I wasn’t going to raise this comment en blogge, but with Dr. Isis’ new post, it becomes more relevant. From Rick Fletcher on the “you’re too pretty” post:

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.

I already responded in the thread so I won’t rehash here, but via Isis comes this lovely reminder of why it’s more than just the people who hold my career back who matter–it’s an all-too-pervasive attitude, and it’s not just about me. Isis caught this screenshot from the store Forever21 (a store that I think we have in our mall here; I’ll have to see if they carry this particular product):

Yes, for less than $4, you too can tell the girls in your life that they’re too attractive for math. As Dr. Isis notes:

This is the kind of nonsense that frightens me. Washed up old fucks like Harvey Mansfield don’t worry me. I worry more about the small messages that pervade popular culture. The messages that we have to defend our girls against when we take them to the mall or the market.

Things like this make me realize just how far we have to go.

Bingo. *This* is why comments like that matter and aren’t just some kind of harmless flirty pick-up line, or just my “issues” that I need to “spring clean.” It affects all of us, and we all need to be aware of it and respond, rather than sweep it under the rug and dismiss it.

Comments

  1. #1 Zeno
    May 31, 2011

    As a math teacher, I am keenly aware that women are not well represented in my higher-level classes. If it were simply a matter of personal choice, that would be one thing, but we definitely see evidence that residual social and cultural pressures continue to discourage women from taking math even when they have a talent for it. Here’s one especially irksome example from a post I wrote in 2006:

    A colleague was appalled when one of her female students presented her with a drop card for a geometry class in which she was excelling. The student had been told—by a female counselor!—that girls did not need to take math, that it was too hard anyway, and would damage her GPA. Sisterhood may be powerful, but sometimes it’s treacherous.

  2. #2 Sarah
    May 31, 2011

    @Zeno: Reminds me of a female teacher I had in high school, who advised me that it wasn’t my place to try to learn math and science, and that nice girls should leave those subjects to the boys. I forget what exactly I retorted (likely something along the lines of, “Nice girls didn’t want the vote, either.”), though I do remember I got detention for it.

    Not-so-funny thing: Most people when they hear this story online think I must be in my 40s. I’m 23.

  3. #3 Katharine
    May 31, 2011

    Zeno and Sarah, my first thought when I read what you said was ‘Why am I not surprised, considering the majority (not all, certainly) of education majors have among the lowest IQs on college campuses?’

  4. #4 Adrian Griffis
    May 31, 2011

    Well said. Thanks.

    Adrian

  5. #5 Walter Sobchak
    May 31, 2011

    Don’t pat yourself on the back, you will get a sore elbow.

    I thought your last post on this subject was unfortunate. You took an interaction with another human being as an opportunity to 1. be angered rather than amused or flattered (which was entirely your choice) and 2. to heap obloquy on another human being whose fault was at best minimal (perhaps a certain provincialism or superficiality) and who apparently intended you good, not harm.

    In sum I thought you were condescending and rude, the sort of behavior that has caused some thinkers to declare that America has the worst elite ever. “Establishment Blues” by
    Walter Russell Mead http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/05/12/establishment-blues/

    Finally, I would suggest that the golden rule should be light to illuminate your behavior. Do you really think you treated someone the way you would want to be treated? I doubt it. Examine your own heart, not everyone else’s.

  6. #6 Calli Arcale
    May 31, 2011

    Walter — whether she was condescending or not, she was absolutely right about the underlying social problem that was revealed by that clerk’s awkward faux pas. And that underlying social problem is even more strongly revealed by the magnet above. Pretty girls don’t do math. Actually, in my experience, the bias even strikes the male gender — pretty boys don’t do math either. They get other people to do it for them. Nerds wear glasses and dress funny and only do math so they can feel adequate at something, since they’re such lousy athletes. But the stigma is stronger in girls than in boys; not only are nerds expected to be social misfits who can’t make the JV football squad, they’re also expected to be *male*.

    This is a real problem, and I don’t think it’s helpful to say that it’s rude to point it out. It’s rude to shove it in someone’s face, but it is not rude at all to discuss it in discussion forum. On the contrary, I think this is an entirely appropriate place to discuss it.

  7. #7 Daniel J. Andrews
    May 31, 2011

    Was going to comment, but Calli pretty much said what I was going to say so will just settle for an “agree” post.

  8. #8 Heather
    May 31, 2011

    That is disgusting and an insult to pretty girls who can do math. Growing up, I was the only girl who went out for the MathCounts team or Chess team. People laughed at me and questioned why I would ever want to be associated with the “nerds” who were my teammates. Believe it or not, some people are sick and tired of getting things handed to them just because they’re “pretty.” It is ridiculous how easy it is to get what you want by using your looks. I make it a point to only associate with people who can appreciate me for my intelligence and personality. I get bored with those who are so easily manipulated by appearances. Girls are becoming so competitive in a physical sense, that they are completely neglecting their minds. How about you take the money you saved up for fake boobs and put it towards college? I hear they can teach you math there.

  9. #9 Kristine
    May 31, 2011

    In sum I thought you were condescending and rude, the sort of behavior that has caused some thinkers to declare that America has the worst elite ever…I would suggest that the golden rule should be light to illuminate your behavior. Do you really think you treated someone the way you would want to be treated? I doubt it. Examine your own heart, not everyone else’s.

    Well, if that does not take the cake for condescension, I don’t know what does. Don’t stare too long into the pond, Narcissus, and lead by example instead. Goodness me.

  10. #10 Walter Sobchak
    May 31, 2011

    Kristine. Clearly, you do not know what condescension really is.

  11. #11 Zeno
    May 31, 2011

    Kristine. Clearly, you do not know what condescension really is.

    How unfortunate that Walter did not take the opportunity to explain to Kristine what condescension really is—in a noncondescending way, of course. I’m sure that Walter is sure that he knows how to do it. Quite sure.

  12. #12 Noadi
    May 31, 2011

    @Katherine My mother is a teacher and a damn good one who encouraged me to take advanced classes even when it led to me being ostracized by my peers. I thankfully never encountered a single teacher who told me not to take advanced courses because I was a girl. Taking a cheap shot at teachers isn’t helpful.

  13. #13 RichInIowa
    May 31, 2011

    Wow! A science-babe! I have a different take in this discussion.

    One of the problems in my career choice (IT project management) is that most of the women are; well, very very good at math… But as a bachelor finding someone that catches my eye just does not happen with co-workers… The problem is that relationships with women who work outside the intelligentsia that attract my attention do not last because my ‘life’ is spent in a separate esoteric world. Where is the common ground? What do you build your relationship on? What to talk about? Sports? Politics? Religion? The application of matrix structures to risk analysis and risk ranking?

    This is a problem to which I do not have an answer…

    RichInIowa (who was on his HS chess team way back when… No girls – mostly computer nerds)

  14. #14 Owen
    May 31, 2011

    One of my students (our valedictorian) was receiving an award from the local Rotary Club. When she was asked what she intended to study in college she said engineering. The Rotarians, men and women alike, broke out laughing.

  15. #15 SN
    May 31, 2011

    I am a male graduate student in the biological sciences. There is a perception that people who are attractive would not go into the sciences or similar fields. Just look at how scientists or people interested in life and the world are portrayed in the media: it is the nerd stereotype, the unattractive and the awkward that are too preoccupied with their research pursuits to develop social skills. This is obviously untrue, more so now if it ever was true, with the massive growth and interest in the sciences as well as the efforts to have much more women involved in the field as well. A similar stereotype is the “dumb blonde” – the female preoccupied with non-academic pursuits and oblivious to the world around her, also a highly exaggerated perception.

    I think that what you described in this post and your previous one is a hold over of that perception that is only heightened and worsened for females because of their portrayal in modern society. I have met people who believe that attractive people always seem to get what they want and thus do not have to work hard for things as people already flock to them for attention. This is obviously untrue and even if it were it is certainly no reason to automatically classify a person one way or another.

    What scares me the most though is that even realizing this, I have still done this before. I just never said it out loud. In a rotation a few years ago I met two female graduate students and one of my first thoughts was brief amazement that they were 5th year graduate students because of how attractive they were. I obviously didn’t mention it but felt immediately guilty that this would be a surprise to begin with. It is not something I am proud of but I think for many people they don’t even realize that this assumption is ridiculous. I am still embarrassed writing about it in this post will never make that kind of assumption again.

  16. #16 William Ruffian
    May 31, 2011

    This all makes one realize how unfortunate it is that people notice things and worse, form opinions unlike one’s own.There ought to be a (another) law.

  17. #17 Isis the Scientist
    May 31, 2011

    Kristine. Clearly, you do not know what condescension really is.

    I think my irony meter just exploded.

  18. #18 clamboy
    May 31, 2011

    So many of those who responded to your original post, Dr. Smith, and then Walter here, remind me of the good people of Rock Ridge. You know…morons.

  19. #19 shawmutt
    May 31, 2011

    Maybe I’m not high enough on the food chain in my work (biotech manufacturing), but I see none of that in my work. We have pHd’s, lab techs, and other professionals that do a great job regardless of sex. That’s not to say uneducated folks don’t offer misguided statements in an attempt to pick up someone. The whole US society is anti-intellectual, they don’t really care what sex the egghead is. Queue the blog’s guard dogs–”I’m just a guy, what do I know!?!?”

    If it makes you feel any better I enjoy your blog even though you are just a silly girl (although your posts are too smart sometimes–you sure there isn’t a guy writing for you?).

  20. #20 Matthew Cline
    May 31, 2011

    Don’t stare too long into the pond, Narcissus,

    Or the pond will stare back into you?

  21. #21 Kristine
    May 31, 2011

    Kristine. Clearly, you do not know what condescension really is.

    Walter. Clearly, you do not practice what you preach.

  22. #22 Ron Burgundy
    May 31, 2011

    That’s because women have small brains. It’s a scientific fact!

  23. #23 M. Simon
    May 31, 2011

    My #1 Daughter (who is knock-out gorgeous and over 6′) is majoring in Chemical Engineering (at a top school) and is getting As and Bs. Of course her dad is an EE so that may have had something to do with it. When she found out she had “math fingers” she was so excited.

  24. #24 mikee
    May 31, 2011

    Working in a factory making semiconductor chips, wearing “bunny suits” in the cleanroom, covered from toe to tip of head with the cleanroom outfit, there were exactly 2 women working in a factory of some 1500 who “looked good” at work, wearing their scientific burqas. And my middle aged male pot belly was nothing anyone wanted to see, either. Oddly enough, we all still managed to do our jobs, looks be damned.

    Something to consider as one exits academe and enters the real world.

  25. #25 Mark M.
    May 31, 2011

    So, you like to whine because someone thinks your pretty, and someone somewhere once suggested something ridiculous, and somehow you think these things are related.

    Wait until you’re an old hag. I think you’ll appreciate the difference between these two grievous ‘injuries’ then. In the meantime, I’ll believe that you’d rather be complaining about how everyone doesn’t give you a second look when millionaires start bagging homely trophy wives.

  26. #26 steve
    May 31, 2011

    The magnet isn’t suggesting that pretty girls can’t do math. It’s suggesting that some need not, because they are pretty. Physical attractiveness can open up opportunities that are not as readily available to the less attractive, including at times the opportunity to avoid tasks that the vast majority of people find unpleasant. If the magnet said “I’m to intelligent to be a ditch digger” would it be offensive?

  27. #27 Sarah
    May 31, 2011

    I was once told I was too pretty to be a science major at my undergrad and I shouldn’t have to work as hard as I did for my degree. Now, I’m joining 25 grad students for my master’s, as one of THREE females.

  28. The difficulty with anecdote as evidence is that it nearly always does nothing more than conform to initial bias. Girls make MS and HS honor roll 2/1 more often than boys, high honors 3/1. College enrollment, grad school enrollment, similar dominance…That’s a powerful lot of favoritism, and will take a helluva lot of war stories to counter it. Of course there are people who will say ignorant things about women – or about any identified group, for that matter. What is the basis for drawing general conclusions from that?

    As to the refrigerator magnet, I don’t see evidence that culture is forcing women to buy this. More likely, girls who are not doing well at math are making a face-saving excuse, a sour grapes that they didn’t want to be good at this anyway.

  29. #29 Chris
    May 31, 2011

    @steve: Good point, but the best part was misspelling “too.” Such a magnet would be sold alongside one that says “I don’t need no education.”

  30. #30 Don
    May 31, 2011

    About 15 years ago, the head of the lab where I worked (a women) invited a colleague from her former university. He was talking about his research on respiratory responses to high altitude, and had traveled to Central or South America. He had a slide of a plane from PMS airlines (and made a comment about it), along with commenting that they examined the lungs of stewardesses at the hotel pool. The audience was full and junior faculty, grad students, and technicians, both male and female. After the talk, several female professors talked to my lab head, and suggested to her that the comments were not appropriate. The lab head essentially said that he was old school, and said that he should be tolerated. She also asked me, and several others in the lab if we thought his comments were inappropriate, and we said yes. I am male, and the others asked were probably female.
    As a side note, I was a Biology and Religious Studies major in college, my daughter is currently a Biology and Math major and chemistry minor. The highest math I took was Calculus, she took Diff EQ. At some point she could probably say that she has forgotten more math than I ever learned.

  31. #31 Youngblood
    May 31, 2011

    Yes, for less than $4, you too can tell the girls in your life that they’re too attractive for math.

    I’ve actually met women who adopt the sense of entitlement displayed on that magnet, in some cases ironically, and in some cases with a degree of seriousness. Steve hit the nail pretty much on the head: some people get by and their looks, and they’re proud of it. “I’m too good for this stuff.”

    (And, for what it’s worth, I’ve met guys who adopt a similar attitude about various things.)

  32. #32 rammer
    June 1, 2011

    Look, math is hard. It is where smart people go to show off their fitness. Nobody gets hot chicks like the mathematicians. Just talk smack like the philosophy students, but major in math. If you are already a hot chick, you have the action. What is the point in working that hard? I am just sayin’. You could be an engineer.

  33. #33 ErikZ
    June 1, 2011

    I’m not seeing a comment touting the advantages of knowing math over incredible looks.

    And lets define math as “Calculus and above”. People should be able to do basic Algebra and basic statistics as easy as reading.

  34. #34 Voyager
    June 1, 2011

    Hollywood conflates genius with madness too. Took me a long time to realize I could be both sharp and sane.

    Don’t think you have to trade intelligence against attractiveness either. In fact, given that the real roots of attractiveness are low genetic defects, and good physical health, and hard though (like most things) is better with more blood flow, being in better physical shape will improve both.

    The people that tell you that you need to be a dumpy nerd to be smart are cheating you.

    Harry Voyager

  35. #35 Lee Reynolds
    June 1, 2011

    @ Calli Arcale
    “Nerds wear glasses and dress funny and only do math so they can feel adequate at something, since they’re such lousy athletes.”

    That’s just as ridiculous a stereotype as the notion that attractive women cannot be intelligent.

    You might be interested to know that intelligence and athletic ability actually correlate very strongly. The stereotype of the smart but puny guy vs the big dumb jock is nonsense.

    I’m as big a nerd as you’re likely to find. Worked on computers since I was 8 years old. Today I run supercomputers for a living. Got bad eyes so I gotta wear glasses or contacts. My dress sense is actually pretty damned good however, and always has been. I was also one of the fastest runners around when I was younger. In any sport where speed was a plus (which is everything, except maybe wrestling) – I was LETHAL.

    Cliqueish stereotypes as seen in movies like Heathers don’t have much application in the real world. Some people do fit the cookie cutter stereotypes, but most of us are far more complex.

  36. #36 shenandoah
    June 1, 2011

    Gals, a little advice. Here’s how men become innovative scientists. They never feel entitled. When learning, they don’t whine and complain. They study… a lot. They explore. They wonder. They know that no one in the market gives a flip about your gender, race, ethnicity, etc. They care about one thing: Can you do what we want you to do better than anyone else we could hire? Period.

    So, gals, if you want to be a scientist or mathematician, here’s what you do: Shut up, get Saxon Math and do the math, stop complaining, do the math, skip all the sleepovers and parties, do the math, read lots of good books, do the math, stay out of school & learn to teach yourself, do the math. That’s what my daughter did. She got into MIT at age 14. She’d never been to school before that. She’s now working in Silicon Valley on a world-changing biotech venture. She’s also quite pretty and has a dynamic personality. Trust me. That has never held her back. She’d probably LOL at the msg on the magnet. Honestly, anyone who would be affected by such messages, is too stupid or weak to be a serious scientist.

