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Oct 25 2011

Grace under pressure

The BBC is running an interview with Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, and it’s very good. Bell-Burnell is the woman who discovered pulsars, and until I heard this interview, I hadn’t realized how it was done.

Yeah, there weren’t computers available so the reams of data came out on strip chart – paper chart – and the configuration produced a hundred foot a day and I ran it for six months, which gave me about three miles of paper, which I had to analyse by hand. I would go through the charts and I would log where I saw what I thought were quasars and I also saw that there were chunks of manmade interference – artificial interference. But just occasionally, one time out of five or one time out of 10, when we looked at a particular bit of sky there was this additional signal that didn’t look exactly like a quasar, didn’t look exactly like low level interference, occupied about a quarter inch of the chart.

So…spotting periodic quarter inch blips scattered on 3 miles of paper. I don’t want to hear any of you students complaining about your daily grind any more!

Unfortunately, she was robbed: she discovered pulsars, it was her persistence that got her advisor to take the observations seriously, after initially dismissing the whole idea — and guess who won the Nobel in 1974 for the discovery? Her advisor, and not Jocelyn Bell-Burnell. She does not complain, however; those were the facts of life.

I think at that time science was perceived as being done by men, senior men, maybe with a whole fleet of minions under him who did his bidding and weren’t expected to think. I believe the Nobel Prize committee didn’t even know I existed.

And then the newspapers covered pulsars, and called her the “girl”…

Oh yes and worse than that what were my vital statistics and how tall was I and you know – chest, waist and hip measurements please and all that kind of thing. They did not know what to do with a young female scientist, you were a young female, you were page three, you weren’t a scientist.

Apparently, it was also the custom when she was a student in Glasgow for the men to stamp their feet and wolf-whistle whenever a woman walked into a lecture hall, and she of course was the only woman in the entire physics program at the time.

None of this could possibly have influenced the career decisions of an entire generation of women, I’m sure.

(Also on Sb)

367 comments

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  1. 1
    FossilFishy

    Fuck. Just fuck. Sometimes I think that the only answer is nukes from orbit, just to be sure. Let the cockroaches and the next species foolish enough to crawl out of the sea have a chance.

  2. 2
    Blobulon

    Well, in my mind at least, she won the Nobel Prize.

  3. 3
    jondean

    That last part in particular is absolutely vile. Jocelyn must be a very strong person in addition to being clever and tenacious – I doubt I could ever have as much success as she has had in that toxic of an environment.

  4. 4
    Pete Moulton

    Now, why does this remind me of Rosalind Franklin?

  5. 5
    julian

    Almost 40 years later and we’re still playing the same game. Thankfully it isn’t as bad as it used to be.

  6. 6
    Zeno

    you were a young female, you were page three

    For those of us who don’t get the reference, “page three” refers to the practice initiated in the UK by The Sun, a tabloid that runs photos of topless models on its third page.

  7. 7
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    jondean:

    That last part in particular is absolutely vile.

    <mra>Oh, I think she enjoyed all the attention. That’s probably why she went into physics in the first place, for all those potential husbands who were guaranteed high-paying jobs in research, or the millions to be made in teaching.</mra>

    Ugh. I think I just made myself ill.

  8. 8
    WCorvi

    I’ve been in physics for over 40 years, and have heard stories like wolf-whistles, etc, but never experienced them. I’m sure it happened, but I don’t think it was commonplace. None of the physicists would have done anything like that. I suspect it makes a good story, but not much more.

  9. 9
    Carlie

    Zeno – ugh. I had assumed it just meant not worthy of front-page coverage. Even worse, I see.

    The naysayers will say “yeah, but she stayed in, so it must not have been that bad and didn’t discourage any women”. So any guys who were about to say that, just fuck off and don’t even bother to, ok?

  10. 10
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Jocelyn Bell-Burnell was one of my heroes growing up. I read her story in a book about modern cosmology in high school, though it didn’t get into the details of exactly how tedious the process of discovery truly was. It said the typical, “Found anomalies in the measurements,” and so on.

    This interview is a treat.

  11. 11
    Matt Penfold

    I’ve been in physics for over 40 years, and have heard stories like wolf-whistles, etc, but never experienced them. I’m sure it happened, but I don’t think it was commonplace. None of the physicists would have done anything like that. I suspect it makes a good story, but not much more.

    So Bell’s experience in invalid because you never saw anything like it. Of course I doubt you are a women, so you may not not have noticed.

    Still, it seems you are keeping alive the spirit of sexism in physics.

  12. 12
    Carlie

    WCorvi – you are part of the problem.

  13. 13
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Carlie:

    The naysayers will say “yeah, but she stayed in, so it must not have been that bad and didn’t discourage any women”. So any guys who were about to say that, just fuck off and don’t even bother to, ok?

    Too late. WCorvi is happy to pre-empt you on this.

  14. 14
    NomadUK

    For those of us who don’t get the reference, “page three” refers to the practice initiated in the UK by The Sun, a tabloid that runs photos of topless models on its third page.

    And to be completely clear about it, this practise was started by that wretched excuse for a human being, Rupert Murdoch, a year after he took over The Sun in 1969 and began the process of running the British press into the ground.

  15. 15
    Hungry Heathen

    You’ll be even more upset with her advisor when you see what he had to say about religion:
    Antony_Hewish

  16. 16
    julian

    I suspect it makes a good story, but not much more.

    Spent the last 10 minutes or so trying to find the most charitable interpretation of this hoping to find one that wasn’t a condescending dismissal.

    No luck.

  17. 17
    Ing

    I’ve been in physics for over 40 years, and have heard stories like wolf-whistles, etc, but never experienced them. I’m sure it happened, but I don’t think it was commonplace. None of the physicists would have done anything like that. I suspect it makes a good story, but not much more.

    Fuck you

  18. 18
    Carlie

    Spent the last 10 minutes or so trying to find the most charitable interpretation of this hoping to find one that wasn’t a condescending dismissal.

    No luck.

    I am fairly certain he was miming a virtual pat on the head as he was writing it. There, there, silly girl.

  19. 19
    Hungry Heathen

    While several of the issues you mention are obviously gender-specific, I need to submit from experience that being royally screwed over by your advisor once s/he realizes that s/he can live off of your ideas happens to those of us with penises as well.

  20. 20
    Markle

    In the 1930s, figure skating was the domain of men. New female skaters were often asked odd questions, like, how do you stay warm on the ice wearing only a little dress? Reporters didn’t know what to do with them.

    Fast forward 70 years and you can see ladies figure skating is the most popular discipline, and reporters ask legitimate questions of women. In any case, it takes time for people to accept that women can do things that are traditionally men-oriented. Women come out all right in the end.

  21. 21
    Pramod

    Oh dear! This just makes me sad. Should’ve posted this in the evening PZ.

    Kudos to Bell-Burnell though, not just for her intellectual accomplishments, but her tremendously graceful behavior after all that has transpired.

  22. 22
    Lotharloo

    There is definitely sexism involved here but I wonder how much of it is phenomenon of the supervisor getting the attention for the work of the students. I know that it is extremely common for a supervisor who has done nothing but proof read the final version for English to slap his/her name on the publication and usually it is the supervisor who gets most of the attention (specially a prolific one). I mean, who bothers to remember the name of a young student anyway?
    Do people know of other examples of an award going to a undeserving prof?

  23. 23
    jeebus

    She’s still alive, it’s a new and much better (though hardly perfect) era, maybe the Nobel committee can be influenced by a public campaign? It works for the Oscars, and the Nobels often seem to be not a lot better (e.g. the Peace Prize going to Kissinger and Obama, and the lit prize going to a bunch of nameless Scandinavians). Maybe she needs a good publicist, or at least a Web campaign.

  24. 24
    Ing

    She’s still alive, it’s a new and much better (though hardly perfect) era, maybe the Nobel committee can be influenced by a public campaign? It works for the Oscars, and the Nobels often seem to be not a lot better (e.g. the Peace Prize going to Kissinger and Obama, and the lit prize going to a bunch of nameless Scandinavians). Maybe she needs a good publicist, or at least a Web campaign.

    Just because you don’t know their names, doesn’t mean the Scandinavians are nameless. Your ignorance is not an argument.

    The Nobels suck though, I hate the whole idea

  25. 25
    Ing

    In the 1930s, figure skating was the domain of men. New female skaters were often asked odd questions, like, how do you stay warm on the ice wearing only a little dress? Reporters didn’t know what to do with them.

    Fast forward 70 years and you can see ladies figure skating is the most popular discipline, and reporters ask legitimate questions of women. In any case, it takes time for people to accept that women can do things that are traditionally men-oriented. Women come out all right in the end.

    Yes and we freed the slave in the end. That’s little comfort to any given slave, now isn’t it?

    I suppose you’re find if you’re mugged and murdered as long as we catch the guy right?

  26. 26
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Markle:

    In any case, it takes time for people to accept that women can do things that are traditionally men-oriented. Women come out all right in the end.

    Maybe. Maybe not. But it certainly doesn’t help those who have to put up with sexist shit along the way, does it? While it might not be as bad today as it was 50 years ago, it still isn’t fixed.

    So maybe we can continue to work towards fixing it, m’kay?

  27. 27
    Ing

    @Nigelbold

    Jinx.

    Really that argument is stupid beyond fuck. Try doing it for other events

    Sure antisemitism and the holocaust was bad…but it turned out all right for the Jews.

  28. 28
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    While several of the issues you mention are obviously gender-specific, I need to submit from experience that being royally screwed over by your advisor once s/he realizes that s/he can live off of your ideas happens to those of us with penises as well.

    So, tell us, what nobel prize did you get cheated out off?
    Is there one for mansplaining?

  29. 29
    barbarienne

    That’s a great theory, Markle@20, and if we didn’t have to tackle every fucking field individually, it might even hold water.

    That’s not even accounting the fields that go the other way as soon as they start to become appreciated and well paid. I predict in ten or twenty years it will be an anomaly for a woman to be a nurse.

  30. 30
    Ingrid

    This story makes me uncomfortable. I’m Swedish and I’m sorry to hear that the Nobel Prize committee showed such obvious lack of research when they decided who to be the winner of the prize at that time. IMHO Bell should get it now. Because she’s worth it (pun intended).

  31. 31
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    barbarienne:

    I predict in ten or twenty years it will be an anomaly for a woman to be a nurse.

    Yes, but on the bright side, nurses will get paid better, and receive more respect.

    (I’m just trying to supply you with 200% of the USDA approved daily dose of irony.)

  32. 32
    julian

    I need to submit from experience that being royally screwed over by your advisor once s/he realizes that s/he can live off of your ideas happens to those of us with penises as well.

    And one not limited to the sciences. Some of what led to Dr. Ben Burnell getting screwed out of the nobel is simpley how easy it is for higher ups to take credit for the work of their ‘peons.’ It’s expected that when good work gets accomplished it was because of their leadership.

    Personally I can think of one NAM that went to a Sgt when it should have gone to his LCpl’s. Everyone probably has such a story. The fact that it was Jocelyn Ben Burnell and not John Ben Burnell likely made it much easier.

  33. 33
    Carlie

    While several of the issues you mention are obviously gender-specific, I need to submit from experience that being royally screwed over by your advisor once s/he realizes that s/he can live off of your ideas happens to those of us with penises as well.

    This is true. But why did you feel the need to hijack the conversation about how badly women have been treated to try to make sure that there isn’t a single discussion that doesn’t somehow focus on men?

  34. 34
    julian

    Correction to my last. Should be

    “Some of what probably led…”

    not

    “Some of what led…”

    my bad.

  35. 35
    Erin

    Thank you for spreading this around, PZ. Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell is definitely a hero of mine, mostly because she discovered pulsars, a main focus of my PhD, but her grace, acceptance, lack-of-bitterness and determination are qualities we should all espouse.

    Also, as a female physicist at Glasgow, I can promise things are a lot better!

  36. 36
    Zugswang

    You’ll be even more upset with her advisor when you see what he had to say about religion

    Though it’s always good for a chuckle to see the same dumb excuses (in this case, “blah blah religion has the answers that science doesn’t have blah blah) get reused with slightly different wording.

  37. 37
    peterh

    @ #1,

    It’s been widely regarded that coming down out of the trees was a big mistake; possibly leaving the oceans was even worse.

    @ #15,

    Anyone “physicist” who can say “The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense and is non-intuitive for those unacquainted with physics.” as rationale for positing a god is madder than a March hare.

  38. 38
    Special One

    You’ll be even more upset with her advisor when you see what he had to say about religion:

    Don’t go getting freaked out here, but Dr. Bell Burrell is a practicing Quaker herself and has said, basically, the exact same thing Dr. Hewish expressed. The Friends are one of the more admirable sects of woo purveyance, but woo nonetheless.

    And in Antony Hewish’s defense, the Nobel he was awarded was for his role in the development of radio astronomy of which the discovery of pulsars was only a part. Not to say Bell-Burrell didn’t deserve it, but saying Dr. Hewish simply appropriated her work is overstating the case quite a bit.

    Be champions!

  39. 39
    Markle

    There’s nothing I can do to change what Joceyln Bell experienced, or the Holocaust, or slavery, or whatever other bad thing that you want to bring up. Times have moved forward. Bell is a senior scientist who is associated with pulsars. I’ve never even heard of the other two male scientists. Jews and black people can succeed in whatever venture they please, Nobel Prize included.

    Women have so much opportunity and freedom now. They can vote, own property, go to school, go to higher level schooling, pursue any vocation they please. Yes, it took the hard work and suffering of a lot of women. But women have it much better now.

  40. 40
    Moggie

    There’s another aspect to this story, beyond the individual injustice:

    How many potentially great scientists have we lost?

    How many brilliant young women have looked at the shit that Jocelyn Bell-Burnell experienced, along with numerous other such stories, and thought: no, I don’t want that, I’ll follow a different career?

    It sometimes seems like we’ve been doing our damnedest to exclude half the human race from many fields of science… and science, and therefore humanity as a whole, is much poorer for it.

  41. 41
    Lotharloo

    Wikipedia has a great article on Nobel prize controversies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize_controversies

  42. 42
    WhitePongo

    Dame Bell-Burnell is featured in Part 3 of the Richard Dawkins TV program, “Breaking the Science Barrier (1996).” He talks with her extensively about the process of her discovery. The great thing about the interview is that Dawkins effectively presents her as the one responsible for the discovery (which she is, obviously). There is quite a lot of original footage from the time of her discovery, so I’m curious to find the original interview that was held with her. For the “Breaking the Science Barrier” interview, you can find that on YouTube (she appears in the episode “Part 3″).

  43. 43
    Carlie

    Women have so much opportunity and freedom now. They can vote, own property, go to school, go to higher level schooling, pursue any vocation they please. Yes, it took the hard work and suffering of a lot of women. But women have it much better now.

    And there is still a long way to go.

  44. 44
    Matt Penfold

    Markle,

    What you can do is stop dismissing the experience of women like Bell-Burnell. That is within your power, and yet you are unable even to do that.

  45. 45
    AsqJames

    Inspirational stuff (JB-B’s achievements, not the misogeny she had to deal with).

    On a wider note, I find radio (and particularly BBC R4) tends to do science much better than TV. This might just be a personal preference/impression, but I find I tend to get more out of science programs on the radio, and retain the information for longer.

    Is this a general thing? And if so, I wonder whether it’s because of something intrinsic to the medium or if TV science could be as good/better if it were done as well?

  46. 46
    Ing

    but her grace, acceptance, lack-of-bitterness and determination are qualities we should all espouse.

    No they are not.

    Well lack-of-bitterness and determination yes. Acceptance? Please.

  47. 47
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Markle:

    Women have so much opportunity and freedom now. They can vote, own property, go to school, go to higher level schooling, pursue any vocation they please. Yes, it took the hard work and suffering of a lot of women. But women have it much better now.

    Just keep on diggin’, Markle. It’ll only help your argument.

    So, you’re saying that women are on parity with men right now, and do not have to deal with sexism in any way?

  48. 48
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Markle the idjit:Women have so much opportunity and freedom now.You have been posting here for a while, but you need to shut the fuck up and listen. Misogyny and male privilege still dominate in our society, and that needs to be removed before real equality and equal opportunity for all people is present. Your attitude of “status quo is good enough” ensures that it is harder to reach the goal of real equality. Why aren’t you with the program, instead of arguing against it? Perhaps, you and your talents are inferior, and you know it, and you know you can’t compete if the playing field were truly level?

  49. 49
    Lagerbaer

    I guess the wolf-whistles are region specific. I did my physics major at a German university of technology, which meant a gender ratio of 80 to 20.

    To save the physicist’s honor: Only the courses we shared with the engineering students had this wolf-whistling whenever a female entered the lecture theater late. The physicists were better behaved.

    Maybe, then, it’s a question of a critical gender threshold? The 1000 or so engineering students had far fewer females in absolute numbers than us 200 physicists. I guess you just need enough other females in the room that will shoot evil glares at the jerks.

