This wasn’t the post I wanted to write about the ASM conference. There’s been lots of great science discussed (I’ve tried to tweet some of it, but the wifi in both the conference center and my hotel have been spotty, so I’ve not had a chance to write anything comprehensive). Instead, I’m ticked off and venting via dashed-off blog rant.

[Me, trying to make a purchase]: Do you have any of these in a box that doesn’t say “from someone in New Orleans who loves you”? I was going to get them for my lab and that might be kind of creepy.

[Retail salesguy]: Your lab? I’m not sure those are good for dogs.

[Me]: No, not the dog lab. A science lab. My laboratory. The people who work for me.

[RSG]: Oh, you’re here for the science conference?

[Me]: Yes, microbiology. I study germs.

[RSG]: But you can’t be a scientist!

[Me]: I can’t?

[RSG]: No, you don’t look like a microbiologist.

[Me]: Um, what exactly does a microbiologist look like, then?

[RSG]: Uh…

[Me]: Because I’m pretty sure that I am one. (Rummaging through bag, digging out ASM nametag). Yep, that’s my name, and that’s the microbiology conference logo right there.

[RSG]: But you’re too pretty! You should be in Hollywood.

[Me]: (picking up bag, leaving unpurchased boxes on counter) I bet you’ve had dozens of scientists just like me through your store today, and never even realized it because of the stereotypes you hold. Conference runs through tomorrow, so I hope you’ll say hello to a few of them.

I know Mr. Salesguy was trying to be nice and probably thought he was flattering me, but fer chrissakes, that is NOT the way to go about it. Women in science already frequently feel like “The Other,” that we’re “too XX” to be good at what we do, that our possession of breasts surely must mean that we’re too much of a fragile flower to be able to handle the “man’s work” involved in science and academia, and that we need to go above and beyond what our male colleagues do just to feel the same level of acceptance and appreciation. I’m sure Mr. Salesguy has never thought about the plight of women in science before tonight (and I doubt that my conversation really made him think about it for more than a few fleeting seconds), but it really dragged down what had otherwise been a very nice few days of unadulterated sciencey goodness.

Of course, it’s not only science meetings or clueless salespeople; atheist meetings have their unthinking men too, as was recently demonstrated yet again. From now on, maybe I’ll print out this post and keep a copy in my bag, just for situations like today.

Comments

  1. #1 Danielle
    May 24, 2011

    I totally know how you feel – how can there still be so many steretypes when science has come so far? It’s so frustrating!!!! As a medical student o often get “oh you’re in nursing school” and my male colleagues are NEVER asked that.

    I actually blogged about something similar a while back when someone assumed my med school jacket belonged to my husband. http://focusdoctor.blogspot.com/2010/12/then-i-broke-old-ladys-zygomatic.html

    I never mind being called a nurse at this pt in mg training – the nurses are what save my rear and they definitely know more than me. BUT it is SO frustrating is to be in a patient room standing next to a male colleague (especially one I make better grades than) and be called nurse while they are called doctor-it sucks when it’s so blatantly obvious they are basing their judgement purely on sex. :-/

    This summer a fellow med student told me I got called nurse a lot bc I’m young and pretty…?? Um bc OBVIOUSLY there are no young or pretty med students or doctors and all nurses are young, beautiful females. So frustrating!

    Thanks for letting me rant. :) great post.

  2. #2 Danielle
    May 24, 2011

    Sorry for all the typos, I’m not an incompetent writer haha – I’m on my phone. :)

  3. #3 James
    May 24, 2011

    My girlfriend, a PhD in physics, has been asked, “Are you the secretary?” She tells me that the correct response is, “No. Are you the janitor?”

  4. #4 Doug
    May 24, 2011

    I wish I could feel your pain, but as someone who was once referred to as “the plain boy” BY MY OWN GRANDMOTHER, I have a hard time not being envious of those who get complimented on their looks. Still, I can understand how someone in that position might feel otherwise.

  5. #5 Adrian Blake
    May 24, 2011

    Whilst I totally understand Danielles “is that your husbands” thing and “hey nurse”. And as a guy, I do find it amusing/tragic that at work people assume I’m in charge despite being much younger and newer than my female superior. Obviously there is a lot of sexist steriotyping going on, but I gotta say, I think maybe the guy in your story was just flirting lol

    It’s hard to hit on a stranger whose buying something off you without sounding a bit ….. creepy rapisty… so he was probably going for the “You are sexy as well as brainy” approach which TV has taught men that women like but thought to add the humour factor (TV’s fault again) and so went for “Wow you’re too hot to be a crusty ol’ science nerd, clearly someone couldn’t be pretty AND clever, w-w-what? you are?” hoping you would say “oh you!” then blush and live happily ever after.

    I think that your rage is misdirected, you should instead blame Hugh Grant films and teen sit-coms.

    On another note, how is science even regarded as a mans job? I mean all the parts of it, forward planning, meticulous cleanliness, perfect attention to detail, referenceing things from years ago? These are all steriotypically female qualities. In the future I’m sure we’ll hear a guy complaining that someone said he’s too manly to be a scientist.

  6. #6 June
    May 24, 2011

    Trust me, Tara, it does not last. In 10 years, people won’t be complimenting you anymore, in 20 years you’ll look like PZ; in 30 they will be avoiding eye contact.

    So, say “Thank You” and shut the fuck up.

  7. #7 cairne.morane
    May 24, 2011

    Personally, I would say he was trying to chat you up.

  8. #8 llewelly
    May 24, 2011

    June | May 24, 2011 10:28 AM:

    So, say “Thank You” and shut the fuck up.

    It’s asinine to insist that someone ought to appreciate something simply because it won’t last forever.

    It’s not a compliment when someone denies you are a member of your profession, particularly when said profession is difficult to get into.

  9. #9 Zoonotica
    May 24, 2011

    I agree with some of the above that he might have been trying to chat you up but talk about failing spectacularly!

    He might as well have said All girls MUST want to have a career in Hollywood. Cos their looks are the MOST important thing about them. The only girls in science are the ones that have failed to do what they really wanted to.

  10. #10 Lab Rat
    May 24, 2011

    I love how he thinks that “being in Hollywood” is both preferable and more important than actually doing science. The most important thing for a pretty woman is to make sure as many people get to see her as possible – this whole “microbiology” thing is just a waste of your talent…

    It really is a horrible thing to happen. I know it would sour the end of any conference I went to. I’m glad you enjoyed the rest of it though, I’m massively jealous I couldn’t make it.

  11. #11 rygold
    May 24, 2011

    As the others have mentioned I reckon he was trying to chat you up, and it could have been worse – I heard a guy chatting up a woman with “you must have been something in your day.” Yes, it’s true, previously I had thought the line was something only ever used in comedy movies and books, but yeah the guy used it for real. To say the lady in question was pissed is an understatement.

  12. #12 jose
    May 24, 2011

    Privilege permeates everything.

  13. #13 Dr. O
    May 24, 2011

    From a guy at a bar when I was finishing up grad school: “Microbiologist, really? With that chest I figured Hooter’s waitress.” Wish I had come up with some smart retort, but I was too floored to know where to begin.

  14. #14 Tualha
    May 24, 2011

    Hmm, trying to chat her up? Oh yes, that would work well. “You’re so pretty, you shouldn’t be doing real work that advances human knowledge. You should be in the entertainment industry! Your brains don’t count, just your looks! Pretty pretty pretty woman, who cares if she has a thought in her head! Rest of her anatomy is plenty interesting, but who cares about her brain! Wow, you must be *so* flattered by what I’m saying!”

    Am I accurately summarizing your point there, Professor Smith? (Can’t say “Dr. Smith”, makes me think of that silly-ass character Jonathan Harris played. That show ruined it for all the academic and medical Smiths out there :)

  15. #15 Tualha
    May 24, 2011

    Dr. O: Ye flipping gods! Well, forewarned is forearmed. I expect you’ll have something pretty devastating to say to the next jerk who talks that way.

  16. #16 Graham Martin-Royle
    May 24, 2011

    Even suggesting that good looking people should be in Hollywood is insulting to every decent actor in Hollywood, do their skills as an actor count for nothing? Isn’t it about time we stopped stereotyping people and started accepting them for who they are?

  17. #17 Mike Keesey
    May 24, 2011

    Ironically, there’s been a trend in Hollywood movies to cast beautiful actresses as scientists. Recent example: Natalie Portman as an astrophysicist in “Thor”.

  18. #18 Tualha
    May 24, 2011

    Seems to me Hollywood (as opposed to other acting venues) has been much more about looks and sex appeal than about acting ability for decades now. For starring roles, anyway.

  19. #19 Rey Fox
    May 24, 2011

    Trust me, Tara, it does not last. In 10 years, people won’t be complimenting you anymore, in 20 years you’ll look like PZ; in 30 they will be avoiding eye contact.

    So, say “Thank You” and shut the fuck up.

    Thank the guy for belittling her? Fuck you.

    Personally, I would say he was trying to chat you up.

    In the stupidest, most condescending (to her intellect) way possible.

  20. #20 Brownian
    May 24, 2011

    Trust me, Tara, it does not last. In 10 years, people won’t be complimenting you anymore, in 20 years you’ll look like PZ; in 30 they will be avoiding eye contact.

    So, say “Thank You” and shut the fuck up.

    Yeah. Like how blacks should have been grateful for the seats at the back of the bus reserved just for them before Rosa Parks got all uppity.

  21. #21 Tualha
    May 24, 2011

    Don’t feed the stupid wittle twoll.

  22. #22 Walter Sobchak
    May 24, 2011

    Get the chip off your shoulder. He was trying to be nice. Life is long, and we all bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Life is easier to bear when we react to the well intended and unharmful in the spirit in which it was offered, and we do not manufacture offenses.

  23. #23 Rey Fox
    May 24, 2011

    Since when is “You can’t be a scientist!” a nice thing to say? Gah.

  24. #24 Justicar Yellits
    May 24, 2011

    Well, you could have just noted that it was your fallback position since some socially inept, sexually awkward asshat took your dream job of cash register attendant.

  25. #25 Michael Swanson
    May 24, 2011

    I agree with Doug, and have a hard time feeling bad for someone who is attractive. Women constantly have to put up with lousy behavior from guys, but I would give up a lot to turn just one head when I walked past.

    That said, the sales guy was a jerk. Like women only want to accomplish something if can’t just get by on their looks! Yes, you are very attractive. But big deal, lots of women are attractive, and you got some lucky genes. Becoming a scientist is an accomplishment.

  26. #26 Scote
    May 24, 2011

    So what is the answer? A “We Are the World” event where attractive scientists gather together to prove that scientists can be pretty?

    Oh,the burden of being smart, competent **and** pretty…while I’m sure it is difficult being underestimated and discriminated against for being pretty, and that it is a real problem, you’ll pardon me if I don’t feel too sorry for you and your burden, especially as how some studies claim that attractive people are more successful and make more money. And, of course, one can’t see your brain power with a glance, un-like your appearance, so random people can’t complement you on your smarts and your education since they have no way to know you are smart and educated by your appearance.

    Anyway, probably better for an attractive person being told they are too pretty be a scientist and should be an actor rather than a less attractive person being told they are too un attractive to be an actor and should be a scientist.

  27. #27 Zoonotica
    May 24, 2011

    re Scote @#26

    The point was not that Tara was offended by being called pretty or felt discriminated against for being pretty. She was offended by the implied comment that pretty girls should automatically be cashing in on their prettiness and be working in Hollywood. They couldn’t possibly think of using their brains and working in science (or at least that was my reading of the post).