    I also told her to never, ever listen to feminist BS about how women are discriminated against. You believe that and you will always see discrimination and become a whiney bitch that no one wants to work with. Don’t ever try to use a legal crowbar to force your way into a domain traditionally dominated by men. What works: They’ll pay you huge sums of money and move heaven & earth to help you achieve your vision if you show them that you can do things better than they can. It helps if those are “things” that will make them a lot of money. Don’t ever believe the discrimination BS. Just do the work and always keep your word and you’ll be fine. The only real discrimination in the marketplace is straightforward and valuable. They discriminate against incompetence and in favor of competence. Otherwise they go out of business. In academia it’s frequently the opposite and in the government at any level, it always is.

  37. #37 Grizzly
    June 1, 2011

    Doesn’t this complaint fall under the broader heading of inappropriate stereotypes in general? I can understand it.

    I recall years ago reading a newspaper in a bored moment and happened upon a column by that “advice” columnist Ann Landers. A women had written to Ann offering advice to her single female readers, namely that a great place to meet great guys was at chess clubs, and she listed the many advantages. Ms. Landers, that old fart-for-brains, published the letter, but not without appending a comment with her own ugly stereotype, namely that chess players tended to be nerdy and introverted, with poor social skills. It was obvious that Ms. Landers had never set foot in a chess club. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she was bigoted in many other ways as well.

  38. #38 Big Blue
    June 1, 2011

    The mansplaining on these two threads is priceless. The comments should be placed in a museum, so that people can look upon them someday and wonder how exotic antique cultures were, once upon a time.

    Shorter Menz: Give us a SMILE, honey! Ur so PRETTY, whydontcha SMILE!

    [Cue the whining about how every time a female of any species frowns, a Man feels Sad Inside, thus causing civilization to crumble.]

  39. #39 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    > Nerds wear glasses and dress funny and only do math so they can feel adequate at something, since they’re such lousy athletes. But the stigma is stronger in girls than in boys;

    Oh, I don’t know about that. I have the same kind of basic problem with people taking me seriously as a skilled computer programmer based on physical appearance. Let me pull a particularly amusing example from the .sig file:

    “I would have described you as — and this is meant as a
    compliment, please don’t be offended … a jock with a brain.”
    — Caroline Allen

    “Jock” is actually a pretty polite form. Usually it’s more like this:

    “I’m sure if they asked a few people who you have fought with
    they would say that your forehead is a weapon.”
    — Amanda Doran

    I’m pretty darn sure I’ve experienced more actual real life negative discrimination against me in the computer industry based on me looking like a particuarly hardcore NHL enforcer than Tara has based on her being a little hottie. But I don’t get all whiny about it.

  40. #40 anon
    June 1, 2011

    Time, thief of beauty and bestower of all wisdom, will all too soon render this not a problem for you. At that point, if personal bias can be controlled for, one can determine how much of one’s success was due to personal appearance. Research suggests the advantage of physical attractiveness is enormous across all fields.

    Hopefully, the passage of time will also demonstrate the value of compassion in taking well intentioned comments from those less socially adept than yourself with grace.

    Intelligence is no substitute for wisdom, nor for class.

  41. #41 teapartydoc
    June 1, 2011

    I’m very pretty. And smart, too.

  42. #42 Tim McD
    June 1, 2011

    So, it’s OK to tell the clumsy kid that he is too smart to play basketball, but it is not ok to tell the pretty girl that she’s to pretty to do math?

    THIS AIN”T LAKE WOEBEGONE, and HALF the people are below median in POTENTIAL to do math. NOT EVERYONE CAN DO MATH. My little brother is a smart guy, but algebra is NOT his thing. He managed to get a C and that was a struggle. He didn’t take calculus, because he didn’t understand it. And hell, he is probably too pretty to do math anyway!

    Get over it fer chrissakes.

  43. #43 submandave
    June 1, 2011

    I’d have to side with AVI, Steve and, to a degree, Shenandoah. I graduted HS way back in the dark ages of ’82, and maybe it was just the crowd I ran with, but I always had lots of girls in my AP math classes and noone ever denegrated them or acted as if they shouldn’t have been there. Whoda thunk small town Tennessee would have been so enlightened! In college there were fewer women in my EE classes, but those who chose to be there were not, as far as I was aware, treated as a lesser mind than any guy. To the contrary, as Rich in Iowa pointed out, we were overjoyed to share our class time with interesting and (hopefully) attractive females.

    And yes, my seemingly perpetually agrieved Big Blue, as my handle indicates I am a “man,” albeit one who is proud of my beautiful soon-to-be seventh grade daughter who was selected to take AP Algebra I next term.

  44. #44 tawaen
    June 1, 2011

    I love all the guys in here saying that they never saw anyone treating women differently in their classes, so sexism obviously doesn’t exist and we should just ignore sexist behavior because, really, it’s kind of flattering to be called pretty. You silly women, wanting to share frustrating anectdotes. Or talk about structural differences that discourage women from STEM fields. Don’t you know none of that matters? Because these guys didn’t see anything that you should complain about.

    I guess it’s like white people saying they never see the latin@s treated differently, so racism doesn’t exist. Why can’t those uppity brown people be colorblind like those heroic white people who agree that everyone’s the same inside?

    Ugh.

  45. #45 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    @ Shanendoah

    Men never feel entitled? Like, ever?

    I think that little tidbit right there shows us exactly how seriously to take the rest of your post.

  46. #46 tyree
    June 1, 2011

    I have no respect for teachers unions that work so hard to keep incompetent teachers at their jobs long past the time when they should have been fired. Years ago my size 0 ballerina of a daughter was told by more than one of her teachers that she was , “to pretty to be smart”. She was eventually hounded out of the charter school she attended. I spoke to one of our IT people years ago. She was also beautiful and smart and she mentioned she had been a victim of the same lame kind of thinking, always from other women.

  47. #47 David
    June 1, 2011

    I don’t want to defend the guy, but I can’t help wondering what occupation you might have mentioned where the oafish line wouldn’t be deemed offensive. If you’d said, “I’m a retail cashier too,” and received the same line about being attractive enough for Hollywood would you be as upset? I think not. It seems “You’re too pretty for X” is not offensive for all X; it all depends on where you place X in relation to being a movie star and the self-importance you attach to having achieved X. I think you’ve got your priorities straight and are justifiably proud but is it inconceivable that for someone else microbiologist is plan B?

    It’s certainly possible that this man spreads negative messages to the women and girls in his life but you don’t have enough data. And you brought some of your own bias to the lone observation.

    The magnet…that’s just wrong.

  48. #48 Roux
    June 1, 2011

    Women have more choices and opportunities than at any time in our history. If you are being held back in your career it’s probably your own fault. Quit complaining.

  49. #49 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    Wow. So many guys who feel it’s necessary to DEFEND telling girls that being pretty means being too good to do math or science of any kind.

    Really, doodz. Is it THAT important to you? You sit here and read the words of a woman who’s frustrated about this incessant message that plays in our culture and all you can think is, “This uppity bitch needs to smile more and lighten up!”

    Fuck you, and fuck your deliberate ignorance of 1,000+ years of our culture telling women that physical attractiveness–or rather, the ability to give men boners, which is slightly different from simple attractiveness–is a woman’s SOLE criterion by which to judge her worth. Well, that, or the number of babies she’s had.

    You know that that is our history, you’re just choosing to ignore the implications of it because it makes you too uncomfortable to consider how you might be complicit in this sort of subtle oppression. When was the last time you heard a guy make a sexist joke when there were no women around? And when was the last time you responded to that sexist joke by saying, “That’s not cool”?

  50. #50 llewelly
    June 1, 2011

    Roux | June 1, 2011 9:41 AM:

    Women have more choices and opportunities than at any time in our history. If you are being held back in your career it’s probably your own fault. Quit complaining.

    Women continue to make less than men with similar qualifications in almost all careers. This shows that there is plenty complain about. The onus is on you to stop pretending there is not a problem.

  51. #51 llewelly
    June 1, 2011

    Alex Curylo | June 1, 2011 5:21 AM:

    I’m pretty darn sure I’ve experienced more actual real life negative discrimination against me in the computer industry based on me looking like a particuarly hardcore NHL enforcer than Tara has based on her being a little hottie. But I don’t get all whiny about it.

    You’re whining about it now. And if you’re going to deploy anecdotes, I’ve witnessed plenty worse discrimination deployed against women in the software development field.

  52. #52 Deoxy
    June 1, 2011

    I assume you also complain about the “Girls rock” and “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” stuff as well, right? Same exact problem (sex bias), just expressed differently.

    And you certainly wouldn’t want to be a flaming hypocrite, right?

  53. #53 Deoxy
    June 1, 2011

    Women continue to make less than men with similar qualifications in almost all careers.

    Utter BS.

    Other than any actual experience looking into this (stop mindlessly repeating the talking points, OK?), the most recent information on single, childless workers show that women in that group make MORE than men with similar qualifications.

    That is to say, women make less than men because of personal life choices. Indeed, they are penalized FAR LESS for many of those choices than men would be.

  54. #54 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    Deoxy,

    If this were a perfectly egalitarian world, where women had not been granted full citizenship only within the last century, having been held in semi-slavery for a few millenia prior to that, then your statement that sex bias expressed by men against women is the exact same thing as sex bias expressed by women against men might be accurate.

  55. #55 Pteryxx
    June 1, 2011

    Don’t believe in that feminism-discrimination-BS and then you won’t see it. That’s the suggestion? Seriously?

    But when you believe in whiny entitled bitchez, you see them eeeeeverywhere.

    Funny how that works.

  56. #56 Kevin M
    June 1, 2011

    It should be noted that the class of 2015 at Harvey Mudd College, a science and engineering college ranked with MIT and CalTech, is 52% female.

  57. #57 Graculus
    June 1, 2011

    @ 52 as opposeed to your species, the flaming asshole?

  58. #58 Vicki
    June 1, 2011

    Deoxy–

    And I’m sure you complain about the “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” stuff when you’re talking to people who are in favor of separating people by gender, or when you’re just shopping for T-shirts, rather than only to demand that feminists follow your agenda instead of their own. Right?

    Or do you not have time for that, because you’re so busy fighting to get equal support for men who want to stay home with their children? Paternity leave is a real issue, not just a club to wave at people who are talking about wage and employment discrimination against women.

  59. #59 dr-rieux
    June 1, 2011

    shenandoah:

    That’s what my daughter did. She got into MIT at age 14. She’d never been to school before that. She’s now working in Silicon Valley on a world-changing biotech venture. She’s also quite pretty and has a dynamic personality. Trust me. That has never held her back. She’d probably LOL at the msg on the magnet. Honestly, anyone who would be affected by such messages, is too stupid or weak to be a serious scientist.

    I also told her to never, ever listen to feminist BS about how women are discriminated against. You believe that and you will always see discrimination and become a whiney bitch that no one wants to work with.

    And here I thought Nicolas Cage’s role in “Kick-Ass” was a fictional character. Bloody hell, it’s a biopic.

  60. #60 dr-rieux
    June 1, 2011

    Or, formatted correctly:

    shenandoah:

    That’s what my daughter did. She got into MIT at age 14. She’d never been to school before that. She’s now working in Silicon Valley on a world-changing biotech venture. She’s also quite pretty and has a dynamic personality. Trust me. That has never held her back. She’d probably LOL at the msg on the magnet. Honestly, anyone who would be affected by such messages, is too stupid or weak to be a serious scientist.

    I also told her to never, ever listen to feminist BS about how women are discriminated against. You believe that and you will always see discrimination and become a whiney bitch that no one wants to work with.

    And here I thought Nicolas Cage’s role in “Kick-Ass” was a fictional character. Bloody hell, it’s a biopic.

  61. #61 JoeYnot
    June 1, 2011

    There’s no question that the clerk’s comments were unintentionally rude, and that, objectively speaking, the kitchen magnet is offenisve, although clearly a joke.

    The problem is that to most people, listening to the complaints of someone who has a tenured position at a job she loves, a varied and active social life, and is physically attractive to boot, someone, in other words, who is not only leading one of the most privileged lives on earth, but is also leading one of the most privileged lives in the history of humanity, is difficult to take.

    As far as what condescension means, here is what it means: “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…blah, blah, blah, I am the beautiful oppressed blah,blah, blah, effing Princess of the World.”

    To condescend is to “behave as if one is conscious of descending from a superior position, rank, or dignity.” Do you really think a retail clerk in a small downtown New Orleans store–think about it, a retail salesperson in a small New Orleans store, what a marvelous life he must lead compared to yours, why I bet he never has to put up with the nightmare of being beautiful, brilliant, and tenured–is making your life miserable and stunting your career? Fortunately, now that you have instructed the villain, he can go back to cringing and scraping properly.

    For what it’s worth–and to you probably nothing, since it involves the lives of others–the salesperson’s behavior was garden-variety southern flirting of the “you’re too pretty to be a ____, you should be in Hollywood” manner. Adults take it as a light, probably mercenary compliment.

  62. #62 dersk
    June 1, 2011

    Some of the men posting here make me embarrassed to have testicles.

    Just like that talking Barbie back in the ’80s, it’s the idea behind the button that’s offensive: that girls in particular should not do math or should find it hard. It’s really not hard to understand.

  63. #63 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    @52

    Yes, because if she doesn’t directly address every instance of sexism whether it affects her or her life or not, then you can dismiss all her views as invalid. You know, you could shortcut that by just admitting that you don’t have much interest in listening to a woman.

    Jesus some of the men in this thread are dopes. Seriously, if I read another “I’m a man and I didn’t see no sexism” or “one time I knew a woman who said she had an alright time at school” posts as if they are relevant and informed, I’m going to fucking punch my computer.

    You know the biggest sign of male privilege? That you feel the need to go on at length about topics you have no clue about, that you think that your commentary is valid despite being vapid and substanceless, and that you condescend to those with relevant experience and stories to tell all because society has always listened to what you had to say, always treated you as if you were special and always valued your input. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s shit and you should shut the hell up. Please, stop and listen or FoaD.

  64. #64 Discount Deity
    June 1, 2011

    Reading the comments, it is certainly nice to see that sexism has been completely wiped out and that only whiners still complain about it.

    Sure, all of these comments come from men. But surely they are the foremost experts on what is involved in living as a woman, right? It would probably be sexist to sugest otherwise, right?

  65. #65 Tabby Lavalamp
    June 1, 2011

    Tim McD at #42 wrote…

    So, it’s OK to tell the clumsy kid that he is too smart to play basketball, but it is not ok to tell the pretty girl that she’s to pretty to do math?

    If you’re saying that to the clumsy kid to spare his feelings, sure. But are you seriously saying that “pretty” equates to math as “clumsy” equates to basketball?
    How about this… you’re clearly too ridiculous to make comparisons.

  66. #66 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    And here’s a question that should tell us a great deal about the person answering it. This one is for the folks in here who seem to think that women have EQUAL or MORE privilege than men (if such a thing can be that simplified).

    1) According to you, women are given every opportunity to succeed. Women are preferred over men in hiring decisions, pretty women get whatever they want regardless of skill, the work of women is held in higher esteem, etc. etc.

    2) In high level positions in corporate, accademic, and political settings, we still see a preponderance of men. Not an insignificant difference, mind you, but a VAST gap.

    So, if you hold the first position, and the second fact remains true, what do you think explains that? I can only surmise that you think women are inherently inferior.

  67. #67 red rabbit
    June 1, 2011

    Le wow.

    For all the mansplainers out there, let me just put it this way: the women on this thread largely are established scientists, physicians, whatevers. We have been there and done that. We have already overcome the biases, so enough with the “advice.” We don’t need your advice, honey, we beat you at this game already.

    Despite your forehead that is a deadly weapon. Despite your assertion that feminists are whiners (yes, two different people, I know).

    We are concerned that the girls that are currently growing up and making choices about the rest of their lives are getting affected by stupid stereotypes. Were you never a teen? Did you never feel the urge to fit in? Bully for you, if you managed to skip those awkaward years, you special snowflake, you. Not everyone does.

    I know, a level playing field would make it harder for good ole boys to come out on top. Even with the slope, some women (like shenandoah’s daughter) are beating the menz at this game. We just think it woud be fun if the stupid girls had a chance to play with the same rules as the stupid boys, rather than getting hobbled at the starting line by extra ridiculous rules, like the pretty ones needn’t bother to try. I know, more room for the boys, right?

