddler screaming at the sky for raining. Cute in a 2-year-old, bemusing in anyone else.

"I don't see the sexism" -- well, so what? This is a pseudonyminous blog, and it's very clear from that context that the circumstantial evidence posted is whatever small subset fits with that. No, all the evidence will not be given you, and you're being just plain silly, not to mention unethical, if you think it should be.

FSP stated her opinion. If you think an alternative explanation could work, tossing it into the mix is great. Trying to demand that FSP get your permission to state her opinion is absurd. Those of us who've read her blog while having lived the unspoken subtext ourselves know she's almost bizarrely mild-mannered about the things she describes. Those who do the "you just want to see sexims" toddler anti-rain dance aren't operating from a rational framework anyway.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the old 'is it really sexism' debate. Unfortunately the probability is high that it is at least partially related to her being female. That's because, as someone else mentioned, succesful high profile researchers are often the target of jealousy and politics, but when that person dares to be a WOMAN (!!) then she really needs to be put in her place. I've seen this dynamic when beating men at billiards. If you want to know who is a 'real' man or not, just see how they handle getting beat by a woman at a game.

In any case, Machiavelli pointed out that if you can't be loved, be feared. So continue putting the fear of God, and of you, into these people.

Anonymous said...

This comment thread has been good for a chuckle. I'm not sure what Okham et al are getting so emotional about.

Helen, I am reading the comments. I have been called "a troll" (apparently I even "troll" on my own blog...) , "part of the problem", someone has implied that I give her ulcers and suggested that my comments should be deleted.
And all of this in response to what ?
I just expressed an opinion... I thought this is what comments are for, and in fact I can see that some people agree with me. I honestly don't think I have been disrespectful to anyone, and I certainly never suggested that anyone should get my permission from me for anything.
What did I say that is so offensive ?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you are being sarcastic, but this kind of concern trolling is nothing new for him. He does it on others' blogs as well as his own.

Oh for chrissake, PhysioProf, get over it. So what if I am better looking than you, there is more to life than just looks...

Anonymous said...

I'm with okham here. The evidence that FSP presented is not enough to jump to the conclusion that these other scientists are sexist. Also, saying that other scientists disagree with someone's work because they are sexist is a pretty serious accusation and those sorts of accusations should not be thrown around lightly. Especially, I think, by scientists that should hold themselves to higher standards of proof and judgement. I just have to say that unless there's some hidden evidence that she is keeping from us and going after people that disagree with the conclusions that are made doesn't make them sexist themselves. There could be other reasons these people were motivated to come after her, and a good scientist would not dismiss them. I'm not trying to offend anyone but a good scientist would not reach the conclusions that she did with just the evidence that she presented.

vodalus said...

It just goes against the stereotype of scientists as dispassionate truth-seekers.

In my admittedly limited experience, most of what goes on in academia goes against that stereotype.

I agree that FSP is (a) not obligated to spill concrete details regarding why she feels sexism is at work here and (b) allowed to say whatever she wants on her pseudonymous blog. But I also agree that so far these comments have given Okham a lot of fodder in terms of name-calling, which makes us look bad.

Helen said...

Okham, you've been arguing all along that FSP's statement of opinion as to the motivation of the behavior she reported is not valid unless it fits your personal criteria for validity. That is saying she needs your opinion. She doesn't.

Since you still seem to be in toddler-mode (Mommy! Someone called me a troll! Oh wait, no one called me a troll, but I want to yell!), I don't expect you to get that, however.

Helen said...

"I'm not trying to offend anyone but a good scientist would not reach the conclusions that she did with just the evidence that she presented."

Um, can't you read? This is a blog. The entry was an anecdote, not a submission of a proof or a conclusive set of evidence. The nature of the blog requires that the bulk of the evidence will not be presented here. None of what you're saying makes the least sense in this circumstance.

science cog said...

Coming in at the end again, FSP, and this time I totally agree with you. The chronicle has an article about the "predatory and demeaning" environment in STEM subjects. It requires women to have a thick skin and tends to drive young women away unless they are super-super-stars. I do frequently get the respect I deserve for my research record, but its hard being the only female speaker at specialty conferences (besides female graduate students, who all seem to drop off in a few years) and see my ideas stolen with no credit given for being the first to publish on the topic.