    Now that I’m in grad school and do some teaching on my own, I wonder: What is the appropriate reaction of the lecturer to this? Ignoring it cannot be a good solution, but I’d also want to avoid being patronizing by appearing overprotective.

    Unfortunately, an appeal to empathy (“how would you feel if people started whistling at you?”) doesn’t work with these jerks, because they’d of course love it.

  50. 50
    PZ Myers

    While several of the issues you mention are obviously gender-specific, I need to submit from experience that being royally screwed over by your advisor once s/he realizes that s/he can live off of your ideas happens to those of us with penises as well.

    I have never experienced this, and have had a fortunate history of advisors. My grad advisor, Chuck Kimmel, was incredibly scrupulous about what papers he’d put his name on, for instance.

    Therefore, your experience did not happen.

    No! That’s not right! I also have peers who got screwed out of authorships and had their work appropriated without attribution. I know it happens. However, men get screwed when they’re just minions, women get screwed to an extra degree because they are women.

  51. 51
    Markle

    What you can do is stop dismissing the experience of women like Bell-Burnell. That is within your power, and yet you are unable even to do that.

    OH POOR MRS. BELL!!!!!!! How terrible, how awful it was, the things she had to go through! The mean men whistling at her, her adviser stealing the her achievements, being in a male-dominated field and suffering discrimination! POOR MRS. BELL!!!

    So, you’re saying that women are on parity with men right now, and do not have to deal with sexism in any way?

    Women having it better today than x number of years ago = feminism has completely achieved its goals, we’re done, let’s go home.

    Obviously a silly statement, you like being martyrs, so go ahead.

  52. 52
    Carlie

    What is the appropriate reaction of the lecturer to this? Ignoring it cannot be a good solution, but I’d also want to avoid being patronizing by appearing overprotective.

    Treating it as a failing of the person themselves, not as about the victim, might be a good way. A withering “What are you, 10? Act like a real adult and be professional in my class”, or something of the like, might be effective.

  53. 53
    Jojo

    @Moggie 40 – I know of one scientist and one engineer just in my circle of friends who were lost because of the chilly climate.

  54. 54
    Ing

    @Mackerel

    You like being an asshole, so go ahead.

  55. 55
    Carlie

    OH POOR MRS. BELL!!!!!!! How terrible, how awful it was, the things she had to go through! The mean men whistling at her, her adviser stealing the her achievements, being in a male-dominated field and suffering discrimination! POOR MRS. BELL!!!

    Keep on digging.

    Where’s my popcorn?

  56. 56
    greame

    Reminds me of Henrietta Leavitt (Recalling from memory, so if I have any details wrong, let me know). She discovered how to use “standard candles” to make the first accurate predictions of the distances to stars. She discovered this just before Edwin Hubble came along, so this is late 1800′s. She did get her work published, but passed away shortly after. Someone found her work before they found out she had died, and sent her a letter, saying that he wanted to nominate her for a Nobel. Her employer at the time tried to take credit for her work and get it for himself. He never did, thankfully.

  57. 57
    Ing

    Unfortunately, an appeal to empathy (“how would you feel if people started whistling at you?”) doesn’t work with these jerks, because they’d of course love it.

    I actually doubt that. They’re supposed to love it, but I think the attention WOULD be uncomfortable.

  58. 58
    Matt Penfold

    OH POOR MRS. BELL!!!!!!! How terrible, how awful it was, the things she had to go through! The mean men whistling at her, her adviser stealing the her achievements, being in a male-dominated field and suffering discrimination! POOR MRS. BELL!!!

    First, I note you cannot be bothered to give Dr Bell-Burnell her proper title. Pretty telling you would do that.

    I also note that you have given up any pretence of being anything other than sexist arsehole. Of course you always were, and you fooled no one, but sometimes you seemed to think you needed to pretend to comment with a veneer of decency.

  59. 59
    Hypatia's Daughter

    I have done many talks on women astronomers. Astronomy is one science that has a rich history of women being “in on the ground floor”. Look up “women computers” or “Pickering’s Harem”.

    I have seen Hewish cited as the discovery of pulsars, with no mention of Bell-Burnell’s work in many of the books I have read about the history of astronomy. The “erasing” of female accomplishments continues when the discoveries are cited but the names of the women are omitted.

    #40 Moggie

    How many brilliant young women have looked at the shit that Jocelyn Bell-Burnell experienced, along with numerous other such stories, and thought: no, I don’t want that, I’ll follow a different career?

    Me (well, maybe I wouldn’t have been brilliant) but I gave up on my MSc in Economics because I couldn’t find a thesis adviser who wanted to work with a mother. Ya’ see, I would probably be too “busy” to do the job right. After 3 years of “doing the job right” as a student; and winning a $10,000 Fellowship at my previous college.
    That is why I tell the young women today “Don’t make my mistake – Illegitimi non carborundum.”

  60. 60
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Dang, blockquote failure #48. The first sentence is by Markle, the rest is my response.

  61. 61
    felixBC

    Seriously, Lagebaer? You ban it outright, and enforce it. Anyone who whistles, leaves the room for the rest of the class. Patronizing, my ass.

  62. 62
    Ing

    Has Stinkyfish done anything but comment on feminism topics?

  63. 63
    Quent

    @23

    The Lit prize *rarely* goes to Scandinavians (besides this year, the last time was in 1974). This year’s winner, Tomas Tranströmer, is certainly *not* nameless in literary circles. If anything, it would have been more natural for him to have won it much sooner.

  64. 64
    Markle

    What do you women want?

    You want to vote? You can vote.
    You want to go to school? You can go to school.
    You want to go to college? Go to college.
    You want to get a post-baccalaureate degree? Go do it!
    You want to become an engineer, doctor, scientist, banker, programmer, etc? Do it!
    You want to buy a house? Buy a house. And let your daughters inherit it!

    There’s no law that prevents women from doing anything. Western women are the most privileged people on the planet, except for western men.

  65. 65
    SteveF

    Incidentally, there’s a fairly sexist advert for the execrable Rational Response Squad at the top of this article. I dunno how the ads work here, but it’s a bit of a shame.

  66. 66
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Markle:

    Women having it better today than x number of years ago = feminism has completely achieved its goals, we’re done, let’s go home.

    Obviously a silly statement, you like being martyrs, so go ahead.

    Do you always dodge questions that illustrate exactly how wrong you are?

    I’m not sure where the “martyr” thing comes in, either. So, if you’re trying to help fix a climate of sexism, you’re a martyr?

    I’m not following your argument here. I’m not sure if you can’t communicate effectively, or if you truly are irrational.

  67. 67
    greame

    There’s no law that prevents women from doing anything. Western women are the most privileged people on the planet, except for western men.

    Put the shovel down.

  68. 68
    Matt Penfold

    Want to enter a profession and earn as much as your male colleagues ? Forget it.

    Want to be able to use a lift at 4am without being asked for sex ? Forget it.

    Want to mention that being asked for sex in a lift at 4am is not very nice, and that would men please not do that ? Forget it.

  69. 69
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Markle the fuckwit admitting the obvious:

    There’s no law that prevents women from doing anything. Western women are the most privileged people on the planet, except for western men.

    (Emphasis mine). That privilege difference iis what must be eradicated before true equality results. The horde recognizes that, and if you were intelligent, you would too Markle. Now Markle, what are you doing to recognize and eliminate white male privilege in Western society, specifically the US? Be specific, or shut the fuck up as concern troll type 1.

  70. 70
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    Western women are the most privileged people on the planet, except for western men.

    Which seems to be where you draw the line. Why do you find it beyond the pale for people to find it unacceptable that men are privileged over women? Why is it unacceptable to you for people to speak out about this difference in privilege? Because you do seemed pretty damned determined to shout down anybody who draws attention to it. You apparently have a lot invested in maintaining your privilege. And for that you can go fuck yourself.

  71. 71
    Ingrid

    Markle: “Women have so much opportunity and freedom now. They can vote, own property, go to school, go to higher level schooling, pursue any vocation they please. Yes, it took the hard work and suffering of a lot of women. But women have it much better now.”

    This is true, we have that (at least in the western hemisphere) but so do men.
    The difference is that nobody needs to point out that men have these rights because it goes without saying. It is just the norm.
    When we no longer need to point out that women also have these rights we might have gotten somewhere.

  72. 72
    spamamander, internet amphibian

    Yes, put the shovel down. It will make a good weapon for the rest of us.

  73. 73
    Lotharloo

    What do you women want?

    There’s no law that prevents women from doing anything. Western women are the most privileged people on the planet, except for western men.

    I guess he means women have achieved their rightful place, one step below western men, so they need to stop complaining. I wonder where he wants to place the African man? Certainly below the Western man but below the western women or above? So many conundrums for poor markle to ponder.

  74. 74
    andybeaton

    The Nobel thing was robbery, but she did get to be a Dame. It’s not a bad bit of recognition, if you like that kind of thing.

  75. 75
    Mikey

    I read about Dr. Bell-Burnell about 25 years ago in a book on pulsars and black holes. The author was quite clear that Bell-Burnell had made the actual discovery. I didn’t realize she had been snubbed for the Nobel. What a shame.

    My daughter is a 24-year-old Ph.D. student, although in biochemistry rather than astronomy. So far she has not related to me any incidents where she felt discriminated against, but she is an exceptionally bright and strong young woman so she may have handled things on her own without any help from me. I certainly wouldn’t think such incidents don’t happen just because I haven’t heard her complain about them.

  76. 76
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Markle:

    There’s no law that prevents women from doing anything. Western women are the most privileged people on the planet, except for western men.

    Nice. So you recoognize that sexism exists — you just can’t be bothered to do fuck-all about it, except complain when others try to do something.

    You are such a sweetheart.

  77. 77
    Carlie

    Now Markle, what are you doing to recognize and eliminate white male privilege in Western society, specifically the US?

    Pfft. Nothing, because his job is to point out that bitches should shut up and be grateful that men can’t just go and beat the shit out of them without reprecussions any more. Well, usually. Oh wait, did I say usually? I meant 6% of the time.

  78. 78
    Algernon

    I’ve been in physics for over 40 years, and have heard stories like wolf-whistles, etc, but never experienced them. I’m sure it happened, but I don’t think it was commonplace. None of the physicists would have done anything like that. I suspect it makes a good story, but not much more.

    I used to date a physicist. It’s over. But he often used to say that “women just aren’t any good at science” and that “they only come into it because they have something to prove or they want to impress men” so I don’t know if your anecdote trumps mine. At the same time, this guy was not all evil as that may sound. He was thoroughly disgusted when he found that his coworkers were circulating a list of the five or so women in their large government-sponsored program in order of their fuckability.

    Maybe you live in the land of the enlightened though. I mean, I’ve never seen a double rainbow. They don’t exist!

  79. 79
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Just because you don’t know their names, doesn’t mean the Scandinavians are nameless. Your ignorance is not an argument.

    That’s an excessively uncharitable interpretation of what looks like a very reasonable criticism of fairly obvious bias in that an award ostensibly for contributions to humanity as a whole is routinely given to people who are native to the region where the committee that gives the award resides, and relatively unknown outside of it.

  80. 80
    Algernon

    Western women are the most privileged people on the planet, except for western men.

    LMAO.

  81. 81
    Deen

    They can vote, own property, go to school, go to higher level schooling, pursue any vocation they please.

    But are still expected to take care of the kids, cook and clean on top of all that.

  82. 82
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    By today’s standards, I also hope that for example Dr.”Madame” Chien-Shiung Wu would have received a Nobel for the experimental discovery of parity violation (what a tremendous result that is), rather than only the two men who postulated it.

    @Markle, obviously something is bothering you… I’m not entirely sure what it is.

    @WhitePongo, Thanks! I remembered seeing a science programme featuring her and I was wondering all the time where that was.

  83. 83
    Erin

    Yes, I should clarify, I meant ‘acceptance’ as in she lets the work speak for itself and knows that she was the one who made the discovery. Poor choice of words on my part!

  84. 84
    Deen

    @Mikey in #75

    So far she has not related to me any incidents where she felt discriminated against, but she is an exceptionally bright and strong young woman so she may have handled things on her own without any help from me.

    If she had, I soubt she would have reported any such incidents to you anyway. It’s just one of those facts of life that women have to deal with, and what would you have been able to about it anyway?

  85. 85
    Anthony K

    There’s no law that prevents women from doing anything.

    I am so angry with the people who found your half-dead, brain-damaged corpse after your botched suicide-by-gunshot-to-the-head and decided you needed a second chance at life.

  86. 86
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    @Algernon

    I used to date a physicist. It’s over. But he often used to say that[...]

    Nice! And with that combination of reliance on anecdotes and propensity for broad generalizations, you just know that he must make a splendid scientist himself.

  87. 87
    KG

    There’s no law that prevents women from doing anything. – Markle

    Apart from the laws (against murder, theft, etc.) that prevent both sexes lawfully doing many things, in very few countries, western or otherwise, have women yet been granted the legal right to control of their own bodies – specifically, to abortion on demand.

    Why are you such an ignorant lackwit, Markle? Enquiring minds want to know.

  88. 88
    ryan

    That sucks- people suck.

    But this post’s title is a good Rush Album.

  89. 89
    Barbara

    We women do have it better now than we did for centuries. For example, when I was a newly minted, 40+ Ph.D. interviewing for positions as a professor in 2000, I WAS interviewed (definitely better). I was also asked why I don’t wear make-up and why I haven’t had a crooked tooth straightened. WTF!?!

    As a very academic biologist who should have pursued graduate school at a much younger age than I did, I totally admire women like Bell-Burnell who dealt with and persevered through much worse situations than those that discouraged me.

  90. 90
    McWaffle

    I was like Markle in my Freshman year at college, I think. I think I was maybe just “rebelling” against what I perceived as “overly-PC” orientations etc… I just kept thinking, “Come on, look, I know this stuff, everybody knows this stuff, shut up about it already.”

    For example, I remember being a little ass about rape statistics with the same snide little, “but I’m not a rapist, and neither are my friends, so these statistics are misleading!” We also had to watch a video reminding us not to dress as stereotyped racial minorities on Halloween, and my response to my TA was “Some people need to suck it up and read the First Amendment.”

    Yeah, I was a shit. I think it comes from a privileged, egoistic position of, “How could anybody think women/minorities/homosexuals are worse than anybody else? I don’t.” So, talk about how people can be sexist translates to “You must be sexist.” And anybody who takes offense is irrational, since the offenders certainly weren’t ACTUALLY racist/sexist. Racists and sexists were represented in my head as like, cartoonish villains who couldn’t possibly exist in real life.

    Anyway, point being, that’s where I think some of these quasi-libertarian “equality” focused MRAs like Markle come from, since I’ve been there. It isn’t permanent.

  91. 91
    Mikey

    @Deen #84

    If she had, I soubt she would have reported any such incidents to you anyway. It’s just one of those facts of life that women have to deal with, and what would you have been able to about it anyway?

    She vents to me sometimes. Hopefully one day such treatment will stop being “one of those facts of life” and become something so unusual it merits mention.

  92. 92
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    I think if I ever said that women ain’t good at science, all the woman physicists I know who are so much smarter than me would haunt me in my dreams. Maybe it’s because half of the work I’ve ever done is based on an invention of one of them.

  93. 93
    Deen

    @Mikey:

    Hopefully one day such treatment will stop being “one of those facts of life” and become something so unusual it merits mention.

    I hope so too.

  94. 94
    Matt Penfold

    Incidentally, there’s a fairly sexist advert for the execrable Rational Response Squad at the top of this article. I dunno how the ads work here, but it’s a bit of a shame.

    It is a pretty demeaning ad. I really cannot imagine was going through the minds of RRS when they thought an ad with a big busted young blonde woman in a tight top that shows maximum cleavage would be a good idea.

    Actually I would guess no thinking was done with their brains at all.

  95. 95
    Zerple

    In the 1930s, figure skating was the domain of men. New female skaters were often asked odd questions, like, how do you stay warm on the ice wearing only a little dress? Reporters didn’t know what to do with them.

    Fast forward 70 years and you can see ladies figure skating is the most popular discipline, and reporters ask legitimate questions of women. In any case, it takes time for people to accept that women can do things that are traditionally men-oriented. Women come out all right in the end.

    Pretty much this. Lots of people seem to irrationally think that our culture, and individuals within it can shed centuries (possibly millenia) of ingrained sexism instantaneously, and then get explosively angry when they meet individuals who can’t.

    I’m still trying to shed all of mine. I post here rarely, because posting here is mostly just a fast-track to getting trolled. I found a friendly feminism blog though, where people are happy to help steer noobs along.

  96. 96
    Matt Penfold

    Zerple,

    Sorry but the role of chief idiot for this thread has already been taken by Fishbreath.

  97. 97
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    Matt Penfold,

    The publicity of the members of the RRS in relation to sex has been a rather unusual and unpleasant one.

  98. 98
    Meno

    Sadly, while, as your newspaper quote points out, being female was a primary reason of Jocelyn’s not getting due credit, simple academia proceedings cannot be ignored as a major cause. Even today, work done primarily by a grad student/postdoc/etc. that is prestigious enough (published in Nature/Science/PNAS/etc.) will have the primary author be the PI and not the person who actually did the work. Just sayin’; direct that PZ rage where that PZ rage is due in part.