    It is offensive that RSG/others see working in science as being second class to ‘Hollywood’. And frankly quite worrying.

  28. #28 Fiona
    May 24, 2011

    Yes, we need to keep tearing down stereotypes. I remember at a beach, a mum told her kid in a condescending tone “here come the bikini bimbos” as she looked at me as I walked by. I was so pissed that she would say that to her kid (and I’d seen this before) so I blurted out “That’s DOCTOR bikini…” as I went by. Lame, yes, and I wished I’d said something different, but it’s always best to say something to change views a little bit (if not preferably more gently than me) – even if they meant well like in your case. Yes, stereotypes change as you get older – then you get ageism!

  29. #29 Brownian
    May 24, 2011

    I wish I could feel your pain, but as someone who was once referred to as “the plain boy” BY MY OWN GRANDMOTHER, I have a hard time not being envious of those who get complimented on their looks.

    Life is easier to bear when we react to the well intended and unharmful in the spirit in which it was offered, and we do not manufacture offenses.

    I agree with Doug, and have a hard time feeling bad for someone who is attractive. Women constantly have to put up with lousy behavior from guys, but I would give up a lot to turn just one head when I walked past.

    So what is the answer? A “We Are the World” event where attractive scientists gather together to prove that scientists can be pretty?

    Well, if those of you who we can apparently describe as ugly as well as unintelligent could swallow your envy long enough to think, you’d realise the issue isn’t whether or not attractive people can be scientists, it’s how do we teach dolts that another person’s physical characteristics are none of their fucking business, and who the fuck are they to tell a complete stranger what job they should or shouldn’t have based on their perceived attractiveness?

    Or, to put it another way,

    With your, um, intellects and social competencies, you should be in Hollywood rather than commenting on a science blog.

  30. #30 Dave
    May 24, 2011

    Happens to be all the time too, they say “You’re too studly to be a geek.”

    Ya’ look like a microbiologist to me.

  31. #31 quietmarc
    May 24, 2011

    This isn’t about her being pretty, it’s about her being a woman. I’m VERY skeptical that this guy ever said “You’re too handsome a man to be a scientist.”

    I understand being annoyed when attractive people complain about being attractive, but this post has nothing to do with that issue at all.

  32. #32 Scote
    May 24, 2011

    @Zoonotica

    Is it reasonable to be *offended* for being called pretty? Would it be reasonable for a person to be offended for being called smart? Why is one better or worse than the other?

    I’ve wondered at this dichotomy, why it is superficial to complement someone’s attractiveness, but deep and respectful to compliment their intelligence–as if *both* of those aren’t primarily genetic. I expect that some would say that the foundation is genetic, but with intelligence people like Tara work hard to get their PhDs and such–so it isn’t superficial like attractiveness; however, the drive and willpower to do such things is also something outside our control, someone without willpower and drive can’t will themselves to have it–if they could then that would mean they actually did have the will power in the first place.

    So, for Tara to be offended at being called attractive rather than recognized for her attractiveness *and* her intelligence could be thought of as her own discrimination against pretty people who aren’t as smart as she is. On what basis is that any less offensive?

    The fact is that Tara’s attractiveness is discernible at a glance. Her intelligence is not. So while one can take issue with the idea that being an actress based on inherited looks is less valid than being a scientist based on inherited smarts, I don’t think one can fault the register clerk for not being able to magically discern Tara’s presumably above average intelligence at a glance.

  33. #33 kate
    May 24, 2011

    And people wondered why the first feminists were pissed off? But here’s the thing: as long as those people aren’t in a position of power over you, there’s no need to get mad. Just educate, and be the nice, accessible microbiologist instead of the nasty overeducated one. I’ll bet those people have daughters and/or nieces who are suffering in silence, while YOU have escaped the “gosh you’re cute, make me lunch” trap! So here’s my suggestion: Go to Vistaprint and make up some (free) and amusing business cards with links to cool science blogs by women. Grrlscientist pops into mind. Thank them for the compliment but tell them that your scientific achievements and high salary make you even happier. :-)

  34. #34 kate
    May 24, 2011

    ooh! Or if you’re handing out cards, you could have one made that says “Society for Better compliments for women in science” on it. And your logo could have a “you’re too cute to be a scientist” with a big “X” on it, followed by some alternatives….

  35. #35 Parse
    May 24, 2011

    I could *maybe* understand the logic behind thinking somebody is ‘too young’ to be a scientist, because of the number of years required to get an advanced degree in a field – it’s the same logic that makes me say that the kids I babysat as an infants are ‘too young’ to drive. BUT, that’s in recognition of the time gone past and how old I’m getting, and not really reflecting on the kids themselves.
    But that’s a different context than what you experienced; and this salesguy was a jerk.

    Is there any chance that you could send an email or letter to the store’s corporate office (or to the owner, if there’s no office) with a link to this post? If the salescreep said this to you, who knows how many other people he has also offended who didn’t speak up.

  36. #36 CarlosT
    May 24, 2011

    I find the “you’re too pretty to be a microbiologist” reaction so completely bizarre, it might as well come from a space alien. My reaction to “I’m a microbiologist” would be “COOL! What are you studying?”

    I’ve been used to the idea of women as scientists all my life because of my mother. She got a Ph.D. in materials science, studying the microstructure of high tech ceramics. Before that, she got her bachelors in physics and worked for a while at the Brazilian nuclear power institute. So between her and her friends who were also female and scientists, I’ve always lived with the idea that someone could have two X chromosomes and do science.

    Because of this background, I’ve also been extremely aware of sexism in science. My mother’s original Ph.D. advisor stymied her for seven years, keeping her from finishing, just because she was a woman. She switched advisors, and completed her dissertation in two years.

  37. #37 Scote
    May 24, 2011

    This isn’t about her being pretty, it’s about her being a woman. I’m VERY skeptical that this guy ever said “You’re too handsome a man to be a scientist.

    Not even Jon Hamm? :-)

    Actually, I’m serious. I do expect that this happens to women more often than men, not just because the women are pretty and that there is a perception that smart attractive women are a minority, but because there is a perception that there are fewer women scientists. So, when I see attractive women in science, I think of it as a good thing because it may indicate more diversity in science. But I do fall prey to cognitive bias myself. When I see a very attractive and athletic man my first thought is not “I bet that person is a research scientist!”

    Here’s another item for thought. Are smart, attractive women more or less common than smart women who are ordinary looking? I’m going to take a WAG and say that being very attractive is an outlier, as is being very smart, and that being very attractive and very smart is even more rare. Tara *is* an exception. So, outside of a scientific convention, would it be valid to assume that a very attractive person is also very smart? Probably not. Of course, given the lack of data, ideally one should withhold judgment and not assume above or below average intelligence, however, Tara cannot reasonably expect random people without direct knowledge of her to assume she is of above average intelligence.

  38. #38 Scote
    May 24, 2011

    HTML fail. Sorry. My first paragraph should be in blockquote:

    “This isn’t about her being pretty, it’s about her being a woman. I’m VERY skeptical that this guy ever said “You’re too handsome a man to be a scientist.”

  39. #39 Zoonotica
    May 24, 2011

    @ Scote

    I didn’t get the impression she was offended by being called pretty per se. The RSG didn’t just say “You’re very pretty.” It was the implication that because she was pretty (and possibly because she was a pretty girl) she couldn’t possibly be a scientist.

    fault the register clerk for not being able to magically discern Tara’s presumably above average intelligence at a glance

    My point is not that he should have been able to discern her intelligence. It is that when she pointed out she was a scientist he was not only surprised but then proceeded to tell her he was surprised because she looked too pretty. He also went on to say that because she looked pretty she should be working as an actress.

    I agree you can’t tell someone’s intelligence by looking at them. So you shouldn’t assume that you know how intelligent they are by their appearance. It therefore follows that you shouldn’t be surprised when they tell you they use their brain for a living – because you made no assumptions in the first place.

    (I hope this makes sense – the idea is clear in my head but I’m not always that good at translating ideas into words)

    Re the dichotomy of compliments. Personally I feel embarrassed/awkward when someone compliments me on either my appearance or my intellect (unless it is my other half who is under strict instructions to compliment me daily ;)!). I would much rather they complimented me on the work I have done instead.

  40. #40 Ray
    May 24, 2011

    Wow! I’m a guy who’s had more than his share of foot-in-mouth moments in the presence of beautiful women, but I would never dream of saying anything like some of the comments here. Folks, this is not rocket science. For a women to be told “you’re so pretty, you must be dumb”, is pretty obviously offensive.

  41. #41 June
    May 24, 2011

    If all the man said was that you should be in Hollywood, it simply means “you ought to be in pictures” or “you’re one in a million”. Perhaps he was thinking of Julie Andrews or Anne Hathaway.

    The image of being a fragile flower that needs breasts to compete with men and suffers the entire plight of women being dragged down — all that negativity came from Tara’s brain.

    And, of course, it depressed and angered her. That’s how depression works: our thoughts create our anger. You can see it in the comments, where now we are in turn stereotyping this man. We even have someone suggesting writing to his employer.

    Calling all pretty women.
    Get your torches and pitchforks!
    Catch this bastard before he compliments more!

  42. #42 trentmannina
    May 24, 2011

    I have to say that for someone who is so highly educated, successful, and apparently, very intelligent, Dr. Smith really blew this one. I don’t suffer fools easily and no one should. But, someone as intelligent and as well educated as Dr. Smith appears to be, should know that sexism and unrealistic and outdated sexual stereotypes are still very much alive in almost all societies across the world. It must really by emotionally tiring to be judged solely by one’s looks, but this guy didn’t know who she was. And, after having found out, he was probably embarrassed and flustered and being an ignorant troglodyte, he didn’t know how to properly respond. Clearly, Dr. Smith should have taken this opportunity to educate this ignorant slob as to why his comments were demeaning and insulting. As a biologist, Dr. Smith should understand that this was evolutionary behavior. This guy probably didn’t think he was being insulting and demeaning and was probably acting on a combination of instinct, learned behavior, and fear. If we, as educated, intelligent, rational individuals want societal norms to change, we have to be the ones that educate the masses as to why such behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable. If our response is to just turn our pretty little heads and storm out, then we only have ourselves to blame for the continued proliferation of ignorance that has plagued humanity throughout its development.

  43. #43 cairne.morane
    May 24, 2011

    @Rey Fox “In the stupidest, most condescending (to her intellect) way possible.”

    Hey, I didn’t say it was a *good* line. After all we’re talking about a guy, apparently, working in a souvenir shop. There’s a good chance he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.

    He could be working two jobs to pay his way through grad school studying quantum chromodynamics for all I know. But the evidence would seem to be against that.

    Mike.

  44. #44 Scote
    May 24, 2011

    “Folks, this is not rocket science. For a women to be told “you’re so pretty, you must be dumb”, is pretty obviously offensive”

    Except that isn’t what Tara has reported he said.

    You assume that the clerk stating she should be in Hollywood is an assumption that she’s dumb. You assume facts not in evidence. For many people the idea of being in a lab is boring and unfulfilling sounding, whereas being an actor is glamorous, exciting and financially rewarding. Assuming that the clerk meant she was dumb may say more about your own prejudices against actors than about the clerk’s prejudices.

