Fiona Ingleby wrote a paper on the difficulties of making the transition from graduate school to post-doctoral position for women. She submitted it for review. A review is kind of an invited comment, you know, so given Lewis’ Law, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at what followed — she got a negative review that actually justified the contents of her paper.
How’s this for 21st century thinking?
Not only is it grossly sexist, it’s factually wrong. The comparison of writing to running a mile is simply bizarre, and I thought for a moment that this person has to be trolling…except that this is a presumably professional review in a presumably good journal. But then if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last decade, to my everlasting dismay, it’s that being a professional smart person doesn’t make one immune to some really wretched biases.
But if I were to take that remark seriously, I’d be worried. I’m fast approaching 60, and I fear that just about every 25 year old woman could run circles around me. Is the reviewer making an argument for mandatory retirement at age 30?
But he gets worse. He has a suggestion to improve the paper.
That’s right, the paper needs a beard.
Of course, now my fears are allayed. All those clever young women who are healthier and can run faster than me will still need to keep me around, so I can slap my name on their work, which I didn’t do and maybe don’t even understand, conferring upon their paper the inherent dignity and worth of the penis.
All you young ladies who are looking for a nominal co-author to add that aura of precious masculinity to your work, I’m … wait, no, I’m not available. One of the things I had drilled into me as a graduate student was that authorship was an obligation, that every author has to be responsible for the full contents of the paper. My PI didn’t even follow the hallowed tradition of getting his name stuck on at the end of every paper coming out of his lab!
I guess I’m out of this game. But apparently there are still people in this field who think otherwise, and in particular are concerned about controlling those women scientists gone wild.