  99. 99
    Zerple

    Me:

    I post here rarely, because posting here is mostly just a fast-track to getting trolled.

    Matt Penfold:

    Zerple,

    Sorry but the role of chief idiot for this thread has already been taken by Fishbreath.

    No substance, no points, no argument, 100% trolling.

    Thank you for lending your lack of intellect to help me prove a point.

  100. 100
    Matt Penfold

    Sadly, while, as your newspaper quote points out…

    Sorry, but what newspaper quote are you talking about ?

  101. 101
    KG

    I post here rarely – Zerple

    Not rarely enough.

  102. 102
    Carlie

    Zerple – there is need for both approaches. There are a lot of people who will wave off and deny that they are sexist at all with the soft and gentle approach, and nothing can get through to them but a metaphorical slap to the head that forces them to confront their sexism head-on.

  103. 103
    Deen

    @Zerple in #95:

    Lots of people seem to irrationally think that our culture, and individuals within it can shed centuries (possibly millenia) of ingrained sexism instantaneously, and then get explosively angry when they meet individuals who can’t.

    Who here thinks that society will change overnight? There’s very little we can do to to affect the biases of something as amorphous as society at large. However, we can demand individuals to examine their biases, and this is what we do. We might just be able to change society that way, one individual at a time.

  104. 104
    rad_pumpkin

    Why am I reminded of Lise Meitner? But maybe something similar will happen to Dr. Bell-Burnell. Forget the nobel, nobody is going to remember those after a few years. But having an element named after you…now that is permanent (even if it is some synthetic highly radioactive thing with a half-life of less than a micro second). Say what you will about modern society. I’m glad the instances of people being barred from occupation X for being Y has fallen over the past decades. Let’s keep the momentum going!

  105. 105
    Matt Penfold

    No substance, no points, no argument, 100% trolling.

    Thank you for lending your lack of intellect to help me prove a point.

    Zerple,

    Your previous conduct here means you are not deserving of being taken seriously.

    Your comments get ridiculed because they are ridiculous. You are ridiculous. Idiots like you who spew sexist crap do not deserve being treated with anything other than contempt.

    So please stop complaining. You are being treated exactly how you deserve to be treated. And anytime you want to stop commenting feel free. You will not be missed.

  106. 106
    Zerple

    Your comments get ridiculed because they are ridiculous. You are ridiculous. Idiots like you who spew sexist crap do not deserve being treated with anything other than contempt.

    Care to explain? Or is this more of that “Defend that argument you made, before someone showed you how it was flawed” straw-man nonsense?

  107. 107
    Matt Penfold

    However, we can demand individuals to examine their biases, and this is what we do. We might just be able to change society that way, one individual at a time.

    We can also hold individuals to account when they spout sexist nonsense. Which is why the likes of Fishbreath and Zerple are so scared.

  108. 108
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Deen says:
    25 October 2011 at 3:10 pm

    @Mikey in #75

    So far she has not related to me any incidents where she felt discriminated against, but she is an exceptionally bright and strong young woman so she may have handled things on her own without any help from me.

    If she had, I soubt she would have reported any such incidents to you anyway. It’s just one of those facts of life that women have to deal with, and what would you have been able to about it anyway?

    This is my constant worry, too. My daughter is currently a senior majoring in Physics (double major Philosophy). She is determined and bright and strong, but has been nearly crushed several times by overt and covert sexism in the department and elsewhere in school. She rarely shares these experiences directly with me (though mentions things from time to time when we talk over holidays), but I have one vivid, gut-wrenching memory of a phone call from her as she walked shakily out of a hockey game she had been attending.

    She was watching her boyfriend play, and was sitting with several of his engineering buddies (most of whom she knew from her own hockey-playing, and who she considered to be friends, while they seemed to consider her “one of the boys” because she played hockey with the boys – this because there were no women’s teams, and she had to fight for the “co-ed” team). The conversation went around to some discussion of recent sexual assault awareness campaigns on campus and, as the sole woman in the group, the conversation soon became unbearable for my daughter. She was trying to defend both herself and the concerns of young women everywhere, but the sneering contempt of these “friends” nearly undid her. She literally had to stop speaking mid-sentence and walk away to prevent herself from breaking down in front of them, thus cementing her total humiliation.

    The phone call that followed broke my heart. Any parent who has heard hir intelligent, hard-working, amazing, beautiful, talented and thoughtful daughter choking with grief, humiliation and despair as she realizes just how pervasive the rape culture, sexism and misogyny is – as she absorbs the reality that this mess is unlikely to change substantially in her lifetime – and that she will experience it directly from trusted friends and family can understand how gut-wrenching it is.

    My darling girl went to a hockey game, happy and looking forward to a light-hearted afternoon and was instead blindsided by hostile defense of rape culture from people she had trusted and thought were friends. She realised that day that the flimsy wall of protection that she thought she had against the general misogyny of our culture – the wall made up of enlightened and humanist men and women of her own generation who really believe in equality – was an illusion. Like so many other young women, she is surrounded by the sexism and misogyny of this culture and knows that only a few friends truly share her ideals and views on equality.

    How the hell does a mother who ran from this sort of thing 30 years ago comfort and give encouragement to this brave, wonderful daughter? Damn it all, it makes me so angry and so sad.

  109. 109
    coralline

    Walt Lewin, the physicist and lecturer at MIT, mentioned Jocelyn and the “robbery” at least once in one of his lectures. It was fascinating. I’m still trying to find the exact lecture, and will post it here when I find it.

  110. 110
    Matt Penfold

    Care to explain? Or is this more of that “Defend that argument you made, before someone showed you how it was flawed” straw-man nonsense?

    Your comments are ridiculous, so therefore are treated with ridicule. If that offends you, tough. Make better comments in future, and maybe we will come to forget the idiotic crap you have spouted to date and start taking your seriously.

    But be assured of one thing. When you make idiotic comments, expect to be treated as an idiot.

  111. 111
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Zerple:

    I’m still trying to shed all of mine.

    It’s not as easy as it looks, is it? I always thought I was very progressive as far as the shedding of sexism — my mom was a very independent person, who became a biologist late in life (just after I graduated high school), and then a science teacher. She has been an inspiration to me.

    Then I discovered I was not as progressive as I thought, and still had a ways to go in the shedding of sexism.

    I’m glad you recognize the problem, and you’re working on it. That’s doing something.

  112. 112
    Zerple

    We can also hold individuals to account when they spout sexist nonsense. Which is why the likes of Fishbreath and Zerple are so scared.

    I’m not scared of keyboard commandos. My argument is that trolling isn’t helpful. Rationally explaining the flaws in somebodies argument to them, or pointing them towards related literature is.

    No matter how much you love to troll, you’re probably just hurting your own cause by trolling.

  113. 113
    Chris

    In fairness to the Nobel committee, giving prizes to advisors is common practice, and Bell-Burnell has made this observation herself. She is far from the only student to have been stiffed from the prize in this regard. Much scientific research is done in large groups, with the group head receiving the recognition.

    It may not be fair, but it’s consistent.

  114. 114
    Anthony K

    Anyway, point being, that’s where I think some of these quasi-libertarian “equality” focused MRAs like Markle come from, since I’ve been there. It isn’t permanent.

    Sometimes it is. Some people never grow out of it. They remain toxic throughout their sad, miserable, piece-of-shit lives.

    Not everybody is a bud just about to bloom. Not everybody has potential. Some people are just nons, biding their time until a heart attack does us all a favour.

  115. 115
    Zerple

    It’s not as easy as it looks, is it? I always thought I was very progressive as far as the shedding of sexism — my mom was a very independent person, who became a biologist late in life (just after I graduated high school), and then a science teacher. She has been an inspiration to me.

    Then I discovered I was not as progressive as I thought, and still had a ways to go in the shedding of sexism.

    I’m glad you recognize the problem, and you’re working on it. That’s doing something.

    Yeah, I used to think I didn’t have any sexist ideas. Then I was posting in some thread about dating, and someone pointed out that my dates could always pay for their half of the date. I had never even thought of that. I just had this sort of unspoken assumption that women don’t have money and can’t afford movies, unless men take them.

    That blew my mind. Now I’m trying to figure out what else is in there to get rid of it.

  116. 116
    Matt Penfold

    I’m not scared of keyboard commandos. My argument is that trolling isn’t helpful. Rationally explaining the flaws in somebodies argument to them, or pointing them towards related literature is.

    Pointing out the vacuousness of your comments is not trolling. This has been explained to you previously, more than once. You can no longer plead ignorance.

    Since you do not like it here, go. We do not want you.

  117. 117
    Matt Penfold

    I’m glad you recognize the problem, and you’re working on it. That’s doing something.

    Nigel, it would be were he being honest.

  118. 118
    peterh

    “…[deep, dark holes] like Markle come from, since I’ve been there. It isn’t permanent.”

    It need not be permanent, but too often the person in the hole chooses to stay there.

  119. 119
    Gazza

    My now 90 year old father told me a story of his elderly uncle who used to wolf whistle at any and all women when he got the chance. His philosophy: The young ones expected it and the old ones appreciated it. My how things have changed.

  120. 120
    Anthony K

    My argument is that trolling isn’t helpful. Rationally explaining the flaws in somebodies argument to them, or pointing them towards related literature is.

    That’s not an argument. That’s a claim. Evidence for this besides your pissing and moaning? And people who say “I’ll only learn if you promise to be nice and teach me the way I want to be taught” can fuck right off.

    So why aren’t you back at the site that puts lube on the gloved finger if you learn so well from being coddled and patted on the head? Why are you here?

  121. 121
    Zerple

    Since you do not like it here, go. We do not want you.

    Or I could stop feeding the trolls and just ignore you. I think I’ll do that instead.

  122. 122
    Deen

    @Matt Penfold:

    We can also hold individuals to account when they spout sexist nonsense.

    That too.

    @niftyatheist:

    Like so many other young women, she is surrounded by the sexism and misogyny of this culture and knows that only a few friends truly share her ideals and views on equality.

    How the hell does a mother who ran from this sort of thing 30 years ago comfort and give encouragement to this brave, wonderful daughter?

    You can tell her that at least there are still some people and communities where your daughter can feel welcome and safe. Thanks for sharing this.

  123. 123
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Zerple

    I post here rarely, because posting here is mostly just a fast-track to getting trolled.

    There’s your problem cupcake. You say things and we respond to what you say. Since our responses don’t agree with you, you say we troll you. Turn that attitude around 180 degrees. You disagree with what we say, could your posts be considered trolling by us? I can’t see how not. Especially, if you do it in a fashion that is provocative and argumentative, not really “teach me”.

  124. 124
    Zerple

    So why aren’t you back at the site that puts lube on the gloved finger if you learn so well from being coddled and patted on the head? Why are you here?

    It is possible to read more than one blog in a day….

    I should have stopped after my first comment on this, as now the trolls are coming out of the woodwork.

  125. 125
    Markle

    It’s not that women want men to pay for dates because they have no money. If you don’t at least make a gesture of paying for the date, she tells all her friends what a cheapwad you are and ruins your rep. Best first dates are free first dates.

  126. 126
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    So why aren’t you back at the site that puts lube on the gloved finger if you learn so well from being coddled and patted on the head? Why are you here?

    Isn’t that basically a rape metaphor? :/

  127. 127
    Jafafa Hots

    Women have so much opportunity and freedom now. They can vote, own property, go to school, go to higher level schooling, pursue any vocation they please.

    It’s pathetic that this is the best we can come up with to show for “how far we’ve come”?

    “Well, they’re still commonly treated like shit and underpaid, but at least women have some but not all of the same legal rights as men.”

    That’s something to cheer for? Hoo fucking ray.
    We not only don’t have an ERA, the very idea of it is not to be spoken of by any aspiring politician, and it’s basically treated by media as a wacky, unnecessary idea from the crazy granola 1970s.

    Hey, the Catholic church has come a long way, gotta be fair and point that out – they aren’t burning people at the stake anymore, so let’s cut ‘em some slack.

  128. 128
    Zerple

    There’s your problem cupcake. You say things and we respond to what you say. Since our responses don’t agree with you, you say we troll you. Turn that attitude around 180 degrees. You disagree with what we say, could your posts be considered trolling by us? I can’t see how not. Especially, if you do it in a fashion that is provocative and argumentative, not really “teach me”.

    When someone replies like you just did, it’s not trolling. When I post something and someone says “You’re wrong, here’s why”, or “You assumed something that is sexist, here’s why it is” it’s not trolling.

    When I post something and someone goes “OMG Y U H8 WOMENZ PATRIARCH SEXIST FUKFUKFUK STICK POINTY OBJECT IN ORIFICE SADFHDSAFGAFSGDSA!!!!!”, without any explanation of what was wrong with my post, it’s trolling.

    I’m a noob, I suck at feminism, but I’m trying.

  129. 129
    Michele K Walsh

    Occasional commenter/constant lurker here. My take from MR. MARKLE (see, I can do that, too!) is his deeply held assumption of his own privilege. He seems to think that he (and by extension all males)”allow” women all these opportunities. They “let” us participate. Of course, it’s not as though the girls are important or anything, but hey, we let them into the club so they have nothing to complain about. The tip off was “what do you women want?” – the subtext was clearly “what is up with you – we gave you all those opportunities and now you’re not even grateful”

    He will keep digging, though.

  130. 130
    Algernon

    It’s not that women want men to pay for dates because they have no money. If you don’t at least make a gesture of paying for the date, she tells all her friends what a cheapwad you are and ruins your rep. Best first dates are free first dates.

    Well, you probably stick to your own and date women who would be willing to date you, so your life may be like this.

    It sounds silly and foreign to me. Personally, I refuse to let a guy pay at first because I don’t want him to expect anything from me. Nothing disgusts me like the idea that I’m a whore for a bagel.

  131. 131
    Matt Penfold

    It seems Zerple thinks it is our job to educate him.

  132. 132
    Algernon

    They “let” us participate. Of course, it’s not as though the girls are important or anything, but hey, we let them into the club so they have nothing to complain about. The tip off was “what do you women want?” – the subtext was clearly “what is up with you – we gave you all those opportunities and now you’re not even grateful”

    That post was just perfect.

    We let you have all these things you dumb bitches, the only thing left would be equality! HA! That’s just impossible. Now shut up.

  133. 133
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Zerple:

    That blew my mind. Now I’m trying to figure out what else is in there to get rid of it.

    And that’s the point of discussions like this, to help illustrate the roots and stems of those bits of sexism. Once you recognize the foundations and expressions of sexism, it’s easier to analyze your own ideas.

    Take this bit where you are excusing Markle’s defense of the status quo:

    Pretty much this. Lots of people seem to irrationally think that our culture, and individuals within it can shed centuries (possibly millenia) of ingrained sexism instantaneously, and then get explosively angry when they meet individuals who can’t.

    What Markle was saying wasn’t that we can’t shed the history of sexism in a short time. Markle was saying that the fact we’ve made so much progress means we should stop making such a big deal about the sexism in our culture.

    If that wasn’t the thesis, Markle needs to work on communication skills.

    But even that bit is wrong. We’ve made some progress, yes. But as stories such as niftyatheist’s at #108 amply demonstrate, we haven’t made nearly the progress Markle claims.

    But even if we had made such progress, why should we settle for anything less than parity? We didn’t make all this progress by women sitting meekly by while the menz ran society. It took loud women, like Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage. It took persistent women, like Jocelyn Bell-Burnell. It took inspiring women, like my mother.

    We’re not going to clean up the remaining sexism (however little or much remains) by sitting quietly by and letting folks like Markle define the argument. We’re not going to make progress by saying, “You can’t fix it overnight.” And we sure as fuck aren’t going to make progress without reminding people there is a problem, and that it’s simply not acceptable.

    Making excuses for sexism apologists like Markle doesn’t help.

  134. 134
    Zerple

    It’s not that women want men to pay for dates because they have no money. If you don’t at least make a gesture of paying for the date, she tells all her friends what a cheapwad you are and ruins your rep. Best first dates are free first dates.

    Free first dates are usually impersonal. Also, it’s sexist to assume that all women do that, and if she does and her friends care, why would you want “rep” with that crowd anyway?

    That is my first attempt at critiquing something sexist, which is similar to something I used to thing? Was I anywhere near on mark?

  135. 135
    Algernon

    The implication is nice too:

    Shut up or we’ll take it all back from you.

  136. 136
    Matt Penfold

    I bet Markle and Zerple are unable to see the problem with the Sugar Daddy parties that are coming to the UK from the US.

  137. 137
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Matt Penfold:

    Nigel, it would be were he being honest.

    Yeah. I’m sensing there’s a history here of which I’m ignorant.

  138. 138
    Algernon

    Also, it’s sexist to assume that all women do that, and if she does and her friends care, why would you want “rep” with that crowd anyway?

    This is good, and a valid point.

  139. 139
    Jafafa Hots

    holy shit. This is about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen…

    Someone comes to a comment thread, picks a fight and complains that everyone else in the thread is TROLLING HIM.