  68. #68 lagerbaer
    June 1, 2011

    Luckily, times are changing. For my first Master’s degree, the second supervisor was a female professor of theoretical physics, for my other Master’s degree the main supervisor was a female professor of computer science. Now my physics PhD supervisor is again a female professor of physics, and my girlfriend — doing her physics PhD — has a female professor as supervisor as well. And I didn’t even pay attention to that fact.

    The more female scientists there are, the more the general population will get used to the idea. At least nowadays nobody is startled anymore to see female medical doctors (at least, I hope so…?)

    Oh, and shenandoah: Men don’t feel entitled? So where do all the douchebags come from?

  69. #69 neverstatic
    June 1, 2011

    To all the (predominately) male troglodytes in this thread: We’ve already presented historical context, statistical evidence of continued discrimination, and multiple anecdotes. You can stick your fingers in your ears and say “lalala I didn’t see anything and I know a girl who isn’t discriminated against” all you want. It won’t change anything. Women are being treated as if they are less valuable than men. Denying it now just makes you look as bad as those fools on Fox News who believe “White Cristians are the real victims of racism and religious persecution”.

    To all the non-”(predominately) male troglodytes in this thread”:
    Good to see someone standing up for the little guy. You go girl/boy!

  70. #70 rob
    June 1, 2011

    here is part of the wikipedia on Barbie. the part about “math is tough” Barbie. women have been dealing with this shit for way to long.

    “In July 1992, Mattel released Teen Talk Barbie, which spoke a number of phrases including “Will we ever have enough clothes?”, “I love shopping!”, and “Wanna have a pizza party?” Each doll was programmed to say four out of 270 possible phrases, so that no two dolls were likely to be the same. One of these 270 phrases was “Math class is tough!” (often misquoted as “Math is hard”). Although only about 1.5% of all the dolls sold said the phrase, it led to criticism from the American Association of University Women. In October 1992 Mattel announced that Teen Talk Barbie would no longer say the phrase, and offered a swap to anyone who owned a doll that did.[24]”

  71. #71 Multicellular
    June 1, 2011

    Roux @48

    Women have more choices and opportunities than at any time in our history. If you are being held back in your career it’s probably your own fault. Quit complaining.

    See ladies, isn’t it darned nice of us manly men to have opened up to letting you do more jobs than just teacher or nurse? We’ve given you SO many opportunities why ain’t you all excellin’ like us men? You know, it’s your fault there are no women Navy Seals, or Marine Force Recon, or Army Green Berets,or Air Force Pararescue. Oh, wait a minute, that’s right, you’re forbidden by law because us manly men don’t think you can handle that, so…um…quit complaining.

  72. #72 TGAP Dad
    June 1, 2011

    My story, FWIW. I have three offspring of whom two are female. One thing that my wife and I have stressed throughout their lives is the value of education, with slightly more emphasis on math. Although my computer science degree gave me a math minor as part of the deal, my daughter exceeded that level of math in her first year of college. She is now a senior majoring in astrophysics at a major university, who belittles the math I learned as mere trivial applied, not real math. I must say the phrase “hoist with his own petard” comes to mind. Still, I think it’s time we put this anachronistic stereotype to rest as it clearly never has been true.

  73. #73 cg
    June 1, 2011

    Someone who thinks that they are ‘too pretty to do math’ is setting herself up for a lifetime of dependency. What else is this person too pretty to apply herself intelligently to?

    So, what, is she going to marry a rich man and be financially dependent on him – to take care of the family budget, to never get sick or lose his job, to stick with her when he is rich and powerful and she isn’t pretty anymore?

    Basic math is an essential life skill in this society – keep track of your finances, don’t get screwed on a bad loan, etc etc etc. Everyone needs to be able to do the basics, no excuses.

    Why someone would rather be cutesy and vulnerable rather than able and empowered is beyond me.

  74. #74 christophe-thill.myopenid.com
    June 1, 2011

    One day, casual sexism might be considered as repulsive as casual racism is today.

    Until then I suggest a little change to the shop story, so that some guys who commented might understand the situation better.

    Just imagine that, instead of the charming Ms. Smith, a young, tall, black guy entered the shop.

    “You’re a scientist? But you’re too well buit! You should be playing top level basket ball!”

    How does that sound now?

  75. #75 Ian
    June 1, 2011

    Cheese and crackers, the idiocy on this thread. Shenandoah – someone needs to enter you for the “biggest douche in the universe” prize. Luckily it sounds like your daughter is way smarter than her dad.

  76. #76 Not Telling
    June 1, 2011

    Caught this thread while following “Pharyngula”.

    Several points:

    1) There are a lot of male and female Neanderthals out there whom are still slaves to their gender stereotypes.

    2) There are no instant solutions.

    Since I’m in my 50s, I’m prey to several stereotypical perspectives. So yes, I’m sure some women present would find social interactions with me to be occasionally demeaning regardless of my intent.

    But .. don’t make the mistake of thinking that all everyone who likes ‘gurly-gurls’ is a social misanthrope. I _expect_ women to be my intellectual equal {or better} and I expect women to be competent, capable and willing to do what it takes to ‘get the job’ done.

    When I was in a managerial position, I never considered ‘gender’ when assigning tasks, in expectations of competency nor in rewards for a job well done.

    The point is just a reminder to always encourage others to take you on your own merits and to remember to take others on their own merits. Moving stereotypes forward is a long, never-ending process. And yes, you _must_ address the small things as well as the large.

    In the spirit of dragging neanderthals out of the Dark Ages:

    Counter with a magnet that says:

    – “I do better math than I am pretty. .. And I’m gorgeous!”

    – “Calculus is pretty curvey too!”

    – “‘Beautiful Female Math Genius’ is not a null set. You’re looking at one.”

    – “The best Math Meisters can also do Curves. Calculus Rules”

  77. #77 Samantha
    June 1, 2011

    I love the attitude of “so what, people say dumb things, get over it” almost as much as the attitude of “I never saw that with girls in my class, so it must not exist”.

    1) It certainly matters when someone who is there to help you learn and advance in a area says a dumb thing and then acts like they believe it OR hears that dumb thing enough to act like it’s true.
    2) None of the Math TAs that told me I should just give up on math because “girls just aren’t good at math and you’re pretty enough to do fine in life without math” would have dared to say so in front of more than one or two others who thought the same way. In public, they were perfectly polite, if unhelpful. It was when I went office hours for clarification on why I got something marked as wrong when the guy next to me in the alphabet (and thus having the same TA) got it right that I was dismissed with incredibly sexist language.
    3) While it’s all well and good to tell people to persevere, most smart people are good at many things (even girls – shock!) and so when faced with two options, one of which presents with a lot of discouragement, prejudiced attitudes and general cruelty/idiocy from co-workers, is it any surprise when people choose the second, more pleasant option? No matter how good at something you are, it’s tough to truly love it enough to put up with constant denigration, insults and harassment, especially when you have an equally good second option. That’s why I chose linguistics over math in the end – similar work in my mind, but much more friendly to the idea that (gasp) a girl might be pretty, intelligent, a hard-worker AND still need help from time to time, especially in the earlier courses. Or, you know, I was just lazy, undisciplined and took advantage of my looks (by wearing dumpy clothing, no makeup and not styling my hair) to get where I am today (being fought over for Master’s programs).

  78. #78 Ticker
    June 1, 2011

    It’s disheartening to see all the common items on the bigotry bingo card, as if on cue.

    Sexism doesn’t exist, it’s rude to point out, you already got some fixes, and you seriously don’t know when to shut up.

    Now why does that make women feel angry? I really can’t imagine why …

    It’s embarrassing that most men I know seriously are that dense. I could mention reams of examples of sexism, that I can see daily and they would deny, mansplain or just shrug about each one.

  79. #79 A. Cooper
    June 1, 2011

    Tara

    Just another +1 to the list of people who emphatically *don’t* want you to STFD and STFU. Thanks for these posts, and eph the haters who are projecting their bitterness onto you.

  80. tawaen and sallystrange (and others), perhaps I am not one of the intended targets and am feeling a wee bit defensive here, but I took care to say what I meant, and not to say other things. Granted, some men here are writing things that are unsupportable, and it may be hard to tell us apart. Still…

    Biased comments to or about women are not evidence of institutional bias. They feel that way, but such feelings are subject to confirmation bias (an equal-opportunity logical fallacy, BTW). The data strongly suggest that the educational instituational biases against boys outweigh those against girls (though the latter also occurs).

    For my own anecdotes, I like to observe bias-conscious females raising sons, watching the gradual dawning as the schools buffet the lads about, and sometimes chew them up. I am torn as to which gender is punished more by that, however, as the boys sometimes get to learn that life isn’t fair, and the people at school have no idea what the real rules are outside in the adult world. Girls are more likely to be shocked by that – hardly an advantage. Yet the cost of that valuable lesson for some boys seems to be the destruction of other boys. Not good.

  81. #81 Acronym Jim
    June 1, 2011

    Shenandoah@36:

    Wow. That was one of the biggest, malodorous piles of “anecdotal evidence” I’ve ever had the misfortune to squelch through.

  82. #82 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    “You’re whining about it now.”

    No, I’m pointing out that appearance-based stereotypes apply to men as well as women. An apropos riposte to the self-absorbed victimization on full parade here.

    “And if you’re going to deploy anecdotes, I’ve witnessed plenty worse discrimination deployed against women in the software development field.”

    I’d like to be shown some examples of that, because quite frankly I believe you are lying. Over 22 years as a professional programmer, I have never once seen any reaction to a halfway competent woman candidate for any programming position whatsoever which was not “OMG! A COMPETENT DIVERSITY HIRE! GIVE HER WHATEVER SALARY SHE WANTS!!!!”

    On the other hand, I have been told upwards of a dozen times in those 22 years that I have been deemed inappropriate for positions because people feel uncomfortable with someone as intimidating as I appear. Which is undeniably true; it’s a great asset when I’m working as a bouncer, because I never have to do any actual work as problem people just magically all of a sudden become quite calm and very polite indeed when they see me looking at them. It’s not so great when insecure wimps can’t deal with my presence in a professional setting.

    And even leaving my anecdotal observation of the software industry in particular’s reaction to acceptably qualified women aside, I am willing to stake any amount of money you care to lose on a bet that there is absolutely no female person in this country in any career path whatsoever who can document proof that she has been denied opportunity based solely on her appearance as I can document proof that I have been denied opportunity based solely on my appearance.

    Mind you, I say “solely on appearance” here, so that excludes things like women in the armed forces being denied combat roles, women being denied entry into men’s Olympic events, and institutional chromosomal discrimination of those sorts. I’m referring only to negative *personal* discrimination, specifically in technical fields like microbiology and computer programming. Of which I am quite sure nobody can make a supportable case that “unusually attractive woman” is a bigger handicap than “scar-headed thug” is. But please, feel free to provide any actual proof you may have that I am mistaken.

  83. #83 red rabbit
    June 1, 2011

    Wait wait wait…. Alex @81 wants “actual proof” to counter his personal anecdote. Let’s get right on that, shall we?

  84. #84 Bruce Wright
    June 1, 2011

    Forever 21: ensuring its next-generation of minimum-wage sales staff.

  85. #85 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    Gosh, this is a really heavy topic but I’d really like to weigh in with my own opinions here. Brief stats: I’m male, I’m a software engineer and I have a stereotypical view that women are not in-general good with math or computers.

    That’s going to set a lot of people’s teeth on edge and I’d like to explain exactly WHY I have that opinion before the hammer o’ wrath comes down upon my head.

    For most of us geeky males, we grew up in our own nerdy social circle. This was primarily due to being ostracized by all other social groups. Most males that I interact with in my field had the same experience. We did not have positive interactions with females for most of our high-school or college careers. I would like to point out that we were not privy to whatever social pressures the females were under or what their actual opinions were concerning math or computers; but I can assure you that the effect of being insulted or looked down upon as “not cool” by the entire female (and most of the male) population has made us jaded and distrustful. Most of us (myself included) turned to psychological coping mechanisms…usually by becoming even more insular within our Nerd Caste and looking down upon everyone NOT in our group as intellectually inferior.

    I like to think that I’m now a well-adjusted adult (at 26, I’d better be) and that I have a much more enlightened outlook on society as a whole. But frankly, there has never been anything that I have encountered to dispel my internal preconceived notions of women as being the enemies of nerdiness. In all honesty, it isn’t fair to women and I completely understand. I even sympathize to a point. But when you’ve spent most of your life having a group of people ridicule you for your interests, and then suddenly that group of people gets angry that they aren’t being welcomed with open arms…it annoys me. It’d be kind of like if every day your water-gun store was robbed by roving gangs of Norwegians while they chanted “Death to the water gun salesmen”. Then one day a Norwegian came in and wanted to work the register with you. Is it FAIR that you would be biased against him? Maybe not, but it IS understandable.

    I wish I had a better and enlightening ending to this VERY long post, but the fact is that even now I am confused when women want to discuss math or code with me. Actually, I should amend that to say that I would be confused IF a woman wanted to discuss math or code with me. I can’t think of any that have.

    If you ask me if I think that women CAN do math and CAN write software well, then the answer is “yes”.
    On the other hand, if I saw a random woman in a cubicle at my office then my assumption would be that she was working in a position that did not require either of those things (possibly HR). Not because I think that women in general can’t, but because I think that women in general aren’t interested in those things.

    That may be a social issue, and I think that it would be a very good study, but I don’t have a better explanation for you at this time. Hopefully in the future there will be a more even distribution, I know that I plan on raising my kid as a nerd regardless of gender, so maybe there’s hope for the future.

    tldr: I’m sexist based on personal experience and bias.

  86. #86 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    tawaen and sallystrange (and others), perhaps I am not one of the intended targets and am feeling a wee bit defensive here, but I took care to say what I meant, and not to say other things. Granted, some men here are writing things that are unsupportable, and it may be hard to tell us apart. Still…

    Golly, your feelings are hurt?? Oh noes, quick everybody let’s call this whole thing off! A dudely dood is feeling a mite uncomfortable, and you know that when that happens, civilization is about to crumble… or something.

    Biased comments to or about women are not evidence of institutional bias.

    How does that follow? If there’s institutional bias against women, it springs from the minds of the people in charge of the institution, n’est-ce pas? Of course, if we could take for granted that there is no institutional bias against women then you might have a point, but the existence of this bias is so well-documented at this point that only idiots and misogynists (of which there are many) argue otherwise.

    They feel that way, but such feelings are subject to confirmation bias (an equal-opportunity logical fallacy, BTW).

    You know what you’re doing here, right? You are telling me, and Tara Smith, and every other woman who’s posted her story here, that we are just too stupid biased to realize what’s actually happening to us. Look, I know what confirmation bias is. I also know that my parents nor my teachers never taught me squat about feminism. Ever since I was in grade school, it was all “Oh, sexism and racism are over, it’s a done deal, we’re all equal now, nothing to see here, move along.” What would confirmation bias do to a mind with that set of beliefs as a starting point? Hmm?

    The data strongly suggest that the educational instituational biases against boys outweigh those against girls (though the latter also occurs).

    Oh, you’re another one of these. Ugh. Yeah, well, citation fucking needed. Also, “Patriarchy hurts men too”—ever heard that well-worn phrase?

    For my own anecdotes, I like to observe bias-conscious females raising sons, watching the gradual dawning as the schools buffet the lads about, and sometimes chew them up. I am torn as to which gender is punished more by that, however, as the boys sometimes get to learn that life isn’t fair, and the people at school have no idea what the real rules are outside in the adult world. Girls are more likely to be shocked by that – hardly an advantage. Yet the cost of that valuable lesson for some boys seems to be the destruction of other boys. Not good.

    Buffet the lads about? Chew them up? What the fuck does that even mean? You’re “torn” as to which gender is punished more—ergo, women are making shit up because their delicate lady brains are too infected by confirmation bias implanted by evil feminists? Dude, you’re not making any fucking sense. I HOPE you’re feeling defensive—your positions are either incoherent or indefensible.

  87. #87 red rabbit
    June 1, 2011

    Not to mention, of course (as it would be crass), that all of modern European history has essentially been:

    “OMG! A COMPETENT DIVERSITY HIRE! GIVE HER WHATEVER SALARY SHE WANTS!!!!”

    …except entirely only for white hetero males.