PhysioProf said...

PhysioProf is objectively much handsomer than Okham.

Anonymous said...

PhysioProf is objectively much handsomer than Okham

Bull-shitsky ! I say we settle this right here, right now... shall we ask... er.... uh...
OK, maybe that is not such a great idea. Let's move it to another blog, what do you say ? How 'bout ?

arl said...

"Um, can't you read? This is a blog. The entry was an anecdote, not a submission of a proof or a conclusive set of evidence."

Helen, in this case, because the accusation is a pretty serious one, I agree with Okham and I think that a) more evidence is needed to assertively state sexism, or b) one should leave room for other possibilities. In my opinion FSP didn't do either one of them. Comments like this, whether true or not, with little support information give rise to bigger problems than they solve, precisely because people than cannot fall into the same category as the commenter (in this case being male is one possibility) can come up with 1000 different, less serious, reasons why the same thing happens to them.

Seriously, does it always have to be sexism when situations like this happen? Is there no room for any reasonable doubt?

FSP, you shouldn't care about what other people think or say about your work. If you are confident your work is good then they kiss your.... At the end all that matters is that you do what you like to do and you do it the best you can, the rest it's just noise.

Helen said...

Helen, in this case, because the accusation is a pretty serious one,

Oh, that old meme. That one's so old and tired it's got mushrooms growing out of it.

Reality: Sexism is everywhere, in every single person in our society, because it is that deeply woven into the fabric of our society.

Tired Old Meme: Sexism is a scare word (note okham's love of the scare quotes) that tries to tar Utterly Innocent and Pure Men with the sins of a pathological very few. Sexism only comes from a very few freaks, so how dare anyone even suggest that someone might be a pathological freak, when he might just be an Utterly Innocent and Pure Man?

Pretended purpose of Tired Old Meme: Protecting the innocent from calumny.

Actual purpose of Tired Old Meme: Silence is key to the current methods of propagation of sexism,
because when women start talking to each other, they realize that none of them have been dealing with a few isolated freaks, but a society-wide endemic problem. We can't have that, so any discussion of what women go through must be silenced. Even something so innocuous as an anecdote online stripped of all identifying information cannot be allowed.


More Tired Old Meme justifications. This guy has a lot of them. They all boil down to the same thing -- can't have women talking about what actually happens to them, even when they're as extremely mild-mannered about it as FSP.

Seriously, does it always have to be sexism when situations like this happen?

This Tired Old Meme justification is particularly funny, since anyone who's read FSP in depth knows the "always have to be sexism" notion is insanely far from reality, and our Tired Old Meme defender is really reaching here. Hint for those who want the short course: Did you read the post she links to?

Is there no room for any reasonable doubt?

We can't have those women stating opinions about what happens to them! They're SUPPOSED to always state the caveat that they might be wrong. Simply stating opinions without subservient caveats is FOR MEN ONLY don't you know.

FSP, you shouldn't care about what other people think or say about your work. If you are confident your work is good then they kiss your.... At the end all that matters is that you do what you like to do and you do it the best you can, the rest it's just noise.

Because endemic sexism isn't anything with real consequences, little lady, no matter how many studies prove otherwise, so go run along.

Anonymous said...

Eh... I'm pretty sure I'm sexist and probably racist too. Everyone is, they've got some prejudices hidden away. I don't really care when it's minor though. And it's not something that bothers me. I try to treat others exactly the same, as human beings and try to stamp out prejudice in me when I notice it if it effects others adversely.

I'm still really disappointed when somebody from my race commits a crime or is a failure. I'm pretty sure it's racist to feel that way somehow, but I don't really care. I also prefer the company of men when in a bar and I'm not going to change it. In the lab though, I'm mindful not to prefer anyone.

This post was kind of helpful. If I ever act this way to a female colleague, I'll stop and think why I'm doing it. Not that I would act like such a douchebag that was described in this post. I don't think...