    It’s like something out of a cheesy alternate universe sci-fi novel.

    Larry Niven? Is that you?

  140. 140
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    Matt,
    > Sugar Daddy parties

    I didn’t know what that was, and now I do. You have brightened down my day.

  141. 141
    Algernon

    Yeah. I’m sensing there’s a history here of which I’m ignorant.

    Meh… I’ll act in good faith. Why not? If his intentions aren’t honorable at least I know that mine were, right?

  142. 142
    Matt Penfold

    Yeah. I’m sensing there’s a history here of which I’m ignorant.

    He has been around a few threads discussing sexism. He has had the basics explained to him more than once. Yet he still managed to come here and write comment #95. Anyone who has had the basics explained to them is not going to say what he said, unless they simply refuse to understand.

  143. 143
    swampfoot

    Why can’t the Nobel committee simply rectify this error by awarding the prize to her now? And rescind it from her advisor?

    Oh, I guess that would be “fair”. That word which is constantly derided by the Limbaughs and FoxNewses of the world as a stand-in for “liberal whining”.

    They would get a lot of respect form the community if they were to award the prize to the person who actually made the discovery, perhaps it would repair their image a bit.

  144. 144
    Zerple

    Markle was saying that the fact we’ve made so much progress means we should stop making such a big deal about the sexism in our culture.

    I must have missed the context of what I replied to. My bad.

    We’re not going to make progress by saying, “You can’t fix it overnight.” And we sure as fuck aren’t going to make progress without reminding people there is a problem, and that it’s simply not acceptable.

    Okay. I guess my position is that it would be productive to work for change, but those working for change also have to acknowledge that change is usually slow. Nobody should forget there is a problem, and people should be actively recruited, I just the the sort of “slap you around until you see things my way” approach can scare people.

    Making excuses for sexism apologists like Markle doesn’t help.

    I’m not trying to excuse Markle. I see a lot of things I used to believe in what he posts (though they are sort of super-sized in his posts). I’m trying to move from a position of being Markle to the position of not being sexist.

    Off topic question: Do you know of any feminist blogs that talk about relationships, particularly marriage? I want to make sure I’m treating my wife the way she should be treated. Right now, we’re both happy, but it could be because we’ve both just accepted some ingrained, southern sexism.

  145. 145
    Matt Penfold

    I didn’t know what that was, and now I do. You have brightened down my day.

    I was ignorant of the concept until I read the BBC website this morning. I thought I should share a little of my despair of humanity.

  146. 146
    Markle

    Free dates can be as personal or impersonal as you like. I like going to public parks, walking through those parks and playgrounds. Girls love flowers and squirrels and munching on their healthy, tofu and kale, home-packed sandwiches.

    Those Sugar Daddy clubs look like concealed prostitution rings.

  147. 147
    Zerple

    That is my first attempt at critiquing something sexist, which is similar to something I used to thing? Was I anywhere near on mark?

    Should read:

    That is my first attempt at critiquing something sexist, which is similar to something I used to think. Was I anywhere near on mark?

  148. 148
    Realee

    It’s okay to listen to how much Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell overcame to accomplish all she did with such an impressive take on it all and also see how much better things are today for women as a positive. Being dismissive of what she and so many other women went through to get us here is not. Being dismissive of women saying that things have room to get better and claiming no knowledge of what on earth we could want now after we’ve told you how many times many things that are still not okay is easily interpreted as equivalent to purposefully poking us with a stick for a reaction.

    It’s not that women want men to pay for dates because they have no money. If you don’t at least make a gesture of paying for the date, she tells all her friends what a cheapwad you are and ruins your rep. Best first dates are free first dates.

    Wow I’m really sorry that’s your experience or perception. I can say I always opt to pay my own way which is mainly because I don’t think it someone needs to pay to get to know me or me them. I’ve never had a female friend tell me that a guy was a cheapwad. But then, perhaps we just choose different circles of people.

  149. 149
    Aquaria

    . Then I was posting in some thread about dating, and someone pointed out that my dates could always pay for their half of the date. I had never even thought of that. I just had this sort of unspoken assumption that women don’t have money and can’t afford movies, unless men take them.

    That blew my mind. Now I’m trying to figure out what else is in there to get rid of it.

    The thread has covered women being wolf-whistled in colleges, they’re having to leave events because their supposed friends are sexist jerks who laugh about rape, women are even more likely to be overlooked for positions for accolades, they’re paid less than men are if they do the same job–still, and you focus on fucking paying for a date, as if that has any fucking relevance to anything except exposing what a shallow, stupid, self-centered fuckface you are?

    Fuck you. Fuck you with a decaying porcupine.

    Sideways.

  150. 150
    Matt Penfold

    I must have missed the context of what I replied to. My bad.

    Why ? You read the context after all.

  151. 151
    Algernon

    Right now, we’re both happy, but it could be because we’ve both just accepted some ingrained, southern sexism.

    Oh I get it. Look, if you guys are happy then you’re happy. Good for you. I’m going to take you, as I said, on good faith. Respect your wife and the role she has chosen, listen to her concerns, recognize that she is not every woman and that other women may be very different from her and you’re pretty much good.

    See, now there’s so little to do!

  152. 152
    KG

    I’m trying. – Zerple

    Indeed. Very trying.

  153. 153
    Zerple

    The thread has covered women being wolf-whistled in colleges, they’re having to leave events because their supposed friends are sexist jerks who laugh about rape, women are even more likely to be overlooked for positions for accolades, they’re paid less than men are if they do the same job–still, and you focus on fucking paying for a date, as if that has any fucking relevance to anything except exposing what a shallow, stupid, self-centered fuckface you are?

    Fuck you. Fuck you with a decaying porcupine.

    Sideways.

    This is a prime example of trolling. It even fits the pattern I made up earlier.

    When I post something and someone goes “OMG Y U H8 WOMENZ PATRIARCH SEXIST FUKFUKFUK STICK POINTY OBJECT IN ORIFICE SADFHDSAFGAFSGDSA!!!!!”, without any explanation of what was wrong with my post, it’s trolling.

  154. 154
    Aquaria

    Or I could stop feeding the trolls and just ignore you. I think I’ll do that instead.

    YOU are the troll, fuckface. That’s what you don’t get.

    Fuck off.

  155. 155
    peterh

    Markle’s ideas about “what girls like” seem cut from cliché cloth.

  156. 156
    Aquaria

    This is a prime example of trolling. It even fits the pattern I made up earlier.

    So you’re not only a shallow, stupid and self-centered fuckface, you’re a deluded one, too?

    What a surprise!

  157. 157
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    Free dates can be as personal or impersonal as you like. I like going to public parks, walking through those parks and playgrounds. Girls love flowers and squirrels and munching on their healthy, tofu and kale, home-packed sandwiches.

    I’ve already determined that I am not a real man in yesterday’s thread, so I suppose it should not worry me too much that I love squirrels and tofu.
    Somehow, most girls that I ever dated would never have allowed me to pay for their dinner at the first dates. I think this might have something to do with a sense of entitlement that they thought might come with that.

    Those Sugar Daddy clubs look like concealed prostitution rings.

    As they say – what was your first clue? :)

  158. 158
    Algernon

    This is a prime example of trolling.

    Technically that’s really not trolling. It’s just a very hostile reaction to your posts. People here often become nauseated with people and then tell them to fuck off. We do it to each other all the time, while still being “regulars” here. It’s just the pace of things. If some one thinks your post merits a stream of invective, well they’re going to say what the want to say.

    It has consequences, but on the whole I find it very freeing compared to the constraints of society in general. I think it’s nice PZ has this place like that.

    But it really just isn’t trolling, which is pretty much posting something to a group of people in order to get them stirred up, or doing something for attention from a body of people. Typically, trolling is done for lulz.

    Are you lulzing, Aquaria? Somehow I think not. I suspect she just really dislikes you.

  159. 159
    Zugswang

    Markle #64:

    Yes, modern society is truly feminism’s “Mission Accomplished” moment. Because, as we all know, once we’ve fixed enough of the problems, we can safely celebrate our victory while ignoring any of those inconvenient unfinished ones that would ruin the party.

    You know, like the fact that your chances of getting hired are significantly reduced if you commit the social faux pas of going to a job interview while noticeably pregnant.

    Or that so many people still feel like , in some situations, being an unwilling sexual participant is the woman’s fault.

    Or the fact that people like you still seem content to resist the social changes that would improve gender equality due to your willful ignorance or conscious misogyny, while still others exist that push archaic ideas like submission theology that teaches young women the false virtue of feminine servility.

    If any of those facts were pointed out, it would make that premature assertion of victory look pretty silly, now, wouldn’t it?

    Or were you the kind of kid that thought your room was clean because you vacuumed the part that wasn’t covered with dirty laundry?

  160. 160
    Matt Penfold

    Zerple,

    You say the idea that women have money, and might be willing to pay on dates “blew your mind”. Why were you not aware of that fact already ?

    It is not something a person who wants to be considered a thinking adult can be ignorant about.

  161. 161
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Re: men saying they’d appreciate getting wolf-whistled, but not really, I remember an anecdote passed down in the family.
    During WWII, my great-aunt (then in her twenties), like many women, went to work in a factory. She and the other women workers had to endure near-constant harassment (whistles, commentary, unwanted touching) from the male workers. Times being what they were, the men who were still working in the factories were the high-ranking skilled workers and foremen – the unskilled and semi-skilled were off in the military – and it was these jobs that the women were filling. After multiple unsuccessful attempts at reasoning with the men, complaining to higher-ups, etc, my great-aunt and the other women turned the tables: they reciprocated. A man walked by? The women whooped and made suggestive commentary (the word “Tarzan” was apparently popular). Et cetera.
    The first day, the men stared in shock.
    The second day, the women stopped, having made their point. The men stopped too.

    _____

    As for women getting crap in the sciences? Damn skippy it still happens. I’ve seen it, experienced it – and I’m all of 26. Post-docs suggesting that I should drop out of school, find a nice man and make babies for him; getting called by my advisor to sit in on a phone conference with a scientist interested in a collaboration who inexplicably gets all quiet and then huffy when he realizes that the first author on that paper he’d loved so hard is a woman; undergrads who think that the right way to get a regrade out of the TA is to flirt with her and attempt to bully her when that fails. I could go on. It still happens. Not going to lie, it’s not as bad as it once was. But it still happens.

  162. 162
    Realee

    Right now, we’re both happy, but it could be because we’ve both just accepted some ingrained, southern sexism.

    Well, if you’re concerned that you’ve both accepted roles accepted of you instead of those that would make you both the most happy… that’s going to be your personal preference. No one else is going to be able to tell you what roles are best for you to play in your marriage.

    So talk to her. Ask her if there are things around the house she’d like you to share in or share in herself. Activities in general she’d like to take part in or stop doing. Things about your communication she’d prefer. Share your feelings as well. No internet forum is going to be able to give you those personal answers.

  163. 163
    Otrame

    Zeroes,

    I occasionally get the impression that you aren’t quite the utter waste of space you try so hard to appear, so I’ll try once more.

    Trolling does not mean someone so calls you on your bullshit. Your insistence on using the term incorrectly, no matter how many times you are corrected is childish.

    Anyone who comments here can expect to occasionally get blasted by someone. This is Paryngula. There are plenty of online communities where the inhabitants are always polite, even to whiny little brats. Why not spend your time there?

    Your whining about how mean people have been to you here is pathetic. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    Or stop saying stupid shit and then screaming “Troll” every time some responds with “That is some really stupid shit.”

    —-

    And finally, to respond to your first paragraph, of course we can’t shed millennia of sexist culture over night. But the way to shed that culture is not to pretend it doesn’t exist and/or attack everyone attempting to do something about. Just because you mean well doesn’t change the fact that you are part of the problem.

  164. 164
    Algernon

    You say the idea that women have money, and might be willing to pay on dates “blew your mind”. Why were you not aware of that fact already ?

    Well, maybe he grew up in a Larry McMurtry film.

  165. 165
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Zerple:

    I’m not trying to excuse Markle. I see a lot of things I used to believe in what he posts (though they are sort of super-sized in his posts). I’m trying to move from a position of being Markle to the position of not being sexist.

    Excellent.

    Lesson 1: this is a zero-tolerance crowd for sexism. While it may sometimes seem as if the reaction is a tad overzealous, try to understand there’s generally a reason for this. Many of the regulars have suffered terrible things due to the innate misogyny of our culture, things you don’t have to worry about. Then, the reaction to Jen Watson’s little lecture on etiquette was like a lanced boil, with unexpected ugliness oozing out, demonstrating to folks like me exactly how far we haven’t come.

    Simply try to place yourself in the position of someone who says, “It isn’t comfortable to proposition a female you don’t know in an enclosed space like an elevator at 4am, no matter how polite you are about it,” and is told she just needs a good raping.

    Hopefully, it shouldn’t take much empathy for that.

    Then consider our responses in that context, and not the context of someone who has never had to face constant discrimination and objectification.

  166. 166
    Carlie

    Zerple – it’s ok if you personally aren’t comfortable commenting in this kind of “take no prisoners” environment. The people we’re trying to get through to are the recalcitrant ones who need a firm, straight, no-crap-allowed takedown of what they’re saying. (and sometimes we’re just expressing our extreme frustration with said attitudes)

    I learned a hell of a lot about sexism, racism, ableism, etc. by going to blogs that are just like this and just simply reading. I didn’t chime in because I knew I didn’t know quite enough to add my opinion, and that I’d get a lot more out of it by reading along and listening rather than trying to interject my own half-formed ideas. I watched other people barge in and say stupid things (sometimes the exact things I would have said), and learned from the takedowns tossed at them. Sometimes I didn’t understand why everyone else was so mad, and went out and looked up more on my own and then understood better.

    What I’m trying to say is that it’s no one’s job to educate everyone who comes along in the way they best want to be educated. And if you don’t want to get yelled at in a place that’s known for yelling at people, it’s ok to just read and not directly try to contribute.

  167. 167
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    Lots of people seem to irrationally think that our culture, and individuals within it can shed centuries (possibly millenia) of ingrained sexism instantaneously,

    No, they don’t.

    and then get explosively angry when they meet individuals who can’t refuse to even try.

    Fixed.
    There have been plenty of people who have come in and said something sexist (or ablist, racist, etc), got called on it, and then recognized it and worked on improving (myself among them). Those people are not a problem. Those people tend to be refreshing. The problem is people who have it all explained to them multiple times but refuse to listen or even care.

  168. 168
    Monado, FCD

    You bet. As I’ve mentioned before ad nauseam, when I went to the University of Waterloo there were no women’s washrooms in the Physics building. How’s that for a message?

  169. 169
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Zerple:

    This is a prime example of trolling. It even fits the pattern I made up earlier.

    Okay. That tears it. Matt was right.

    Look, Aquaria did respond to your post, pointing out that the misogyny outlined in PZ’s fucking post outlines misogyny far greater than paying for a date’s meal. That wasn’t a troll. That was an expression of frustration that you’re not getting it, either due to privilege blindness or willful ignorance.

    The string of invectives that followed were hints at Aquaria’s lack of continued patience.

    Now, either you’re serious about discovering how deep the rabbit hole goes, or you’re simply here trying to stir up shit. Decide which it is. If it’s the former, I highly recommend shutting the fuck up, unless you have genuine questions or observations. Responding to people as you have, you just demonstrate you wouldn’t recognize misogyny if it came up and pinched your nipple, and that you don’t understand what a “troll” is.

    I’ll try to treat you as if you’re being sincere, but you’re not making it easy.

  170. 170
    Worldtraveller

    Algernon:

    Nothing disgusts me like the idea that I’m a whore for a bagel.

    After being stuck in the midwest for 7 years, where they don’t even know what ‘lox’ is, I would be a whore for a bagel.

    MMmm….bagels. [/derail]

    My wife is finished her masters (Comp Sci) and going to start her PhD soon. The good news is that most of the sexism she encountered was the clueless sort of from well meaning professors who just hadn’t really got past the 80s, culturally speaking. It was still frustrating on occasion, but relatively harmless. I’m hoping that it continues to improve.

    And I knew I shouldn’t have clicked that link for the ‘sugar daddy parties’.

    I has a sad. *sigh*

  171. 171
    KG

    I just had this sort of unspoken assumption that women don’t have money and can’t afford movies, unless men take them. – Zerple

    Wow. That’s some impressive stupid. Kudos for admitting to it, I suppose.

  172. 172
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    I also typically do not allow men to pay for first dates, for the same reason. I negotiate, up front, that I’m paying for myself. It’s a litmus test: he freaks out, I leave.

    I once briefly dated a math PhD. Let’s just say that the attitude we’ve been describing does not stop in the sciences. I’ve been to some of the parties for math and physics at my university.

    I stopped responding to his calls after I patiently explained, with articles and references, what was sexist about asking a woman on a date why women are crazy bitches. When he asked me if there was ‘sand in my vag today or something’, I walked off and stopped talking to him.

    He is still confused by why that would have upset me. I see him on campus every once and awhile.