    Certainly there were no scar-headed thugs in my medical class. They can NEVER become doctors. Well, unless you count George, now in third year surgery. And the guy whose identical twin was the captain of the varsity football team. And that guy’s best friend. And…

    George actually also had a speech impediment associated with his head injury. That REALLY held him back, except not.

    See, I can match your anecdotes.

  88. #88 tawaen
    June 1, 2011

    @ Assistant Village Idiot

    If there really are worse educational biases against men, then what is your answer to Mikerattlesnake @ 65?

  89. #89 Calli Arcale
    June 1, 2011

    @ Lee Reynolds:
    “Nerds wear glasses and dress funny and only do math so they can feel adequate at something, since they’re such lousy athletes.”

    That’s just as ridiculous a stereotype as the notion that attractive women cannot be intelligent.

    Oh, I agree absolutely. That was sort of my point, actually — I meant it to be an ironic depiction of the opposite. Brainy people are ugly (or crazy, as someone noted upthread), and pretty people are dumb. The collusion of pretty and brilliant and sane is vanishingly rare — or so goes the stereotype. To some extent, I think this is part of an ancient sense of balance. We want there to be some harmony in the world, so when we (collectively) see someone very beautiful, we assume they must have something bad in their lives to balance it out, like they’re very stupid. The idea of karma is not really unique to southern Asia; it occurs throughout human culture in some form.

    It’s also totally bogus, but so are a lot of our cultural mental shortcuts — like stereotypes. I’m a nerd, and I’ve worn glasses since first grade. I never really got used to the “four eyes” comments, but I sure heard a lot of them. And I was a late bloomer. So I was the class shrimp up until about 9th grade, and didn’t need a bra until then either. Even today, I reach the lofty height of 5’3″, and am often mistaken for someone younger. I always thought I was ugly, though I later learned that many guys had actually had crushes on me. The ironies of youth…. I also thought I was athletically useless. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t throw. About the only thing I could do was anything involving my arms, because I am naturally blessed with good upper body strength. It wasn’t until high school that I realized what this meant for swimming, and I did pretty well there. My brother, also a glasses-wearing late-bloomer nerd, did even better and swam competitively at the college level. (He ended up exceeding 6 feet, with very long arms and legs, so he’s got a perfect swimmer’s build now.)

    There are an awful lot of negative stereotypes that steer people in paths that aren’t right for them. The awkward, geeky kid with pimples and no dress sense is one of them, and boy am I sick and tired of Hollywood trotting it out. Actually, let me take that back — Hollywood is actually getting better about this. But TV, and especially children’s cartoons, is really bad about it.

  90. #90 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    “Certainly there were no scar-headed thugs in my medical class. They can NEVER become doctors.”

    Perhaps I have expressed myself with insufficient clarity. I am not suggesting that those of my ilk have an insurmountable handicap. Indeed, being semi-retired at 42 to the point where I don’t bother working other than playing around with iPhone programming because I find it fun to do, my anecdotal experience is rather the opposite.

    My point is I find it ludicrous to give credence to the idea that being an unusually attractive woman is a handicap comparable in demonstrable effect to any number of other appearance-based reactions, scar-headed thug being the one I happen to be intimately familiar with; but anyone with intelligence greater than moss can think up at least a dozen more with no difficulty whatsoever. Sadly, that moss-outthinking contingent appears on distinct lack of display here.

  91. #91 neverstatic
    June 1, 2011

    I think it’s too bad that people can’t believe this stuff is happening because it’s not happening to them. If the magnet had said “I’m too handsome to think,” would that get across the idea? Would it finally sink into those cromag skulls that this idea is offensive?

    Here’s what I see. An intelligent professional woman has come across a couple of instances where the bias in our society has upset her. She posts about it. Within a day, sexist guys proceed to call her a whiny bitch. Then other sexist guys come to the defense of manhood and explain that they have a daughter and they’re definitely not sexist, but you should just be happy that you’re pretty. Someday you’ll be old and ugly and won’t that be a shame.

    Meanwhile, the numbers are on our side. And they’re not even particularly difficult to find. Anyone that isn’t aware of them at this stage in the debate is either incompetent or purposefully malicious. I always like to give the benefit of the doubt in cases like this. It must be difficult to go through life with the chronic inability to google.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male%E2%80%93female_income_disparity_in_the_United_States

  92. #92 SectaSofa
    June 1, 2011

    @shenandoah
    You look really great today, thanks for coming by!
    It’s wonderful that you took the time to comment. Thanks!
    Mostly though I just wanted to comment because I thought it was great to see someone attractive and well put-together present something articulate and forceful!
    (You do need a little work on properly adducing evidence for your claims, and on logic, but I’m sure that will come in time with a good mentor and lots of work!)

  93. #93 red rabbit
    June 1, 2011

    Being an attractive woman isn’t a handicap. Being female and being repeatedly told your looks are the most important thing about you, more so than your brain, your opinions, your experience, your ability to state a case, do a surgery, design a drug, or whatever is getting old.

    That, my scar-headed friend, is what this is about.

    You, being a man, could be a scar-headed thug or Brad Pitt from the Thelma & Louise era, and guess what? Your other attributes are more valued than your face and your behind. Brad Pitt is beautiful, but he can also act. My mate George is ugly, but he’s a competent surgeon.

    I, being a woman, am looked down upon if I am fat. I am considered unworthy if my facial features don’t conform to your standards. And heaven forbid I was bald! Nobody would be able to talk to me without commenting on it.

    But my best feature is not my long legs. It’s not my shapely rear. It’s not my thick, glossy hair. It’s not even the fact that I can run in three-inch heels.

    I’m a doctor. I can run a code. I can fix your head when you get another laceration. I can save someone’s life. That’s my best feature.

    And I am fed up with girls being told that their looks are more important than their abilities.

    Now do you understand?

  94. #94 stupid_earthling
    June 1, 2011

    I got about halfway through all the mansplaining before my laughter bothered a coworker.

    Positive sexism is just so damned freaky. Most people can spot the negative stuff but when you get a group of men who start commenting on women being more virtuous or peaceful or thinking it’s just peachy to tell a complete stranger she’s too attractive for math…well, that’s just something else.

  95. #95 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    “It must be difficult to go through life with the chronic inability to google.”

    Yes. Yes, it’s too bad you have that inability.

    Should you choose to remedy your deficiency, for starters look up the average hours per week a salaried programmer puts in. You will find it is on the order of 58 hours for males, and 44 hours for females. Whilst the difference in compensation is less than the 24% which that single isolated factor explains completely.

    I claim no expertise in any area outside software development, but I am given to understand that similarly obvious factors when accounted for in other fields demonstrate quite conclusively that childless females are compensated significantly higher than childless males for equivalent work. Negative divergence only arises when you compare the child-bearing subpopulation. And I trust that factually rational bases for that negative divergence would be quite evident. Perhaps you do not like those factually rational bases. That would not be an unsound position. However, do you apply your distaste identically to the flip side effects, such as women being granted near-automatic custody of children in divorce cases? I would posit here that indeed you have no problem whatsoever with the woman-benefiting effects of conventional social structure, which would make you rather a hypocrite for choosing to make an issue of the negative salary effects.

    But perhaps you are indeed perfectly even-handed and you do indeed find it just as offensive that men do not get 50% of child custodies as you do that child-bearing women see their earnings diverge from equivalently qualified men, and you have a demonstrable record of publicly decrying both of these discriminations equally. In that case, my apologies. But I suspect they will not be warranted.

  96. #96 kt
    June 1, 2011

    I just have to say that reading the comments here and on the other post referenced have depressed me and confirmed again my perception that a majority of men don’t believe sexism exists (because it hasn’t happened to them) and believe that any discussion of it is counterproductive whining. My husband has told me the same thing. It is wearing.

    And to all you who tell me to appreciate inappropriate attention because soon enough it will be gone… what the fuck planet are you living on? You just make me feel sick. Do you raise your daughters that way? “Appreciate the catcalls, honey — soon you’ll be totally ignored! You’re not worth much more than that anyway…”

  97. #97 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    Hey Frankie, ready for a wake-up call? You weren’t a poor persecuted nerd, victim of the evil woman species; you were, and still are, an asshole. Cmon, did ALL women reject you, or just the ones that weren’t fatties?

    I’d be pretty surprised if a woman wanted to talk to you about math and computers too… or anything else for that matter. Maybe if you treated women like human beings instead of some sort of prize or goal, you would have some luck.

  98. #98 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    @Alex

    Goddamn if you aren’t a textbook mra doofus. Seriously? Child custody disparity is a product of FEMINISM? Think about that for a minute, and if it still makes sense to you, stop writing and start reading. You are woefully clueless and seriously need to do your homework.

  99. #99 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @mikerattlesnake (96)

    I don’t see myself as an asshole, but I’m sure that there are those who may. I WILL say that I’m just human and am subject to the same biases and prejudices that we all encounter. I try my best not to be, but my inner thoughts are not necessarily something that I have control over.

    To answer your question; it was all women irrespective of their weight.

    As for not treating women like human beings, I do not view ANY human beings as objects (anymore so that I view myself as a biological “object”). Perhaps you are confused between the idea of me being instinctively distrustful, and the idea of seeing women only as “things” to be “used”. Allow me to comfort you that while I do suffer from the former, I have never experienced the latter.

  100. #100 tawaen
    June 1, 2011

    @ Alex, 94

    Alex, do you even get the irony of citing the extra hours of work men put in and then complaining that men don’t get primary custody of children 50% of the time?

    The most recent Time Use Survey shows that men spend more time at work, on average, than women do. But women almost double the extra time men spend at the office on unpaid domestic work. Men, if I recall the numbers correctly, spend on average approximately 40 minutes more a day at work, where women on average spend an extra 40 minutes doing child-care and then an additional 40 minutes on household chores daily.

    Funny how that works, that on average women spend more time taking care of children and the household, and then they also on average end up getting primary physical custody more often when there is a separation.

    Ah, well, invisible female labor is invisible, after all. Until it hurts the menz. And then it’s just an unfair bias on the part of the judicial system.

  101. #101 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    “And I am fed up with girls being told that their looks are more important than their abilities.
    Now do you understand?”

    Oh, I understood all along, my leporine friend. My point is

    “For crying out loud, there’s a hell of a lot worse problems to have. Get past it.”

    Note by “get past it” I do not mean “take it as a compliment”. I mean that posts wallowing in victimization are a negative reaction. If you have an actual problem to deal with, like when I am told someone refuses to work with me because I’m scary-looking, address that problem. Bumbling fools giving you a “you should be in movies” line are not an actual problem.

  102. #102 stupid_earthling
    June 1, 2011

    @Alex 100

    “If you have an actual problem to deal with, like when I am told someone refuses to work with me because I’m scary-looking, address that problem. Bumbling fools giving you a “you should be in movies” line are not an actual problem.”

    Positive Sexism! It’s everywhere!

  103. #103 Richard Eis
    June 1, 2011

    If you want to see how much discrepancy there is between men and women in terms of crushing expectation of looks, you only need to look at the cosmetics, clothes and diet industry. This blows any amount of mansplaining out of the water…

    …if they ever listened.

    On a side note, what is the weird spelling correction by commentors about the magnet message, which is actually correct.

    All I can assume is that men are as bad at basic spelling as they are at maths and engineering.

  104. #104 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    “Alex, do you even get the irony of citing the extra hours of work men put in and then complaining that men don’t get primary custody of children 50% of the time?”

    Errrrrrr … what you’re describing _is_ the factually rational bases I was referring to. There is no irony here. I’m pointing out that there are both positive and negative consequences to conventional social structure, and if you think through the consequences arising from them it’s clear that the wikipedia-quoting person I was referring to does not have a balanced perspective.

    You’re certainly free to think that the situation you described should be equal, or reversed. But as long as women generally can be demonstrated to prioritize differently than men — be that biological, cultural, brainwashed by advertising, whatever — differing outcomes are logical consequences, not evidence of sexism.

  105. #105 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    Frankie, let me congratulate you on your guiness record as the first man to be rejected by all the women on the planet. How many of them rejected you based on the criteria that you’re misogynistic dick who lumps a diverse group of individuals into a faceless pile of boobs and hate? You are the classic persecuted “nice” nerd, and let me reassure you, I could not be using “nice” any more ironically than I am now.

  106. #106 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    Frankie, let me congratulate you on your guiness record as the first man to be rejected by all the women on the planet. How many of them rejected you based on the criteria that you’re misogynistic dick who lumps a diverse group of individuals into a faceless pile of boobs and hate? You are the classic persecuted “nice” nerd, and let me reassure you, I could not be using “nice” any more ironically than I am now.

  107. #107 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    @alex

    “Shut up unless you’re talking about MY problems, because MY problems are the only REAL problems.”

    So, are you a parody of a clueless asshole, or a real clueless asshole?

  108. #108 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    @alex

    “Shut up unless you’re talking about MY problems, because MY problems are the only REAL problems.”

    So, are you a parody of a clueless asshole, or a real clueless asshole?

  109. #109 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    “Positive Sexism! It’s everywhere!”

    OK … if you think making a distinction of level of seriousness between “some clown of a retail salesperson making an unwelcome comment based on appearance” and “being denied a job” is an example of sexism, I question your rationality.

    My equivalent to the first would be “You’re the lead programmer? Do you fight MMA?” This is something that I do not consider a problem. As I do not think the comment that Tara’s original post was whining about should be considered a problem.

    If you continue to see sexism here, I will write that off as your issue not mine.

  110. #110 David
    June 1, 2011

    Was the cashier’s disbelief genuine or a put-on? Especially to those of us who weren’t there, it could be either one. A genuine “can’t be” is genuinely insulting and sexist, of course. I think most of the neanderthal troglodyte mansplainer epithet-bearers would agree. Much of the anger here is dependent on taking his “can’t be” literally. But what if the man had said something like, “Microbiologist? I would have guessed fashion model.” Still a cheesy line, but a more benign delivery of essentially the same thought. I’m just saying what are your priors? Is there any admissable context that doesn’t contain latent or patent sexism?

  111. #111 red rabbit
    June 1, 2011

    Ok, as I said, it’s not for me.

    It’s the signal these bumbling assholes who have power over them give to young girls making decisions that affect the rest of their lives.

    I have made my calls. I’m happy with them.

    Again:

    We are concerned that the girls that are currently growing up and making choices about the rest of their lives are getting affected by stupid stereotypes.

    If I’m going to repeat myself I may as well quote myself.

  112. #112 Barbara
    June 1, 2011

    A commentator wrote:

    “So, you like to whine because someone thinks your pretty . . . . Wait until you’re an old hag. I think you’ll appreciate the difference between these two grievous ‘injuries’ then.”

    Actually, no. As someone now nearing 60 (and working in science), I can say that becoming less attractive to the guys can be freeing.

    When I was young and therefore almost by definition pretty, I had to deal with men who called out compliments, insults, and threatening follow-ups to compliments, men who ran their hands over me, once a man who grabbed me, kissed me, knocked me down, and . . . walked off, grinning over his shoulder at me. I was at risk whenever I was out alone, and as young field biology nerd I often was out alone.

    Now, guys I don’t know mostly ignore me, and I love it. (I’m happy to take reasonable compliments from friends.) Now I can go pretty much were I want to with very little risk.

    (To forestall complaints: yes, the majority of the guys I passed were quietly polite. Thanks, polite guys! Especially polite guys who don’t defend the rude behavior of their rude fellow guys, or even the rude behavior of their own younger selves.)

  113. #113 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    “If you continue to see sexism here, I will write that off as your issue not mine.”

    The. Irony. Is. killing. me.

  114. #114 neverstatic
    June 1, 2011

    @94 Alex,

    “Yes. Yes, it’s too bad you have that inability.”

    I know you are but what am I? Seriously, are we 6?

    “Should you choose to remedy your deficiency, for starters look up the average hours per week a salaried programmer puts in. You will find it is on the order of 58 hours for males, and 44 hours for females. Whilst the difference in compensation is less than the 24% which that single isolated factor explains completely.”

    No link to your sources so the opposition can verify them, though. 99% of quoted statistics are pulled out of someone’s butt anyway.

    “…but I am given to understand that similarly obvious factors when accounted for in other fields demonstrate quite conclusively that childless females are compensated significantly higher than childless males for equivalent work.”

    This is incorrect. From the GAO (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0435.pdf), “When we account for differences between male and female work patterns as well as other key factors, women earned, on average, 80 percent of what men earned in 2000.”