Anonymous said...

based on your post I think:


1. Just having your time to spend time on this minor issues indicate to me that you may be extremely good and have lot of free time. But let me think, if you are that good then you would be spending more time to get new discoveries. Why are you wasting you time.

2. You are over reacting. Even in all male situation, it always happen that some one or some group does not like your idea.

3. Even you are a science professor, you are still not confident enough. If you were confident, you would not waste your time thinking what other people think about your research. Just keep on publishing and let the world decide. sooner or later, you will prove yourself. Impact factor is important, but getting your ideas out is also important, since history will be the judge.

4. if you believe someone is stealing your ideas, you can take action. This is nothing new. I know one faculty suing a senior professor and winning the case.

5. I have seen excellent female faculties and I feel Marie Curie... is a god-like to me. So, being a male scientist I have nothing against female. Even my wife has a PhD. So get a life and do you research.

Anonymous said...

Stop complaining. If you don't like it then get out. No one forces you into science.

I do theoretical physics - some of it gets published in peer journals, some of it does not. That's the way it goes. Oh, and I do not get paid for it.

Anonymous said...

"Stop complaining"? Come on, Anon, tell us how you really feel. Don't you mean "Shut up or get back in the kitchen"?

Complaining raises awareness, which raises concern, which maybe pressures people to stop acting like this. Complaining, at least when it comes to things like sexism, racism, etc., is a GOOD thing.

Angela said...

I'm not a scientist nor a PhD. I am a woman though and a bit of a History buff.

The world is going through some hefty socio-political changes. You can see them around you and read of them on your own ( iow, I don't need to detail it for anyone here ).

I do believe when shifts in more's, manners, perspective, ideologies, etc etc change in a kind of extreme from previous attitudes, there's a period of resistance. We may even see *increasing* hostility to women from men before any changes in thinking kind of stick and become the general mode of behavior.

Women have come a long way and - this might be more important to women - so have men. Yes, the Old Guard still exists. Yes, religion still has its way on the male and female mind. When both genders are going through big shifts in attitude, I think there's a brief, ( brief possibly being ten years or more for instance - I'm being very general here ), movement of resistance to the change. I believe that's why we see, in certain groups of young males, a popularizing of sexist behavior. Which makes terrific copy btw. The males who are *not* sexist are not as interesting, so to speak, to viewers/readers.

But...I think entrenched attitudes *will* evolve, and do. Which is why it's so important for women to not allow sexist attitudes/behaviors to redirect our focus from our own objectives and waste time fighting/arguing with those who exhibit them. If, as individuals, we reward the behaviors we find acceptable and ignore those we do not, ( though I'm in no way suggesting that 'ignore' means passively condone nor ignore to the point that we don't vote on laws etc to protect womens rights ). So, I think it's terrific that you find the archaic attitudes of your associates funny and mildly amusing versus allowing them to distract your energies into telling them how wrong they are. They already know it.

Wether you wish it to be so or not, in many ways you are carrying on and carrying forward, and contributing to the eventual death of sexist nonsense - illogical behaviors - for future generations of women. I'm sorry if that sounds superficial in any way or too cheery. Obviously, your first concern should be for yourself and your work. But it's really important that young women, heck, all women, know that science disciplines are for everyone. Everyone. All humans beings. Not just the male human beings.

It might take a while before we see films and stories and shows and such where the heroic female scientist is the norm, instead of the once in a decade anecdotal story, but it will happen. It will change. And the men in science now can either say they were part of the positive change, or part of the resistance to change. That's on them to decide and live with.

AnOn said...

Read any given animal behaviour journal and you will see just how sexist science really is. Females of any given animal are mere objects, while male behaviour is the only behaviour. The females are just seen as a tool to influence males.
Every journal starts with the male first, and science has grossly confused environmental influences (aka women told they're not good enough and harvesting only male talents) with genetics, as a pathetic excuse to justify women not being in science and maths much.
I believe that this case probably was sexism, because nearly all males get an ego bruising if any female whatsoever ever dares to out compete them or do a better job than them. Unless its cleaning or washing- then men act as though we're experts and the compliments come flooding in... Males expect to be better than female at absolutely everything just because they have a bigger body- there lies the problem.