    Perhaps we should be asking you and Tara why you think that actors are dumb? Because that is what is implicit in your arguments, that he would only think Tara should be a Hollywood actor if she was dumb? Why would you assume that? Perhaps he thinks that being pretty and smart would allow Tara to legitimately use her looks *and* her smarts, whereas she can only use her smarts in microbiology. (I’m not claiming that was his thought, mind you, but that Tara and many of the posters are exhibiting their own unstated cognitive biases in assuming that telling an attractive person that they should act is an insult to their intelligence.)

  45. #45 Art
    May 24, 2011

    Situation before the encounter is a guy has a mental picture of a microbiologists as dumpy middle-aged man.

    Guy meets attractive female microbiologist and has assumptions shaken.

    Attractive female microbiologist feels insulted and set upon, shuts the guy down, making him feel small, and leaves in a huff.

    Guy who previously pictured all microbiologists as dumpy and male now thinks that almost all microbiologists are dumpy and male. Those who aren’t are thin skinned and testy.

    An opportunity to correct a misconception was fumbled and neither party gained anything.

    Hard to say how it could have gone differently. Maybe a tack along the lines of:
    ‘What, you think a young, attractive woman can’t be a scientist. Well, I’m a microbiologist and a damn good one. I feel insulted and expect an apology.’

    Scream that at him as you poke him in the chest forcing him to back up into his display and knock stuff over. Then huff off.

    Everyone wins. He has his misconceptions corrected in a memorable way. You get to blow off some steam and feel like you stood up for yourself, stuck to your guns, and made him adapt to you. Most people secretly love that.

    People tell you they don’t like drama and causing a scene. Fact is that humans love drama and scenes. It is how we have memorable and meaningful interactions. There is a time and place.

  46. #46 Dr. Steve
    May 24, 2011

    I have actually had similar experiences aimed at other stereotypes. I am small and young-looking, and when I was a newly minted doctor I was often mistken for an orderly or male nurse, especially in the ER. I heard “you are too young to be a doctor” more times than I cared to count, and I was annoyed by it. And now, I must say I miss hearing it.
    Tara is beautiful and a microbiologist. Those are 2 rare things, and the combination is much much more rare. It is easy for any person who does not carefully construct their words ahead of time to come out sounding like a sexist, when they try to make any remark on that coincidence. I am trying and failing right now and I have a backspace key right here.

  47. #47 Rey Fox
    May 24, 2011

    An opportunity to correct a misconception was fumbled and neither party gained anything.

    Did you not read the last line of this exchange?!

  48. #48 jetlaglady
    May 24, 2011

    Uh, folks, he did in fact basically say that she couldn’t be a scientist because she is too pretty. “But you can’t be a scientist!” is an apparently verbatim line.

    I am not a scientist, but I am in a field that requires research, multiple languages, intense digging, etc. And I used to get the “But you can’t be a X” line all the time. (I get it less frequently now that I’m in a job more stereotypically assigned to cuteish nerdy women.) It was not attractive. It was not flattering. It was a reminder that I frequently was overlooked at conferences, that my own professors doubted my ability to stick to the work, etc. See also: “But you can’t possibly play Y Contact Sport!” Because, what? Why?

    Look, sincere compliments are great. I don’t get that many random street comments, but many of them have actually been pretty kind and cute. Being told I’m lying about my work because I own lipstick does not qualify as kind or cute, and I think many other women would agree.

    It is not news that subjective attraction has nothing to do with intelligence– even though tv suggests that all women scientists are, in fact, total stunners. I thought her response was perfectly suited: non-confrontational, non-dramatic, a little zing. Basically professional, compared to almost every insulted customer story. (Many humans do not, in fact, love drama and scenes, especially when in strange places for important conferences.) There isn’t really a male equivalent; men are assumed to be the default.

  49. #49 News Flash
    May 24, 2011

    News Flash! Man says dumb things when trying to impress an attractive woman!

    What’s next? Women in an office looking for the nearest man when something very heavy has to be lifted? As if ALL MEN are your personal gorillas!!!

    Sexism is everywhere if you look hard enough for it.

  50. #50 Physicsman
    May 24, 2011

    Seems some people think no correlation implies anti-correlation. I also don’t see intelligent as implicit with atheist (recent experience).

    I hope the venting the helped. There will always be some jackass on the street. The jackass to focus on is the one in your way.

  51. #51 frog, Inc.
    May 24, 2011

    @llewelly: It’s not a compliment when someone denies you are a member of your profession, particularly when said profession is difficult to get into.

    Does the cashier see it as hard to get into? Or as a profession that someone ends up in because they are too ugly or socially inept to get a decent job, one that pays well and requires little work (particularly assuming intellectual capacity to do so)?

    It’s not “stereotypes” that are going on here — that’s way too easy. It’s that, for the average person’s values, becoming a scientist is something you do because you don’t have better choices or are seriously fucked up in some way, like being a whore, ambulance chaser or assassin.

    It’s not prestigious to say you’re a scientist — it’s like being autistic enough to be a software engineer, but without the brains to make software engineer money. Folks think “medical school failure”.

    We live in crass times.

  52. #52 Tara C. Smith
    May 24, 2011

    Whoa, lots of comments and little internet/time. Starting from the bottom, as Rey Fox noted, I did encourage him to expand his horizons, and I was perfectly nice the entire time. I smiled and wished him good night when I left, but I did make it clear that his comments killed my purchase.

    Next, I never said actors are dumb. Let’s not substitute one stereotype for another.

    As far as the myriad offense comments:

    I didn’t get the impression she was offended by being called pretty per se. The RSG didn’t just say “You’re very pretty.” It was the implication that because she was pretty (and possibly because she was a pretty girl) she couldn’t possibly be a scientist.

    This, and other comments that had the same sentiment. Although even the “pretty” comment still squicks me when I’m in public and it’s from a random stranger–I don’t care of the intent, it’s rude and it’s creepy. Someone at Pharyngula noted that “flattery works,” but that doesn’t excuse being an ass (and obviously, it doesn’t work on everyone).

    As far as “enjoy it while it lasts,” well, I guess we’ll just have to see. I’ve been thin and I’ve been chunky, and my hair is naturally very curly and frizzes the fuck out in any touch of humidity. I’ve always been the “smart one” rather than the homecoming queen type (that was my sister), so I think I’ll be OK when my looks “go” and I resemble PZ more than any “Hollywood” type (hopefully minus the beard). That’s the nice thing about valuing my own intellect over my physical appearance, and probably one reason why those comments are like a punch in the gut–because I’m reminded that for so many others in society, it’s exactly the opposite and my only value is as eye candy.

  53. #53 frog, Inc.
    May 24, 2011

    zoonotica: My point is not that he should have been able to discern her intelligence. It is that when she pointed out she was a scientist he was not only surprised but then proceeded to tell her he was surprised because she looked too pretty. He also went on to say that because she looked pretty she should be working as an actress.

    Yes — if she was smart by common sights, she should leverage her attractiveness into making big cash and social approval.

    The cashier could easily have been surprised that someone attractive and apparently un-disgusting would actually prefer to a scientist, aka “But you don’t have to waste your time in a lab!”

    If you see a large attractive male with a full head of hair and fancy teeth of European ancestry, you think CEO and not migrant farmer, don’t you?

  54. #54 Markita Lynda: Healthcare is a damn right
    May 24, 2011

    Well, Austin, since you’re the one being addressed, you have the opportunity to smile and say, “Why don’t you ask my boss?” whereas the woman being ignored can not be quite as gracious when saying, “When you’ve finished fawning over my assistant, perhaps I could join in?”

  55. #55 Markita Lynda: Healthcare is a damn right
    May 24, 2011

    I know it seems unfair to people who wish they turned heads, but to be judged pretty is the flip side of being judged plain. Both imply that appearance matters too much, rather than brains, work, personality, etc.

    To give another example, the flip side of prohibited abortion is coerced abortion. Both imply that someone else should control a woman’s body, rather than the person whose body it is.

  56. #56 theo bromine
    May 24, 2011

    These days, I’m too old to be too pretty to be an engineer, but back in the day, I had my fair share of similar treatment. Not too surprising in the 1980s and 1990s, but I really do expect better these days. A couple of years ago I (gently) chided my elderly aunt for her comments about her granddaughter’s pursuit of a MEng. “I don’t understand why she wants to get a degree in engineering – she’s so pretty”.

  57. #57 Freemage
    May 24, 2011

    Okay, let’s assume that the guy was trying to be complimentary and just epically failing. One of the many painful bits is that he actually could have used the surprised reaction to be genuinely complimentary, while actually acknowledging the person in front of him:

    “Wait, with looks like yours, you could’ve cakewalked to a modeling job. Doing the heavy lifting with your brain, that’s impressive–you must love your work.”

    Granted, it doesn’t eliminate the creepy pick-up vibe that Tara talks about in her follow-up post, but at least it demonstrates that you’re actually listening to what the person you’re trying to compliment/hit on is saying.

    (BTW, while actors and models aren’t intrinsically dumb, there’s ample evidence that one can be a decent, and possibly even very highly regarded actor with little more intelligence than is required to read a script; this is doubly true if they are exceptionally attractive. Acknowledging this is not stereotyping.)

  58. #58 Doug
    May 24, 2011

    @ Brownian #29

    You seem to have misunderstood — my face may be a bit homely, but my intellect is just fine. In fact, have a whole string of nifty science degrees to show for it, along with a nice load of publications and other assorted professional honors. Given YOUR obviously winning personality, maybe you should be on talk radio, rather than commenting on a science blog?

  59. #59 Lyra
    May 24, 2011

    I’m not terribly shocked by what the salesguy said. After all, we all occasionally open our mouths and find stupid, stupid things pouring out, and being around someone we find attractive only seems to amplify this unfortunate fact.

    Instead, what really shocks me about all this are the comments insisting that Tara should be perfectly fine with someone dismissing her years of hard work in and dedication to her chosen field based on her appearance. What the salesguy said wasn’t intentionally malicious, but it was incredibly offensive. The fact that he wasn’t trying to be terrible only makes it more important that Tara let him know that what he had said wasn’t acceptable; the only way to help the man not give unintentional offense in the future is to inform him that his undoubtedly well meant comment was actually insulting. The fact that Tara proactively corrected a false and damaging stereotype shouldn’t be a bad thing.

  60. #60 anonymous
    May 24, 2011

    “But you’re too pretty! You should be in Hollywood”.

    What a rant over such a little thing. Maybe you should be in Hollywood after all.

  61. #61 Cafeeine
    May 24, 2011

    I see a lot of talk about how Tara is correct or incorrect for being offended as a woman. It seems to me though that it is more as a scientist that she was insulted.

    The way I read the comment was “Why would you want to be a microbiologist? You could be a movie actor!”

  62. #62 Mike
    May 24, 2011

    Maybe the salesperson was saying that all microbiologists are ugly.

  63. #63 Ryan Kitko
    May 24, 2011

    “Wow” is all I have to say. I’m here at the ASM conference, too, and this is my first trip to NOLA. My east-coast sensibilities are shocked by how forward, though friendly, the people can be here, especially those looking to make sales. Having now walked down Bourbon Street past all of the GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS signs, I had to politely decline invitations to come in and oogle their offerings; A simple, “Sorry, I like men,” seemed to elicit the desired response: silence.

    Does ASM have an LGBT group? I don’t think I’ve ever seen any indication of one. I wanted to attend the women in microbiology discussions, but it conflicted with a symposium with direct relevance to our research.