    “However, do you apply your distaste identically to the flip side effects, such as women being granted near-automatic custody of children in divorce cases?”

    And of course no discussion of discrimination would be complete without bringing up what hypocrites people are because there are “beneficial” side effects of discrimination.

    “In that case, my apologies. But I suspect they will not be warranted.”

    I was willing to give you guys the benefit of the doubt. You’re side on this debate is either stupid (misinformed) or evil (informed but lying). I always assume stupid unless the person in question has a strong profit motive. I think it’s kind of sad that you assume that I am in favor of discrimination. I’d like that apology you promised now.

  115. #115 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    “So, are you a parody of a clueless asshole, or a real clueless asshole?”

    Hmmmm … Some of my comments are a bit of a leap from demonstrable facts yes, but they all appear at least in the debatable category.

    So go with the “real” option then if that makes you feel better.

  116. #116 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @mikerattlesnake 105

    Please allow me to correct you regarding your assumption that I have been rejected by every woman on the planet. I have certainly not tried to speak with every woman on this planet, indeed I haven’t even tried all of the women in my city. I had thought that my original post outlined my experience (and the experiences of many of my “nerd” friends) quite clearly as being with the women (or mostly “girls” at that age) that we encountered during our educational journey. During my college career I found that I could take off the “nerd” suit during most of my social interactions and that it was easy enough to confine that aspect of my life to personal interactions with my fellow computer-science geek friends. I don’t particularly find it difficult to converse with women as long as I don’t bring up topics like Dungeons and Dragons, computer software, game theory etc. I think that, at this point, you’re just being lazy about addressing my statements. Instead of providing pertinent responses you have spiraled downwards into locker-room taunts.

  117. #117 Barbara
    June 1, 2011

    “It’s no surprise that a retail clerk at a small shop in a downtown area is not the smoothest operator.”

    Professors are not the smoothest operators either, sometimes. When I interviewed for a position as a university professor in biology several years ago, one of the professors there asked me why I didn’t wear make-up.

    WTF?

    I doubt that the reason I didn’t get the job was that I failed to meet his expectations of womanliness, but it’s hard to be sure.

  118. #118 tawaen
    June 1, 2011

    Alex @103

    Ah, sorry for the snark. Reading comprehension fail.

    I still think that numbers have shown that there is a wage gap, even among child-less professionals, though. So I think your first argument was incorrect. The gender-wage gap, when adjusted for hours worked and seniority, is smaller (5% seems to jog my memory, wish I’d saved that statistical analysis…) than the unadjusted 25%. But still statistically significant. I’ll see if I can’t find a cite.

  119. #119 stupid_earthling
    June 1, 2011

    @Alex 108

    “OK … if you think making a distinction of level of seriousness between “some clown of a retail salesperson making an unwelcome comment based on appearance” and “being denied a job” is an example of sexism, I question your rationality.”

    Is being stabbed to death worse than being slapped in the face? Sure. Are people lining up to be slapped in the face? No.

    There may be a difference in the gravity of the situations from, say, Tara Smith’s perspective – she’s an accomplished microbiologist. The “too hot to be a scientist” is irksome but she’s a scientist so its actual effect on her isn’t as powerful as it would be on a 12 year old girl who likes studying birds. Regardless, the inherent positive (or benevolent) sexism is present.

    Tara Smith may take the comment as a slap in the face, metaphorically, to her career as a scientist. The hypothetical 12 year old may see her future stabbed to death because she’s a cute kid.

    The sexism is twofold: 1) that you’re marginalizing an issue because you fail to relate to it; 2) that you see women being complimented by strangers as a positive thing because someone is appreciating their appearance.

    My rationality is quite solid.

    Should we bring back butt slaps in the office, too?

  120. #120 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    “No link to your sources so the opposition can verify them, though.”

    No, I do not bother to keep links to that kind of information, because although this kind of discussion is an occasionally amusing bagatelle, I’m just not invested enough in it to consider different perspectives “opposition” as you do. So I will cheerfully concede that it is perfectly possible that whatever evidence you’re drawing from is more methodologically sound than any of the studies underlying the commentaries I remember, and I have nothing on hand which would deny that possibility.

    ” think it’s kind of sad that you assume that I am in favor of discrimination. I’d like that apology you promised now.”

    Well, you certainly do appear to hold an honest conviction that I am working from a deficient factual basis, so you definitely deserve that apology yes. My apologies for displaying unsupportable prejudice with regards to your position on these issues.

    Aaaaaand that appears to be a perfect note on which to bow out here and go do something useful, it being striking me more and more with every reply that I’m making quite the hypocritical mockery of my own “get past it” advice. But gosh, you’re just all so fun, I couldn’t help myself. But now I’m getting hungry, and my stomach is definitely more important than whatever it is that’s at stake in our discussions here.

  121. #121 Marc Abian
    June 1, 2011

    I’m pretty darn sure I’ve experienced more actual real life negative discrimination against me in the computer industry based on me looking like a particuarly hardcore NHL enforcer than Tara has based on her being a little hottie. But I don’t get all whiny about it.

    Negative discrimination is bad and it should be opposed. Not being “all whiny*” about it isn’t a virtue.

    *Annoying phrase. Any complaint, no matter how justified or well-explained can always be dismissed as whiny, and it usually is when it upsets some stupid status quo.
    In fact, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to view as cowardice Alex’s desire not to be seen as whiny.

  122. #122 Pteryxx
    June 1, 2011

    “But you CAN’T be a professor/engineer/doctor; your dick is too big! You should be in pictures.”

    Put that on a T-shirt and it’d sell millions, right? … right?

  123. #123 Alex Curylo
    June 1, 2011

    OK, just one more. Then I’m really done. Seriously this time.

    “The sexism is twofold: 1) that you’re marginalizing an issue because you fail to relate to it; 2) that you see women being complimented by strangers as a positive thing because someone is appreciating their appearance.”

    No, no, no.

    wrt 1: “My equivalent to the first would be “You’re the lead programmer? Do you fight MMA?” ”

    I’m marginalizing the issue because I see comments like that one made to me as equivalent in severity for purposes of relating to, and I do marginalize them.

    wrt 2: “Note by “get past it” I do not mean “take it as a compliment”.”

    That would be rather the opposite to the opinion you attribute to me here, is it not?

  124. #124 realinterrobang
    June 1, 2011

    Apparently nobody ever told Alex that actual income disparity statistics are actually corrected for hours worked, so saying that “male programmers make more because they work longer hours and don’t take maternity leave” is just more of the same stupid bullshit.

    Not to mention that part of the deep structural problem is that women are trained from birth to consider their family/domestic life to be more important than their career, so statistically speaking, if someone has to take time off to care for the kids/tend to a household emergency/deal with issues pertaining to an aged parent, it’s the woman. Which gets doubly reinforced, because accounting for the actual discriminatory pay gap (as opposed to the unadjusted pay gap), whenever a couple makes the “logical” decision to have one partner stay home and take care of the kids, it’s almost always the woman who winds up at home.

    This is a really contentious subject for me, because while I’m a feminist and definitely on the “Girls CAN SO do math!” team, I’m also a girl with a math-related learning disability, so I can’t so do math. :( I’m also kinda funny looking and definitely not much of anyone’s idea of a hottie, and I work in IT, so in terms of cultural stereotypes I’m definitely Not Helping. :(

  125. #125 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    @alex

    Yeah, “real” sounds the most likely. It would take too much effort to PRETEND to be that much of an asshole.

    @frankie

    I am addressing your comments with as much respect as you deserve and more than you give to women. Seriously. Go back and read your first post. Are you describing real, individual human beings? The way you write about women is disgusting and if you can’t see that (risking repeating myself) shut up and read.

  126. #126 TGP
    June 1, 2011

    “Although only about 1.5% of all the dolls sold said the phrase…”

    Just wondering, do you think 1.5% of women find math class hard?

  127. #127 Prof. Faust
    June 1, 2011

    In 2008 I attended Sociology 101, a lecture numbering more than forty heads with fewer men than women. One day, early in the semester, the professor polled the class asking, “How many of you are feminists?” Only myself and two others raised hands.

    Given the dismissive remarks, I wonder if there is some gradient of misogyny across geography, because the repression is so depressingly flagrant in the South. Worse, the women I meet seem to live largely unaware of discrimination inherent in Southerners’ attitudes and behaviors.

  128. #128 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    Yeah, stupid wimminz have only themselves to blame for making less money than men! If they’d only MAN UP and accept that having children is simply not an option, they’d make just as much money as men! And then we’d all be equal, except there’d be no replacement generation, and that’d be depressing, like in Children of Men…

    I’m with you, Realinterrobang, this bullshit about “women’s choices” is just another smokescreen for sexism. Unless Alex supports making paid parental leave mandatory, in equal, non-simultaneous chunks of time, for both mothers and fathers, then I conclude he’s just another misogynist invested in defending the status quo. Passing the pay disparity off as dependent solely on the choices women make to prioritize family over career, as if women make those choices in a vacuum, is another ploy to pretend that sexism isn’t happening and bitches is just hysterical over nothing again.

  129. #129 CarlosT
    June 1, 2011

    @steve #26 said:

    The magnet isn’t suggesting that pretty girls can’t do math. It’s suggesting that some need not, because they are pretty. Physical attractiveness can open up opportunities that are not as readily available to the less attractive, including at times the opportunity to avoid tasks that the vast majority of people find unpleasant. If the magnet said “I’m to intelligent to be a ditch digger” would it be offensive?

    So this is a ways back now, but this is a stupid analogy. The implication of saying “to(o) intelligent to be a ditch digger” is that digging ditches would be a waste of talent for a very intelligent person and she is doing herself and the world at large a disservice by not putting that talent to better use.

    “Too pretty to do math” implies that someone attractive is wasting herself by pursuing math instead of being an actress or model or whatever. That’s dismissive because it implies that beauty, which is superficial and ephemeral (as many here have gone out of their way to point out), should be valued more than intellect. It implies that a woman is doing herself and the world at large a disservice by choosing to participate in one of humanity’s best achievements instead of just standing around looking good.

  130. #130 Jake
    June 1, 2011

    It’s been hilarious to come here for the first time and see female scientists and doctors shouting at stupid, sexist men about the stupid, sexist image being perpetuated about them. It’s clear how far we’ve come. I’ll see myself out.

  131. #131 Science Avenger
    June 1, 2011

    I’m a nerdy guy who was told several times growing up that I was too good looking to be doing whatever it was I was doing at the time, including hanging out with other nerds. Should I have been flatterred or insulted? :)

    Seriously, keep talking ladies. For every asshole who posts, there are ten of us shutting up and listening.

  132. #132 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    It’s been hilarious to come here for the first time and see female scientists and doctors shouting at stupid, sexist men about the stupid, sexist image being perpetuated about them. It’s clear how far we’ve come. I’ll see myself out.

    Yeah, but it’s mostly women who are shouting at the sexist men. Until non-sexist men start shouting too, we’re going to remain right where we are: with legal discrimination a thing of the past, but discriminatory attitudes permeating our society. Don’t leave; there’s work to be done. Don’t make women do all the heavy lifting.

  133. #133 swan
    June 1, 2011

    FrankieAvocado:

    Are you saying that you have no female programmers/engineers/etc at your workplace?? How many people are in these kinds of roles?

    I ask because as a woman, who is also a programmer, the only time I’ve been the only female programmer was when I worked for a company that had 3 programmers (including me). In my current job (a large multinational tech firm), I can walk around my office and casually interact with several women programmers and system engineers, including a couple of managers who used to be engineers.

    How is it possible that you have managed to go your entire career without having female colleagues? Or talked to female programmers on internet forums? Or even had female classmates in college in your math/CS classes?

    As a lonely geek in high school (class of ’91, computer club, math club, band nerd, AP classes), I was ostracized by many people – guys in general, other girls, even other high-achievers since they didn’t appreciate the competition I represented. I totally understand being misanthropic. But when I got to college, where I got to hang out with other really smart people (and realized that I was only average when compared to other smart people), my bitterness and misanthropy were pretty much outgrown.

    Feel free to contact me at gmail if you want to talk to a real live female math/computer geek. My email username is nutmegkat.

  134. #134 mikerattlesnake
    June 1, 2011

    “I’m a nerdy guy who was told several times growing up that I was too good looking to be doing whatever it was I was doing at the time, including hanging out with other nerds. Should I have been flatterred or insulted? :)”

    Dunno if you were asking rhetorically or not, but you should feel however you feel. When it comes to comments about our attractiveness, men generally have a lot less cultural baggage to deal with. Which is not to say we have none, I had body issues and related self-esteem issues for many years, but the pressure and impact is simply not comparable. Mileage will certainly vary for individuals in difficult situations with abusive families/partners, but generally it’s just not the same.

    @jake

    It’s hard to read for irony on the internet, but I hope you’re sincerely disgusted by the men being dumb and sexist and not criticizing the women and others speaking out against it.

  135. #135 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @mikerattlesnake 124

    I don’t see the way that I wrote about women as disgusting, but I would welcome the opinion of a woman on the matter. It WAS certainly sexist, but I believe that I made note of that fact earlier. I discussed the reasons for my internal feelings with quite candid honesty and I thought that my explanation was at least coherent and understandable even if you disagreed with my conclusion.

    I am not blind to the opinions or aggravations of others, and I can see the posts here that women make. I can understand why it must be frustrating for a woman to be judged by a quality that you find to be superficial (body, athleticism etc) over a quality that you find essential (intellect). These are all things that make sense to me, and that I can empathize with. These are the reasons that I am very careful to not outwardly display a bias. Indeed I work very hard to react to people on an individual level, but that doesn’t mean that my brain just stops all of its learned responses. I have worked for 3 major software companies, and been pretty active in the software engineering community: the number of women that I have talked to who are software engineers can be counted on one hand. I’m not talking about competitive salaries or management level, I mean TOTAL that I have EVER MET. As I said before, I don’t know what social pressures that women are under and I can’t speak for their innermost desires, but I can tell you that I have consistently encountered a vocal bias against traditionally “nerdy” pursuits.

    This got rambly, and doesn’t really address what I was originally attempting to convey in a reasonably informative manner: lots of geeky men are biased against women being in nerdy fields of study because we have become a close-knit group of anti-social and defensive people. We feel that we have been backed into a corner by society and so we are extremely picky about who we let in to our tribe. Now realistically that’s a silly view to have, but that’s the one that I most commonly encounter and can relate to.

    If you don’t want to listen to WHY a lot of us feel the way we do then that’s fine you don’t have to; but if you want to work with us to help fix the problem then you should probably know what the problem is first. I’m not saying that our actions are morally correct, merely explaining why they occur.

  136. #136 thrawn369
    June 1, 2011

    Re people saying how horribly rude she was for telling that man he was making an ass of himself, if I were making an ass of myself I would want someone to tell me.

  137. #137 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    If you don’t want to listen to WHY a lot of us feel the way we do then that’s fine you don’t have to; but if you want to work with us to help fix the problem then you should probably know what the problem is first. I’m not saying that our actions are morally correct, merely explaining why they occur.

    You speak as if we’re not already familiar with the trials and travails of male nerds. Trust, your perspective gets enough attention that it’s pretty easy to figure out. Male nerds are still men, after all. They still get portrayed in the media on occasion, sometimes in a positive light!

    The questions are:

    a.) why you thought women scientists are ignorant of this–we’re not idiots–we are scientists after all and deal with many of the same nerd social dynamics.

    b.) why you thought this perspective would be useful or needed in the context of this particular conversation

    c.) what’s stopping you from changing the way you think? Now that you’re aware of your biases, you can take active steps to change them. One possible method is to refrain from articulating your biases in front of an audience that is already well familiar with your particular set of biases.

    You seem rather self-involved and apathetic.

  138. #138 Tnordloh
    June 1, 2011

    I don’t love that an advisor considers a lower gpa a good reason to quit a class. I suppose if the goal is to graduate with a high GPA, that would be true. For me, the classes I did the worst in (calculus I and II) were unbelievably difficult, but I learned a ton, and gained a newfound respect for those with the brains to get a math degree. Meanwhile, the business classes, where I learned nothing and got more than 100% after extra credit questions on the tests sure boosted my GPA. Needless to say, my opinion of a business degree may be slightly tarnished.

