I’m not so sure, but two prominent scientists, both of whom are transgendered, allege that scientists regularly discriminate and “ostracize” ambitious female scientists. This is the latest twist of the Larry Summers Debate, which has grown a wee bit tiresome. I alluded to Joan Roughgarden’s allegations in Seed last month, but the WSJ has an article on Ben Barres (formerly Barbara Barres), who is also convinced that women and men are treated differently by the scientific establishment. Here is Sharon Begley’s great lead:
Ben Barres had just finished giving a seminar at the prestigious Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research 10 years ago, describing to scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and other top institutions his discoveries about nerve cells called glia. As the applause died down, a friend later told him, one scientist turned to another and remarked what a great seminar it had been, adding, “Ben Barres’s work is much better than his sister’s.”
There was only one problem. Prof. Barres, then as now a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University, doesn’t have a sister in science. The Barbara Barres the man remembered was Ben.
Prof. Barres is transgendered, having completed the treatments that made him fully male 10 years ago. The Whitehead talk was his first as a man, so the research he was presenting was done as Barbara.