  64. #64 SectaSofa
    May 25, 2011

    Yikes. Depressing. At least there are a lot of us (of various genderistics and sexismes) supporting an end to this category of ignorance. Unfortunately or not, my usual reaction to an unfairly attractive/handsome (super-)brilliant person is one of muted competitive jealousy. I’m aware of this, so that’s about it, generally. But since I root for the underdogs (or in this case, the under-represented), I can at least be happy for the avatar of goodness (here, Dr. Smith) while darning my lack of world-conquering beauty and, er, competence. (Don’t get all huffy, I’m from a privileged sentient subset, so I’m allowed to be self-deprecating without reinforcing stereotypes. Or I should say I’m privileged to be able to undercut my privilege….)

  65. #65 SectaSofa
    May 25, 2011

    I also have to say I find it amusing (I mean, stupid) that people go to the trouble to post a comment that says one shouldn’t go to any trouble to write about things that aren’t any big deal. OK, really? Then go away.
    This affair did remind me of a blog post from writer Jim Hines about a different kind of nerd conference (Penguincon) regarding another sign that the dark ages have still not been abandoned : Double-Facepalm (…Talking About Rape Again)
    Though part of what he mentions *could* be only an example of blockheadedness, not necessarily of institutionally endorsed blockheadedness.

  66. #66 Ace of Sevens
    May 25, 2011

    Tara, I wish I could say I was surprised at all the trolls, but I’m really not. See every other time a woman has attempted to write about a related issue on the Internet.

  67. #67 Linnéa
    May 25, 2011

    I’m really sorry to say I get this all the time. I’m a Ph.D student in Sweden, and I more often than not find myself 1) the only female at meetings and seminars and 2) the only person present under 50. This would be all right, if it wasn’t for the attitude of some of my colleagues. In Swedish, we have this expression which is really endearing when talking to children, it’s sort of the equivalent of ” little dear” or “little one”. I don’t know how many times a week I’m referred to as this “little dear” in conversation. As a professional at a meeting with other professionals (especially men) I would never refer to anyone as “little” anything, so why is it OK to do it to me?
    Sorry, this seems to have turned into a rant. Anyway, keep it coming sister! :)

  68. #68 Aim
    May 25, 2011

    I wonder how the comments would have been if he had said:
    “Hey! you’re so ugly you must be a microbiologist!”

  69. #69 Particle-Bored
    May 25, 2011

    This seems to me to be a nerd stereotype more than anything else. An attractive person… is a nerd??? I’ve seen men that were too cut to be mathematicians. They’ve had similar experiences.

    Anyway, as an unattractive nerd I definitely have some trouble feeling bad for Tara. I would love for someone to say I am too handsome to be a scientist. Attractive people get all sorts of passes in life; Tara didn’t take advantage and worked hard anyway, good for her, but those advantages were there if she wanted them and we all know it.

  70. #70 kermit
    May 25, 2011

    If I might weigh in, as an unattractive male nerd?

    The sales clerk did not simply deliver a “Gosh, you’re pretty” comment. (Which are so often mishandled…) He said:
    1. “Since you’re pretty, you must not be smart”, and
    2. “A Hollywood job is more valuable than the one you chose”, and
    3. “When you told me that you were a scientist, you were lying.”

    Now, it may be that *he would value a Hollywood job more than science, but he told her that a job she obviously chose and worked hard for, for years, was a mistake. This is presumptuous and insulting. He probably did not decide to make a career as a sales clerk, but scientists obviously do – it’s a huge commitment.

    And why are folks posting that they are unattractive, and therefore they would love to be told they were too pretty to be smart? Are you guys serious? You must be lying…(1)

    (1) Or not. You probably realized that I was just poking a bit to remind you how that would feel. Since y’all look smart enough.(2)

    (2) Which is the other end of “You’re too pretty to be smart”, and is no more pleasant to say or hear.

  71. #71 Kakapoian
    May 25, 2011

    #humblebrag

    Just sayin…

  72. #72 Particle-Bored
    May 25, 2011

    @Kermit
    Alright, I agree with your comment.

  73. #73 S M
    May 25, 2011

    Gah! Thank you for writing this. Hmm, not a microbiologist, huh? Then what *have* I been doing with all that fungus?

  74. #74 Mike Olson
    May 26, 2011

    I have a neice who works in the entertainment industry. She is incredibly intelligent, but it is a tough industry. What is ironic to me is that given her intelligence, she will frequently name drop and expect me to be impressed. She actually is friends with a rock star who is attached to a famous author. Yet, none of that really impresses me as much as my cousin, who is an attractive woman, who chose to become a pathologist. I always feel a bit awkward because my “rock stars,” are usually not famous to the general public, but are actively doing something to make the world a better place. Similarly, when I worked in a lab in the Navy I was impressed by a Canadian researcher who was looking into HIV/AIDs treatments and a Commander I knew who, last I knew, was working in Southeast Asia studying infectious diseases. My point is that different people are impressed by different things. I’ve met a lot of very beautiful women enough to realize that they far out number intelligent women. Having said that, I should clarify that I don’t see any correlation between beauty and intelligence or a lack of one meaning a surplus of the other.

  75. #75 supratall
    May 26, 2011

    OK, I’ll come clean: this reminds me of an embarrassingly recent conversation with my materials science-trained boyfriend.

  76. #76 MichelleZB
    May 26, 2011

    For the people who say to calm down because he was just trying to be complimentary:

    If someone says something really rude to you, you have the right to be miffed, even if they were *trying* to be nice. Well, what the man said was rude. He said that she shouldn’t be in her chosen profession because of the way she looks. That’s… pretty awful.

    If he wanted to talk her up, he could have said, “Wow, a microbiologist! Well, obviously you’re very smart as well as beautiful…”

    I love being hit on and am happy to put up with highly inappropriate comments, even in a business setting. I say this just so I am not accused of being simply cold and unforgiving of men’s advances. I am, in fact, welcoming of them.

    BUT there’s one thing some men do when trying to hit on you that pisses me off, and this man did it. He tried to pay her a compliment by telling her what to do. Some men do this all the time and think they’re being cute:
    “But you CAN’T be a scientist!” Oh I can’t, can’t I?
    “I know you don’t want to leave yet. You want to stay here and talk to me.” Oh I do, do I?
    “Never cut your hair.” Uh… I’ll do what I like with my hair.
    “You should be in Hollywood!” Thanks, I already have a career.

  77. #77 Rick Fletcher @TRFletcher
    May 30, 2011

    Headline: More proof that people can be inept at social interactions.

    It’s a major issue if your department won’t hire your or promote you because you are a woman. It’s no surprise that a retail clerk at a small shop in a downtown area is not the smoothest operator.

    25 years ago it was a common response when I was introduced as a PhD chemist: “You don’t seem like a scientist.” Now it’s a common response when introduced, “Why are you single?” People say some dumb things. Not exactly the news.

    But again, it’s an issue if the people who matter to your career hold you back because of your gender or appearance. Is that the case? No?

    You can’t tweet the science but you can blog your indignation over getting hit on. Check your issues bag, it might be time for spring cleaning.

  78. #78 Katharine
    May 30, 2011

    My more ruthless side wants to shove the dicks of these sexist guys in a Fleshlight made of near-molten iron. See how you like f**king that, you walking dildos – yes, I did just say you’re nothing more than a walking sexual organ if you’re a sexist.

    I’d say the offense comes from the apparent prioritization of ‘pretty’ over smart and the denigration of intelligence in women and actual success, and the (by the way, disgusting and unattractive) insecurity, crudity, and lack of intelligence in the person who said it. Did Little Mister Salesperson tremble in his britches when you gave him a nice nasty look back? I sure hope so.

    That’s why he’s in retail and not in science.

  79. #79 Tigrero
    May 30, 2011

    Katherine, like many of the remarks here your comment suffers from unexamined classist assumptions and prejudices. At the same time, I kind of turned on by it.

  80. #80 Tara C. Smith
    May 30, 2011

    Thank you, Rick, for the extra helping of mansplaining. I appreciate the advice that I should only care about the opinions of the few people who are directly relevant to my career, and ignore the masses who still have influence over the millions of girls out there who may have a flickering interest in science that may be extinguished by insensitive comments by jackasses like store-guy. I certainly bet that people didn’t think you “seemed like a chemist” because of your gender. Yet here we are 25 years later, and that’s STILL something many women have to deal with on a daily basis, but I’m not allowed to be frustrated about it according to you. “Check my issues bag,” indeed.

    One other note–despite the wifi issues noted in the post, it may interest you to know that I was still in the top 5 for conference tweets. Amazing how I can multi-task by blogging my indignation AND also tweeting about the science, eh? I even managed to get a paper submitted during a layover in Atlanta. But thank you for your concern about my tweeting productivity.

  81. #81 Daniel J. Andrews
    May 30, 2011

    I’m VERY skeptical that this guy ever said “You’re too handsome a man to be a scientist.”

    Well it probably isn’t as common as the “you’re too pretty to be a …”, but it does happen so don’t be that skeptical. In my 30s and early to mid 40s I was told I can’t be a scientist because I looked like an athlete. Worse though was I found some departmental colleagues also fell for the ‘dumb jock’ stereotype and acted accordingly by talking down to me, passing me over when it came to challenging projects. Fortunately, as they worked with me they realized their stereotype was quite wrong (I think it also helped that I’m not a swaggering loud frat boy type who reminded them of the guys who bullied them in school–did I just use two stereotypes there?? ;)

    A good friend of mine is also very athletic (triathlete) and he also has something I lack–extreme good looks. He says that in his career (science) it has been an impediment as people view him as a pretty boy and not a real science guy. He didn’t get certain jobs because of that. He’s been told he should be in Hollywood too. Even in social life he says it has become a nuisance, and even now, he still looks boyishly young (15 years younger than he actually is).

    Incidentally, when we head out to eat someplace, the female servers sometimes hardly make eye contact with me as they’re looking and talking to him so much. One time was so blatant I don’t think she looked at me once for the whole meal. When she delivered the bill, she delivered it right to him. I took a quiet delight in reaching across the table, picking up the bill and said, “I’ve got this”. She met my eyes then. :))

  82. #82 Katharine
    May 31, 2011

    Tigrero, I have no idea how anything in what I said is ‘classist’.

    Or by ‘classist’ do you mean ‘mocking of morons’?

  83. #83 June
    May 31, 2011

    Katharine (78):
    We are all walking sexual organs,
    or did you miss the memo in biology class?

  84. #84 Katharine
    May 31, 2011

    June, I meant ‘walking sexual organ without a brain’. You know, the way many conservative men think of women and the way I think of conservative men.

  85. #85 quietmarc
    May 31, 2011

    @81> Reread my comment. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say “Guys never face prejudice.”

    It’s nice that you and your gentleman friend are succeeding despite the obstacles you face. Luckily, in the face of these injustices you both have the backdrop of a culture that overall supports men in science (even attractive or athletic men) so that these instances get to be the exception rather than the rule.

  86. #86 ErikZ
    June 1, 2011

    My more ruthless side wants to shove the dicks of these sexist guys in a Fleshlight made of near-molten iron. See how you like f**king that, you walking dildos – yes, I did just say you’re nothing more than a walking sexual organ if you’re a sexist.

    Interesting. The fleshlight being solely a male sex toy…that would make *you* sexist.

    Unless you also have some dildos made of near-molten iron you’d want to use on women.

    You’ve got issues lady.

    You know, the way many conservative men think of women and the way I think of conservative men.

    Howdy, it’s strange you’re thinking of me in a psychotically violent manner. Can you hold a conversation or shall I assume you’ll pick up the argument and run with my imaginary replies?