  139. #139 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @SallyStrange

    I appreciate your response. I’d be happy to address the comments you made in order:

    a – Why I thought that scientists in general (and female scientists in particular) are ignorant of this: I agree that this is not something that sociologists are ignorant of, but that they may be concentrating on the male bias in general rather than the nerd-male bias in particular. I find that most of the men I encounter who have a view of women as “non technical” do so in the classic “women can’t do this because they are artsy fartsy not logical like me” rather than the nerdy view of “you aren’t part of our in-crowd”.

    b – I’m striving to give an honest opinion of a potential cause for this issue. If you feel that doesn’t contribute to the discussion then that’s fine.

    c – I try to change the way that I act toward people. The way that I think is not as easy to adjust but I am working on it. The main barrier is that I rarely, if ever, encounter women with a positive view toward nerdy interests.

  140. #140 KC
    June 1, 2011

    @mikerattlesname 124 – For what it’s worth, I also have been rejected by every girl in high-school and in college, and reading Frankie’s story brought back many horrible memories of my own. These things do happen. Hate to say it, but when you’re a card-carrying N.E.R.D., you really are foresaken in today’s community.

    And that’s the biggest thing with people like you, Mike — you almost certainly were a bully when you were going through school, so you could never know. Even in this very blog, you convey yourself like a jock who has his prey pinned against the lockers as he’s about to steal some nerd’s lunch money yet again. You can’t believe that men are universally rejected by women because it’s never happened to you.

    Like female sexism, male sexism is a taboo in today’s society.

    However, to Frankie, I want to say this — chin up, buddy. It gets better. You’re only 26, and I’m almost 40. It took me 40 years of my god-forsaken life to finally meet a woman who is both intelligent and loving. They ARE out there.

  141. #141 neverstatic
    June 1, 2011

    SallyStrange @ 131
    You’re right, more of us who are men need to speak up and say “this is not ok”. These sexist attitudes make men look like a bunch of Archie Bunker impersonators.

    I think I take a slightly dimmer view than you on where things stand right now, though. You said that legal discrimination was a thing of the past, but almost 90 years after it was proposed we still don’t have an equal rights amendment. A congress (as well as many state legislatures and executives) composed primarily of old white men is making war on women’s reproductive health, introducing government interference in personal medical decisions (abortion) that should be between a woman and her doctor. And sadly, in addition to making Roe v Wade look like a joke now, they’re affecting Planned Parenthood’s ability to give low income women access to contraception, breast exams, and pap smears. Meanwhile, the female political candidate that has everyone agog for 2012 is… Sarah Palin.

    There is a long way to go.

  142. #142 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    The main barrier is that I rarely, if ever, encounter women with a positive view toward nerdy interests.

    What a pathetic excuse for a barrier.

    Look, you just met a woman with a positive view towards nerdy interests. Go to Io9.com and you’ll find hundreds or thousands more, some of whom are probably local to you.

    What now?

    And why do you require women who view your hobbies in a positive light in the first place? What difference is that going to make to you in your effort to eradicate sexist thinking from your consciousness? If you were thinking rationally, you’d realize that you can do that with or without the presence of women who are interested in whatever your particular hobbies are.

  143. #143 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    You’re right, neverstatic, I overstated the case when I said that legal discrimination is a thing of the past.

    Fuck.

  144. #144 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @swan 132

    In response to your questions / comments.

    I have no female engineers in my workplace. My last job was at a Fortune 500 company where I was also a software engineer. To my knowledge that company had only 1 female programmer (out of the 3 locations that I worked at). My previous 2 jobs before that were also software development and we had no female programmers. I don’t know if this is standard across the industry, but I suspect that there is a strong male bias.

    I had 3 females in my Computer Science class 1 of whom switched majors to a communications degree and 1 of whom was terrible at coding. The remaining female was very intelligent indeed and wrote excellent code(although I have no clue where she took a job at after graduation). The entire rest of our major was male (again, I don’t know if this is standard or not).

    It IS weird going through my entire career with almost no female colleagues. I work with women in our HR department or our business department but virtually never with another female software engineer. It’s a little creepy actually.

    I’m sorry to hear that you went through the typical geek ostracism through highschool but I’m glad that college went well. I appreciate the contact info and maybe I’ll hit you up on Gmail sometime.

  145. #145 Jon H
    June 1, 2011

    Re: the magnet

    For what it’s worth: If it’s at Forever 21, it isn’t going to be men buying it for women. It’ll be women buying it.

  146. #146 richard40
    June 1, 2011

    I find it interesting that in some of the comments it is their fellow females, like that guidance counselor, that reinforce the women dont do math steriotype. If women are being held back in math, I think they are being held back just as badly by their fellow women as by any men.

    As for women in chess clubs, mine only had one woman. She was very welcome and quite popular. Not the best player, but decent, and fairly good looking and nice.

    I agree with others that too many dopes that dont understand math, or understand those that do understand it, are in education fields.

  147. #147 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @SallyStrange 141

    I’m not sure that I understand why you find that
    I rarely, if ever, encounter women with a positive view toward nerdy interests” is a pathetic excuse for a barrier to fixing my opinion of women not liking nerdy things. That seems like a relatively understandable hang-up, even if you don’t agree with it.

    I think that your comment about me “requiring” women to view my hobbies in a positive light is a result of you misconstruing my prior statements. If women don’t want to like nerdy things then they don’t have to. NOBODY has to if they don’t want to. I mean, listen, if women don’t want to be nerdy then there’s no need for them to be. I’m not trying to force you at knife-point to play Call of Cthulhu with me. I’m attempting to explain to you WHY I have formed the default assumption of women not liking nerdy things. It’s the same reason that I think that men who play Football don’t like nerdy things. If a huge linebacker in full-on padding and helmet came up to me and asked me if I could review his web-service code then I’d be baffled. I don’t HATE him, I don’t think he’s “just an object”, but I DO have a stereotypical view of him. I hope that clarified my situation.

  148. #148 Classical Cipher
    June 1, 2011

    Hi Aetiology – I’m here from Pharyngula.
    Frankie, your attitude is your own damn fault. It is your job to change it, not ours to educate you. I see you blaming women for shutting you out and rejecting you. Yeah, well, try looking at your ignorant, sexist posts from my perspective. I’m a geeky woman who loves D&D, loves video gaming, and also happens to be fairly conventionally attractive. (I study classics, so I concede that I would be lost in tech-talk.) While you were solidifying your mistrust of women, I was friends primarily with other socially awkward, quiet nerds, most of whom were male. I’ve done a lot of mean things in my time, but I never, ever shamed or shut out boys for being too nerdy. Then I went away to college and made the mistake of coming back single and with an educated awareness of gender dynamics. I was so badly treated by these former friends that I isolated myself in my house for months. They would not let me touch the video games, they would not let me learn to play Risk, and when I played D&D, the constant barrage of references to my personal “charisma score” (accompanied with gestures toward my chest) made it damn near impossible to focus on playing, let alone developing my characters. Not to mention the frequent violations of my personal boundaries, the gendered slurs, the sexist jokes, halfheartedly accompanied by “you’re not like the others” pats on the head! And if you want more than my own anecdote, look at the way women are treated in online video gaming. (I won’t venture online, because I put up with enough sexist, shaming crap in my life already.) Nerds don’t trust women, and it’s all women’s fault for mistreating you in high school? Maybe if geek culture in general didn’t do such a fantastic job of shutting out and shutting down women who make the mistake of venturing in, you as a nerd would have better and more varied experiences with women. It’s your job to make it more welcoming, not our job to force our way in.

  149. #149 Freemage
    June 1, 2011

    Frankie: There was a post on another blog that I think would address a lot of what you’re saying. The gist was that the best thing for most ~legitimate~ complaints by men is, in fact, more feminism.

    Giving you the benefit of the doubt about the accuracy of your personal accounting, I can almost assure you that at least some of those women who derided geeky things, or turned off their interest in them, did so precisely because they’ve been told that “girls who like geeky things can’t be popular, and if a girl isn’t popular, she’s nothing.” That last part, by the way, isn’t quite as hard-sold for geek guys–the stereotype of the man who “makes his own way in the world” can transfer to us, even though we do so in an atypical way; girls and young women have far fewer role models of that sort. They’re constantly bombarded by the idea that they MUST be popular, that their worth is derived solely from the opinions of others.

    So the women you didn’t meet, you didn’t meet precisely because they were being hammered down by the very discrimination and bias we’re talking about here. It’s actually a good thing for you to recognize that it’s something internal for you–once you know that, you can address it, and I urge you to do so.

    As for “girls with geek interests”, I suggest taking a breather and then attending the con scene (including GenCon and Origins). Don’t go for pickups or romance (the women there are there for geek interests, not usually looking to score), just go to attend and be in the company of people of similar interests. You’ll at least round out your image of women a bit if you can keep an open mind.

  150. #150 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    I’m attempting to explain to you WHY I have formed the default assumption of women not liking nerdy things.

    So, you have an inaccurate stereotype in your brain. It’s a stereotype that has caused actual pain to women like Classical Cipher, and it’s also fucking up your life because you have the mistaken notion that there are few to zero women who share your interests. If you are heterosexual, that’s going to fuck up your love life; if not, you’re still missing out on a lot of cool friends.

    I really don’t give a flying rat’s ass how that stupid stereotype got in your brain. Harping on the explanation of how it got there is both old, tired, rehashed ground (not to mention the subject of numerous scientific, sociological studies, which you would do well to acquaint yourself with rather than spouting your parochial anecdotes) and also completely pointless. The interesting question is, now that it’s there, how are you going to get it out? Now that it’s there, what are you going to do to prevent yourself from acting on it?

  151. #151 tielserrath
    June 1, 2011

    document proof that she has been denied opportunity based solely on her appearance

    A few yeras back, when I was applying for jobs, custom dictated that a photo was attached to your CV. So they could ‘recognise’ you if they called you to interview.

    A few employers had dropped the practice, but most were still defending it.

    Now I am, and always have been, ugly. Any positive attribute I have is in the animation of my face. And I photograph incredibly badly.

    Every application without a photo, I was called to interview.

    Every application with a photo was summarily rejected, usually by return post. The proportion was around 20 with photo, 10 without.

    The difference was so absolute that it can only have been rejection based on my appearance.

    It’s the same reason that I think that men who play Football don’t like nerdy things. If a huge linebacker in full-on padding and helmet came up to me and asked me if I could review his web-service code then I’d be baffled.

    So all women = a group of men who have chosen to play football professionally.

    Frankie, you really need to think about this example.

  152. #152 FrauTech
    June 1, 2011

    Red rabbit and SallyStrange summed up how I feel about this on so many levels, but maybe more importantly that words and images like this reinforce the notion that a woman’s PRIMARY responsibility is to be conventionally physically attractive.

    Yes thanks to modern advances a woman can now go be a scientist or a fireman or whatever, but point is she better be pretty first. She’ll be judged first and foremost on how attractive she is.

    Frankie- I’m a geeky girl with geeky interests. My work cubical is covered in Star Wars & Star Trek things (yes I’m a crossover fan of both). I play D&D every weekend (with three guys and two other girls even) and most weekends you can find me superglued to my Xbox 360. I enjoy both RPGs and FPSs. Unfortunately on the rare occasions I meet another geek at work (being in mechanical engineering means there’s a lot of pressure to have very MACHO hobbies like motorcross or racing) I’ve noticed the guy usually shies away from me after he finds out I’m married. That’s right, I was only interesting as a GirlGeek (TM) to him while I was fuckable. Soon as he notices the ring on my finger, he doesn’t care anymore and we don’t talk. I’d like to meet and talk to the male geeky species but it turns out they don’t want to be my friend. I’m still a female first, and a geek or an engineer second.

    I don’t always articulate my arguments well (women, didn’t you know it was your responsibility to explain and defend feminism all the time?!) so thanks so much to all the folks who took the time to stand up for feminism, women and our male allies alike. So while it’s somewhat discouraging to read threads here it also warms my heart that there are people out there standing up for equality.

  153. #153 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @ClassicalCipher 147

    I’m sorry to hear that you were treated that way by your friends, I’m sure that must have been quite horrifying and demeaning. The nerdy culture that I have been familiar with has always had a more “I’m confused and don’t know how to socially interact with you” slant than a “I want to touch your boobs” slant so I’m afraid that I’m not positive on why the would react in such a manner. My best guess would be that they reacted in such a negative way because they were alternating between fear of being defeated by an outsider (in the case of videogames and Risk) and over-enthusiastic (creepy even) inclusion of you into the group when there was no risk of “competition”.

    In any case, it was not an acceptable course of action on their parts and I’m sorry that it happened.

    I do, however, rankle at the idea of making nerdiness “more welcoming” as I’m not sure exactly what measures that would require.

  154. #154 SB
    June 1, 2011

    Yes, this is an issue, but not as you perceive it. The issue is are women adults, with a strong sense of self-esteem gained from their accomplishments or are they little girls who must be protected from the (asinine) opinions of others.

    I’m opting for the former. How about you?

  155. #155 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    I’m sorry to hear that you were treated that way by your friends, I’m sure that must have been quite horrifying and demeaning. The nerdy culture that I have been familiar with has always had a more “I’m confused and don’t know how to socially interact with you” slant than a “I want to touch your boobs” slant so I’m afraid that I’m not positive on why the would react in such a manner. My best guess would be that they reacted in such a negative way because they were alternating between fear of being defeated by an outsider (in the case of videogames and Risk) and over-enthusiastic (creepy even) inclusion of you into the group when there was no risk of “competition”.

    Look how you rush to defend some nerds you don’t even know, rather than just taking Classical Cipher’s word for it. Have trouble believing a woman might know what the fuck she’s talking about? I don’t know, but you certainly give that impression.

    I do, however, rankle at the idea of making nerdiness “more welcoming” as I’m not sure exactly what measures that would require.

    Not rushing to defend or explain or justify sexist actions by other men would be a good place to start. Also, gropers and sexual harassers are not the same thing as socially awkward shy people. You should divest yourself of that unfortunate and inaccurate stereotype as well. Genuinely socially awkward people are just awkward. They don’t degrade or demean women with their shyness. Women can tell the difference. The myth that there’s an overlap between these groups is just another ploy to make excuses for sexist guys acting sexist.

  156. #156 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    are they little girls who must be protected from the (asinine) opinions of others.

    Who is proposing that?

  157. #157 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @Freemage 148

    I can certainly believe that some of the women I have encountered in my life have been turned off of nerdiness or “geekdom” due to social pressure or unfortunate influences from authority figures. I did not grow up as a woman and so I do not have an intimate knowledge of what it is like or why they make choices regarding hobbies or interests. I can only speak for my own experiences and offer you opinions and thoughts. I can fully believe that girls and young women are being told that they should be “popular” and “attractive” and that part of that involves shunning geeky things. I believe that you will find that pressures on men to be “manly” and to have hobbies that involved physical prowess had similar effects on most males (ie: encouraging them to shun nerdy pursuits and nerds in general). I acknowledge that these things exist and are unfortunate. However, I can also tell you that this doesn’t make it less demeaning or unfortunate that so many geeky males were treated badly that we eventually turned to creating our own subculture of extreme nerd-dom.

    I also fear that we are turning this argument into a sort of warped “let’s help Frankie’s love life” kind of thing. I appreciate the concern but I am happily (and recently) married to a woman that I love very much. I am not interested in romantic entanglements with other geeks at the moment (and hopefully for a very long time into the future). My main purpose for posting my opinions and experiences was to present a explanation for why male nerds are an insular group and why many of us hold the stereotype that women aren’t interested in the same things we are interested in.

    I DO appreciate the suggestions on where I can find a more gender-balanced group of nerds to round out my opinions.

  158. #158 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    My main purpose for posting my opinions and experiences was to present a explanation for why male nerds are an insular group and why many of us hold the stereotype that women aren’t interested in the same things we are interested in.

    Well, that’s easy. Male nerds are men after all, and have been taught the same myths other men have been taught in our culture: that girls are less than boys, that women are only good for fucking, that women can’t do [x, here x is math but it could be any number of things], that women are annoying, only concerned with shopping and shoes and babies, etc., etc.

    I mean, if you believe all that crap, why would you want to hang out with such shallow, dim-witted creatures?

    Nerddom induces insularity by its nature, and that can exacerbate the effects of sexism. But really you’re just talking about basic societal sexism here.

  159. #159 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @SallyStrange 154

    I wouldn’t categorize my words as “defending” these actions. You say that I

    rush to defend some nerds you don’t even know, rather than just taking Classical Cipher’s word for it.

    and

    Have trouble believing a woman might know what the fuck she’s talking about?

