Thus Spake Zuska

Who’s NOT a Leader?

I just wanna hurl chunks right now at fellow Sb’er Chad, who writes Uncertain Principles. Chad wrote this foolish entry about the so-called pipeline problem of women in physics. Which just goes to show that even an advanced degree in physics is no guarantee you won’t have your head up your ass now and then.

The gist of Chad’s post seems to be that, since he is a nice guy, it is awfully unfair of unnamed personnages to go about bashing physics profs for their bad behavior vis-a-vis women, especially since most of his colleagues on the faculty are also nice guys. Here’s the whiny end of his post:

If you want to improve the gender balance in physics, beating up college professors isn’t the answer. We can’t be responsible for driving women out of the field if they never take our classes in the first place. The problem starts somewhere before college, and that’s where the effort to fix it needs to be directed.

I beg to differ most vigorously with Chad. You can read my comment on his post to see just why. You can also continue reading below for more on why Chad is woefully misguided.

Physics professors can, indeed, be responsible for driving young women out of the field before they even take their classes. When they teach science or math to non-majors, they can either spark an interest in a student or completely turn a student off of science and math forever. You wouldn’t believe how many undergraduate women learn to hate physics in just this manner.

Physics professors can also be responsible for recruiting young women into the field before they ever take their classes. They can volunteer at workshops and summer camps and other outreach programs for middle school and high school girls. They can work with the Girl Scouts on science activities and boost young girls’ interest in science careers. They can act as judges at science fairs and encourage the young girls who participate. They can attend parent-teacher meetings and be involved in local schools to make sure that science, math, and computer teachers are teaching equitably in the classrooms, and that young girls are not being shortchanged in these important pipeline classes. They can be involved with their colleagues in the school of education to make sure that teacher training is topnotch, to give interested teachers a chance at more in-depth explorations of science. They can provide summer research opportunities for community teachers, to help them sharpen and refresh their science skills.

In short, there are a million things that should be going on at the college level that have nothing to do with young girls themselves, but have everything to do with the behavior of college professors. And here I am talking about three kinds of behavior.

  1. The absence of harassing or discriminatory behavior – behaving like a decent human being.
  2. The awareness of how unconscious bias operates in situations where evaluation or decision-making takes place – behaving proactively to counteract it.
  3. The promotion of a positive climate for young girls and women in science – participation in outreach programs, lobbying for institutional transformation initiatives, being an advocate for women’s issues in the profession at large.

If you are not doing ANY of these things, if you are just sitting back in your office, doing your research, teaching your one little intro class and congratulating yourself because you didn’t drive all the women students away, then get out of my face and stop wasting your breath and internet electrons telling people they shouldn’t complain about professors.

Chad, there’s a set of photos rotating on your department’s home page. One is a picture of 5 cheery white males in the physics honor society. Poor Emily Ulanski didn’t make it into the picture. TAKE A NEW PICTURE!!!!! Two others show solitary males. One shows the graduating class in cap and gown – here we get males and females, this is good. In the one photo I saw where there were actually more females than males in the photo, they were photographed on a balcony overlooking water and a sunset – in Maui, at a conference. There were several photos of equipment with no people, some photos of men with equipment. But in the 10 or 15 tests I tried, NO photo came up of a woman or women with equipment. NET: women elided from honor society photo, women in soft focus in Maui sunset, women absent from equipment photos, more men photos than women photos, men-only in equipment photos. This is not good. This stamps your department in a subtle way as male-dominated and sends a message that gets read, no matter what explicit message you think you are sending. Students today overwhelmingly use the internet in the college search process and I and my colleagues have demonstrated (see papers under Franks, Suzanne) that welcoming and inclusive websites can make a difference. So, yes, you can drive them away before they ever take a class from you.

You have a faculty search going on in your department. What are you doing to make sure that it is conducted in a fair and equitable manner, that it reaches out to find the most diverse group of candidates possible? Will it really be a search committee, or just an envelope-opening committee? You have three women on your faculty and staff page, none of whom are full professors, one of whom is a technical secretary. Still, 2 of 11 full-time faculty lines (not counting adjunct and visiting professors and staff) is not too bad. Not great, but not bad.

Chad, are you familiar with the results of the study of women in science and engineering at Union College that I found on your university’s website? Have you done anything to help lobby for a Women in Science program? Are you familiar with Union president’s remarks to the Union College Alumni on October 22, 2005:

Union wants to have 50% women within the student body, and especially wants more women in science and engineering. Union is continuing to work on attracting more members of underrepresented minority groups to our student body…Union should be an oasis of civility in an uncivil world.

Maybe you would like to email the president and let him know that you think “The bigger problem, though, is that the focus on the college level really misses the point.” Or not. I think there’s a lot of work that even a nice physics professor could be doing in your department.

Comments

  1. #1 Frumious B
    September 11, 2006

    Zuska, I think I love you. I’m so glad you joined SB.

  2. #2 Rob Knop
    September 11, 2006

    I hesitate to say this but…

    First, I think that Chad has a very valid point. You also, obviously, have a valid point, that there are problems at the professional level and that it’s foolish at best to ignore them. But Chad also has a point : something is going on at a younger level that turns girls off to physics.

    Second, and here’s where I’m stepping in it : you suggest to Chad that maybe he is part of the problem. Let me suggest to you that by your utter stomping and thrashing of Chad, you are also, in some tiny way, part of the problem. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe, as a white man, I just can’t get it. Maybe men need to be smacked around and woken up to the reality and given no quarter or civility. And, let me also say, on second reading of your post, I realize that I should not take the affront that I did take.