  87. #87 Ken
    June 1, 2011

    Well done; from the moment you dropped “my lab” into the conversation, right through to the faux ID search, it was a complete putting in his place of the clerk who thought you were cute.

    Why not return kindness for kindness? What makes you think it is your business to lecture others on civility, something which you so clearly lacked in this instance?

    I’m tempted to note that beauty is only skin deep, but that would be a cheap shot since I really don’t know you. But this post does not describe behavior of which you should be proud.

  88. #88 Lee Moore
    June 1, 2011

    Tara may be bright but she’s not that bright. She can see the conversation from her point of view, but not from the guy’s point if view. He has not the slightest interest in microbiology or microbiologists. His interests are pretty girls. Pretty girls, his experience tells him, like to be complimented on their looks, not on their jobs. So he generates a compliment. It doesn’t mean he really thinks she shouldn’t be a microbiologist. He hasn’t thought about it at all. Whole decades could go by before he directs a single thought to what hot girls should do for a living. So Tara should now have a think about the world from his point of view. Dr Tara marches into his shop trying to buy something. In the extremely limited time available to him what’s the most effective conversational or behavioural gambit he could have adopted to give himself a shot of getting into her underwear ?

  89. #89 SQB
    June 1, 2011

    Yes Rick, people say some dumb things.

    And sure, we could look beyond that. But why should we, when those dumb things are hurtful as well? What if he says to someone else, “you’re black and you’re tall, why don’t you play basketball?” Maybe and hopefully, he learned something.

  90. #90 SQB
    June 1, 2011

    Well Lee, I don’t know, but this sure as shit didn’t work, now did it?

    If I may hazard a guess…

    DO: “Hi, you look pretty/nice/interesting/like someone I’d like to know a bit better. I’d like to get to know you. Can I buy you a drink?” — Under appropriate circumstances, of course. I don’t think it would’ve been appropriate here, but I wasn’t there.

    DON’T: “Hi, you’re too pretty to be smart. No really, you’re so good looking, you can’t possibly be smart, no matter what you say.”

  91. #91 Discount Deity
    June 1, 2011

    I’m a little amused by the implication that the clueless sexism was OK because the dude was trying to get laid. Doesn’t that actually make it worse?

  92. #92 mike
    June 1, 2011

    I never thought I had any sexist tendencies, but apparently there are a few lingering around.

    When I first read your post, I admit the first thing that came to mind regarding the “you’re too pretty” comment was “Jeez, what’s he big deal, he was obviously just flirting with you. So what if he….” and that’s when it hit me!

    I feel so stupid.

  93. #93 Lee Moore
    June 1, 2011

    SQB, the “appropriate circumstances” were that Dr Tara was going to walk out of the shop in twenty seconds or so. The guy doesn’t have time to work his way round to a savvy drinks invitation. He’s just giving it a shot. With the best chat up act in the business, his chances were only 0.001% anyway. He didn’t maximise his chances, but why would we expect the world’s best chat up artist to be hiding behind the counter of a retail store ? Incidentally, according to Dr Tara’s report, he does not at any stage say or imply that pretty girls are too stupid to do science. The implication is that science is too unimportant a subject for her to waste her time on. Not a brilliant idea, I concede, but a quite different idea than the one that pretty girl = airhead.

  94. #94 John C. Randolph
    June 1, 2011

    Oh, for crying out loud. It’s an age-old cliche, it can be and bas been applied to women in any profession at all, and the implication is that the one receiving the comment should a movie star or a model or something, not that they’re unqualified for whatever job they’re doing.

    Your reaction was childish.

    -jcr

  95. #95 Leni
    June 1, 2011

    I might be a weirdo- well I am a weirdo- but I rather enjoy the looks of complete and utter confusion when I tell people I have a physics degree. It’s just a BS- not even that impressive- but it’s almost like the lower the jaw drops the happier it makes me. I am female, and not beautiful but definitely pretty enough to hear this kind of crap from time to time. Some people never see it coming and I like to think of it as a mild sucker punch.

    So Tara, even if you are rightfully pissed about it and it never even should have happened, maybe you can take some small, petty pleasure in knowing that you probably made him feel like a total jackass :) Hopefully ten years from now he’ll still cringe when he thinks about it.

  96. #96 Adam Atlas
    June 1, 2011

    jcr @94:

    Oh, for crying out loud. It’s an age-old cliche, it can be and bas been applied to women in any profession at all

    Yes, there are lots of sexist cliches like that. Is that somehow supposed to justify them?

    the implication is that the one receiving the comment should a movie star or a model or something, not that they’re unqualified for whatever job they’re doing.

    The world needs more scientists much more than it needs more models and movie stars. Being professional eye candy would not be a better use of a scientist’s time.

  97. #97 Adam Atlas
    June 1, 2011

    (That is: even if you are not implying that a woman is not qualified for her job on an absolute scale, you are still implying that being a model/actor would be a greater comparative advantage for her or would do more good for the world, which is a very rude assumption to make if you only know how pretty she is and not how good a scientist she is.)

  98. #98 SectaSofa
    June 1, 2011

    What I find amazing is that the people (er, guys) who feel that Tara/Dr. Smith was somehow out of line in making an issue of this interaction are so intent on lecturing her, condescending to her, and telling her how she should have handled it. It really reinforces the point of the post.
    The implicit claim is that this is a personal issue, and that there is no influence of culture or background which makes this interesting or relevant outside of Tara’s own experience. I think the comment thread makes that claim quite suspect. Presented with only a thread’s worth of condescension and assholery, I can imagine treating interactions as more than atomic moments, and perhaps even reading them as part of a coherent fabric that gives women the message that they should shut up and be flattered by sexist/stereotyping behavior (or whatever behavior it is that the womenfolk believe isn’t okay, because some wise men know better).

  99. #99 chris
    June 1, 2011

    Intelligence is far more appealing and far less fleeting than appearance.

    I’m happy I married a woman with both.

    Sadly, in her position as one of three partners in a company people always assume the male partner is “in charge”. Yet sadly he is the least intelligent, the least productive, and has the smallest revenues of all three.

    Chris

  100. #100 Alexis
    June 1, 2011

    As a woman getting a computer science degree, I honestly think that if you’re not a complete monster than you’re ‘too pretty’ to be a woman in math/science/engineering. Although i admit to some degree of bafflement at my fellow female students who wear MAKEUP and style their hair. They are foreign creatures to the college of engineering, much rarer than the “brush your hair and call it good” women like me.

    Reading these comments it strikes me that

    1. There are a lot of petty jealous people around these parts

    2. People who read science blogs hate retail workers and other peons below their notice.

  101. #101 thrawn369
    June 1, 2011

    Oh come on, “It’s okay because he’s trying to hit on her”? The (arguably misogynist) Pick-Up Artist Community (not to be confused with the Weightlifting Community) claims that one effective way to pick up women is through “negging”, or giving insulting compliments that show you to be clever/funny and assert your superiority to the woman. Just because some women find bastards attractive doesn’t mean the rest should put up with it. If you want to be all pragmatic about it, insulting a woman’s intelligence in a pick-up line is all about signalling you’re confident enough in your wittiness/charm to risk being insulting, and if being called out on it hurts your feelings, well you shouldn’t be making costly signals you can’t back up.

  102. #102 Qingdai
    June 1, 2011

    You’re too pretty to do science seems a short leap from “you shouldn’t be in this physical science class, because you’re a girl.” Where have I heard that before?

  103. #103 LadyShea
    June 1, 2011

    Oh Tara, you shouldn’t worry your pretty little head about such silly things. Maybe you should buy some shoes or get a facial, I am sure you’ll feel better. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    As one whose time of being underestimated and treated like some kind of well trained poodle has passed- because of the olds ya know- I applaud your opening a discussion on this. Oh and for excellent use of one of my fave words, mansplaining.

    My gorgeous niece will have her PhD here in a few years, at about age 26. I am going to send her this article. I am also going to send her to this resource lisarea pointed out http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Geek_Feminism_Wiki

  104. #104 Marcel Kincaid
    June 2, 2011

    You’re too [pretty/young/female, take your pick] to be a microbiologist!

    This title is intellectually dishonest … he only said one of those. And “too young” is perfectly good reason to think that someone isn’t working in some advanced field, and does not imply bias. And the expectation that all pretty people should prefer working in Hollywood to being scientists is, while foolish and anti-intellectual, not sexist per se, and is quite different from an expectation that all women should be in Hollywood, which would be downright bizarre. The guy might be a sexist jerk, but one must go beyond the evidence given to conclude that.

    It was the implication that because she was pretty (and possibly because she was a pretty girl) she couldn’t possibly be a scientist.

    Yeah, and that’s why he called the authorities, certain that the ASM nametag must have been a forgery.

    #88 I think you’re in the right ballpark.

    #91 Yeah, having a sexual interest in pretty women makes a man a sexist.

    I see in this thread a lot of logical fallacy, unwarranted assumption, ad hominems about “mansplaining” and the privilege of the victim — too many women presume that, when it comes to issues of gender bias and oppression, anything they believe must be true and any man who disagrees must be a sexist. There was a real opportunity to have a discussion with this retailer that would lead to his understanding why Dr. Smith felt offended, and her understanding what he did and did not really think, but instead she showed great condescension, and probably left him thinking some rather hostile, nasty thoughts, generalized from Dr. Smith to everyone of her gender.

  105. #105 Marcel Kincaid
    June 2, 2011

    Ironically, there’s been a trend in Hollywood movies to cast beautiful actresses as scientists. Recent example: Natalie Portman as an astrophysicist in “Thor”.

    Um, Natalie Portman is a scientist — her Erdős number is 5. Funny how, when someone here assumes that it was her beauty, not her background in science, that was the basis for choosing Portman for that role, no one says a word. It’s almost as if all people here can see in Portman is her looks, not her talent and intellect.

  106. #106 Marcel Kincaid
    June 2, 2011

    It’s not a compliment when someone denies you are a member of your profession, particularly when said profession is difficult to get into.

    Well, sure, if that someone is in your head and knows all about your experiences. But if someone has very limited exposure to such facts and just isn’t thinking in those terms, then it is. Or rather, there’s the difference between whether something is intended as a compliment and whether it feels like a compliment, because neither being a compliment nor being an insult is an intrinsic property of the phrase “you’re too pretty to be a scientist” — language doesn’t work that way.

  107. #107 Marcel Kincaid
    June 2, 2011

    Since when is “You can’t be a scientist!” a nice thing to say?

    Since we live in an anti-intellectual society, and in one in which people have received numerous stereotyped images of scientists as homely, unsmiling, bespectacled, and male. When someone says “You can’t be a scientist!”, they don’t mean it literally, and they don’t mean it personally — to take it that way is foolish, ignorant, and intellectually dishonest. What they mean is that you don’t fit their expectations of what a scientist looks like. It’s a good opportunity to educate them about how skewed their expectations are, rather than to act like a jerk in return.

  108. #108 Marcel Kincaid
    June 2, 2011

    #29 What a disgusting, hostile, mean-spirited, hypocritical, stupid, factually incorrect post.

    #30

    This isn’t about her being pretty, it’s about her being a woman.

    Mr. RSG said nothing about her being a woman.

    I’m VERY skeptical that this guy ever said “You’re too handsome a man to be a scientist.”

    Skepticism isn’t evidence. Ironically, the post just 4 minutes before yours indicates that it does happen, and #37 is honest enough to acknowledge such thoughts.