  173. 173
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Markle,
    There was a female grad student working the same experiment I did. She was damned good–a much better experimentalist than me. After she got out, she was competing with a male post-doc for a prestiegeous fellowship. The champions of the male post-doc actually sabotaged her work to make her look bad. They even got caught.

    Result: both my friend and the perp were suspended from the experiment. The perp was actually taken back within a year. My friend was forced out of the field. Her bipolar disorder got much worse and she eventually killed herself.

    And lest you think this is an isolated incident, I have other friends who were told they didn’t belong in engineering, were groped, some even to the point of sexual assault.

    Women have it much better now…except when they don’t.

  174. 174
    Walton

    It’s not that women want men to pay for dates because they have no money. If you don’t at least make a gesture of paying for the date, she tells all her friends what a cheapwad you are and ruins your rep. Best first dates are free first dates.

    Eh… what?

    I can only assume you’ve been hanging around with a bad crowd. Plenty of women don’t behave that way. :-/

    (As a general rule, generalizations along the lines of “all men do/are X” or “all women do/are Y”, based on personal anecdotes rather than actual evidence, tend to annoy me. It’s the same kind of knee-jerk sexism that has perpetuated the idea that boys are “naturally better” at certain school subjects and girls at others. There’s no empirical evidence for it, yet it’s a meme that won’t go away. In reality, generalizing your personal experiences to all women or to all men is rather like saying “oh, I got my wallet stolen by a Frenchman once, therefore all Frenchmen are thieves”. It’s just stupid.)

  175. 175
    Dianne

    I’m not really the dating sort, but when I go out with my partner I’m generally the one who pays. He’s a computational astrophysicist and therefore has lost all basic addition skills due to having to use those neurons for higher math. Or some such excuse. The bottom line is he can’t figure out tips and I can, so I do the actual “paying”. It looks really radfem until you realize that it all comes out of the same checking account.

  176. 176
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    When he asked me if there was ‘sand in my vag today or something’, I walked off and stopped talking to him.

    He then probably thought – “Yeah, definitely sand in her vag.”

  177. 177
    Dianne

    Off topic question: Do you know of any feminist blogs that talk about relationships, particularly marriage? I want to make sure I’m treating my wife the way she should be treated. Right now, we’re both happy, but it could be because we’ve both just accepted some ingrained, southern sexism.

    Most likely, none of us here is your wife. So we’re the wrong people to be asking about this issue. Ask her. Is she really as happy with things as you think? Does she feel ok with things in general but maybe want to try some things and see what happens? Are YOU really as happy as you say? These are questions only you and your wife can answer. So grow a spine and ask her what she wants. (And if the answer is, “to not discuss the relationship to death”, that should be respected too.)

  178. 178
    Walton

    Post-docs suggesting that I should drop out of school, find a nice man and make babies for him; getting called by my advisor to sit in on a phone conference with a scientist interested in a collaboration who inexplicably gets all quiet and then huffy when he realizes that the first author on that paper he’d loved so hard is a woman; undergrads who think that the right way to get a regrade out of the TA is to flirt with her and attempt to bully her when that fails.

    There aren’t enough *headdesks* in the world. Sorry you had to go through all that. :-(

    (I will admit that – as a frequently-clueless guy – I’ve been part of the problem, in the past. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve become attuned to the pervasiveness of sexism, conscious and unconscious, in our society.)

  179. 179
    eigenperson

    #144:

    Off topic question: Do you know of any feminist blogs that talk about relationships, particularly marriage? I want to make sure I’m treating my wife the way she should be treated. Right now, we’re both happy, but it could be because we’ve both just accepted some ingrained, southern sexism.

    Ooh! I know JUST the person you could ask about this.

  180. 180
    Twist

    Science, as far as I can see, is still very much a mans world.

    When the ratio of male to female academics in the department where I did my undergrad is better than 31:2, and nine women in a graduating class of 50 isn’t considered ‘a lot’ maybe I’ll see things differently.

    Add to that, when it’s not considered hilarious for an undergrad to tell me to make him a sandwich, and when nobody pointedly looks at me as I enter a computer lab, and then informs me that this lab is only for use by the Physics department I’ll stop feeling that I’m at a disadvantage because of my gender.

    When lab techs don’t feel that it’s appropriate to ask me if I’m pregnant or could become pregnant in front of a large group of people, thus completely disrespecting my privacy, and when it’s not assumed by everyone, my supervisor included until I state otherwise, that academia can’t really matter to me because sooner or later I’ll leave to have babeez, I’ll believe that science has become woman-friendly.

    It ain’t a level playing field yet. Much love for Dame Jocelyn Bell, she had it much harder than I did – I don’t think I would have stuck that out.

  181. 181
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I’m a noob, I suck at feminism, but I’m trying.

    First rule of trying: shut the fuck up and listen, and don’t respond until you have litened for a while. A couple of days are also need to digest what you hear.

    This is a prime example of trolling. It even fits the pattern I made up earlier.

    This from someone is is trolling???? Zerple, you are the troll. You can’t be trolled.

  182. 182
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    Add to that, when it’s not considered hilarious for an undergrad to tell me to make him a sandwich

    Er, it’s not??? head->desk

  183. 183
    Epikt

    nigelTheBold says:

    It’s not as easy as it looks, is it? I always thought I was very progressive as far as the shedding of sexism — my mom was a very independent person, who became a biologist late in life (just after I graduated high school), and then a science teacher. She has been an inspiration to me.

    Then I discovered I was not as progressive as I thought, and still had a ways to go in the shedding of sexism.

    It’s the job of a lifetime, isn’t it? Those of us who grew up in Uhmurrica have been soaking in a very sexist culture for a long time, and a lot of nasty shit percolates into your brain without you even being aware of it. Even with the best of intentions, and with complete support for gender equality, you may find ugly little bits of sexism popping out of some dark corner of your head from time to time. The trick is to recognize it when it happens, to be secure enough not to become instantly defensive about it, to avoid hurting anyone with it, and, if you can, to expunge it.

  184. 184
    Zerple

    Zerple,

    You say the idea that women have money, and might be willing to pay on dates “blew your mind”. Why were you not aware of that fact already ?

    It is not something a person who wants to be considered a thinking adult can be ignorant about.

    Have you ever been to the south? I’ve had this chivalry nonsense drilled into my head since before I could speak. I just never questioned it.

  185. 185
    speug

    Some background on Glasgow University in the late ’50′s early ’60′s. There were relatively few women in the first year Physics and Chemistry courses and very fewer yet by the third year.
    And it was a very rowdy University – barracking, cat-calling and paper darts were common and anybody arriving late to class (professors included) was likely to receive a noisy and abusive reception.
    However I never witnessed anybody being picked on for being female (unless they showed up late!) so Jocelyn Bell’s experience is somewhat puzzling. No question about the rampant discrimination against women in the sciences though, it was pretty obvious in those days, and the “No Bell” prize was disgusting.

  186. 186
    Zerple

    Wow. That’s some impressive stupid. Kudos for admitting to it, I suppose.

    Thanks, there is a lot of other stupid in there, and I’m working on cleaning it out. It’s just hard to dump a lifetime of it instantaneously.

  187. 187
    Lagerbaer

    It comes up often that the advisor getting the price with the student being ignored was common practice, but with John Robert Schrieffer and with Brian David Josephson, I could immediately think of two male physicists who got rewarded with a Noble prize for things they discovered during their PhD.

  188. 188
    Zerple

    Look, Aquaria did respond to your post, pointing out that the misogyny outlined in PZ’s fucking post outlines misogyny far greater than paying for a date’s meal. That wasn’t a troll. That was an expression of frustration that you’re not getting it, either due to privilege blindness or willful ignorance.

    The stuff in the post is clearly sexist. She raged because I provided a relevant anecdote to what made me feel like I need to change. I guess I could have posted something about how the blatantly sexist things are blatantly sexist, but that seems like a time waster, as I don’t whistle at women and do not have a penchant for rape jokes.

    Aquaria’s response was pretty much just irrelevant rage.

  189. 189
    Monado, FCD

    When the SO’s daughter has her M.Sc. or Ph.D. dissertation published in Nature, she is the primary author. Her adviser is scrupulous. I think it helps to come with your own funding.

  190. 190
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis: That was probably his conclusion, yes.

    To add to the general tally of sex disadvantages, I have been interrupted repeatedly MID-LECTURE by staff and other teachers, who assumed the room (full of undergrads, with me at the front, writing on the board and lecturing) was not in official use. When I challenge them, I tend to get the same answer: What? How was I supposed to know this room was in use? I’m standing right there, in my office casual, but I could not possibly be the instructor for the course.

    Or the flirt/bully dichotomy from students.

    Or the staring down the front of my shirt when I try to talk to students.

    Or the touching by students.

    Or the assumption, in technology and math conversations with majors and graduate students, that I’m too stupid to ‘get it’ and jokes in Latin about how dense women are in front of me.

    Or male undergrads who pick fights with me in class, saying that I shouldn’t teach because women can’t understand logic or argumentation.

    Or the asshole who wrote me via email, all semester long, to tell me god said I shouldn’t be allowed to teach. Women, after all, are not to instruct men. He peppered his emails with accusations of religious persecution because I allowed a discussion of how people felt about religion (it was germane to the reading that day), and the people in class (including a handful of queer kids) didn’t like religion.

    Or people who tell me that the social sciences are for people who don’t really want to be scientists.

    Or people who tell me that I don’t have to understand the math, silly girl, just to use it. Surely, I can just learn to plug numbers in.

    Or math professors who won’t answer my questions because there’s no point in answering them. (Thank you, kid in the back row, for hunting me down to answer what the professor won’t.)

    Or math professors who respond to my asking them not to make the tests a slide show (complete with ‘what’s wrong with you people for not having this done’ after 30 seconds) by saying “I’m not your therapist.” Because asking the person teaching the math class not to provide running commentary on our intelligences means I need a therapist, and asking to be able to select the order in which I do problems means I can’t possibly be good at math. Let’s just say that male people in the class are also discouraged by the comments on how if we were smart, it would take us seconds to complete each question on these exams.

    Never mind, of course, that I’m making grades within the top quarter of the class for my coursework. My applied stats and methodologies course professor is disturbed that so many people managed to pass his midterm. The typical top grade is somewhere in the fifties. I made an 81.5, which he feels is a critical failure on his part in designing the test.

    But hey, I only need to learn to do data entry in a stats program. Watch me grit my teeth/smile my way through several years of stats and regular math.

  191. 191
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    @speug

    cat-calling sounds gender-specific enough… or was that universally applied?

  192. 192
    Zerple

    @mouthyb 190 -

    I find this anecdote interesting. Do you have more? I don’t see this stuff, because I’m on the opposite side of the fence. What are some other things that particularly bother you?

    Do you have your own blog?

  193. 193
    Worldtraveller

    Sexist anecdote: My wife used to do phone tech support for a computer software company. One day, she gets a call that went approximately like this:

    Douchbag Caller: I have a real problem and need to talk to a man about it, I don’t think you’ll be able to solve it.
    Wife: Ok, let me pass you on to my supervisor. (The mental responses were entirely different.)
    Supe, after hearing he wanted to talk to his ‘best’ rep: Actually, she is my best rep, so would you like to talk to her, or would you prefer a penis to be attached to the rep you speak with? (Yes, according to my wife, he actually said that!)

    Of course, the DC never apologized or anything, just pretended nothing happened when he was transferred back to my wife and she solved the issue within a matter of minutes.

    I suppose phones are somewhat like the internet in that the relative anonymity allows their inner asshole to come to the surface, but wow..I could not imagine saying something so blatantly sexist or racist and not having the person on the other end just hang up (this was back in the days of 15 minute queues, typically).

  194. 194
    Realee

    @Zerple

    She raged because I provided a relevant anecdote to what made me feel like I need to change. I guess I could have posted something about how the blatantly sexist things are blatantly sexist, but that seems like a time waster, as I don’t whistle at women and do not have a penchant for rape jokes.

    Aquaria’s response was pretty much just irrelevant rage.

    It is an anecdote that you have offered us prior to that point. It wasn’t on topic. It was about you. Again. This thread isn’t about you. To a point that’s fine if you’re trying to explain a post or ask a relevant question… but over and over… it’s derailing. It is frustrating to those on topic. So is calling people out as trolls constantly.

    If you want to learn, listen. People are talking not only about sexism in the past but real things that are happening to them today. Things that need change still. Not time wasters. If those aren’t activities that you participate in great. If you as a result don’t have constructive things to contribute to the discussion that’s okay too. It doesn’t mean you have to make the thread about you in that case.

  195. 195
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    Zerple: I used to, and then I had a set of run-ins with Vox Day, and his followers threatened to find my home via my IP and rape me/beat me into behaving correctly.

    The people in my previous department also found my blog, which included criticism of my department (not by name, of course), and used it to make my life miserable. I stopped blogging.

    I’m thinking about taking it back up again. I miss it.

  196. 196
    Realee

    Woop sorry bold error I thought I previewed that but made a few changes… my bad.

  197. 197
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    fastlane: I worked for Radio Shack for awhile and I can second that anecdote.

    Cue endless stream of ‘can I talk to a real technician/honey, where are your men/why would they employ so many girls/you bitches (yes, really) don’t know anything/etc.’

  198. 198
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    What the— sorry for the bold, everyone. I don’t know why my comments are all bold.

  199. 199
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    As another anecdote from “the other side of the fence”-

    In my last year of TAing in grad school, on of our undergrads came up to me in the hallway and started telling me how interesting my research was, and what a great TA I was, much better than the hysterical girl who was his regular TA, because she doesn’t get the problems anyways, and gets all bitchy all the time because probably she has her monthlies, and that fortunately we as men could handle it like real men and whether I could tell him what was on the exam.

    Fortunately, I hadn’t eaten previously.

  200. 200
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    unbold test

  201. 201
    Zerple

    @mouthyb 195 -

    I’ve never heard of Vox Day before. Anyone who writes for WND is probably insane though. You could always blog through a proxy to keep them from finding you.

  202. 202
    Realee

    So sorry I think the bold is my fault… but I don’t know how to fix it.

  203. 203
    McWaffle

    Yeah, the bold from #194 seems to have spilled over. Weird…

  204. 204
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    The tag needs closing.

  205. 205
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    Well, I think we’ve found a flaw in the blog software. ;-)

  206. 206
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    The html code looks funny, with a slash mispositioned in the bold closing tag. Maybe one can compensate with another bold

  207. 207
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    doesn’t seem like it

  208. 208
    Zerple

    I’m going to try to fix the bold problem.

    Experiment gooooooooo!

  209. 209
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I tried closing it before. Hopefully this will stick?

  210. 210
  211. 211
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    andanother try….

  212. 212
    Realee

    Flaw in the software or not sorry everyone.

  213. 213
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    does italic still work?

  214. 214
    Monado, FCD

    “Sugar Daddy parties”? I refuse to read it.

    The point is, we don’t have to let previous generations’ mistakes weigh us down. Ask yourself? “Is this the way I’d want to be treated?” and if it’s not, don’t do it.

  215. 215
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    I don’t know what Vox Day’s mental health might be (and I hesitate to guess since that’s not my specialty and you don’t have to be nuts to be an asshole), but thanks to the proliferation of female bloggers writing about these kinds of issues, I wouldn’t be facing the horde of jackassery alone.

    Not that I would assume support from people I talk to, but compared to 2006, when I was writing, the climate on many sites I visit has gotten a bit better about talking about harassment.

    Note: I did not say things are great for everyone. I still run into these problems. Those anecdotes (with the exception of Radio Shack, where I worked in 2002) are from the last three years of teaching college/being a graduate student.

  216. 216
    Monado, FCD

    I put in a couple of end tags.

  217. 217
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    Monado,
    -
    what an ingenious insight! brilliant!

  218. 218
    Monado, FCD

    bold unbold.
    strong weak.

  219. 219
    Monado, FCD

    Closing tags do not work unless something other than “b” or “strong” started all this.

  220. 220
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    Monado,
    -
    what an ingenious insight! brilliant!
    that referring to #214

  221. 221
    Zerple

    @199 -

    Thanks for the anecdote.

    The only sexist thing I have experienced lately (To my knowledge) happened about a month ago. One of my wife’s friends from high school wanted to hang out with her, but her father told her that she had to ask me, because “Everything changes when you are married!”. I promptly, and loudly asserted that she could go wherever she wanted without asking me, and that expecting her to “ask permission” was unreasonable and oppressive, but that I would like to be notified, so that I don’t plan something the same day, or worry when she doesn’t appear when she normally would.

    He seemed shocked that I didn’t agree with his idea that she should ask me for permission and that hangout requests should be processed through me. Even her friend seemed shocked (Their family is terribly conservative and terribly Christian).

  222. 222
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis: I occasionally get the ‘exceptional woman’ trope from students. “Oh, Ms. mouthyb, you’re not like the other TAs I’ve had. Some of them are, you know, so emotional.”

    I have this moment where I want to turn and say, “Look, kid, maybe if you weren’t such a little douche, your TA would be less frustrated.”