    But, on first reading of this entry, what I took away from it is that Chad is all the more evil because he refused to admit to being evil as a white man… and, therefore, I should also lambaste myself as evil and wrong and all that kind of stuff. And what message does one take away from that? If you are a white man, just keep your head down, don’t say anything, and hope that you survive when the barbs go flying. Because, as a white man, you can never be anything but part of the problem.

    Now, yes, absolutely, I know that this is not a rational reading, and that this isn’t exactly what you’re trying to say. But the tone and vitrol of this and your post on Chad’s blog do convey that message, whether you want it to or not. And, I do not think that that is a great way to convince the potentially-non-piggish white male professors, should there be such a thing, to re-evaluate not only their field, but perhaps subtle things in their own behavior.

    -Rob, who realizes that he’s really put his foot in it now

  3. #3 Colst
    September 11, 2006

    “But in the 10 or 15 tests I tried, NO photo came up of a woman or women with equipment. ”

    Funny, in about 50 attempts, I saw only 2 photos with people working with equipment (each came up several times). One had one male student working with the equipment. One had one male student, one female student(it also had a male professor in the foreground, not working with or even looking at the equipment).

  4. #4 Stogoe
    September 11, 2006

    Rob, I’m not sure there are any potentially non-piggish white males. We are part of the problem, because we never have to think about other types of people. It’s pervasive, and because we’re normal, it’s really hard to make ourselves see the way society treats everyone else.

  5. #5 Koray
    September 11, 2006

    This is patently absurd. Are you saying that whoever took those photographs had an agenda and quietly ignored women working on equipment, went away, came back when white men were working instead? Or, looking at the pictures after processing, should they have been alarmed and exclaim “Oh my, there are no women/minorities/people without glasses/etc. in these pictures with equipment; we should go back and take them again!” What are the chances of having male majority in photos at such a dept anyway?

    There are science teachers in high schools whose primary job is to deal with teenagers. I don’t think Chad deserves any of the stuff you’re hurling at him just because he admits that his powers are limited.

  6. #6 Jackie
    September 11, 2006

    Yeah, Zuska!

    I think the truth is that male professors simply don’t sit around thinking up ways to attract more women to their department. They like their little club and don’t want to dilute it by inviting more women into the field. They might not consciously think this or say it out loud – instead they’ll simply shrug and act like it’s not their fault.

    They can do physics, yet they can’t figure out a way to hire more women in their departments??? That’s a phoney excuse, and we all know it.

  7. #7 Babe in the Universe
    September 11, 2006

    You go, Zuska! We have achieved 50% representazion in universities, why not in science?

  8. #8 NJ
    September 11, 2006

    Physics professors can, indeed, be responsible for driving young women out of the field before they even take their classes. When they teach science or math to non-majors, they can either spark an interest in a student or completely turn a student off of science and math forever.

    Perhaps you do not realize that in these two consecutive sentences of your post there are two contradictory passages? This would seem to invalidate much of your argument.

  9. #9 Zuska
    September 11, 2006

    Poor white men. So downtrodden.

    Look dudes, when will you ever learn that a critique of while male power as a systemic problem is NOT a criticism of all white men, or of any one particular white man? If I choose to indict patriarchy, that doesn’t mean your wife should divorce you (although maybe she should, if you can’t understand this concept).

    Chad has spoken up in favor of the system. “There is no big issue at the physics professor level. I know this because of the following data: I am nice and several of my colleagues are nice. Also I happen to personally believe that the problem lies elsewhere.” If people – any people, white males, blue females, what-have-you – will make foolish statements to that effect, they may expect to be called out by me.

    There are 2 ways to contribute to a problem: active and passive. Every good Catholic knows about sins of omission as well as sins of commission. I’m just trying to tell some of you good guys that it’s time to start thinking about your sins of omission. If you cannot handle that without your feelings getting all hurt, that is not my problem. You’re always so busy busting each other to act like a man and don’t be a wuss and suck it up and be a hard-ass. I can’t believe how easily men are willing to cry hurt feelings in public forums the first time a woman says something uncomplimentary about one of their number. Why is this?

    We can turn to Virginia Woolf for an answer:

    Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size…it serves to explain how restless [men] are under women’s criticism; how impossible it is for women to say to them this book is bad, this picture is feeble, or whatever it may be…. For if women begin to tell the truth, the figure in the looking-glass shrinks, his fitness for life is diminished. How is he to go on giving judgment, civilising natives, making laws, writing books, dressing up and speechifying at banquets, unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is?

    Indeed, how is man to go on dominating all the departments of science and engineering in all the universities and research institutes of the land and feel okay about it on a daily basis if all those women simply will not keep quiet and maintain a respectful attitude to the “nice” men while waiting for the promised change that is surely coming someday?

  10. #10 SMC
    September 11, 2006

    Physics professors can, indeed, be responsible for driving young women out of the field before they even take their classes. When they teach science or math to non-majors, they can either spark an interest in a student or completely turn a student off of science and math forever. You wouldn’t believe how many undergraduate women learn to hate physics in just this manner.

    I’m having trouble parsing this one – you’re describing someone teaching a class in a way that turns their students off, but before the students take the class?

    Not that I entirely disagree – it’s not just women who can get turned off by bad teaching. I still have a pretty dim view of the way mathematics and physics is taught, at least.

    I have to wonder about the photo complaints – the implicit assertion is that there aren’t many women graduate students in the physics department…which might explain why there aren’t many women in the photos. Should the number of women in the photos be increased to, in effect, lie about the limited number of women?