    #40 For a women to be told “you’re so pretty, you must be dumb”, is pretty obviously offensive.

    Yes, obviously, but he didn’t say that or anything like it.

    #42 True and rational.

    #44, #45, #46, #51 Yet more truth.

    It’s nice to see that there are quite a number of rational, intellectually honest, non-dogmatic people posting here — more than I had at first realized. Dr. Smith should consider opening her mind and hearing them.

    #57 BTW, while actors and models aren’t intrinsically dumb, there’s ample evidence that one can be a decent, and possibly even very highly regarded actor with little more intelligence than is required to read a script; this is doubly true if they are exceptionally attractive. Acknowledging this is not stereotyping.

    Actually, it is stereotyping, and it’s grossly stupid and ignorant.

    #61 I see a lot of talk about how Tara is correct or incorrect for being offended as a woman. It seems to me though that it is more as a scientist that she was insulted.

    Yes, but that’s not how she sees it … and that’s her mistake, and of several others here. #69 is another who gets it, whereas #70 writes “He said: 1. ‘Since you’re pretty, you must not be smart'”, which simply isn’t true, nor his 3. about taking Tara to be lying — that’s an invalid interpretation of the RSG’s words from an autistic literalist pov.

    #66 Tara, I wish I could say I was surprised at all the trolls

    Right, anyone who holds a different opinion is a troll … or “mansplaining”. I find that charge to be grossly offensive, myself.

    @Katherine What a piece of work you are. #79 and #86 — right on.

  109. #109 Marcel Kincaid
    June 2, 2011

    And finally, I don’t find you all that pretty.

  110. #110 jere
    June 2, 2011

    Meh, i give you a 6. 7 back in college, maybe.

  111. #111 Joshua_D
    June 2, 2011

    Come on Marcel, she’s pretty good looking

    … for a scientist!

    Ba-dum ching!

  112. #112 Geoff van Pelt
    June 2, 2011

    @Marcel @jere @Joshua_D and other assorted Defenders of Man’s Glorious Right to not be Talked About Anywhere for Any Reason Even Indirectly Without A Thunderously Self-Serving Verbal Interjection of Pompous Assitude

    Wow, congratulations on keeping the thread alive by being complete asstards. Really? Not getting enough attention? I’ll give it to you, since I’m a dude, and this probably defeats your purpose.

    I’m sorry you guys are offended by someone else being offended. What the hell is the problem? Leaving aside the fact that you guys don’t see or don’t care that sexism is actually there, it’s not your place to control how someone reacts. Get it? Marcel, if you’re not “mansplaining”, you are at least a fucking jackass. Congratulations. Yes, I’m name-calling. I’m sure you deserve more generosity, in your own blog, in your own comment thread, on whatever it is that pains you. (Perhaps.) This is not that. You can’t dismiss a phenomenon in the world by articulations and rationalizations and hand-waving.

  113. #113 Hazim
    June 2, 2011

    GyawdDAM, you people go at being offended like it’s your job. Just stay in your labs 24/7 if you can’t interact with humankind on a common level, bunch of freaks.

    And, sweetie pie, you’d be alot prettier if you didn’t have that look behind your smile like you’re a coiled cobra, shivering with an outrageous, gleeful hope that the next person you meet will say something that you can twist and contort into a misconstrued insult.

    Then, maybe, it wouldn’t be such a shock to you when a commoner deigns to speak directly to you in a friendly manner. Ingrate.

  114. #114 The Anti-Gnostic
    June 2, 2011

    You’re not ticked off. You’re flattered, and couldn’t wait to post on your blog and tell everybody about it. And the salesguy is right, you are quite attractive and surprisingly so for your peer group.

  115. #115 Brian
    June 2, 2011

    Tara, you’re maybe a 6. You have no right to reject a “pretty” compliment. That’s like a homeless man rejecting food. Oh, and when will feminists get the hint that we don’t want smart, career-driven women? What we really want are sweet, submissive, supporting women who can care for home and child? I am not impressed by your degrees, rather I’m turned off by them unless I find that you make an awesome casserole or you fuck well.

    PS, I know the salesman was ugly, or she’d be bragging about her new boyfriend and how hard he fucked her last night.

  116. #116 The Anti-Gnostic
    June 2, 2011

    You’re not ticked off. You’re flattered, and couldn’t wait to post on your blog and tell everybody about it. And the salesguy is right, you are quite attractive and surprisingly so for your peer group.

  117. #117 eumaios
    June 2, 2011

    5/10

  118. #118 Brian
    June 2, 2011

    You can take the scientist out of the woman, you you can’t take the woman out of the scientist. Typical feminist, man-hating bitch. Probably pissed Oprah left the air and has no place to get her drama fix.

  119. #119 Brian
    June 2, 2011

    You can take the scientist out of the woman, you you can’t take the woman out of the scientist. Typical feminist, man-hating bitch. Probably pissed Oprah left the air and has no place to get her drama fix.

  120. #120 checkyourpremises
    June 2, 2011

    and ignore the masses who still have influence over the millions of girls out there who may have a flickering interest in science that may be extinguished by insensitive comments by jackasses like store-guy.

    Any girl who lets an “insensitive comment by a jackass” extinguish a flickering interest in science, is just not that interested in science in the first place.

  121. #121 The Anti-Gnostic
    June 2, 2011

    Hmm. I’m gonna have to retract and say 5/10. 7/10 with four beers. Oh what the hell. Two beers and I’m all over it.

  122. #122 checkyourpremises
    June 2, 2011

    and ignore the masses who still have influence over the millions of girls out there who may have a flickering interest in science that may be extinguished by insensitive comments by jackasses like store-guy.

    Any girl who lets an “insensitive comment by a jackass” extinguish a flickering interest in science, is just not that interested in science in the first place.

  123. #123 KMK
    June 2, 2011

    Tara,

    This guy who hit on you obviously had little standards and was probably a dweeb, a chubster, or some other beta male variety. You are not that attractive. Id give you a 5/10. I wouldn’t hit on you, and if I was drunk I still wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole…in this case a ten foot dick.

    If this guy was anything special and had any alpha characteristics to speak of you probably would have gotten his info instead of coming on here and ranting about how much a strong feminist you are. You liked the attention, stop lying.

  124. #124 KMK
    June 2, 2011

    Tara,

    This guy who hit on you obviously had little standards and was probably a dweeb, a chubster, or some other beta male variety. You are not that attractive. Id give you a 5/10. I wouldn’t hit on you, and if I was drunk I still wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole…in this case a ten foot dick.

    If this guy was anything special and had any alpha characteristics to speak of you probably would have gotten his info instead of coming on here and ranting about how much a strong feminist you are.

  125. #125 KMK
    June 2, 2011

    Tara,

    This guy who hit on you obviously had little standards and was probably a dweeb, a chubster, or some other beta male variety. You are not that attractive. Id give you a 5/10. I wouldn’t hit on you, and if I was drunk I still wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole…in this case a ten foot dick.

    If this guy was anything special and had any alpha characteristics to speak of you probably would have gotten his info instead of coming on here and ranting about how much a strong feminist you are.

  126. #126 Joshua_D
    June 2, 2011

    (Note to self: Think before you blog.)

    The interwebz is a vicious place not suited for the sensitive. Is there a biological term for that – for thin skin, I mean?

  127. #127 Kentucky Packrat
    June 2, 2011

    As the old saying goes, pretty can be skin deep, but ugly usually goes right to the bone.

    Congratulations, you suffered a bad pickup line. Then you won a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. We are so proud of you for putting that foul, evil caveman in his place.

    Don’t worry, you won’t get bad pickup lines much longer. Keep oozing that venom out through your pores, and people will be able to tell. The “poor, pitiful me keeps getting hit on” act will go through “I can’t get men to pay attention to me” and land in “I think I’ll buy another cat” territory a lot faster than you could hope.

    (A technical issue: tell your website maintainer to work on that database. You’re getting a lot of connection refused messages, especially during posting.)

  128. #128 Kentucky Packrat
    June 2, 2011

    As the old saying goes, pretty can be skin deep, but ugly usually goes right to the bone.

    Congratulations, you suffered a bad pickup line. Then you won a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. We are so proud of you for putting that foul, evil caveman in his place.

    Don’t worry, you won’t get bad pickup lines much longer. Keep oozing that venom out through your pores, and people will be able to tell. The “poor, pitiful me keeps getting hit on” act will go through “I can’t get men to pay attention to me” and land in “I think I’ll buy another cat” territory a lot faster than you could hope.

    (A technical issue: tell your website maintainer to work on that database. You’re getting a lot of connection refused messages, especially during posting.)

  129. #129 Geoff van Pelt
    June 2, 2011

    Well, trolls are trolling.
    @Kentucky Packrat — at least you left a website link. Probably not yours, but you did pick a staggeringly insipid one — ‘christian bohemian’ from kentucky ‘collecting ideas’. Wow.
    In any case, I hope you feel better about the world now that you’ve vented. Though it is clear you don’t know anything about intelligent women, women in academia, or how this “website” operates. Or, presumably, cats. Moron.

    @KMK @Anti-gnostic @euman You got your math wrong. Dumbfuck(s). Also, you might want to stop being so stalk-y. What has this to do with squat, other than as an indication of the ubiquity of sexist jackassery? You prove Dr. Smith’s points, again and again.

  130. #130 mjb
    June 2, 2011

    Hate to say it, but you’ve been Vox Day’d. Enjoy.

    5/10.

  131. #131 barneycb
    June 2, 2011

    That’s okay baby. I think you are pretty too!

    b

  132. #132 Joshua_D
    June 2, 2011

    Geoff van Pelt. Is that a pseudonym? Because you write like a chick. You’re very passive aggressive. “I hope you feel better about the world now that you’ve vented.” Good one.

    And you defend cats. Who defends cats? How many cats do you have anyway? Seven?

  133. #133 James Stephenson
    June 2, 2011

    Get over yourself you whiney bitch. It could have been worse – you could have reciprocated and gone out with the guy. That really would have made him regret his clumsy complement. You sound like a fuckin thirteen year old. Grow up.

  134. #134 Geoff van Pelt
    June 2, 2011

    @josh_d
    I write like a chick? OK, that’s probably a complement. Plenty of great writers of any sex, though. And bad ones.
    Honestly, if I could improve the tone of my writing, I’d like to go more Borgesian, but not really my idiom.

    “passive aggressive”? Is that supposed to be disparaging, I guess? Not sure how it matters either way. You’re still a dumbfuck. Do I need to threaten violence to get on your approved list of “active” aggressors? I won’t, because I don’t intend violence, and there’s nothing more pointless than pointless violence.

    Also, cats. Yeah, well, I like most mammals.

    And ‘Geoff’ really is my name (not what I’d pick, but so it goes).

  135. #135 Mats
    June 2, 2011

    You have a nice face, but “too pretty” is an obvious exageration.

  136. #136 Geoff van Plat
    June 2, 2011

    @Mats : “You have a nice face, but ‘too pretty’ is an obvious exageration.”
    Well, thanks! You also have a nice face, and guano is not a distributive. But alas, looks! Also, OK, cheese sandwich, crockpot, lemon yellow. Dig? You may bog it down, but you’ll still just be salad.

    @James Stephenson aka “murderdog” . Yo, man! I hear ya! What’s up with that mesentery, and those turtles n’ shit! To play the game, you gotta spray the same, am I raight? You ain’t just pajoolin’, you pajoolin’ stupid.