    Instead, I just stare at them until they wind down. I like to make those interactions awkward whenever possible.

  223. 223
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    This stuff is going to be deleted I suppose?

  224. 224
    Realee

    If you look back to whatever I used in 194 in the email subscription I was at least attempting to use bold. b Maybe looking at that raw will help… Good grief teach me to delurk.

  225. 225
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    mouthyb,

    yeah, now that you say it, I think the word “emotional” was in there as well.

  226. 226
    KG

    You’re all very bold all of a sudden!

  227. 227
    curiouser

    I think the bold tags can only be fixed by editing the errant comments (by an admin or some such, i.e. PZ would have to do it). They had this problem over on The Atheist Experience the other day, but it can be fixed. Must be specific to the bold tag, since it was bold there too.

  228. 228
    Realee

    Well, what people are saying is still worthwhile. And we could use italics for emphasis for now it seems. And we know that we aren’t trying to emphasize everything. So, unless there’s a better solution, for now continuing on from there?

  229. 229
    curiouser

    Argh, I meant errant comment, #194, with the unclosed tag.

  230. 230
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    I HAVE AN IDEA. WE COULD ALSO USE ALL-CAPS TO INDICATE THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT!!!!!!

  231. 231
    Zerple

    Hmm, that was blank. I am obviously a wizard.

  232. 232
    Zerple

    This post contains no html formatting.

  233. 233
    Realee

    Well, if we can’t fix it ourselves… again sorry… please don’t let my error derail the conversation further.

  234. 234
    Zerple

    Hmm, no luck.

  235. 235
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Back when I was in uni, I had a friend who was doing her grad work in psychology. Her male adviser always took on women international students, or women who came from first generation immigrant families. From the way he treated them, I was convinced he did this not because of some progressive desire to help them get ahead, but because he thought they would be much more easily exploited. The one male student he had in all the years I was familiar with what he was doing changed advisers within a couple of months. The female students were all intimidated by his position and were afraid to cross him. I think he was Graduate Chair in his Department & was up for Department Head at one point.

  236. 236
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Ah-hah! You are trying to make my name look so special now, no?

    Well, it will not work.

  237. 237
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis: Totally aside from the point, but my colleagues in the last department I was in gave me a handmade award: TA least likely to take shit from you.

    I was awarded it based on several showdowns with professors and a handful with students. That semester, a very good looking male student told me, after flirting like mad/sexually harassing me, that I would give him an A because he was so charming.

    I laughed so hard I had to sit on my desk for a minute.

  238. 238
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    Hey, I’ve got one more anecdote, a meta-anecdote basically, and one in which I feature unfortunately, but then I’m all out of em

    So during a department BBQ over a few beers we were actually talking about how it comes there are so few women in physics. The end of the exchange went something like this

    A Guy: “but are there any famous women in your field right now?”
    which somehow startled me.
    I: “but of course, don’t you know for example [current famous female physicist], she’s was one of the most influential people of the past decade”?
    A Guy: “No”.
    I: “You’ve probably seen her, she kind of looks like [famous actress]“.
    A Guy: “So why isn’t she an actress then?”

  239. 239
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    Ibis3: I’ll second that, second hand. I had IRB training this summer. A set of three French engineering graduate students sat next to me for most of my training. I had a conversation with one of them about that; their advisors know that their student visas are contingent on performance, and load them so that they can’t take vacations, can’t go home on the weekends and have a great deal of trouble keeping up with course work.

    He bitterly remarked that they were routinely in the lab when everyone else on the project, who were an American citizens, went home, and that they could not even transfer out from under the advisor they shared because of department pressure.

  240. 240
    Algernon
  241. 241
    Algernon

    arrrgh

  242. 242
    Lagerbaer

    I’ll just post a closing b tag in hope that it helps

    Test

  243. 243
    Algernon

    Well, given the way things look right now it doesn’t matter anyway.

  244. 244
    Twist

    I once scored freakishly high in a class with a fairly low average. Me and one other student got the same grade. He got congratulations from our peer group, I got jokes about how I must be sleeping with the professor.

    Makes me so fucking angry, like I couldn’t possibly do well on my own, it couldn’t possibly be that I showed up to all my classes, paid attention, worked hard, oh and might not actually be a dumb-shit bimbo, could it? Nah, must be screwing someone.

  245. 245
    Algernon

    Isn’t there a function or something that can be written for the blog that closes any opened tags in the comments?

  246. 246
    Watchman

    And I knew I shouldn’t have clicked that link for the ‘sugar daddy parties’.

    You and me both, brother. That was really depressing.

    It’s the job of a lifetime, isn’t it? Those of us who grew up in Uhmurrica have been soaking in a very sexist culture for a long time, and a lot of nasty shit percolates into your brain without you even being aware of it. Even with the best of intentions, and with complete support for gender equality, you may find ugly little bits of sexism popping out of some dark corner of your head from time to time. The trick is to recognize it when it happens, to be secure enough not to become instantly defensive about it, to avoid hurting anyone with it, and, if you can, to expunge it.

    QFT.

    The same line of thinking applies to various other -isms.

  247. 247
    Realee

    forgive me if this is silly but worth a try based on FAQ

  248. 248
    Zugswang

    Just for kicks and giggles, let’s see what an open italics tag does.

  249. 249
    Zerple

    @248

    Probably nothing.

  250. 250
    Realee

    closetags appears to be our friend

  251. 251
    Realee

    things are unbolded for me at least… everyone else too?

  252. 252
    PZ Myers

    There is a bug in the HTML formatting code for wordpress. This has come up a few times before; I have to go in and clean it up myself. I have mentioned this annoying problem to the tech guy.

    Here’s the thing: YOU CAN’T FIX IT FROM YOUR END. Don’t try. You can, however, MAKE IT WORSE. If you’re experimenting trying to replicate the bug and get the formatting even more scrambled, you are FUCKING PISSING ME OFF and creating more work for me. YOU AREN’T HELPING.

    Do you understand that?

    When you see these glitches, ignore them. I’ll get to them when I can. Do not experiment. In particular, do not experiment and then tell everyone how to fuck up the formatting at will, because they will.

    We’ve been through this kind of thing before. If I have to wade through a dozen threads cleaning up intentionally applied formatting bugs, I will snap in one of two ways: I will either shut off your ability to do any html formatting at all, or I’ll start banning people.

    This is the commons. Don’t start shitting in it.

  253. 253
    Monado, FCD

    Yes, it is fixed now. I think PZ nipped in and corrected way up in the comments right after it happened.

  254. 254
    Realee

    Thank you. Very much noted. Again sorry for starting the mess.

  255. 255
    uncle frogy

    what I really do not understand about this and the related areas is how it is not seen that this whole idea of superior vs inferior people because of what ever simple mostly external differences that can be made is even remotely good or true.
    Even if you take into consideration some ability or accomplishment that does not make that person better or more important than anyone else at all.
    I also do not see why it is not recognized that making those kinds of judgements even subconsciously diminishes all of us and prevents us as humans from truly flourishing.
    If you are not truly free than neither am I. That culture of judgement and privilege effects us all the only thing that changes is the criteria which is in the end mostly arbitrary. They are just weapons to fight each other with for some perceived advantage . It just seems like such a waste of time and effort to me. We are all born the same and live our little bit of eternity and then are as dead as the volcanoes in monument valley and so is our brief advantage.
    as for saying it is so much better now well sure it is but that sounds like saying ” we survived the landing and have liberated Normandy from the Nazi’s” true but we ain’t even close to half done yet but we are on the way if we don’t stop we may get their.

    uncle frogy

  256. 256
    PZ Myers

    Accidentally tripping this bug is not a problem. It’s rare enough that I can fix it (and tech guy will fix it permanently, I hope). The problem is the people who see a shared comment thread as a playground for playing html games.

  257. 257
    Algernon

    Do you understand that?

    When you see these glitches, ignore them. I’ll get to them when I can. Do not experiment. In particular, do not experiment and then tell everyone how to fuck up the formatting at will, because they will.

    Sorry, and promise not to.

  258. 258
    Algernon

    It seems to me some one, whoever manages the tech stuff here or something, could add some custom php or something to do it? I think other people have had the same problem.

  259. 259
    PZ Myers

    Sorry for the crankiness, but see it from my perspective. I’ve been booked solid with teaching and meetings all day, with more to come, and I get a half hour free to have a cup of tea before my next appointment, and what do I get to do? Debug and clean up a pointless mess in a comment thread.

    You want to be helpful? Next time, use the email link up there on the right and tell me something is screwed up. Then I can clean it up before it gets compounded by people playing games.

  260. 260
    calliopejane

             It doesn’t have to be something as wretchedly overt as being wolf-whistled every time you come to class to discourage women from male-dominated fields. Bear in mind that many people are making initial choices of career field (or at least ruling things out) in the age range of 17-20 or so. Adolescence barely behind you, maybe a bit confused about adult expectations, lacking a lot of life experience, etc. When I graduated high school (in 1984) I went to college to major in chemical engineering. Women were definitely a minority in the program.

             I went in not expecting problems. After all, I had a wall of math- and science-contest trophies and ribbons, I’d already had two years of organic chemistry and two years of calculus in my [fantastic, public] high school. And what I didn’t expect is what slammed me. I didn’t expect to be treated like I had no right to be there. Not all of the professors, but a substantial number, clearly thought that about women students. If I asked a question, I was belittled and made to feel stupid and small (despite the fact that it was a perfectly valid question). If I tried to come by office hours, they were busy, distracted, and dismissive. I recall very clearly giving an answer to a question in a physics class and being rudely told I was wrong, with a tone of “how could you even expect to be keeping up in here?” Shortly thereafter, a male student gave basically the same answer, and was praised for it. I’m rather certain that it was indeed the same answer, because the guy sitting next to me whispered, “didn’t you just say that?”

             If that were to happen to me now, as a confident feminist 45-year-old woman, I’d totally be all “fuck you, I have the right to be here every bit as much as the men, and you are in fact an awful professor if you are unwilling to treat ALL your students with respect.” But back then, as a 19-year-old just testing the waters of an “adult” world, I was totally unequipped to deal with it. And I changed majors. I am happy with my current academic job and my PhD in psychology, but I sometimes wistfully wonder where I’d be if I’d stuck with “harder” science.

             And I also want to punch in the face anyone who dismisses wage-gap problems with, “well, women just CHOOSE the lower-paying fields, like social sciences instead of physical science.” Yeah, right, it’s a TOTALLY FREE choice…

  261. 261
    Realee

    Absolutely understandable I would probably have the same tone. Promise to do so in the future.

  262. 262
    Algernon

    Yeah, right, it’s a TOTALLY FREE choice…

    Yeah, it was a completely rational self-interest type decision on my part. I figured, why fight so hard, be treated badly, and do something where I can’t get to the top?

    So I switched to something I thought would be more win-able for me. Now, had I known then what I know now I would have stayed the fuck away from that choice. It was literally the worst mistake in my life.

    But… 20/20 hindsight being what it is I suppose it is ok. However, when I hear about those “choices” it makes me cringe. I’m still “proving” myself in my field now as it is, and I have years lost and can expect to have less money to support myself. There’s no choice there. It’s just bullshit.

  263. 263
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    If you’re experimenting trying to replicate the bug and get the formatting even more scrambled, you are FUCKING PISSING ME OFF and creating more work for me. YOU AREN’T HELPING.

    Do you understand that?

    Understood, tentacled overlord. And I’m sorry for my part in it.

  264. 264
    Worldtraveller

    mouthyb

    I have this moment where I want to turn and say, “Look, kid, maybe if you weren’t such a little douche, your TA would be less frustrated.”

    If you do, please be sure to have a hidden camera going somewhere and youtube it! ;-)

    I: “You’ve probably seen her, she kind of looks like [famous actress]“.
    A Guy: “So why isn’t she an actress then?”

    Owwwww. That sound you heard was my head impacting my desk…. I think it registered on the local Richter scale….

  265. 265
    Realee

    @calliopejane

    I agree. The attitude I got in a number of my classes just getting my biology undergrad degree and in managing a cognitive neuroscience lab (while that was an amazing opportunity given to me by my male professor) steered me away from academics and research which I loved towards my psychology degree. I’m now a crisis counselor which I love as well. I wonder if I had kept going though… research was amazing.

  266. 266
    Tethys

    Zerple said

    Aquaria’s response was pretty much just irrelevant rage.

    No, you are definitely not getting it.

    Aquaria did respond clearly and calmly as to why you were mistaken.
    You ignored her. Then you proceed to be patronizing and condescending and in general a sexist asshole.

    Aquarias response is logical.

    You don’t listen cupcake. You especially don’t listen to women.

    Then you demand that we teach you?!!

    You are deafened by your own sense of entitlement.

  267. 267
    SallyStrange

    Fantastic thread. It makes me glad I waited to go back to college, because when I was 17-18, I was definitely under the influence of the “I’m a girl, I don’t do math and science” stereotype, even though I was fascinated by my earth science, chemistry, and physics classes in high school. It was just that they were, well, challenging, and English and social studies and history were comparatively easy, and I wasn’t expected to challenge myself, so I avoided math, coasted through the humanities, and had a good time trying to figure out the science stuff, doing fairly well but not as well as in the humanities classes. Now that I know that I actually have a fairly well-developed sense of spatial reasoning, and a passion for the natural environment, well, it’s clear that science is the field for me. And although I’m not looking forward to dealing with sexist bullshit in grad school once I go back (any day now!), I now feel far more prepared to take it in stride and not let it hold me back.

    Hopefully the sexist bullshit in grad school will at least be more interesting than the sexist bullshit on the construction worksite.

  268. 268
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I’ve experienced a lot of whiplash over the years. I grew up in a small, rural and deeply conservative (politically as well as religiously) town. I was the only girl in my high school physics class, one of only three in upper level chemistry, and I never got to take calculus because the school decided to stop offering it (citing “lack of interest”) the year 3 girls and 6 boys signed up (it had been taught the year before, to 4 boys and 1 girl). Note which year had more students total signed up.
    And yes, that means that I got physics in high school without an underpinning of calculus. It didn’t work very well. The boys in the class were helped in how to do physics equations using algebra and trigonometry (!) and I was mocked for making the same errors.
    I was laughed at OPENLY for expressing an interest in a career as a scientist. When I requested materials about college prep for majoring in chemistry from the councillor’s office, I got a packet on being a classics major. That was the box I had obviously meant to check.
    When I requested official transcripts be sent to colleges, the office was quick to comply to send them the transcripts of other (male) students. I had to complain in person multiple times to get them to send my scores.

    I could go on, but I’m sick just thinking of it.

    I went to a women’s college, one with a very strong tradition of science. I loved it. I quite honestly can say I can’t remember a single instance of sexism from administration or faculty (homophobia is another story).

    Then I went to grad school at a major research university. I got hit on the first day. A student in the class I TA’d was shocked when his comment that I’d be much prettier if I wore makeup didn’t get him a higher grade. He actually went and complained to the professor (who, I’m glad to say, told him to shove it). I’ve seen brilliant undergrads with a perfect aptitude for engineering and a knack for systems biology explain that, really, they’d rather change their major from biomedical engineering to biology, as they’re much better suited for it. That is, the ones who don’t just drop out or transfer to other schools.

    One of the biggest events on campus every year is the annual observation of “Ratio Induced Bitch Syndrome Day,” where female students who dare to have opinions and not fawn over male students are slammed. The administration thinks its hilarious and utterly harmless. They’re also confused as to why female prospective students come to visit campus, meet faculty and other students and then decide to go study elsewhere.

    _____
    Sorry for my part in the perpetuation of the html fail. Won’t happen again.

  269. 269
    Ing

    @Zerple

    Aquaria’s response was pretty much just irrelevant rage.

    So were all of my responses to you. Oh..and I’m the one who pointed out the “you can split the bill” thing.

    You’re welcome. You should listen more.

  270. 270
    Ing

    Incidentally, there’s a fairly sexist advert for the execrable Rational Response Squad at the top of this article. I dunno how the ads work here, but it’s a bit of a shame.

    If It’s the ad I’m thinking of they’re reusing a stock model that also appears in local ads where I live for sperm donors.

  271. 271
    ButchKitties

    In my 8th grade chem lab, I set the curve for the midterm and final, and I got the highest overall grade in the class. What I didn’t get: the teacher recommendation necessary to take honors science in 9th grade.

    When I asked why I didn’t get the recommendation, my teacher accused me of cheating off a male student who had gotten a B to my A+. His proof was that I never did any of the extra credit (which, on top of the fact that I didn’t need extra credit, the EC was not anything that offered a learning experience… unless you needed to learn how to make copies and clean blackboards) and the fact that this male student and I were friends.

    The male student who was supposedly letting me copy his work? He did get a recommendation for the honors class.

  272. 272
    Algernon

    One of the biggest events on campus every year is the annual observation of “Ratio Induced Bitch Syndrome Day,” where female students who dare to have opinions and not fawn over male students are slammed. The administration thinks its hilarious and utterly harmless.