    (Tongue-in-cheek, I have to wonder if the reason there are fewer women in physics is that women are smart enough to stay away from it. Who wants to spend all day playing with numbers?)

    I’ll throw in a final perspective as a minority student myself. Oh, I do possess testicles, and the melanin content of my skin, irises, and hair is on the low side. I am, however, a 36-year-old undergraduate, and that definitely makes me a minority in a system designed on the assumptions that everyone is having their needs paid for by their parents and has plenty of time for “pep rallies” and a few extra years of “general education” filler and time lost due to sporadic scheduling of mandatory classes.

    I’m not sure about assuming that what needs to happen is male physics professors trying to “recruit” female students. (No matter what kind of polite language you wrap it up in, it still boils down to “Hey, you’ve got ovaries – you should be a Physics student!”, which is a bizarre and somewhat creepy non-sequitur (and, what, women can’t be Business majors instead? It certainly pays better, from what I hear)…)

    I would argue that the problem isn’t that there aren’t enough students of one kind or another being attracted to this, that, or the other science program, but that not enough are being driven away.

    There may be something to the argument that many males are overpriviliged, or at least think they are, considering the large proportion of young whippersnappers[1], (a majority of which seem to be male in my area of study[2]) who seem to be rather casually strolling through the program and not really too serious about it. By comparison, in the small sample I’ve been in contact with personally, the male/female ratio among people who seem SERIOUS about their education appers pretty close to 50/50 (or perhaps even slightly skewed towards females).

    I don’t know if this necessarily applies in Physics, but it seems to me if people who weren’t really into the education were encouraged to go work at McDonalds™ for a few years instead of clogging the system, the proportions of students in various categories that people periodically complain are under-represented (underwear contents, melanin content, parents-income-level, choice of reproductive organ configuration of bed-partners, etc.) would tend to even out more as the “priviliged” people [whoever they happen to be at the time] decide not to bother coming back because it’s hard work, while the serious people stay on.

    At least then we’d be selecting for what science REALLY needs: people who are there because they really care about doing good science, not because it’s something to do between keg parties while they’re in college.

    Wow. That sounds even crankier than I’d intended…

    And before I get accused of not wanted to “dilute my little club” with ovary-bearing members of humanity, I should point out that I’m married to a Ph.D. Geophysicist[3] who I have no problem admitting is at least as smart as I am if not smarter, and is definitely much more educated than I am. Actually, I’m still, after all these years, kind of amazed at my good fortune in this regard…

    [1] – Okay, I’m not THAT old, but somehow the word just fits…

    [2] – Microbiology (especially non-medical microbiology)

    [3] – I haven’t had Anatomy and Physiology, but I’m pretty sure she is female

  11. #11 Zuska
    September 11, 2006

    Koray, get your head out of your ass. I did not say the physics department had an agenda with the photographs. I’m saying that by not paying attention to issues of gender equity and by not making an active effort to make their website appealing to potential women students, their website may well inadvertently turn women away. Chad claimed he’s not part of the problem of turning women away from physics, the problem exists before they even enter his class. I am making the point that he and his colleagues are part of that problem, too, if they do not actively work to prevent accidentally being part of it. I did not accuse them of having an agenda to drive women away via the photos. The photos are just an illustration of the many ways in which fields get marked as masculine if care is not taken to EXPLICITLY mark them as open and welcoming to both genders and people of all backgrounds and races.

    Rob: sadly, you have indeed stepped in it. Chad chose to make himself the poster boy for physics-professors-are-not-the-problem. That’s a target it wouldn’t even take a Zuska to hit. And yes, men do need to be smacked around and woken up – verbally. I do not recommend physical violence in reality (although sometimes violent fantasies can be a great outlet for pent-up rage at all the piggish morons women must constantly deal with).

  12. #12 Pam
    September 11, 2006

    Okay, as a female non-medical microbiologist…this just drives me crazy! SMC above almost proves the point – with his tongue-in-cheek remark (do you know how many versions of this statement have been made about most fields that are dominated by men? Oh…we think women are ‘too smart’ to be a ‘fill in the blank’ scientist…wink, wink’ – even saying that jokingly diminishes the point(s) you were trying to make. My program is male-dominated – there are 2 female PIs in my building out of a total of 35 (and they are desperately trying to get rid of the other female) – yet our graduate (PhD) program is about 65% female. Until a year or so ago, when I made a comment, most of our program’s website consisted of ‘action shots’ of either male graduate students or male faculty – and our required first year seminar series had one female out of 28 scheduled for the semester (this was coordinated by the Dean of our Graduate School – so our Dean couldn’t think of but one woman to invite? That’s unacceptable). Female graduate students notice this – many came to talk to me about it, and essentially said “why should I go through all of this if I don’t have many options when I’m finished with my program”? The messages (some subtle, some less so) that these young women receive are horrible (from my experiences – in my program/University). I agree wholeheartedly with everything Zuska has posted – and it is remarkably similar to my own experiences/view. The biggest hurdle I experience is the unconscious bias – and the fact that my male colleagues do not even recognize this behavior in themselves. If they had a clue had much of their behavior, much of which is unintentional (which is not excusable either…), makes their female students and colleagues feel invisible – they would be stunned. The lack of representation on the website is just one example – but that, coupled to many other behaviors – is just incredibly destructive to the morale of their female students and colleagues. And again, I agree with Zuska – it’s not enough to post here and say you disagree, and you don’t see it, and that it’s not your fault because they’re not in your classes – good males (and females) need to get out there and create an environment that is positive and inclusive – they need to get out of their routine and get involved and take the time to actually listen to their female students and colleagues – really listen – in order to understand all of this to begin with. Starting by listening and imagining what it would be like to feel invisible for even one day – this job is incredibly demanding under the best of circumstances…can you imagine the struggle when those around you don’t even SEE you?