    @mjb Plentiful is the way of the Gods, for they have not crated up the years like so, as I have, or you, or all those Egyptian dundersacks. Wink, wink. Although you express yourself most delicately, as an idiot with fine downy clown-feathers, it’s lost here, on us. You look like a slime mold, or a Mats, or a James Stephenson. Lost boys. No tribe. No tribe but stupid, and the wind whistles like this — wheeeeeee — ‘tween your ears. Blinding sounds of gibberish, you own nothing ; a big galoshes come down and it laughs and laughs. Sandbag it and go home, no rush, just hurry. I ‘spect you’re not missed just yet. Hopefully some day. Praise Minerva. Respect!

  137. #137 vince
    June 2, 2011

    No worries, he was lying. Feel better?

  138. #138 mjb
    June 2, 2011

    Geoff van Plat,

    Give it a rest, will ya? Why are you defending this lady? Is she too girlie to do so herself?

    Grow up.

  139. #139 James Stephenson
    June 2, 2011

    Thank God for White Knights like Sir Van Plat. How would women get through life without them rushing to their aid?

  140. #140 mjb
    June 2, 2011

    I wonder, is Geoff van Plat actually Dodo?

  141. #141 Geoff van Plat
    June 2, 2011

    @mjb Well, I guess if you keep writing, it makes her point better than any explicit defense would (regardless of necessity or lack of).
    It’s just a few men in the tail end of this thing, talking among ourselves. Fitting.

  142. #142 James Stephenson
    June 2, 2011

    Thank God for White Knights like Sir Van Plat. How would women get through life without them rushing to their aid?
    I can deduce that within the psycho-sexual hierarchy he is probably an omega, desperately defending women on the off-chance that one of them might decide to like him.

  143. #143 mjb
    June 2, 2011

    You didn’t deny it. That you’re Dodo. The resident troll on VD.

    I’m just passing time before I move on. You’ve been monitoring this blog for hour.

    When level are you in WOW or Second Life or whatever it is folks like you get into?

  144. #144 Geoff van Platterson
    June 2, 2011

    @James Stephenson : “Thank God for White Knights like Sir Van Plat. How would women get through life without them rushing to their aid?”

    What a brilliant question! Perhaps they’ll get PhDs?

    Well, I am benighted, but I figured I might as well throw a token word or two into the pool of stupid you call thinking thoughts.

    Someone earlier in the thread said it would be nice if men would also call out sexist bullshit and not leave it just to women. So. I’m afraid at this point it’s more just responding to halfwits. I’m guessing your (pl.) sexism is secondary to general stupidity. Probably not correctable.

  145. #145 Geoff van Platterson
    June 2, 2011

    @mjb Despite the fact I can’t keep ‘von Pelt’ or ‘von Plat*’ straight, and that I may be a fool or a dodo, I don’t know what VD is, other than apparently a nest of sleepy-witted troglodytes with hamsters for eyes. (I’m guessing a little on that last part.) Anyway, yes and no, I have this open in the background at my desk/day job, and *I* find it amusing, anyway. This is pretty much the extent of my online game-playing (which is to say, responding to dumbos with inflated opinions of their opinions). You bring the ridiculous, I bring the popcorn.

  146. #146 J Kirk
    June 2, 2011

    “Well, you could have just noted that it was your fallback position since some socially inept, sexually awkward asshat took your dream job of cash register attendant. ”

    Yea, that’s the normal socially well adjusted response to someone trying to make conversation ….

  147. #147 Rex Little
    June 2, 2011

    Ironically, there’s been a trend in Hollywood movies to cast beautiful actresses as scientists. Recent example: Natalie Portman as an astrophysicist in “Thor”.

    Actually, Portman is a pretty good fit for the stereotype of what a smart woman looks like: dark hair (the “dumb blond” meme is very much alive), features on the angular side, not large in the eyes or bust.

  148. #148 Joshua_D
    June 2, 2011

    Good grief. Did you really just write “troglodytes?” Heh. Personally, I am very entertained by your chick-speak, but those big words don’t suit you. (Also, it’s kind of freaky that you are changing your own screen name. Preemptive self-deprecation isn’t cool, and science chick will not appreciate such martyrdom. Well, she won’t appreciate it with you anyway.)

  149. #149 Godfrey
    June 2, 2011

    You’re a scientist? I would think a scientist would understand male/female dynamics within species. And I would think a woman your age would have a clue about male sexuality by now.

    Here is a “shocking” lesson in biology “scientist” lady, males are attracted to females. Males and females procreate and the species is perpetuated; thus the reason our species has populated the planet.

    Do you need someone to explain the birds and the bees to you? I bet you’ll be shocked and appalled when you learn the “yucky” details. The fact that a male found an androgynous female like you sexually interesting only serves to prove the intensity of the male sex drive.

  150. #150 scientists have asperger's
    June 2, 2011

    *fake gasp* Omg, people are so cruel. There is like no god okay.

  151. #151 Geoff van Pelt
    June 3, 2011

    @scientists_ha “[...]There is like no god okay.”
    Can I get an ‘Amen’? (Yes, I wandered here from Pharyngula.)

    @joshua_d — Hey, you want me to tell you about married life and fatherhood? Dumbass. As I implied earlier, at this point, I’m here for the entertainment value. Not to impress anyone, though I would be happy if other easily-amused people were amused, because frankly, your shtick and the alpha dog / reductionist biology ejaculation from Godfrey and whoever, are just numbingly pathetic, just actually so staggeringly, blandly inane, that if anyone worth amusing has scrolled down this far, so far away from the point, then they really deserve something for their trouble.

    I don’t care whether or not you like the use of ‘troglodytes’ fixed, or unaffixed, upon or away from any surface or added as description to any creature. I can’t begin to see why it’s relevant why you think it quaint, unholy, nerdy, wooden, verdigris, or electric. These things you and your cohort (or sockpuppets) are saying, all of these insipid, bizarrely disconnected taunts — I’ve heard them before, from children, from intellectually or emotionally arrested teenagers, from people I didn’t care about when I was your (mental?) age and younger, and it was then and it is now hard to care about insults from people who I have no respect for. Also, you and your cadre are, I’m pretty sure, morons. I mean that in the scientific sense (the creepy pre-WWI sense, but all pour m’amuser, so you see?).
    Anyhow, good luck with your culture war! (It will end in tears, or laughter.)

  152. #152 steve
    June 3, 2011

    Wow, you are a hottie! I love your tits…

  153. #153 Kathryn
    June 3, 2011

    Amazing how all these guys have found this blog just so they can defend some rude clerk in a souvenir shop.

  154. #154 Mark
    June 3, 2011

    Dr. Tara! Good heavens, that silly retail clerk LIKED you — that’s all. Have you been imbibing too much chlorine from the Iowa City water supply? :) (Yes, UI grad writing!)

    Seriously, don’t give the NOLA clerk more credit than he deserves.

  155. #155 Spod McTittySlap
    June 3, 2011

    Much anger I see on this blog. Oh yes.

  156. #156 Andrew Dice Clay
    June 3, 2011

    Tara, you are a nice looking woman but don’t worry…you are not all that hot.

  157. #157 James Stephenson
    June 3, 2011

    153
    Amazing how all these guys have found this blog just so they can defend some rude clerk in a souvenir shop.
    Posted by: Kathryn | June 3, 2011 3:44 AM

    Kathryn. Already seen some of your earlier posts and you are obviously a man-hating femnazi of the most entrenched kind who’s anger is such that it could only have been caused by being porked regularly as a child by her Father, Grandfather and other assorted family members, friends and teachers.

    I so hope you are single and don’t have a pale shadow of a man chained to the kitchen sink. I also hope you don’t have any children because I can’t countenance the thought of you infecting her or emasculating him. You would probably make them genderless.

    We are not defending a sales guy who may well be a prick. There are people starving to death on this planet as I write. There are people dying excruciatingly painful deaths. But poor Tara had someone flirt with her and she has to put him in his place and then blog about it. Not only that but what was a misguided effort to have some interaction with her becomes in her mind all about stereotypes from the nasty male oppressor who is calling her dumb. How to politicise a chat up line.

    Tara should stop being a precocious child demanding that everyone conforms to the way she wants the world to be. There are so many more important issues in life than her poor hurt feelings.

    And you Kathryn, are obviously a nasty little shit that needs to be locked up before you cut a man’s dick off for having the temerity to glance at you.

  158. #158 Pashupati
    June 3, 2011

    I find that so strange people say things like “You’re in depression, get out of it because other people suffers too and some even dies” or at the other end of the spectrum “You ate something that gave you diarrhea, and so? People are dying somewhere else!”
    Well, if someone get his dick cut, you can also say that’s not something to rant or even talk about as some people are dying terrible deaths somewhere.
    I don’t think someone who call some other person a nasty little shit to be locked up for such a matter really cares about people suffering and dying, anyway.
    And reading some of these comments I see where Shulamith Firestone was going when suggesting sexism and ageism came hand in hand.
    That’s actually really weird some comments are so aggressive and insulting when the original message is really calm.
    It’s actually really frustrating when people don’t believe you’re interested in something or do something (as a job or hobby) because of your outward appearance, actually it happens a lot to me and it makes me not want to implicate myself in the subjects that interests me, because when I try people act surprised or say embarrassing stuffs and after some number it’s more like you felt it’d be dangerous and disagreeable for you to continue.
    Sorry for my bad English and the fact my comment is more of thoughts I thought while reading it all.

  159. #159 p-dawg
    June 3, 2011

    He’s a salesman. He’s practiced in lying via compliment as a selling technique. Don’t worry, you definitely aren’t too pretty to be a scientist.

  160. #160 Luke Smith
    June 3, 2011

    By late twenties your fertility will be plunging like a prom dress after 11 PM. Your emotional touchiness combined with concomitant general disagreeability will exacerbate your undesirability to men such that by age 40 your romantic life will resemble Andrea Dworkin’s (in her later life) if you don’t take corrective action. Soon enough no one will say you’re attractive except as a pleasantry or to sell you something. Never forget that by far the majority of your life 90% of men will not be interested in having sex with you; the age 16-28 desirable stage is fleeting over the course of a long life.

    Some books for you:

    “Created To Be His Helpmeet” by Debi Pearl

    “Creating A Life” by Sylvia Ann Hewlett

    “The Garbage Generation” by Daniel Amneus (available for free viewing &/or printing in its entirety here) http://www.fisheaters.com/garbagegeneration.html

    Online article “Home Economics” by F. Roger Devlin:
    http://www.thornwalker.com/ditch/devlin_home_ec_01.htm

    Good luck to you.

    P.S. I’m a post-grad hard scientist myself.

  161. #161 Paul
    June 3, 2011

    I’ve had people refuse to believe that I’m a Ph.D. chemist because I’m 6’3″, built like a lumberjack, and don’t need glasses. I ask them, “Well… what is a scientist SUPPOSED to look like?” They have no answer.

    Also… one day I walked into a local uniform shop to buy a new lab coat. While the lady was trying to find one that was my size, she casually asked me, “Is this for an audition, or a photo shoot?” (In other words, am I an actor or a model?) To her shock, I replied, “No, I’m an actual scientist!” Only in California….

    Amusing. Nothing to get offended about IMHO.