    I don’t want to go into specifics about the school I went to. Some people here know what I’m talking about. All I will say is administrative consent is evil, and they often don’t have any idea what the environment they choose to create ends up spawning for people.

    Harmless fun, in my case, was far from harmless. Peoples lives were ruined, they were injured physically and mentally, not just me, and it’s still going on.

    Honestly, I’m still just not able to go to that place in my mind but I will say this: on my way home there is a billboard for that university along the highway and instinctively I give it the finger as I pass.

  273. 273
    Godless Heathen

    @Algernon (#272):

    I had to look up that phrase on urban dictionary and Wikipedia. Ew. Everything about that concept is incredibly disgusting. And misogynistic and entitled.

    A friend who lived on my floor my freshman year of college told me about his friend who was studying engineering at a tech or engineering school with a really high male:female ratio. He didn’t tell me much (and I don’t want to trigger anything), but from his perspective the whole situation was bad for the men, while the whole time he was talking all I could think about was how awful that environment must have been for the women.

  274. 274
    Ing

    Ratio Induced Bitch Syndrome, happens at schools or offices where there are just a few hot girls. They get it in their heads that because they are so “hot” that they are too good to be talked/dated/played with.

    For the, previously fortunately, uninformed.

  275. 275
    Algernon

    I like how “talked with” is equal to “played with” in that person’s description. Really says a lot about them.

    Not to mention how “dated” is sandwiched in there despite the fact that it doesn’t work with “with” at all. Very odd. It almost sounds like the person means “talked at” and “played with” as a description of “dated” which explains why some people wouldn’t want to be on the unfortunate end!

  276. 276
    Algernon

    Goes back to the assumed consent issue though. Women are there, they are there for me! I need them to cater to me! If they don’t there is something wrong with them.

    It’s sad that we condition some people to such an extent that they really honestly think that any woman anywhere “owes” them a conversation.

    It’s as if the very idea that people might talk to people they feel like talking to and not to those they don’t is just too upsetting.

  277. 277
    Godless Heathen

    It’s sad that we condition some people to such an extent that they really honestly think that any woman anywhere “owes” them a conversation.

    I don’t think of it as sad, so much as rage-inducing.

    Also, why would I want to be “played with,” anyway? I’m not a pet or a young child.

  278. 278
    Pteryxx

    @mouthyb: Would there be better stalking protection while blogging as part of a shared platform? Such as, here at FTB, perhaps. Or Skepchick is looking for additional writers, by the way. J’sayin.

  279. 279
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    @Sally Strange, OM

    Very nice, what’s it going to be? (the field I mean)

    Concerning RIBS – again, the world has become a little darker

  280. 280
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    And also PZ, sorry for the HTML mess. It started innocent enough… Will not attempt again :)

  281. 281
    MadScientist

    Jocelyn’s a wonderful person; anyone with an opportunity to hear her give a public talk should go. Her peers are far more critical of (hostile to) her supervisor but I think she’s got a good attitude – just go on and do other interesting things.

    Strip charts were used for numerous things even well into the 1980s because computers were too damned expensive and very limited. The rings of Neptune were discovered as deviations in a photometer’s chart rather than imaged as in the case of Saturn. Other fun things of the times: from ~1945 to ~1990 the ionosphere was studied by photographing an oscilloscope screen and making measurements with a ruler (a few lucky people had computerized their ionosondes long before 1990, but they were the exceptions). The mother of all stripcharts though is the seismic chart recorder. From ~1920 until ~1990 those things had to be analyzed with a ruler, although from ~1975 you could digitize points of interest if you had a mainframe or mini computer and the digitizing hardware. These days many (perhaps most) seismographs are computerized but the chart recorders still run because they’re more convenient to glance at.

  282. 282
    SallyStrange

    Very nice, what’s it going to be? (the field I mean)

    I’m still deciding, because my ass is so goddamn multidisciplinary it’s hard to find programs, but something to do with hydrogeology or environmental engineering.

  283. 283
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    Sally Strange,

    Wow, yeah, without knowing much about it, that sounds pretty interdisciplinary. Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Maths anyhow…

  284. 284
    Greg Laden

    YOU AREN’T HELPING.

    That would be a great name for a blog!

  285. 285
    Carlie

    Goes back to the assumed consent issue though. Women are there, they are there for me! I need them to cater to me! If they don’t there is something wrong with them.

    Smile! You look so much prettier when you smile.

    [/vomit]

  286. 286
    Algernon

    Smile! You look so much prettier when you smile.

    Oh I do really hate that. My favorite retort so far: “But I don’t feel prettier when I smile.”

    Best said with unblinking eye contact and some intensity.

  287. 287
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    my ass is so goddamn multidisciplinary

    That sounds like a marketable trait.

  288. 288
    SallyStrange

    my ass is so goddamn multidisciplinary

    That sounds like a marketable trait.

    Sometimes. Other times, there’s the “Jack of all trades, master of none” syndrome to contend with.

  289. 289
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    “Jack of all trades, master of none”

    Concerning that (and because I am also naturally inclined in that direction), I found Nathan Myhrvolds TED talk somehow comforting (apart from the computer controlled roast oven, eeew). Of course, he’s already a multimillionaire, so that helps.

  290. 290
    SallyStrange

    I’m not a detail-oriented person. Oh, I put “detail-oriented” on my CVs as readily as the next person, because I am perfectly capable of managing a database and copy-editing, but my strengths lie in pattern detection and systemic analysis. But I’m still working in entry-level positions where those skills aren’t really appreciated very much. So it’s a bit frustrating.

    I am looking up that TED talk right now…

  291. 291
    Philip L

    YOU AREN’T HELPING.

    That would be a great name for a blog!

    Greg Laden, you are dismissed.

    (Well, just kidding… after all, who am I to suggest you go following similar coat-trailing comments of my own?)

  292. 292
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    I was referring to this one

    http://www.ted.com/talks/nathan_myhrvold_on_archeology_animal_photography_bbq.html

  293. 293
    Worldtraveller

    One of the biggest events on campus every year is the annual observation of “Ratio Induced Bitch Syndrome Day,” where female students who dare to have opinions and not fawn over male students are slammed. The administration thinks its hilarious and utterly harmless. They’re also confused as to why female prospective students come to visit campus, meet faculty and other students and then decide to go study elsewhere.

    Holy shit. I see a potential lawsuit in that school’s future. (Can you hostile academic environment?)

    Someone needs to drop a subtle hint to the local ACLU where that school is and ask them to look into it, IMO.

  294. 294
    mouthyb, who did not tell off her stats teacher because grades

    fastlane: Sadly, while it would be amusing, I think it would only result in me losing my job.

    Pteryxx: Sent in application to Skepchick. Have not heard back, but I assume they haven’t notified any one.

    Let’s add another: I just got out of stats class. The TA teaching it refused to acknowledge my raised hand until the class members started yelling to get his attention, then refused to answer my question because it was a waste of his time. The gentleman who asked after me didn’t have to raise his hand, asked roughly the same question, and was praised for it. See me, see me keep my GPA.

    If it weren’t for knowing other female scientists, I would not be able to shrug this kind of shit off.

  295. 295
    Pteryxx

    woo! @mouthyb, heck, even if you just sent in a guest post once in a while, I’d eagerly read ‘em. AND all the references! All of ‘em!

  296. 296
    mouthyb, who did not tell off her stats teacher because grades

    Pteryxx: See, that makes me happy. I deliberately source google scholar so that people without access to scholarly databases can at least see the abstract, but sometimes it seems like only one or two people read them.

    Can’t make people read ‘em, but it’s always nice to know someone does.

  297. 297
    Dianne

    Smile! You look so much prettier when you smile.

    My response to comments like the above: But my current expression is so much more appropriate for my next move which is ripping your throat out for that bit of idiocy.

    Yeah, of course, I got called a bitch a lot.

  298. 298
    Quent

    @79

    But it’s just not true. The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to Scandinavian authors very rarely. The last time was in the 70s! Accusing the Swedish Academy for provincial bias for awarding it to Tomas Tranströmer this year seems to be very unfair. Are you suggesting that Tomas Tranströmer is not one of the most esteemed contemporary poets in the world?

  299. 299
    Pteryxx

    @mouthyb: I have in my comments hoard a string of posts labeled “mouthyb re social signals”, “mouthyb on harassment of uppity women” etc. Although most of the time, I just hoard the reference papers themselves, I admit.

  300. 300
    echidna

    Butchkitties,
    The story so far: you were not given a recommendation for the honours class by a misogynistic idiot teacher. But what happened then? Did you get into the honours class anyway, or was that door shut to you?

  301. 301
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    My wife had very similar experiences in high school science more than once in the 90s.
    When she was asking for further material about things that interested her, two teachers even explicitly told her that higher maths / physics wasn’t for her, although she was among top of the class, while happily providing infos to worse male students. Fortunately, that didn’t scare her away from going all the way to grad school. Idiots.

  302. 302
    Watchman

    Thanks to all the women who have shared their invariably frustrating and often painful stories. It’s been revealing and disturbing. I find the attitudes you describe to be unfathomable.

    I may have been blinded by good fortune: When I was a kid, science was more of a “boy thing,” of course – but any girls who were good at it, and interested, were part of the mix, and that’s how it was, and it was cool. In high school, a fair number of girls went in for higher math and science classes (advanced algebra, calculus, chem, physics) without – as far as I can recall – running into teachers who actively discouraged them and/or treated them like born failures.

    My two closest female friends excelled in all these subjects. One graduated 1st in our class, went to a “Seven Sisters” school, majored in bio, got a PhD and now teaches at the university level. The other graduated 6th, went through the engineering program at an Ivy League school, and is now a high-ranking VP in the telecom world. None of this came as any big surprise to me.

    But I do have to wonder what obstacles they might have had to overcome in their respective journeys through higher education and in their professional lives. It seems unlikely that their paths were always as smooth as they seemed to me to be.

    We graduated high school in the mid ’70s, from a public school in Connecticut, FWIW.

    Now I’m a software engineer, and have worked with a fair number of women engineers, though they are of course the minority. A disproportionate number of those women came from other countries – Russia and India, mostly. I’m not sure what that tells us, if anything.

    Strangely, the worse misogyny I experienced up close and personal was at my college, at a school that had only recently gone co-ed. There was a “last bastion of maleness” culture among the upperclassmen, which manifested in some rather ugly ways, aimed at the female population which made up, at most, 30% of the student body. The women in my physics and calc classes were not vastly outnumbered, and I didn’t notice any bad treatment of women by professors or TAs, but of course I was not privy to any private interactions between those female students and their professors, TAs, or advisors. And I had such a rose-colored view of life at that age, who knows what I simply missed? I’m sure that I was, subconsciously, quite sure that my white, middle-class (male!) privilege extended to all my female peers. Chalk it up to being passively self-centered and profoundly naive.

  303. 303
    SallyStrange

    Smile! You look so much prettier when you smile.

    “I only smile when I’m about to punch someone in the throat.” *smiles sweetly*

  304. 304
    The Ys

    I learned my first lesson in the third grade.

    I finished all the work for the year less than halfway through it. Instead of finding ways to keep me occupied, the teacher skipped me ahead into the fourth grade.

    Halfway through the school year, and it was my first year at a grade school in a tiny town in a different state.

    Several of the boys started beating me up at recess, right in front of the teachers. The boys were never removed from class, nor was any effort made to protect me from them. My mom got frustrated and even tried talking to their parents. She got yelled at for confronting them about the abuse.

    So that’s what I got for being smart: boys beat the shit out of me, the teachers didn’t care enough to protect me, my mom couldn’t help me, and the system wasn’t set up to cope with smart kids like me. It was a good lesson. From then on, I didn’t bother trying hard at school. I aced my tests, and spent my time reading books rather than doing homework…and I still passed everything.

    And my teachers wondered why I never applied myself…it was because previous teachers and fellow students had taught me that a smart girl was nothing more than a freakish burden. That didn’t improve at all when I got to high school. In one splendid and memorable incident, another student took my algebra book from me and shredded it.

    At least the school admins weren’t stupid enough to insist that *I* pay for a new book.

  305. 305
    Boudicca

    I have similar experiences from university as many of these women, at least during my undergrad. I’m an engineer and I find it frusterating and sad that so many of the women I went to school with don’t practice. A huge portion of it is the chilly climate and the exhaustion of having to fight the little shit every day.
    I tend towards the loud and aggressive. Some people call it leadership, but many more just call me a bitch. That’s cool with me. I turned it into a marketable trait. I’m a consultant engineer now and we have to deal with pushy/uncooperative contractors all the time. If they design is going to get built properly, some bitchiness will probably be required.
    I don’t post much, but I wanted to let you all know that I find these discussions helpful, enlightening, and inspiring. I don’t feel so alone and that helps me deal with the shit when it shows up and try to give a hand up the more junior women engineers when I see them dealing with shit.
    It doesn’t happen as often now, I’m in a pretty great company. I knew it was a change for the better when I saw guys being supported when they took parental leave and a much higher percentage of women engineers than in the general workforce.
    Thanks all!

  306. 306
    Monado, FCD

    Niftyatheist,, invite your daughter to come to Pharyngula and watch sexism slapped down and people of all genders supported.

  307. 307
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I’m still deciding, because my ass is so goddamn multidisciplinary it’s hard to find programs, but something to do with hydrogeology or environmental engineering.

    I’m not a detail-oriented person. Oh, I put “detail-oriented” on my CVs as readily as the next person, because I am perfectly capable of managing a database and copy-editing, but my strengths lie in pattern detection and systemic analysis. But I’m still working in entry-level positions where those skills aren’t really appreciated very much. So it’s a bit frustrating.

    With that interest set, a double-major in Mechanical/Civil/Chemical Engineering and Somekinda Resource Science would probably serve you well. There’s probably a more efficient way, too… O.o

  308. 308
    peterh

    A number of times I’ve had to endure phone-tag, heavy accents, and the awkwardness of long-distance descriptions of software misbehavior with service reps of admittedly varying education and expertise. And only just now reading through this thread did the thought come to me: Ya know? Some of them were women! All this time and those people on the other end were simply individuals trying to help clear up a problem. Wouldn’t dare guess at any gender ratio, and don’t think it would make the least difference if I had discrete numbers. The problems all got solved.

    Is it possible to be accidentally PC?

    My granddaughter is currently a 2nd-year (dean’s list) student in civil engineering; I’ll bounce some of this off her to help refresh an old goat’s perspective.

  309. 309
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    But it’s just not true. The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to Scandinavian authors very rarely. The last time was in the 70s! Accusing the Swedish Academy for provincial bias for awarding it to Tomas Tranströmer this year seems to be very unfair. Are you suggesting that Tomas Tranströmer is not one of the most esteemed contemporary poets in the world?

    Okay,the factual basis of the argument I was defending “for the sake of argument” was faulty. That’s a different question than whether the argument that is being criticized is the one that was actually made. >.>

  310. 310
    DLC

    I’m Glad to hear that Dr. Bell-Burnell is getting her due recognition for her important discovery. It’s well-deserved.

  311. 311
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Is it possible to be accidentally PC just/fair/decent human being/not a bigot/not sexist?

    Sure.

  312. 312
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    The Ys: A somewhat analogous experience– in an elite Christian school in a small town in Texas, I had an experience quite close to that. The math teacher was new and female, so the boys in the class used to hide her grade book and notes when she leaned over someone’s desk to help them.

    While they were playing hot and cold with her, she burst into tears and then ran out of the room. While she was crying, one of the football players amused himself by running a knife up and down my leg in the back of the classroom.

    I won’t repeat what he said. Let’s just say between him and my father, it took me years to be able to sit in a math classroom without a panic attack.

    Today’s cap-off chilly climate incident: I raised my hand to answer a procedural question in one of my math classes. The professor let me finish a sentence, cut me off, told me (for the third time so far this semester) that my explanation is too complicated, and did exactly what I had described, in the order I described it. He may not have meant it that way, but since he consistently releases us up to 30 minutes before the class is scheduled to be over and routinely meets with a group of male students in the class (which is 75% male), I’m pretty sure I wasn’t wasting his time.

    It ain’t so much the one thing for me as the things and things and things. If I didn’t get a thrill out math concepts and manage to convince myself I’m essentially invading enemy territory (why yes, I am playing Thief in my head), it would be intolerable.

  313. 313
    SallyStrange

    With that interest set, a double-major in Mechanical/Civil/Chemical Engineering and Somekinda Resource Science would probably serve you well. There’s probably a more efficient way, too… O.o

    Yes, this makes sense… a dual program of some sort is definitely looking likely. I was thinking, planning and some kinda resource science, or, planning and environmental engineering…

    I have research to do. Suggestions are welcome, though.

  314. 314
    pelamun

    Azkyroth,

    wouldn’t you say that the Nobel prizes for literature and peace are the most controversial and politicised?

    There have been prizes awarded for writers whose Swedish translators were on members of Svenska Akademien. That’s not really not proper…

  315. 315
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Azkyroth,

    wouldn’t you say that the Nobel prizes for literature and peace are the most controversial and politicised?