    Great post.

  13. #13 ilikathechemicals
    September 11, 2006

    Zuska, TKO!!! you go girl. You EXACTLY summed up the problem, namely, “Chad has spoken up in favor of the system. “There is no big issue at the physics professor level. I know this because of the following data: I am nice and several of my colleagues are nice. Also I happen to personally believe that the problem lies elsewhere.””

    Let me quote Dr. Martin Luther King, who put this a different way, but same exact concept:

    “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

    Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

    Amen.

  14. #14 Zuska
    September 11, 2006

    Physics professors can, indeed, be responsible for driving young women out of the field before they even take their classes. When they teach science or math to non-majors, they can either spark an interest in a student or completely turn a student off of science and math forever. You wouldn’t believe how many undergraduate women learn to hate physics in just this manner.

    What I am saying here is that physics professors may be driving away potential physics majors when they teach a class to fill a general science requirement for non-physics majors. Not all students know right away what they want to major in. They may take a general science class or a “physics for poets” class to get a feel for it or see if they’d really like doing science. These students may never show up in a physics professor’s “real” class, to be later driven out of physics by poor teaching, because they were turned off already in the non-major course. Nitpickers, no, these few sentences do not invalidate everything I am saying. Go pick somebody else’s nits.

    SMC, if I had a dime for every man I’ve heard testify about his credentials for being a righteous dude because he is married to a woman in science and is willing to admit she is really smart, I would be one wealthy lady by now. I was married to one of those dudes once, too. I’m not saying your marriage isn’t all egalitarian and everything but marriage to a woman scientist, even one you admit is really smart, does not automatically give you street cred.

    I have a brother, too, who went back to school as a non-traditional student while working full-time in the coal mine (steady midnight shift – and for the record he was a sexist nitwit about the women in his classes) and I counseled a lot of women students at K-State who were non-traditional students in engineering, who had children to care for, many of whom were single mothers. So I know a little about your situation. Pardon me, however, if I don’t buy into that “the whippersnappers aren’t serious and ought to be weeded out more heavily” argument, since we do know from experience and research that who the traditionalists evaluate as serious and as “belonging” just amazingly happen to turn out to be the white males, and NOT the females or the black or Hispanic males. (See Seymour and Hewitt, Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences.) No, I’m content to continue arguing that yes, we really ought to be working to actively recruit the currently underrepresented groups in STEM departments, because to do otherwise is (1) illegal and (2) a big, huge, freaking waste of talent.

  15. #15 Colst
    September 11, 2006

    “Look dudes, when will you ever learn that a critique of while male power as a systemic problem is NOT a criticism of all white men, or of any one particular white man?”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but *isn’t* this post a criticism of a particular white man? If not, the some of the descriptions (foolish, woefully misguided, whiny, head up his ass) seem a bit odd.

    Chad made a post with an actual train of logic behind it, but one would never know it by the supposed restating of it we get here:
    “There is no big issue at the physics professor level. I know this because of the following data: I am nice and several of my colleagues are nice. Also I happen to personally believe that the problem lies elsewhere.”
    I’d encourage people to read Chad’s post and see if this “paraphrase” matches it, either in tone or in substance. I think it fails on both counts.

    Then there’s the physics for nonmajors part. If I hadn’t read Chad’s post, I would never have known that his argument was that Union physics *isn’t* driving away women in those classes, that the percentages in intro classes are essentially the same as the the percentages of the major.

    Yes, there were flaws in Chad’s analysis, some of which were addressed (e.g., the tone of the department may be one of the things making women less likely to take the intro classes), but mostly we’re given a strawman to wack (including a statement about the pictures of people working with instruments that doesn’t seem to match up to reality).

  16. #16 SMC
    September 12, 2006

    [...]Nitpickers, no, these few sentences do not invalidate everything I am saying. Go pick somebody else’s nits.[...]

    It wasn’t an “attack” (either from me or, I think, anyone else who mentioned it). I really didn’t get what you were trying to say (A class for non-science-majors is still a class – I wasn’t sure if you were hinting that testicle-bearing members of the teaching profession were pushing their current students to go out and discourage women from signing up for future classes, or what). Seeing your clarification, I agree with you.

    [...]if I had a dime for every man I’ve heard testify about his credentials for being a righteous dude [...]

    “Righteous dude”, nothing. I make no such claims. I was just noticing the rather hostile assumptions towards males and wanted to head off the expected claims of being a sexist freak. (I consider sexism to be a nonsensical form of harmful superstition, personally, and will be very happy if I get to see this perverse tribalist nonsense get eaten away by rationality.)

    [...]I have a brother, too, who went back to school as a non-traditional student [...] for the record he was a sexist nitwit about the women in his classes

    Fair enough – but I wasn’t claiming that being a non-traditional student conferred any special claim of righteousness. Only status as an underrepresented group.

    [...]we do know from experience and research that who the traditionalists evaluate as serious and as “belonging” just amazingly happen to turn out to be the white males[...]

    I agree here. I should clarify that my statement was philosophical – I really did mean the people who really are serious about the science, not “whoever the people in charge think are most suited to their departmental tribe”. This brand of “traditionalist” is unquestionably harmful to the health of our society and need to be replaced. No argument from me here.

    And of course:

    [...] to do otherwise is [...] (2) a big, huge, freaking waste of talent.