  162. #162 Pteryxx
    June 3, 2011

    There is one sense in which the identity of the harasser is less important than the response by men at large (though men have no monopoly on said abusive responses.) The harasser’s conduct is odious, but he affects one person at a time. Making public comments deriding women who’ve made the difficult choice to say something public — to whatever degree — not only lend cover to that harasser but to all others, and contribute to a mass loss of freedom for any person who has had to deal with harassment. A small minority of men commit sexual harassment. The rest of us merely make it possible for them to get away with it.

    from “How Not to be an Asshole: A Guide for Men” (link) (bolds mine)

  163. #163 Geoff van Pelt
    June 3, 2011

    James stephenson @ 157
    We are not defending a sales guy who may well be a prick. There are people starving to death on this planet as I write. There are people dying excruciatingly painful deaths.

    Why are you here, then, making an ass of yourself?

    It’s obvious to everyone else here, actually *reading* the original post, that you’re incapable of understanding it. You’re documenting your own issues, no one else’s.

  164. #164 Rutee
    June 4, 2011

    Amazing how all these guys have found this blog just so they can defend some rude clerk in a souvenir shop.

    While the number of jackass men willing to be so sexist is innumerable, given that different screen names all share the exact same style (and are presumably drive bys) I think this is more easily attributable to one sock-puppetting jerk.

  165. #165 Tara C. Smith
    June 4, 2011

    Alas, if they are, they’re using a proxy–they’re all from different IP addresses. Go over to VoxDay and you’ll see the same. Nothing could prove my point better than they do.

  166. #166 JKirk
    June 4, 2011

    from “How Not to be an Asshole: A Guide for Men” (link) (bolds mine)

    Yea, cause the goal with women is to be a man she views as completely harmless. Sure that makes you safe, but also most women will inherently not find you at all attractive, either.

  167. #167 Tara C. Smith
    June 4, 2011

    OK, I’ve not commented on most of these, but this one is unintentionally hilarious:

    By late twenties your fertility will be plunging like a prom dress after 11 PM. Your emotional touchiness combined with concomitant general disagreeability will exacerbate your undesirability to men such that by age 40 your romantic life will resemble Andrea Dworkin’s (in her later life) if you don’t take corrective action. Soon enough no one will say you’re attractive except as a pleasantry or to sell you something. Never forget that by far the majority of your life 90% of men will not be interested in having sex with you; the age 16-28 desirable stage is fleeting over the course of a long life.

    Why hilarious? I’m already a positively ancient 35 with 2 kids (11 and 9). Luke and others mention how I’m destined to live a long, lonely, barren life, but fail to realize that I’m already partnered with kids–and apparently, way older than they think I am if he’s putting me in with the under-28 crowd.

    “Home Economics” indeed.

    P.S. I’m a post-grad hard scientist myself.

    Of course you are. I hope you’re not mentoring any women. Or men, for that matter. If you are, here’s some reading for you in return: Unconscious Bias and the Impact on Women entering Science.

  168. #168 Rutee
    June 4, 2011

    Yea, cause the goal with women is to be a man she views as completely harmless. Sure that makes you safe, but also most women will inherently not find you at all attractive, either.

    Oh HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO

    You have /no idea/ what you’re talking about. You have negative clues, actually; everything you’re saying is deducting from the global sum of knowledge. You have been sold a fairy song by people with sexist views. Not that it won’t stop you from telling the same story.

    Alas, if they are, they’re using a proxy–they’re all from different IP addresses. Go over to VoxDay and you’ll see the same. Nothing could prove my point better than they do.

    I’ve never been familiar with them, let’s see.
    *Googles*
    Ah, so there’s the source for these misogynist idiots.

  169. #169 Jeff
    June 4, 2011

    To everyone here who presumes to inform the clerk what he should and should not say, who the fuck are you to object to his dictum, yet issue your own? If you object to his opinion, only to inform him of how he should think, then you are engaged in behavior analogous to that which you object. One thing that pisses me off is women who believe the world is against them; their very emotions are sexist to the core since they are without merit. These dumb bitches, and their homo- and neo-homo male friends, don’t realize that the entire world has bent to the demands of women. From the epic expansion of welfare to the useless increase in credentialism, the world has given loud-mouth women what they want. What the dear scientist does not realize, is that her personality and lack of talent are what hold her back compared to her most sterling male peers. Credentials alone do not give one the necessary means to stand upon the apex of their profession for both fame and glory; one needs solid emotional intelligence and a good grasp of truth and reality; things that the dear scientist, like many women, is missing.

  170. #170 Tara C. Smith
    June 4, 2011

    These dumb bitches, and their homo- and neo-homo male friends, don’t realize that the entire world has bent to the demands of women. From the epic expansion of welfare to the useless increase in credentialism, the world has given loud-mouth women what they want.

    This would be funny if the reality of this world, and what’s done to women, weren’t so tragic. Some more reading for you:

    Breast-ironing in Cameroon

    Unnatural Selection

    Half the Sky

  171. #171 pjay
    June 5, 2011

    OK, you’re not pretty.
    And you’ll never get tenure.

    Feeling better?

  172. #172 Pteryxx
    June 5, 2011

    *awards pjay two Bitchez-Ain’t-Shit points*

    Happy now?

  173. #173 namae nanka
    June 5, 2011

    I remember a girl telling me that I couldn’t be in that kinda college, because I don’t look like a book-worm.

    I would have been flattered, except she looked like a horse.

    “and that we need to go above and beyond what our male colleagues do just to feel the same level of acceptance and appreciation.”

    then start feeling.
    It’s amazingly ironic that girls need cheering to succeed in science and need stereotypes to be broken down while boys who are behind them in education are to be told man up and stop perpetuating stereotypes.
    A woman is what comes to my mind when I think of a teacher, and a woman in a lab-coat is what comes to my mind when I think of a microbiologist or to better it statistically, a psychologist.
    Oh lord, my ingrained sexism..

    “This would be funny if the reality of this world, and what’s done to women, weren’t so tragic.”

    umm that’s because you don’t find what happens to men to be tragic and simply wave away that men on men. Nothing is more illogical than hearing the whining of western women about the suffering of women in 3rd world while they destroy their own society and turn a blind eye to the suffering of their own men.

    “Women all around the world are oppressed and that sexism is still present in our society too, look at STEM for example.”

    Yeah right.

  174. #174 namae nanka
    June 5, 2011

    oh, forgot to mention that your husband is a very lucky man, or must think of himself so. Scientific brains are so in vogue, I keep telling my old man that.

  175. #175 TByte
    June 6, 2011

    I’m sure you left “retail sales guy” with a great impression of female scientists. Now, instead of assuming that they cannot be attractive, he will assume that they are all snooty, rude, and thin-skinned. In such a manner are new stereotypes born. Nicely done, Tara.

  176. #176 Rutee
    June 7, 2011

    It’s amazingly ironic that girls need cheering to succeed in science and need stereotypes to be broken down while boys who are behind them in education are to be told man up and stop perpetuating stereotypes.

    They’re not told to GTFO, even when they fail harder than women; women are told that perhaps Science ‘isn’t for them’ on a B. Men can fail and not see that. It’s perceived as a completely personal failure, not as a problem for their gender.

    I’m aware that women have superior enrollment statistics in university, in general. It does not do one lick of good in considering employment, enrollment, and wage gaps. Nor does it seem to make engineering, CS, Informatics, and similar, be less sexist in its treatment of women.

    [quote]umm that’s because you don’t find what happens to men to be tragic and simply wave away that men on men. Nothing is more illogical than hearing the whining of western women about the suffering of women in 3rd world while they destroy their own society and turn a blind eye to the suffering of their own men.

    ….Oh lord, my ingrained sexism..[/quote]
    Most feminists I know are also activists for things like reduced prison violence and a more humane criminal justice system, as well as an end to our imperialist jackassery overseas. They oppose the enforcement of destructive gender roles, including the ones that constrain men. Yet here you sit around and whine that an individual woman you’ve never seen before in your life dares to consider the plight of her gender in her own space? Yes, that would be your ingrained sexism talking. Men do have issues that need fixing; why are you whining at other activists instead of allying with them on issues that parallel their own?

    Yeah right.

    Well I’m convinced by your well backed sources, which you so graciously produced after spouting a counterfactual.

    Here’s a quick one of the education system itself, even after controlling for literally every variable you sexists like to insist the statistics TOTALLY SKEW things towards.

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/04/052/the_enduring_gender_gap_in_faculty_pay

    It doesn’t really get better as you dig deeper. Quite a bit worse actually.

    I’m sure you left “retail sales guy” with a great impression of female scientists. Now, instead of assuming that they cannot be attractive, he will assume that they are all snooty, rude, and thin-skinned. In such a manner are new stereotypes born. Nicely done, Tara.

    Yes, stereotypes are born ENTIRELY BECAUSE of the person stereotyped about. The people who harbor them have no responsibility whatsoever to accuracy to reality, nope. It’s all on the marginalized.

  177. #177 namae nanka
    June 7, 2011

    “They’re not told to GTFO, even when they fail harder than women; women are told that perhaps Science ‘isn’t for them’ on a B. Men can fail and not see that. It’s perceived as a completely personal failure, not as a problem for their gender.”

    No. That women identify themselves as women foremost is their problem. (and the feminist movement has used this to the hilt, the women themselves have, so I really can’t sympathise)

    “I’m aware that women have superior enrollment statistics in university, in general. It does not do one lick of good in considering employment, enrollment, and wage gaps.”

    How about you google “young women earn more”. Or how many young men are shit out of luck.

    “Most feminists I know”

    No, anecdotes don’t work.

    “as well as an end to our imperialist jackassery overseas.”

    Most feminists we all know want women’s rights in Afghanistan. Surely not without the imperialist jackassery.

    “They oppose the enforcement of destructive gender roles”

    LMAO. Destructive gender roles? What assumptions are we talking of here? How valid are they? I can see clearly see the destruction of American society, and blame it squarely on feminist fantasies.
    Your perceptions may vary.

    “Men do have issues that need fixing;”

    Hey don’t castra…constrain me bro.

    “Well I’m convinced by your well backed sources”

    Use your head, google. The truth is out there.
    Here’s a taste:
    http://www.warrenfarrell.com/articles.php?id=11

    “It doesn’t really get better as you dig deeper. Quite a bit worse actually.”

    Your study needs to be read, but not by me, by you.
    otoh why don’t I see a million dollar programmes to improve men’s college participation rates or school performance ala Harvard after Summers’s debacle?

    If this is such a big problem why didn’t the feminists clamor for their own institutions and not infiltrate men’s and then start dictating their own dogma. What’s the problem with same-sex schools?
    (Not that I expect them to be that prescient.)

  178. #178 wqwer
    June 8, 2011

    Abusing salespeople doesn’t increase your value, Miss Doctor Entitled Princess. Quite the opposite.

  179. #179 Luna_the_cat
    June 9, 2011

    Wow. Yes, indeed, the troll influx proved your point all too beautifully, Dr. Smith.

  180. #180 Reinste ventures
    June 20, 2011

    It’s good that u finally left the conversation. But as your very beautiful then anyone can do like him. No problem.

  181. #181 Ethan Blue
    July 11, 2011

    At least it wasn’t on an elevator.

  182. #182 salsa
    california
    October 25, 2012

    The opposite can be true too, unfortunately. We have a woman in our department who looks a little like a young Jerry Hall and she gets all the perks from the Director/boss who treats her like a goddess. There are post-docs more accomplished than her, but she seems to get all the opportunities for talks, meeting important people in the field one-on-one at dinner and being offered a staff scientist position on a platter, recently out of grad school and without recent publications. So, it’s a double edged sword, I guess.