    I certainly didn’t mean to give that impression. Allow me to clarify my position on the matter (and feel free to quote me)

    What those males did was morally wrong and cruel. They acted in a manner that not only ostracized another person (who had similar interests as them even!) but also sexually assaulted and emotionally crushed one of their own friends. They were wrong to do so.

    My analysis of why they acted in that manner was not intended to soften the action but was merely intended as conjecture as to what would cause them to act in such a way.

    As for your second response, in regards to my concerns of what it would take to make nerd culture “more welcoming” I would be happy to respond to a list of suggestions if you would be so kind as to present them.

  160. #160 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    Also, if you find it irritating to be asked to make nerddom more “welcoming,” imagine how it feels to be constantly told that it’s your job to make feminism, the movement for equal rights for women, less “threatening” to men.

  161. #161 genewitch
    June 1, 2011

    Lol @ all the mansplaining going on.

    Guys are so clueless, sometimes.

  162. #162 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @SallyStrange 157

    I’m sorry to hear that you have such a poor view of my gender as a whole, but I can understand that oftentimes we do not present a good unified front of upstanding citizenry. I have already stated that I do not have a negative opinion of whether women are ABLE to perform a particular action (in this current case: math or coding). My bias is strictly along the lines of whether women are interested in that action. It has been my experience that women, as a generalized group (hence: Stereotype), are not interested in math or computer science. I don’t find that women are less proficient than men at it, merely (in my experience) they have little to no desire to do it. If you’re telling me that there is a vast untapped reservoir of females looking for jobs as software engineers then PLEASE tell me where it is because I LITERALLY have a developer position that is open for them right now in the Tampa Florida area.

  163. #163 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    I’m sorry to hear that you have such a poor view of my gender as a whole, but I can understand that oftentimes we do not present a good unified front of upstanding citizenry.

    Oh fuck you. My view of men is just fine. I’m sorry you’re too dense and invested in defending the sexist status quo to understand the difference between enumerating the myths men are taught about women and a blanket condemnation of all men.

  164. #164 SallyStrange
    June 1, 2011

    As far as women’s actual propensity to have an interest in computer science goes, we simply will not be able to answer that question accurately until society stops teaching girls that they’re too pretty to do math.

    Until then, you’re going to be stuck with a reduced talent pool. Too bad I’m not a software engineer because I’m looking for a job. I never considered engineering for my undergrad, partly because of stereotype threat. Instead I did environmental science. Know anyone who’s looking for a competent bike/ped transportation planner?

  165. #165 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @SallyStrange 162

    I don’t really know what you want from me here. I was never taught those things about women by anyone reputable, but I have certainly seen things in advertisements that hint at a few of them. Lots of myths are perpetuated by advertisement companies about both genders. I’m pretty sure that’s how they get audiences to buy their products; by appealing to a stylized view of something. Nobody wants to sell tractors to the nerdy guy who sits at a cubicle for 10 to 12 hours a day and consumes absurd amounts of caffeine. They sell tractors to the Manly Man in Plaid who rides on his steel horse of grass-cutting victory, secure in his proud and rippling muscles. At least that’s what I’ve gleaned from tractor commercials. I’m not a marketing executive and I have no clue why they make their decisions.

  166. #166 FrankieAvocado
    June 1, 2011

    @SallyStrange 163

    Re: bike/pedestrian transportation planning opportunities.

    Negative Ghost Rider, pattern is full.

    Honestly, Europe is probably a great place to look for opportunities in that area. Holland has an amazing cycling route system. I tried to bike around American roads ONCE and I will never try again. It was like having a near-death experience every 30 seconds.

  167. #167 tielserrath
    June 1, 2011

    Notice how a discussion on sexism in our culture damaging the chances of young women to go into sciences devolved into everyone having to hear about how frankie is a poor nerd who can’t get a woman? And how hard it is for nerds/menz, too?

    And the guy who tries to knock a few (male) heads together on this subject gets labelled a jock who doesn’t understand how hard it is for the nerdy menz?

    Much like Freddie and his boner, I don’t think we’re going to shift Frankie’s entrenched opinions.

  168. #168 genewitch
    June 2, 2011

    FrankieAvocado:
    Dude, i’m a dude, and you seriously need to pop your foot out of your mouth before you pop the other one in or you’ll merely fall on your ass.

    google mansplaining. Read about it. Read the comments on the articles about mansplaining that are written by men. Compare these to your comments here. Ponder this. For a long time. Then, after you’ve come to the realization that you lead a charmed life by the very fact that you’re a guy. It’s really hard to see, i know – but it’s true.

    You seriously need to do some reading. http://scienceblogs.com/thusspakezuska/2010/01/you_may_be_a_mansplainer_if.php

    Pay particular attention to the “but but but this happens to guys too!” comments.

  169. #169 FrankieAvocado
    June 2, 2011

    @166 & 167

    I’ll be brief because I’m on my phone and typing on chiclets isn’t fun

    1: not posting due to “problems with the ladies”. I’m happily married.
    2: not posting because I think women are “less capable”.

    I posted my opinion (and continue to post) because there IS a nerd bias against women and the reasons for it warrant discussion. If you would like to calmly and rationally discuss this then I would be happy to do so. Otherwise I will simply respond to your posts in the slightly condescending tone that I usually reserve for small children that are throwing temper tantrums.

  170. #170 Vicky
    June 2, 2011

    Sorry to be so late to the party. I’m going to go way back to what Alex Curylo was saying, starting at #94, about custody.

    I want to preface this by saying that I love my father, and that the relationship we had when my parents were still married is much, much worse than we have now. But this is how it was: my dad believed that the best thing he could do for his wife and kids was spend every waking minute in the office, making the monies. When he was around, he would interact with us either as sport coach or as disciplinarian. Of course, he was around so rarely that when he moved out, only coming in on weekends to see us for an entire year, neither I (then 8) nor my brother (then 11) even gosh darn noticed. It was just “should we set a place at the table for daddy today?” “No, loves.” The same way it had always been.

    Now, in the divorce, my parents agreed to legal joint custody–the norm in my province, and something that allowed us to see our father when he was in town, rather than on some strict schedule he could never have kept. But my mother got physical custody. Obviously. How do you parent two children when you travel 4 or 5 months out of the year and work 80-90 hours a week? And have absolutely no idea what active parenthood requires? Plus, there’s the part where we didn’t really know him very well. (That’s changed; we know and love each other very much now. But when I think of parents, I think of my step-dad first.)

    Of course, this is just an anecdote. Most families don’t look like my family. My point is, people have been presenting stats showing a) men working more hours and not choosing/having access to the same parental leave and b) women being awarded custody at a higher rate, and I hope they would see that there is a connection. It is a good thing that my totally inept dad did not have physical custody of his children.

    Now, does that mean that men everywhere should not be granted custody? NO, of course not. It means that men should have a more active role in childcare, so that they will be more likely to be granted custody in cases of divorce. And, in cases like my dad’s, so they can have an actual relationship with their kids. Holding men back from this are constant messages saying childcare is a woman’s job, if you engage in it you are being womanly, women are lesser and you are therefore lesser. A Real Man(tm) brings home the bacon, and doesn’t care that he doesn’t know his daughter’s favourite colour. The patriarchy hurts men too.

    This is the sort of thing feminism is trying to fight.

  171. #171 Vicky
    June 2, 2011

    Reading that back, it looks like I think my family life was especially horrible. I don’t. I was really really lucky in a lot of ways. I just wanted to emphasize the difference between how my relationship with my father was, and how it is now; not to be all “I didn’t talk to my dad very much growing up upper-middle class and white boo hoo hoo nobody has felt such pain.”

  172. #172 Confounding
    June 2, 2011

    Responding to a pretty legitimate (and pretty damned tame) blog post about feminism and the view of women academics with:

    “Don’t worry, some day you’ll be ugly. Then maybe you’ll know when to take a complement”

    and

    “Here little lady, let me explain to you how sexism doesn’t exist”

    Are staggering. If I could kick you off my gender, I would.

  173. #173 heteromeles
    June 2, 2011

    Having been raised by a mother who was one of only two women engineering students in her (major) university back in the early 60s, and having been raised with girls (now accomplished women) who were much better at math and science than I am (and I’ve got a couple of graduate degrees in the sciences)…

    …All I can say is:
    1. Yes, there’s a lot of stereotyping.
    2. Yes, women also have a stereotype about the ways they are discriminated against, to the point where some women ignore evidence to the contrary, and
    3. Yes, I’ve been accused of male-pattern bias, by women who should have known better (what in my background suggests I was ever socialized that way? Go back and read that again),
    4. All too often, people outside the sciences equate brains with powerlessness. Try speaking in public to a bunch of politicians about how they got some science wrong, if you happen to disagree with that view.

    I’m still appalled at the social messages men and women get bombarded with, about how to be sexy, wealthy, etc. Conventional, in a word. My personal response is that most such messages are really about disempowerment, period, no matter who you are.

  174. #174 Marcel Kincaid
    June 2, 2011

    my first thought when I read what you said was ‘Why am I not surprised, considering the majority (not all, certainly) of education majors have among the lowest IQs on college campuses?’

    It’s hardly surprising that you would think that, Katherine … it’s on a par with your other DKE thoughts.

  175. #175 Marcel Kincaid
    June 2, 2011

    Oh fuck you. My view of men is just fine. I’m sorry you’re too dense and invested in defending the sexist status quo to understand the difference between enumerating the myths men are taught about women and a blanket condemnation of all men.

    There sure are a lot of women who are assholes here. (Not just women, of course … there’s mikethesnake, for example).That has no bearing on the reality of oppression of women, but neither is such oppression a justification for being a hostile jerk.

  176. #176 Marcel Kincaid
    June 2, 2011

    If you would like to calmly and rationally discuss this then I would be happy to do so. Otherwise I will simply respond to your posts in the slightly condescending tone that I usually reserve for small children that are throwing temper tantrums.

    You’re wasting your time on these assholes, Frankie … your thoughtful honesty will only be met with ridicule.

  177. #177 Ticker
    June 2, 2011

    Considering how little success I have in daily life, it shouldn’t surprise or upset me so much to see mansplaining continue after everyone has called it for what it is.

    But it does.

    Stop worrying about how you feel. Start worrying about how women feel. Listen to how they say they feel. Consider how you would enjoy being treated the way you treat them. Adjust your behavior, see if they start feeling better.

    Do you like being told “Hey, nice T&A, are you married?” or any variation thereof? Do you like being open season for all comers? Do you like being touched without warning or permission given, in intimate places? Do you like being told you’re too pretty to be smart?

    Just imagine some guy doing this to you. If you get an immediate sense of revulsion out of that, you just might have some empathy left.

  178. #178 mikerattlesnake
    June 2, 2011

    @kc

    Hah! That is certainly an interesting analysis. I was actually a virgin until college, spent most of high school playing n64 and other nerdy shit. I played almost no sports. I was a “nerd” and I had contempt for “jocks”. I treated women like a species of rejectors.

    Then I grew the fuck up. I realized I was compartmentalizing people superficially and acting superior because of some nerdy hobbies and good grades. I became more outgoing and grew out of high school habits. You are a grown ass adult (I assume) perpetuating ridiculous childish stereotypes.

    Women don’t need to change, you do.

  179. #179 mikerattlesnake
    June 2, 2011

    @Frankie

    Women not liking d&d is not a problem that needs to be changed.

    MOST PEOPLE aren’t into d&d. Or fly tying. Or the stats for the 89 colts. Or the various 0 to 60 rates of modern sports cars. Or the economic systems of 16th century Asia.

    These are all niche interests. When interacting with other people you find some common ground, share a little of your niche interests, and listen to the other persons niche interest. If you are unable to do so, you will always have a harder time finding someone with the same niche interests as you. The problem is that you think of your hobbies as superior or special. They ain’t.

  180. #180 SallyStrange
    June 2, 2011

    neither is such oppression a justification for being a hostile jerk.

    I agree. Frankie’s persistent obtuseness is a justification for being a hostile jerk.

  181. #181 Seth
    June 2, 2011

    Shenandoah, a little reality. I know quite a few innovative scientists, and have known them since school days. They whine and complain at least as much as any other group; more so, I’d say, because they have more to complain about. They just don’t let that stop them from learning or doing their work. For what it’s worth, most of them are male; but the only correlation I note with amount of complaining is a positive correlation with intelligence.

  182. #182 FrankieAvocado
    June 2, 2011

    @mikerattlesnake 178

    I completely agree that women not liking something isn’t a problem. Everyone can make up their own minds about hobbies or careers that interest them and I’m not implying that the world would be better off if we forced women to be interested in things that I like.

    The controversial opinion that I raised is that I have a stereotypical view of women not being interested in pursuits that I see as “nerdy” (math, software, D&D etc). I do not think that women are intellectually inferior or incapable of participating in these interests, merely that I make the unconscious assumption that women I meet are not interested in nerdy things. I am furthermore suggesting that this is an unfortunate thing to think about someone when first meeting them (judging a book by its cover you might say) and offering my personal reasons for developing this bias.

    Perhaps we can come to an agreement about positive actions that society can take so that future generations do not grow up with similar attitudes.

  183. #183 mikerattlesnake
    June 2, 2011

    “Perhaps we can come to an agreement about positive actions that society can take so that future generations do not grow up with similar attitudes.”

    yeah, gee, I wonder if anyone is working on that sort of thing.

    How about you stop assuming it’s anyone elses job to make you ditch your biases and just do it yourself. Actively reject those biased thoughts and seek out information that contradicts them. Fight sexism when you see it and don’t do this whole “well, all women reject nerds so no wonder we hate women” schtick. Don’t waste your energy making excuses for the status quo at the expense of real people with real complaints. It’s gross and misogynistic.

    When you have a thought like “well, she probably doesn’t want to talk about D&D because she’s a giiiiirl” fucking stop yourself and self edit: “she probably doesn’t want to talk about D&D because D&D is NERDY AS FUCK and the only people who DO want to talk about it are my D&D friends. Some of my other friends put up with it whether they are interested or not, but I should not expect a total stranger to give a shit about D&D. I wonder what SHE’S interested in, maybe I should find out if I want to ever have any hope of telling her about my level 12 paladin.”

    I’m only being a dick to you because I recognize your thought process… the sad thing is that I recognize it from when I was in high school, and you seem to be an adult.

  184. #184 Science Avenger
    June 2, 2011

    Amen Mike. I hate to break it to many of you nerds out there (and I was one), but you bring a lot of your problems with women on yourself. I’ll contribute more later when I’m not at the office, but its amazing how many of you have to be told simple things like “listen to what she is saying” and “stop talking about yourself and your interests”. “Socially awkward” too often translates into “completely self-absorbed”. NO ONE wants to hang around someone like that except…other people like that.

  185. #185 FrankieAvocado
    June 2, 2011

    @MikeRattlesnake 182

    I think you might still be confused. You ask me to not do a

    “well, all women reject nerds so no wonder we hate women”

    shtick, but that is obviously not a position that I hold. I have no clue how I’d get by in society if I hated all women on the principle of them being women. My statement continues to be that the internal bias I have is that “women don’t like nerdy things” and I fail to see how that ties into “hating” them or not being able to interact with them in regular social situations. Perhaps in future posts you can address the actual statements that I make.

    This is an internal assumption that I have formed over time due to my experience with a large number of people. I make no claims that an individual woman who has an interest in a nerdy pursuit is less effective than an individual man with the same interest. Merely that in my experience it is less likely for a woman to like nerdy things than it is for a man. How is that in any way confusing?

    I work in one of the most “geeky” fields that exist and according to the Department of Labor, males outnumber females by around 3 to 1 in it -http://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/hitech02.htm

    Constantly being exposed to both numbers and personal encounters that back up my bias does not make it easy to just “turn off” my internal thought processes. Clearly if this is a stereotype that we want to eliminate from our culture then the solution is for society as a whole to do more to promote tech-related interests to younger women and to present nerdy things as less of a social stigma.

    It DOESN’T mean that “this is all womens’ fault and they should fix it” or that “women are being sexist against males”. What it means is that we should do our best, as an entire society, to prevent future generations from growing up with the social pressures that cause these stereotypes. I’m not here to promote that “wimmin needz tah make me sammiches”, I’m here to explain why I ended up with a view and to comment on how to avoid these problems in the future.