    Here you may have whatever loud exclamation of emphatic agreement you prefer from me. I don’t know what it is, but neglected potential just bugs me to no end. I think one of the reasons I’ve gotten into environmental and industrial microbiology is that I got sick and tired of it seeming to always be a comparatively neglected area in the shadow of medical biology. The idea of wasting an entire lifetime of a human being’s worth of scientific potential because of some freak’s irrational attitude towards someone’s skin color or underwear contents is downright grotesque.

    I think any rational person would agree that people with a genuine desire for constructive participation should never be driven off with condescention, insulting assumptions, or a hostile environment. In any setting, scientific or otherwise. Regardless of their skin color or the morphology of their gamete-producing organs.

  17. #17 Lab Lemming
    September 12, 2006

    At the risk of becoming an advocate for the white, male devil, what is the incentive for those of us who are white male repressors to change our wicked ways? More competition? Removal from our comfort zones? Fulfillment of somebody else’s abstract cause? Obviously disadvantaged people have an incentive to level the playing field, but why should we traditionally privledged Americans make it easier for them?

  18. #18 Rob Knop
    September 12, 2006

    Look dudes, when will you ever learn that a critique of while male power as a systemic problem is NOT a criticism of all white men, or of any one particular white man?

    When those who wish to do so don’t frame it in the dogpiling on specific white men….

    Look at what you wrote. You’re all over Chad on this, but the fact is that Chad has a point about there being problems at earlier-than-college levels.

    Your points about the passive things that Chad and his department are doing that might be unwittingly contributing the problem are valid… but are lost in what looks like a “Chad is evil” rant.

    “There is no big issue at the physics professor level. I know this because of the following data: I am nice and several of my colleagues are nice. Also I happen to personally believe that the problem lies elsewhere.”

    This is actually not quite what Chad said. He has said that he doesn’t see the piggish behavior that is often cited in himself, or in those near him. He has also said that at the very beginning of college, the problem already exists.

    You are turning what Chad said into a charicature… this is why I object at your tone and mode of extreme assault. It doesn’t help. It drives away people who would be allies!

    You’re always so busy busting each other to act like a man and don’t be a wuss and suck it up and be a hard-ass.

    Kinda like women are always too busy hugging each other and cryihng and sharing feelings to do anything else, huh?

    Stereotyping and verbal assaults and ridiculous straw men like this aren’t going to help.

    I AM NOT SAYING THAT WHITE MEN ARE DOWNTRODDEN, despite what you want to characterize what I am saying. That’s yet another extreme reaction and another straw man. What I am saying is that your attack on Chad is offputting, and MY instinctive reaction to it is, “shit, shut up Rob, never ever say anything about the gender issue because you will step in it and get smacked on.” Obviously, I didn’t listen to my instinctive reaction, but that’s what it is. And, obviously, it was a mistake not to listen to the instinctive reasction. I used to get into arguments all the time with my post-doc beause I suggested that occasionaly, issues might be more complicated on an individual level than White Men Are evil. Eventually, I realized not to discuss the issue with her at all. And what I’m getitng from you is that I shouldn’t think about the isuse of women in science (if I’m not willing to jump on the “everybody who makes one small misstep deserves a solid thrashing” bandwagon) at all, but I should just try to keep being nice and egalitarian on an indivdiual level but avoid the utter minfield of the larger problem. Is this really what you want to be motivating the white men who are sympathetic to your cause to do? Is it?

    And I know that you will have only more and more scorn for me for making this argument, because I have been down this road before…. If you aren’t part of the witch-hunt, you’re part of the problem. And, yes, I know, I KNOW you aren’t advocating a witch hunt, I’m just asking you to see why even reasonable people might see the implication of what you wrote that way.

    Look, there is a lot reasonable in what you say, but when you frame it around a personal attack, it just makes people, like me, bristle. This is not helpful.

    And, yes, I know that I have now effectively labelled myself as “anti-woman” in the eyes of you and many of the people who read this, and I find that as deeply sad. And, yes, I know I should just have shut up about it from the very beginning if I wanted to avoid that fate. But getting all the white men to shut up out of fear for themselves isn’t a constructive strategy in addressing the very real systemic problems that exist.

    -Rob

  19. #19 Rob Knop
    September 12, 2006

    Obviously disadvantaged people have an incentive to level the playing field, but why should we traditionally privledged Americans make it easier for them?

    Um… because it’s the right thing to do? Because we all claim to have notions of meritocracy and individual fairness, and as such it would be reasonable to try and really have that?

    Not good enough? How about worrying about if/when the tables are turned? Might be nice to have a level playing field then, eh?

  20. #20 Rob Knop
    September 12, 2006

    I think the truth is that male professors simply don’t sit around thinking up ways to attract more women to their department. They like their little club and don’t want to dilute it by inviting more women into the field. They might not consciously think this or say it out loud – instead they’ll simply shrug and act like it’s not their fault.

    Some do. I know in my department we do, but the problem is that it’s more talk than action. The truth is, we are by and large at sea, and don’t really know what to do. Some men are just blatantly ignorant — of the “if we had more good-looking male professors, it would attract more women to Physics” level of ignorance — but most of us aren’t really sure what active steps beyond the obvious ones (advertise, highlight female award winners, etc.).

    In my department, we’ve actually done pretty well with minority recruitment. But, what it took was somebody coming in who had a passion and a clue about doing it, and partnering with Fisk (a historically black college). This wasn’t a simple, obvious process, but it was involved and took passion on the part of an individual who knew what he was doing. I suspect that something similar is needed for female recruiting. As such, even when science departments are doing the honest best they know how to do, it may not be good enough.

