Guest post: Women have to tiptoe around men

Originally two comments by guest on His claims work to identify women as caste-inferiors.


@1: It just occurred to me that the difference between the kind of interaction you describe, which is both common and useful, and Tim Hunt’s peculiar reaction to criticism in this situation is that men don’t like to be criticised by women. I know in my own work I have to be very cautious, and have developed all sorts of elaborate roundabout ways of expressing criticism, to make sure my points are heard and the men I’m criticising don’t have emotional meltdowns instead of engaging and learning as you’ve described. And this is particularly interesting in light of Hunt’s ‘women just cry when you criticise them’ thing.


After writing that comment I realised something that I’m going to share here, because it’s only just occurred to me how important it is to me. A year or so ago I was in a room with a female client and a male engineer. The male engineer physically attacked us when the female client pointed out, in a perfectly calm and rational way, that he had not demonstrated how his proposals met the requirements she’d stated in her project description. I’ve only just realised that this incident has had a significant effect on my career prospects–both I and my boss are now reluctant to assign me to any project he’s involved in, and it turns out that the projects he works on are ones that I’d be interested in doing and would excel in. I’m planning to leave this job, and leave STEM, imminently, and have literally only just realised that the fact that this man threatened me, and is now indirectly keeping me from being assigned to work I’m well suited for and could use to demonstrate my skills, is part of the reason.


  1. nutella says

    This male engineer “physically attacked” a CLIENT? And also a co-worker? And still has a job?

    The attack should have had a significant effect on HIS career prospects, not the writer’s.

  2. marcus says

    I am so grateful that women still talk to us (men) at all and generally give us the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, when I read things like this, I have to wonder why. I’m not sure I could be that charitable.

  3. Malachite says

    @2 Because we need to make a living and we work in STEM, so we cant avoid you andbeing civil to you. Because we try hard to remind ourselves that there are good feminist respectful men out there. Somewhere. Not sure where – can’t even find them in our homes. Because we aren’t perfect either, and sometimes it is just too much fucking work to educate in any effective way those who are just swimming about in their privilege, oblivious as society has always taught them to be.

  4. marcus says

    Malachite @ 3 There are men who respect women and abhor the casual and considered mistreatment that you have to endure every fucking day. We are out here. I’m sorry that justice is so hard to find. I apologize for the unfair privilege and I wish it were not so. I do my best, though I know it’s not nearly enough, to make the world a better place for women and all that suffer from bigotry and discrimination. I know that my apology doesn’t make any difference, but it is mine and it is real.

  5. Malachite says

    Not your fault, Marcus. No need to apologize. Seeing men understand does help, though.

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