  186. #186 Samantha
    June 2, 2011

    Frankie:

    Here’s the thing – your assumption that “women don’t like nerdy things” (even if you just think it as a general rule) likely leads to you reacting with surprise when a woman (such as myself) does like nerdy things. A common way for people to express surprise is through denial, such as the example linked in the post of the clerk who said “you can’t be a scientist, you’re too pretty”. You (or some other person) saying “you can’t be into nerdy things, you’re a woman” is discouraging to a woman – all they hear is that they shouldn’t be like that. Sure, it might not be meant (most of the time), but if you hear it often enough, it’s hard not to take it to heart. I get that you’re just trying to explain your thinking, but in doing so, you’re essentially saying the expression of surprise – you’re just trying to talk about your experience but most readers who are not aware of the insidious effect of social group-think will hear that it’s not NORMAL for women to be into nerdy things. So please – we UNDERSTAND why nerdy guys don’t expect women to be into nerdy things. Now, will you try to understand why your continual explanation of that fact instead of trying to understand the harm it does doubles that harm? Instead, will you try to lessen the harm by trying not to expect things of people based on one small aspect of who they are?

  187. #187 Samantha
    June 2, 2011

    Frankie:

    Here’s the thing – your assumption that “women don’t like nerdy things” (even if you just think it as a general rule) likely leads to you reacting with surprise when a woman (such as myself) does like nerdy things. A common way for people to express surprise is through denial, such as the example linked in the post of the clerk who said “you can’t be a scientist, you’re too pretty”. You (or some other person) saying “you can’t be into nerdy things, you’re a woman” is discouraging to a woman – all they hear is that they shouldn’t be like that. Sure, it might not be meant (most of the time), but if you hear it often enough, it’s hard not to take it to heart. I get that you’re just trying to explain your thinking, but in doing so, you’re essentially saying the expression of surprise – you’re just trying to talk about your experience but most readers who are not aware of the insidious effect of social group-think will hear that it’s not NORMAL for women to be into nerdy things. So please – we UNDERSTAND why nerdy guys don’t expect women to be into nerdy things. Now, will you try to understand why your continual explanation of that fact instead of trying to understand the harm it does doubles that harm? Instead, will you try to lessen the harm by trying not to expect things of people based on one small aspect of who they are?

  188. #188 FrankieAvocado
    June 2, 2011

    @Samantha 185

    I agree that expressing these opinions can be discouraging and insulting to women. It is very unfortunate that incidents like those in the given examples occur in society on a regular basis. My inclusion of my opinion in this thread (which I usually keep to myself precisely because it can have negative consequences on others) was to hopefully add a personal look at some of the reasons that these stereotypes are perpetuated. I hope that my posts have not had a negative effect on any of the women reading this thread and that they can be taken as an example of what causes the problem rather than as a proposal that we continue the stereotype.

    Similar to giving up religion, it is very difficult to fully free the mind of preconceived notions and this is something that I work on whenever I can.

    I think that 2 days of posting replies in this thread has left my thoughts fairly well expressed so I will be taking my leave.

  189. #189 mikerattlesnake
    June 2, 2011

    Frankie, you are clearly unaware of how deep your biases run. re-read your first posts. You took the actions of a VERY SMALL subset of women who were rather young (women/girls at school) and then extrapolated that behavior to “all women.” You were given a chance to amend this choice of words and you repeatedly stuck with it. This is about how you think of women and how it affects your behavior towards any individual woman. The fact that you are able to paint all women with such a broad (zing) brush reveals a bias you NEED to actively confront.

    Are there societal changes that need to be made? Of course, but start with yourself first.

  190. #190 David
    June 2, 2011

    I don’t understand many of the comments from men on this and the original thread.

    It strikes me that men are, again, telling women how to feel and behave. “Take it as a compliment and move on” etc. Why? Who are any of us men to tell women how they should react to clumsy, pathetic, and offensive attempts to “compliment” them?

    If a man has “good intentions”, the you should ignore how those comments make you fell and accept them. You should not point out how those comments made you feel or address them (which is actually doing the person a favor) and let the person continue to walk around hurting other people’s feelings and perpetuating cultural stereotypes.

    I would agree that it is a compliment if someone finds you attractive. BUt taking said attractiveness and making value judgments about intellectual aptitude and career choice is not only mean and offensive, it hurts everyone.

    How much further ahead would we be if bright, competent women who also happened to be attractive were not funneled away from using all of their talents in favor of the one that is not only largely arbitrary, but fleeting as well?

    And maybe things are better for women now than they were in the past, but that doesn’t mean we cannot do better.

    I think that the clerk in New Orleans was a stupid jerk, the reaction to said jerk was exactly correct, and that the magnet in the above is beyond stupid.

    There should be a companion magnet that says “I didn’t study math and now that I am no longer considered pretty I eat dog food”.

    I think there is a larger issue in US culture, too, that math and science are not valuable in and of themselves, and that everyone should not strive to be as good at them as possible.

  191. #191 Geoff van Pelt
    June 2, 2011

    @Frankie
    Your bildungs-story (initial post) really only reinforces the idea the you were sheltered and living an unexamined life ; it doesn’t say anything about the way the world is or should be.

    Your experience wasn’t like mine, or like that of a lot of male and female friends and past acquaintances. In high school or college.

    I was a super-nerd as a kid, through most of college. (Somehow I did pick up some social skills maybe in my twenties.) I could not look people in the eye. I was essentially socially disabled. (I was reasonably OK one on one.) But I had no general problem with women or girls. Likewise men or boys.

    In high school, I just hung out with various people who didn’t care about being “in” or “popular” (or whatever it was actually called) — smart kids, weirdos, band nerds. It was a pretty diverse group. I couldn’t talk to a lot of them, because they were either not smart or not smart in the way I was smart, and I couldn’t make small talk. But we would stick to a corner of the lunch room or library or gym when such things were necessary. I was still pretty miserable, but my geeky interests kept me afloat.

    I suspect you self-ostracized as much as anything.

    Are you going to call my nerd cred into question because I wasn’t ostracized?

    I have fewer female friends now, probably since I’m not in grad school or academia where all the cool women hang out. (OK, not all, but many….)

    C’est la vie. Things are the same or different.

    In any case, your experiences don’t make your attitudes correct — they provide some explanatory power, but you are in a priviliged position here, which you don’t seem to realize.

  192. #192 elaine
    June 3, 2011

    All the mansplaining on this thread reminds me of some of the anti-feminist bingo cards on Hoyden about Town.

  193. #193 Grizzly
    June 3, 2011

    I had dinner this evening at a fish-n-chips place and had a fascinating discussion with the young woman who co-owns the franchise along with her husband. As they write in the brief bio in their menu, the couple met while working in the oil fields of Canada. They left that line of work for a less hectic lifestyle, but the oil fields still seem to have a special place in her heart.

    As a girl (that was her word, “girl”) of 19 when she started out in the fields, she encountered her share of sexism in what is seen as a man’s world. The comments were not as sophisticated as “You’re too pretty/female/young/skinny/tiny to be working here” (and I would note that she is quite pretty, but perhaps would be less so wearing coveralls and covered in oil and grime), but often more along the lines of:

    “Why are you here?”

    “Excuse me? What do you mean?”

    “This is a dirty, sweaty line of work — more of a man’s job.”

    She didn’t seem to feel that the comments were antagonistic or even harassing, but reflected something more like puzzlement or amazement on their part. And, of course, the expectation that she might not be up to the job. I asked her how she responded. She said, “If you had that kind of attitude, then I would know that I would have to work hard to earn your respect. But by the end of the day, you would respect me.”

    I specifically asked her whether she thought that the culture and attitudes on the oil fields needed to be reformed, but she rejected the idea. She said, “You have to be who you are.” Her attitude was when she was working, she was just one of the guys — a 250-lb oilman in the body of a petite woman. She didn’t feel that world needed to bend to her needs; rather she would earn their respect on their own terms. And apparently she did.

    I’m not saying this proves anything, and I’m not advocating any position here. I’m just relating an interesting story.

  194. #194 Grizzly
    June 3, 2011

    @Frankie:

    It’s interesting to hear your story. I am of course familiar with the nerd stereotypes from TV and movies, but your story is the closest real world match with that stereotype that I have ever encountered.

    I’m curious which state and industry you work in. I worked for 23+ years as a software developer in Silicon Valley (San Jose and surrounding cities), and I would guess that perhaps on the order of 25% of the software engineers were female (and at one odd company, they were perhaps slightly over half the staff). Many dozens over the course of a career. This was working the telecom/datacom industry.

  195. #195 Pteryxx
    June 3, 2011

    I did not grow up as a woman and so I do not have an intimate knowledge of what it is like or why they make choices regarding hobbies or interests. I can only speak for my own experiences and offer you opinions and thoughts.

    Third option: Listen to the women when they are TELLING you their intimate knowledge of what it is like and why they make choices regarding hobbies or interests.

    Some variant of Frankie’s statement gets said every time “the woman problem” gets discussed. No matter how polite and thoughtful it sounds, it still boils down to women being strange alien lifeforms who “we men” have to deal with. Y’all geeky guys don’t even notice when you’re ignoring and dismissing the women right in front of you, trying to talk to you. That is sexism: when someone’s gender erases them before your very eyes.

    D&D has a book for everything. If y’all actually cared about women joining your games AS EQUALS, then you would be studying how to make it happen. You’d be going to Feminism 101 blogs and reading the tips. You’d be familiar with the literature on gendered pay disparity, stereotype threat, inclusive language and respectful discourse so that you don’t make an ass of yourself when talking to people who DO know the material. You’d know what the Bechdel Test is and be capable of applying it TO YOUR D&D GAMES. Honestly, for a bunch of nerds who’ve memorized obscure homebrew rules and discourse knowledgeably on the merits of 3.5 vs 4th Ed, this should NOT be difficult.

    If y’all have not done any of this yet, then it’s your own fault you keep ending up with low-women campaigns.

  196. #196 idlemind
    June 3, 2011

    No, I do not bother to keep links to that kind of information, because although this kind of discussion is an occasionally amusing bagatelle, I’m just not invested enough in it to consider different perspectives “opposition” as you do.

    Says he who posts ten times over as many hours. You’d think he’d have a chance to look up supporting info in that time.

  197. #197 skeptifem
    June 3, 2011

    Thanks, male software engineeers. IRL encounters with your kind surely wasn’t proof enough for me that the vast majority of ya are total sexist pieces of shit.

    I cannot count the number of times I have hung out with software engineers who insisted upon telling me that women aren’t good at software engineering. Go look up stereotype threat. If you tell a group of people they are naturally bad at something, they won’t try it as often anymore, and the ones that do suffer a deficit in their ability from the internalized stereotype. They deal with an additional worry about the stereotype being true, that any difficulty they encounter is proof that they are naturally unable. It is a fear that demonstrably affects test scores in numerous studies. You assholes are keeping very competent women from doing a lot of good in the field, and keeping potential women out by telling them to not bother trying. Then when the overwhelming pressure of it all actually gets to women (like it would any group targeting in this way), you blame the women for avoiding an extra helping of sexist bullshit in their lives instead of the men who are serving it up. This is minus the room full of horny dudes syndrome that makes for so much sexual harassment (which is SCARY not INCONVENIENT for women who experience it). Men do not understand what this is like. It pisses men off to hear it, but you don’t know what it is like, and you never will. When examining careers I stay the fuck away from software engineering, even though it seems like its right up my alley. My SO does it for a living and knows how sexist it is as an industry. So do two of my uncles, who also engineer software, and my sister’s partner, who also engineers software, and many other skeptic dudes. I’ve met a lot of skeevy fuckers who are in that industry IRL and they all treated me like shit by default, but not the guys in the same room. Ever think that the problem that prevents women from getting into programming is the fucking PROGRAMMERS rather than the difficulty of it? If women are repulsed by you it must mean something is wrong with THEM, right? You are all so ridiculous.

  198. #198 Paul
    June 3, 2011

    And here’s a question that should tell us a great deal about the person answering it. This one is for the folks in here who seem to think that women have EQUAL or MORE privilege than men….According to you, women are given every opportunity to succeed…[YET]…In high level positions in corporate, accademic, and political settings, we still see a preponderance of men. Not an insignificant difference, mind you, but a VAST gap….what do you think explains that?…

    Choice. The problem is choice. – Neo (Matrix Reloaded)

    IOTTMCO.

  199. #199 Rutee
    June 3, 2011

    D&D has a book for everything. If y’all actually cared about women joining your games AS EQUALS, then you would be studying how to make it happen. You’d be going to Feminism 101 blogs and reading the tips. You’d be familiar with the literature on gendered pay disparity, stereotype threat, inclusive language and respectful discourse so that you don’t make an ass of yourself when talking to people who DO know the material. You’d know what the Bechdel Test is and be capable of applying it TO YOUR D&D GAMES. Honestly, for a bunch of nerds who’ve memorized obscure homebrew rules and discourse knowledgeably on the merits of 3.5 vs 4th Ed, this should NOT be difficult.

    If y’all have not done any of this yet, then it’s your own fault you keep ending up with low-women campaigns.

    I’d like to point out one simple thing in response to this. I don’t disagree with the sentiment, I just want to make one addition. Even IF their group did this, there would still be few female geeks willing to put up with giving them a shot, because they have been so burned in the past. The hobby is toxically sexist. Changing your group to be more inclusive (Of other racial backgrounds, class backgrounds, orientations, other gender identities…) would be a fantastic idea, and should be done on its own merits ANYWAY, but it is no guarantee that women will step forward anyway. Once bitten, twice shy and all that.

  200. #200 Geoff van Pelt
    June 3, 2011

    @skeptifem
    Ugh. That general trend in IT also holds true for open-mindedness, racism, anti-LGBT freakiness, religious/non-religious tolerance, and the like. I’ve been in corporate tech for 20 years (as has my awesome and more accomplished sister), and some places it’s better, some worse. If that’s what you *want* to do, then absolutely do it. Places can suck for a lot of reasons, and if you are working closely with only a couple or a handful or people, if those people are solid, your experience can be good, too. But also look for a support system (online, even, if necessary ; and perhaps not just in your field).
    I haven’t lived your experience, but I empathize greatly (and I’ve heard horror stories from family and friends). I’ll keep looking for ways to make things less negative for women and others in tech.
    Unfortunately, I often find the field (coders, techs, sysadmins, engineers, etc.) repulsive in its (general, majority) attitudes, and want to run the hell away, myself. Usually its just a few people that keep me sane.

    There is also something to the whole whole corporate culture thing. Assholery can descend from the top, but sometimes the leaders/managers not only keep the stupid shit in check, but they can encourage a healthy atmosphere. Even hiring can have a huge impact — good hiring practices includes hiring respectful, collaboration-minded co-workers, not only hiring with diversity in mind. [Specific to software development, someone commented earlier, 25% women coders is not uncommon -- this is true in my experience, also.]

  201. #201 Grizzly
    June 3, 2011

    Please don’t hold back, skeptifem. Tell us how you really feel.

    Seriously, there’s no point in painting an entire industry (software engineering) black with such a broad brush. I’ve known too many competent and satisfied female engineers (including my sister, thank you very much) to write it off as a viable career option for women. Sure, some job shops are f**ked up, but that’s true in every profession.

    Now, do you having something positive to contribute to the discussion?

  202. #202 Rutee
    June 4, 2011

    Seriously, there’s no point in painting an entire industry (software engineering) black with such a broad brush.

    Um, yes, there is. If an industry is unusually sexist, there is a point in highlighting it as such; first off, women who are interested in it deserve to know what they’re getting into. Second, there can be no change without acknowledging the problem, and it is an field-wide problem (It not only affects the money-making industry, but the academic structure that supports it, and the open source and similar communities around it).

    I’ve known too many competent and satisfied female engineers (including my sister, thank you very much) to write it off as a viable career option for women.

    Just because it’s viable doesn’t mean we don’t have to work twice as hard for half the credit. Actually, that’s more like society; In CS I imagine it’s closer to 4 times as hard.

    Now, do you having something positive to contribute to the discussion?

    Why is it *she* isn’t permitted to point out systemic bias in a field, but you can point out that she’s ‘not being positive’?

  203. #203 David
    June 4, 2011

    Wow.

    And the mansplaining continues.

    And it is EVERYWHERE.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and educating those of us who, by sheer blind luck, happen to fall in the top 1% of white-male privilege do no share your experiences.

  204. #204 M. Simon
    June 10, 2011

    I have to get a t-shirt for my daughter:

    I’m pretty AND I do math too.