    -Rob

  21. #21 Rob Knop
    September 12, 2006

    Rob, I’m not sure there are any potentially non-piggish white males. We are part of the problem, because we never have to think about other types of people. It’s pervasive, and because we’re normal, it’s really hard to make ourselves see the way society treats everyone else.

    I agree with everything but the first sentence. And, I’m not sure that “we” are part of the problem — it’s not us, but it’s our unawareness that is the problem. There is a difference; one way of stating it makes it sound like something that can be fixed without dispensing with us, and obviously that’s something that people are less likely to reject outright.

    If you insist that all white male professors are piggish, I think that’s a problem. There are certainly levels. There are men who explicitly agree with the flawed notion that women are less suitable for Physics (or whatever subject you’re talking about). Beyond that, there are some men who simply don’t get that certain sexist and sexual comments might be inappropriate. Beyond that, there are some men in Physics who have a hard time really seeing women as anything other than entertaining objects; I’ve seen it happen.

    I think it fair to admit that most white male professors are blinded by circumstance; I know I am, although less so than I was a few years ago. (And I hope that in a few years I will be less so than I am now.) But piggish– there really *is* some egregious active behavior out there that generally gets brushed under the rug. Associating everybody with that egregious active behavior will just trigger the fear reflext that further encourages brushing these things under the rug.

    Let’s try to keep the difference between “blinded by situation” and “actively piggish”.

    -Rob

  22. #22 Rob Knop
    September 12, 2006

    Not all students know right away what they want to major in. They may take a general science class or a “physics for poets” class to get a feel for it or see if they’d really like doing science. These students may never show up in a physics professor’s “real” class, to be later driven out of physics by poor teaching, because they were turned off already in the non-major course.

    Teaching a good non-science-majors class is extremely challenging. I still haven’t fully figured it out, but continue to try.

    The first few times I got it for my intro astronomy class, I constantly got complaints in student evaluations that “he’s treating us like Physics majors”. You get a lot of students in the class who want to cruise through with a minimum of pain– and, alas, they come in thinking that it’s pain.

    It’s not too hard to teach a by-the-numbers, boring, blah, fact-based and recall-based intro astronomy class. There are a million textbooks that will help you do it. It’s much harder to teach a good class that will give students a taste of what science is really all about without completely leaving behind most of the class. And I’m not just talking about giving the top 5% a taste of science– I’m talking about giving all of them a taste of science. It’s hard, but we should try to do it.

    However, given the deomgraphics, there will always have to be a difference between the “for majors” and “for non-majors” class, although perhaps that isn’t the best way to characterize it. Some come in with a better feel for science and a willingness to dig into some complicated math without freezing up, and others need a class designed to teach science (not just facts, but science) to people inclined to be english majors.

    Phoning it in for your non-majors class is a terrible thing to do, of course. But there do need to be courses accessible to people who have no intention of going on in science; indeed, societally speaking, those courses may be more important than courses which focus more on recruiting more people for science.

    -Rob

  23. #23 Mecha
    September 12, 2006

    Wow. Rob covered a lot of what I was typing while I was typing it. Seriously, Lab Lemming, since when have basic human rights been bad?

    Zuska: I don’t think you are ‘abstractly’ criticizing the patriarchy here, rather, you are specifically criticizing Chad (and insulting him a number of times.) I got the exact same feel of uneasiness as I read what you said as Rob. I realize very clearly that the two are different, but when you do misrepresent and simplify his argument into standard ‘niceguyism’ and then tell him that he’s not doing enough (not the patriarchy, him) as well as calling him names, you are attacking him. You are, at best, using Chad as an example of everything that is wrong with men in science, which is more than slightly unfair.

    It seems to me it is likely Chad saw a lot of one-sided criticism of how the college professor and professorship structure is the downfall of women in science (as he said he did), and wanted to, unsurprisingly, point out the incredibly rational view that education at lower grades matters, and used an example to do it. That does not make him have his head up his ass any more than your post, which does not happen to mention explicitly that girls are discouraged from sciences in lower grades.

    Primary education must be made better, and hopefully you do not disagree with that. The idea of a pipeline not being filled is appropriate, and if the pipe’s never filled, good women scientists never come into being. Clean, clear, logical, and not deserving of being told he’s got his head up his ass. I didn’t see you argue this point of it at all, which was sorta the main thrust of his argument.

    Chad was, however, incorrect to say that the college power structure in the sciences does not also screw things up (which was his implication in the last sentence, and the last sentence only, of his post.) Because it generally does, what with being male dominated. I think it’s more clear that he didn’t draw the distinction between ‘creepy/sexist professor’ and ‘subtle discouragement’, and that is a distinction that is good to bring up (I think I’ll go over there and point that out after I’m done shooting myself in the foot here.)

    The question of ‘which one is the greater bottleneck’ is something you can dispute, and clearly for Chad the bottleneck is at the primary level. This makes sense for someone who _wants_ to teach everyone who comes to them, but doesn’t see as many women come to the college level as he thinks should.

    In contrast, it seems to me that you believe that the college level is a place where interest in science for many people, especially women, is quashed. That is also true, and ties into general patriarichal issues, likely jiving with your experience in life. College professors do create a larger public perception (when was the last time a grade school science teacher made the news?) You cannot ignore their effect on the problem, and I think he missed that in his rush to analyze. It also ties into your earlier post about how people should not act like they aren’t ‘in charge enough’ to influence the environment, as any professor can try to change that. And I think that if anyone said that ‘Oh no, this male dominated environment is clearly wholly inviting towards women!’ I would believe they are crazy too.