    There have been prizes awarded for writers whose Swedish translators were on members of Svenska Akademien. That’s not really not proper…

    No I wouldn’t. I don’t know much about the history of the Nobel Prizes; I just know I’ve been on the receiving end of strawman arguments and absurdly uncharitable interpretations enough times that even if I didn’t object to them as an abstract matter of principle, I’d feel obliged to respond to them out of sympathy even when they aren’t directed at me. >.>

  316. 316
    The Ys

    @ Sally:

    I have an AS in environmental science – stopped there because I totally fell in love with geology. I’m going back for a double major in geology and applied mathematics because they seem to fit well together (and I love maths). You have a lot of options for ‘secondary’ majors that would go well with engineering. It all depends on what particular branch of engineering you decide to study, and where you decide to study.

  317. 317
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    And, yeah, I have to admit combining Civil with the hydrogeology/environmental thing is pretty well-established (I’m still not sure WHY “Environmental” is assumed to be a branch of Civil, though, aside from the historical matter of water resources). I still want to plug Mechanical; it’s bad enough that the civils get pride of place and we get stuck with the job of pulling them out from under the piles of money local firms are constantly throwing at them and the Construction Management subprogram students. They don’t need all the other snarky smart people, too. >.>

  318. 318
    SallyStrange

    Hmmm, I’ll have to think about mechanical engineering. I’ve made the mistake before of assuming that such and such a subject is beyond me, but hell. I’ve built houses and shit; if I can handle environmental engineering I should be able to handle mechanical engineering, right?

  319. 319
    The Ys

    @ mouthyb:

    That’s horrible. Your panic attacks are completely understandable…I don’t know if I’d have been able to return to that environment knowing that student was still there. I don’t understand how adults can ignore crap like this and still claim they’re providing a healthy learning environment.

    When I finally went back to college, I switched from English to Environmental Science and I was old enough to be a non-traditional student. The college was pretty easy-going, but men outnumbered women by more than 2:1. I made a point of speaking up in every class because most of the students (not just the women) didn’t ask questions and were just killing time. I actually wanted to learn and busted my ass to do so. My professors took me seriously and tended to listen when I spoke up – I credit a fair bit of that to my age. They weren’t as tolerant when the 18-19 year olds spoke up. I’m not sure how much was age vs. actual content, though.

    My favourite math professor let me take an independent study class with him so I could study Calculus II (the college didn’t offer it as a regular course). He didn’t normally do that, but decided that my interest in the subject was worth encouraging. He embodied the qualities I’d love to see in all professors: he encouraged everyone, had time to speak to students when they needed help, and did everything he could to make the subject interesting and relevant toward the sciences (it was an environmental college). I wish I’d been able to take more classes with him.

    In short, I wish you had him for your math classes. I’m sorry your professor is such a massive douchecanoe.

  320. 320
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I wouldn’t doubt that you can handle it, but there’s a general perception that mechanical and electrical engineering are more mathematically demanding than civil, albeit in different ways. So far, the only classes I’ve had that civil engineers aren’t also required to take were a manufacturing class and a couple of alternative energy related senior-level electives, so it’s hard to say for sure. Mechanical engineering does generally involve more moving things, so the vector analysis might be more involved…

  321. 321
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    (…I should clarify that the “mathematically demanding” part is just what jumps to mind when people discuss whether they can handle mechanical, or engineering period, in general.)

  322. 322
    The Ys

    @ Sally – you have more options than that, depending on where you go. These are some of the options from Univ. of Toronto:

    Chemical Engineering
    Civil Engineering
    Biomedical Engineering
    Energy Systems Engineering
    Infrastructure Engineering
    Engineering Mathematics, Statistics and Finance
    Nanoengineering
    Engineering Physics
    Industrial Engineering
    Materials Science Engineering
    Mechanical Engineering
    Mineral Engineering

    I’m sure there are even more options at other locations.

  323. 323
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Splitters. >.>

  324. 324
    Crissa

    …Pharyngula and watch sexism slapped down and people of all genders supported.

    Seems to me you’ll mostly find peacocks strutting around and insulting other posters.

    Unless you skip the comments, that is.

  325. 325
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    The Ys: Thank you. I wanted to have that solidarity moment with you, so neither of us would think we were alone.

  326. 326
    SallyStrange

    Chemical Engineering – never.
    Civil Engineering – yes.
    Biomedical Engineering – nope.
    Energy Systems Engineering – possibly.
    Infrastructure Engineering – ooh, hadn’t heard of that one.
    Engineering Mathematics, Statistics and Finance – definitely not.
    Nanoengineering – I like the BIG picture!
    Engineering Physics – I hate physicists.
    Industrial Engineering – possibly.
    Materials Science Engineering – definitely interesting.
    Mechanical Engineering – yes.
    Mineral Engineering – yes.

    Hey, thanks for indulging me, you guys. It’s been hard focusing on this stuff since I’ve been occupied with basic survival and finding a job lately.

  327. 327
    Alukonis, metal ninja

    I have totally NOT had the experience of gender discrimination by professors in university, personally. It’s quite disturbing to me that so many people here have experienced it, but since I’m now in a university teaching position, it only inspires me to be ever more vigilant about my own behavior towards my students.

    I remember a couple semesters ago or something (it tends to blur together) I had a female student that was one of the best in my class, and always did consistently good work. I was stunned when she said that she sucked at chemistry. She was cruising for an A in the course and she thought she sucked?! She said something like how she kept dropping beakers or something (which is something that I, myself, used to do, a lot. Haha.) but I told her she shouldn’t be so down on herself, she was doing great. I still wonder if she thought she was bad at a “hard” science like chemistry because she was a girl. I sure hope not.

    On the plus side (?) because I have no funding I get to have a LOT of teaching experience. I dream one day of having my own army of grad students to do all the grading for me. I imagine sitting back in a chair, sipping a martini and cackling as they slave over terrible handwriting, cramped calculations, and crossed-out messes. BWAH HA HA HA HAAAA!

  328. 328
    SallyStrange

    Seems to me you’ll mostly find peacocks strutting around and insulting other posters.

    Only when you’re around, darling.

  329. 329
    Inaji

    crissakentavr:

    Seems to me you’ll mostly find peacocks strutting around and insulting other posters.

    That’s what you find, cupcake. It’s not what other people find. You know, you could always stop tone trolling and insulting people.

  330. 330
    Tethys

    Oh, look. Yet another poor persecuted peacock troll.

  331. 331
    Crissa

    I read about Dr. Bell-Burnell about 25 years ago in a book on pulsars and black holes. The author was quite clear that Bell-Burnell had made the actual discovery. I didn’t realize she had been snubbed for the Nobel. What a shame.

    I’m trying to remember if that’s Asimov’s book or not.

  332. 332
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I hate physicists.

    :(

  333. 333
    The Ys

    mouthyb: I appreciate that. The more I talk to others about my experiences, the more I find out that these are not isolated incidents. It’s truly depressing that so many of us have endured harassment and abuse based on our gender.

    I wish I could offer you some help with your math professor. I’ve always found the best revenge was to make berks like him sound like idiots, but it doesn’t seem like he needs much help there!

    ———————–

    Sally: lol @ your nanoengineering comment. It’s all about what appeals to you. I think materials science sounds fascinating – I wonder if you get to blow stuff up in that class? You can’t go wrong with explosions!

  334. 334
    SallyStrange

    I hate physicists.

    Aw. Not you, Azkyroth! You’re different! ;-)

  335. 335
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    …where does one find the menu option to get an icon next to one’s name?

  336. 336
    mouthyb, whose brain is currently melon-balled

    The Ys: Berk? Another player of Torment? I am among friends.

  337. 337
    Tethys

    …where does one find the menu option to get an icon next to one’s name?

    Gravatar. Set up an account there, upload pic, and it will show up as your icon on any wordpress site. IIRC

  338. 338
    That's Not Funny

    So, how many feminists does it take to change a light globe?

  339. 339
    Teshi

    At the moment, the interviewer Jim Al-Kalili is narrating/hosting a BBC documentary series about the history of electricity; you should check it out (if you can)!

  340. 340
    Teshi

    I disagree on a few very small points with Bell-Burnell. She says about 25 minutes into the interview that she thinks that there are more women in astronomy as opposed to other branches of physics because astronomy is a little more flexible and coooperative than others and therefore attracts women. I’m not sure this is really the case.

    Secondly, she says she does worry that because she was in this man’s world that she has become too much like a man, and even uses the phrase ‘she-male’. This, in my view as a young woman, is absurd. Being a scientist– being dedicated, individual, hard-headed, detail-minded or whatever traits she is talking about (I’m not actually sure)– does not make any woman less of a woman. That implies that a woman is primarily a social, relaxed, accepting sort of person, something we know is as near as makes no difference, not the case.

    This is probably the difference between someone raised in the fifties and someone raised at the turn of the Millenium. I would never consider any traits required of a good scientist as specifically male to a point that it erodes the femininity of a woman pursuing them. Her worry is rather tragic: she has worked so hard only to be plagued by this self-doubt about her basic femininity.

    Bell-Burnell is certainly not less of a woman for being more of a person in a field dominated by men. I think it’s a real shame she said this in the interview because it does plant that seed of doubt: “Be a scientist, but be careful.”

    No. Just be a scientist.

  341. 341
    AshPlant

    mouthyb: Heh, Torment. Unfortunately it’s no guarantee; berk is just a Britishism, one of many the incorporated.

    I would also guess that ‘berk’ is not a term that would be welcome around here.
    Being, as it is, derived from the rhyming slang term Berkshire Hunt…

  342. 342
    AshPlant

    And actually I guess TheYs has written enough that I could have bothered to check whether she was actually British or not, but slang terms do get everywhere. Like fleas.

  343. 343
    Tony

    If you didn’t hear the interview the interviewer claimed that some had renamed the Nobel prize the No Bell prize.

    Jocelyn Bell also said that she didn’t apply to work at the Jodrell Bank radio telescope since the director, Sir Bernard Lovell, had a no-women rule.

  344. 344
    Chris

    Every math class and department I’ve ever been a part of or taught (at high reputation universities in Australia and the UK) – bearing in mind that I’m a young, post ’90s academic and missed the worst of the discrimination – has had a roughly 50/50 gender split, with the top students coming from both genders.

    Maybe it’s something about the US, because it seems like the rest of the world is dealing with it.

  345. 345
    opposablethumbs

    I was wondering what people’s experience suggests about the level of sexist shit (whether overt or hidden) in UK universities these days. Is Chris’ experience typical, do you think? I didn’t see it myself, but then I wasn’t reading a science. My daughter has just started a STEM course … and I can’t help wondering what it’s likely to be like for her and her fellow science students.

  346. 346
    Matt Penfold

    Well I am going back a few years, but when I studied computing at Plymouth the department put a lot of effort into attracting women onto courses and keeping them there.

    It helped that the head of department was a women who had a keen interest in the subject. One initiative was to offer an HNC with a timetable that left plenty if time to drop kids off at school and pick them up.

  347. 347
    Matt Penfold

    To add to what I said earlier, I also know some women students, and staff, found come of the IT support staff patronising. After graduating I worked in the department in IT support for a bit, and they were right. Some of my colleagues, especially my boss, were sexists arseholes.

    I am rather proud that the students of the HNC course I mentioned earlier insisted I join them for their end of course dinner to thank me for treating them like normal people. My boss was not invited, which upset him rather.

  348. 348
    Algernon

    To add to what I said earlier, I also know some women students, and staff, found come of the IT support staff patronising.

    I’ve tried explaining this to our core services group. They have no women working there, and they have openly said they are shy about hiring a woman because “she’d have to have a thick skin” to work there.

    Really? And you don’t think that’s affecting the way the rest of the business (or the rest of IT) perceives you?

  349. 349
    The Ys

    My apologies to all.

    Some of my UK friends use “berk” as an insult, and I understood it to mean “utter moron”. I didn’t check on it and determine where it came from, just went ahead and used it too.

    I won’t use it again.

  350. 350
    opposablethumbs

    Thanks Matt; it’s bound to be mixed, I guess – but having enough people around who not only aren’t invested in inequality but are actually actively doing something about it makes all the difference between getting ground down or getting to revel in the subject you love. Nice one, for the HNC end-of-course invite!

    Anyone else around today with a UK-eye view of unis?
    .

    they are shy about hiring a woman because “she’d have to have a thick skin” to work there.

    Aaargh. We don’t hire women because they wouldn’t fit in because we don’t hire women. headdesk headdesk headdesk.

  351. 351
    opposablethumbs

    Re “berk” – fwiw, I wonder if this one might be far enough removed from its historical roots by now to be non-gendered. The rhyming slang origins of a lot of terms are more like esoteric not-many-people-know-that-type snippets of information to most people these days, aren’t they? – like knowing “silly” originally meant “blessed”. But I’m not sure about this – definitely open to being corrected.

    My favourite rhyming slang is merchant (for merchant banker).

  352. 352
    Matt Penfold

    One of my bits of favourite rhyming slang is “Listerine” – which means anti-American.

    It comes via Listerine – Anti-Septic – Septic Tank – Yank

  353. 353
    Matt Penfold

    Another bit of slang I like is Dagenham, which is derived from Barking, which is short for Barking Mad (as in insane, crazy etc).

    Dagenham is three stops beyond Barking on the London Underground.

  354. 354
    opposablethumbs

    I’d forgotten listerine! I love the extra-extended derivation :)

    And I love Dagenham. But is it really used that much? (say yes!)

  355. 355
    Matt Penfold

    And I love Dagenham. But is it really used that much? (say yes!)

    I have heard it used in real life a few times. Don’t think it used as much as it should be though.

  356. 356
    KG

    And I love Dagenham. But is it really used that much? (say yes!) – opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces

    I prefer “completely Finchley”. Finchley is, admittedly, only two stops beyond Barking, but it did repeatedly return Margaret Thatcher as its MP.

  357. 357
    mouthyb

    Well, crap. I like berk, but didn’t realize it had bad connotations.

  358. 358
    cxsmith

    Going back to Markle’s original comment, having never read any of his previous ones, I was thinking of offering some sort of defence of his position. I personally didn’t read it as suggesting that because women are more empowered now than in the past that the situation in the present day is okay, but rather that women have managed to achieve more than the lack of equality should have made possible. In short, I interpreted it as crediting women with a greater than average resilience, which though itself is verging on stereotyping half the human species is not necessarily a bad thing to suggest. It’s a shame his later comments didn’t follow in this vein (as interpreted by me).

  359. 359
    Matt Penfold

    Going back to Markle’s original comment, having never read any of his previous ones,…..

    Spotter your mistake straight away.

    Why did you even bother adding anything after that ?

  360. 360
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Monado, FCD says:
    26 October 2011 at 12:23 am

    Niftyatheist,, invite your daughter to come to Pharyngula and watch sexism slapped down and people of all genders supported.

    Thanks for the reply! Also, thanks to Deen and Aquaria – and thanks to all of you for this heartening discussion!

    Already have pointed my daughter to this bloig, and for exactly that ^ reason first and foremost. In fact, I mentioned it at the end of that miserable phone call, when we had moved on to the topic of how to keep one’s head up in the midst of future experiences like that one; in other words, how to have one’s faith in humanity restored. I recommended Pharyngula for a bracing dose. :) Also, for the science and just plain excellent commentariat, I have recommended this site to both my daughter and my son, (who is also at university studying mathematics/electrical engineering).

    I’ve got more kids, a bit younger and not very interested in the sciences or maths, but I am going to steer them in this direction, too.

  361. 361
    opposablethumbs

    Finchley has a lot to answer for …

  362. 362
    ButchKitties

    @echidna

    The honors science thing was the final straw in a long series of problems I’d had with that school system. I did get into honors science eventually, but I did it by switching to a Catholic school.

    The irony of having to go to a Catholic school because it was less sexist than my public school is not lost on me.

  363. 363
    AshPlant

    mouthyb, opposablethumbs et al: I *personally* think berk is “safe”, in the same way ‘prat’ doesn’t instantly click in people’s heads as meaning ‘arse’ or ‘cretin’ as ‘Christian’. I’m also judging it by the amount of frothing hatred it hasn’t returned since it was mentioned here. Just my £0.02, of course.

  364. 364
    Birger Johansson

    Fred Hoyle reacted strongly to the failure of the Noble committe to honour Bell.
    Hoyle himself should have had a Nobel for his discovery of the details of nucleosynthesis in heavy stars, but got passed over because he was considered controversial (presumably because of his steady-state theory). However, later in life he received other Swedish science prizes,in recognition of the unfairness.

    I hope Bell could be similarly honoured.

  365. 365
    wondering

    I’m disappointed that “berk” isn’t short for “berserker”.

  366. 366
    StevoR

    Saw Jocelyn Bell-Burnell in a public lecture in Adelaide once. She was an incredible individual – very good talker and came acroos really well as awonmderful person. Her demonstration of the transfer of angular momentum during a supernova using a tennis ball was unforgettable!

    She’s one of my astronomical heroes. :-)

  367. 367
    qwewq835ACBE7

    qwewq835ACBE7

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