    I think you both have managed to pick out pieces of the problem and, rather than insult and divide effors, invite him to own up explicitly to the fact that it’s not just raw sexist piggery that can create a hostile environment (it’s not like he explicitly said ‘All professors are sweetness and light’ ;)

    And in light of all this, and Rob’s comment that he also doesn’t know what to do, I think it’d be neat if you made a larger post about the so-called ‘pipeline’ problem: you certainly seem to have some ideas on how to _help_ with it, since you offered them to him. If you have other ideas, they certainly seem worth sharing. And similarly a summarized post on what to do as a college professor at the _college_ level, as opposed to the community activism level. Those’d be great things to see, I think.

    And Rob: Don’t play the ‘you’ll all think I’m anti-women now, hmph’ card. That’s completely not fair and makes people out to be irrational.

    -Mecha

  24. #24 Rob Knop
    September 12, 2006

    They can do physics, yet they can’t figure out a way to hire more women in their departments??? That’s a phoney excuse, and we all know it.

    It’s a fallacy — that many physicists seem to subscribe to — that knowledge of physics implise knowledge of everything.

    I think we know how to hire women into the department. This is not to say that every department is doing this, and not to say that some departments are finding excuses not to hire a women even if she is one of the best candidates for the job. But, yeah, just doing the hiring once you’ve got the good candidate is pretty straightfoward.

    I think what is hard to figure out is how to recruit women into becoming physicists. And, yes, as I said above, there are obvious things to be done… but I doubt that the obvious things by themselves are good enough.

    -Rob

  25. #25 Rob Knop
    September 12, 2006

    And Rob: Don’t play the ‘you’ll all think I’m anti-women now, hmph’ card. That’s completely not fair and makes people out to be irrational.

    Sorry.

    I’ve just been down the road so many times and have been told I’m a part of the problem for not agreeing 100% with somebody that I instinctively get pre-emptively defensive. For those who want to take what I said as what I said, and reasonably agree and/or disagree with parts of this, I apologize for that cutoff at the end.

    -Rob

  26. #26 Kristin
    September 12, 2006

    Speaking as a woman who left physics after finishing her Ph.D. and didn’t look in the rear-view mirror, I think there’s a heck of a lot of benevolent neglect in the physics culture.

    The fact is, until the culture changes, physics is for the most part a cold business. Good thing if girls are picking up on this earlier rather than later and choosing to do other things, though of course that will slow the culture change. People who don’t realize that there is a problem won’t fix it, no matter how nice they are. If you’re a white male who is in physics, you have the privilege of being given the benefit of the doubt even when you screw up. Most white males can’t imagine all of the messages many girls get about how they have to be twice as good to be perceived as an equal there, and how data bear this out (that 1997 Swedish study about number of publications). Yes, if physics wants to change, because it is the right thing to do, girls do need to get the message that there’s a place at the table for them and that the rewards are worth the challenges. And that requires actually understanding where many girls are coming from.

  27. #27 Bill Hooker
    September 12, 2006

    Tangential trackback, regarding Lab Lemming’s question above.

  28. #28 Winawer
    September 13, 2006

    Zuska (and anyone else interested), you may wish to take a look at the most recent comments on Chad’s post by tim.

  29. #29 Absinthe
    September 13, 2006

    Dear Zuska,

    I am very glad your blog is getting more exposure now that it has moved to scienceblogs.com, but Jesus H Christ Zusk, aren’t you getting sick of and/or overwhelmed by the 30% to 50% of the many comments left on each of your entries that come from fucking ignorant morons who just want to defend the status quo? It makes me ill.

    Maybe I should just stick to reading your blog entries (which are always enlightening and informative), and skip the comments section to maintain my mental health.

    Your are a goddess and the wind beneath my wings. Keep up the good fight.

    Luv,

    Absinthe

  30. #30 Rob Knop
    September 13, 2006

    fucking ignorant morons who just want to defend the status quo?

    Just for the record — I’m not a fucking ignorant moron who is trying to defend the status quo.

    I’m a seemingly fucking ignorant moron who is defending Chad against an over-the-top overreaction assault, and trying to point out that that kind of overreaction only pushes away people who might (a) be allies, and (b) can be taught the subtle problems if they aren’t immediately painted as evil, enemies, and, um, fucking ignorant morons.

    -Rob

  31. #31 Pam
    September 14, 2006

    I think Rob has a good point here. While I sometimes get really frustrated (translation: outraged) with gender issues at work – I also try and talk about these issues openly with my reasonable male colleagues. My close collaborators (and graduate students, postdocs, etc) are all aware of my opinions and experiences in this area (I have more than I wish I did). But sometimes I wish I was more effective at educating my male colleagues on these subtle and not-so-subtle problems (I know, I know – maybe that’s not my job, and if they don’t ‘get it’ they’re idiots) – but for those that aren’t idiots, as Rob says, but are just (incredibly) unaware (and I must confess that the depth of some colleague’s unawareness is often stunning) – then how, Rob, would you suggest that we help educate you, and others like you? What works?

  32. #32 tonyl
    September 14, 2006

    then how, Rob, would you suggest that we help educate you, and others like you? What works?

    Not meaning to answer for Rob, but I would suggest a little common courtesy. For example, being honest in your communication by not misrepresenting what other’s say. Or perhaps, Not launching vicious attacks against anyone who dares disagree with any tiny little portion of something you (or your favorite blogger) say (says).

  33. #33 Rob Knop
    September 14, 2006

    then how, Rob, would you suggest that we help educate you, and others like you? What works?

    What tonyl said.

    When somebody says something that you think misses the point, gently point out where there are problems, instead of jumping down their throat.

    I’d say that a lot of my education on the issue has come in civil, “normal” (not walking-on-eggshells careful to avoid offense, but also not jump-down-the-throat-of-anybody-who-missteps sorts) conversations.

    A couple of examples. First, I’ve heard stories from a number of women about advances or comments that they’ve received that in between made me feel icky and downright horrified me. I didn’t realize how prevalent that kind of thing was today. This came up when I was talking to them, and had been talking to them, for some time. Tell the people who you have reasonable relationships and whom you trust generally what sort of stuff goes on.

    Second, five years ago I had no idea that women in general received lower student evaluations than men. It seems there’s an effect of “you’re supposed to be nicer because you’re a woman,” and that students tend to both demand more concessions (extentions, etc.) from women, and take it out on them when they don’t bend. I was dubious when I first heard it, but it’s well documented and I’ve heard it enough that now I know it’s an effect that’s out there.

    -Rob

  34. #34 Rob Knop
    September 14, 2006

    I guess one other thing — if somebody disagrees with you on the interpretation of a single thing, don’t then assume that they don’t and can’t “get it”, or that they are idiots.

    I’ve been told that if it isn’t obvious that a certain individual event wasn’t completely inappropriate, then it was clear that I didn’t “get it”. I saw perhaps some nuance and/or factors that made the situation more complicated than a simple black/white dichotemy, and I was told that this was evidence that I was incapable of understanding or even sympathiznig with the plight of women in science.

    (Aside: this was a case of a faculty member asking a research faculty member out. Always a mine-filled area… but then again, I know lots of people who date and marry people in their same field, and indeed this very individual had in the past been in a long-term relationship with another astronomer. Yes, this individual in the current situation was creepy, more so than I realized when I first heard about the invitation, but I didn’t feel comfortable indicting him on a single behvaior that would perhaps have been acceptable coming from somebody else.)

    If I keep getting written off like that, sooner or later I’l come to believe that I’m incapable of thinking or doing anything right, so my only recourse will be to just try to avoid the issue altogether — which, of course, doesn’t help, becuase the issue is there.

    -Rob

  35. #35 Pam
    September 14, 2006

    When I read your suggestions – and while I agree with them (and trust me, I’ve truly tried to get through to some colleagues in this way) – your assumption is based on a rationale/reasonable world. The response I often get, even when I approach it in this way – is generally annoyance, and a “I could care less” about how this behavior affects you attitude. Years of being dismissed repeatedly lead to the anger and outbursts, and sometimes I feel that for some (I’m not speaking all of my male colleagues here) the only way to get their attention is to (as Rob says) jump down their throat. Truly. You generically lose it because you reach a level of frustration that is just off the charts. For me, it’s the combined effect of all of the subtle (and often not so subtle) discriminatory behaviors – I can’t even imagine some of my colleagues here even entertaining the concept of women receiving lower student evaluations because of gender! That’s in the advanced course. A percentage of these guys just don’t care to get it – and are so in denial about their behavior that without doing something to get their attention, they don’t even acknowledge that you are in the room. You’re right – my outbursts probably don’t help, but at least I know that they’ve been forced to hear me!

    I actually suggested recently, at my University, that we have males present seminars/training on gender equity/discriminatory behavior. Because when women do it, the men just dismiss it. Perhaps a man might do a better job at convincing other men that they are being discriminatory. I know that I have limited success with it.

  36. #36 Greg
    September 14, 2006

    Authority does always act blind and deaf.
    Until the petitioner in frustration starts shouting.
    Then authority says he doesn’t need to listen to anyone so abusive.

  37. #37 Zuska
    September 14, 2006

    Greg, you are truly a righteous dude who totally gets it.

    Zuskateers, I’ve been sick the last three days. New posts coming soon, responding to and expanding on comments here.

  38. #38 Greg again
    September 14, 2006

    On the other hand, the price is so ridiculously high.
    One cannot simply say, did I do that? I’m sorry.
    Please remind me when I do it again.
    Because it was not a momentary aberation,
    but a lifetime of bad potty-training.

    We are not talking about repeatedly raping your lab-assistant.
    Rather talking through, as if her lips move but no sound issues,
    or approving the “men” more often than the “girls”.
    Because the lawyers, neither his nor hers,
    for all they can smell blood at three counties remove,
    and craft subtle arguments proving either or both sides irrefutably,
    cannot distinguish rape from rude.

  39. #39 Pam
    September 15, 2006

    “Rather talking through, as if her lips move but no sound issues”

    Great line. That describes it perfectly. Thanks.

  40. #40 Rob Knop
    September 15, 2006

    Authority does always act blind and deaf.
    Until the petitioner in frustration starts shouting.
    Then authority says he doesn’t need to listen to anyone so abusive.

    Greg, you are truly a righteous dude who totally gets it.

    If I read this correctly then, the argument is effectively something like this : Rob, there’s a problem, and you as a white male is part of the problem. You have to put up with being told you are Eeeevil whenever you do anything small, and that you don’t get it because you want to deal with the problem rationally rather than through screaming and wanton accusations of people who notice the wrong things first.

    Well, hell, if the way I have to deal with it is by being abused at all times, then, yeah, you bet I want to put my head down and start ignoring the problem!

    There are the blind and deaf, but there are also those who care, who are aware there is a serious problem, and who aren’t entirely blind and deaf, and who are open to reason and respect. If you treat the latter just like the former, then you create vast disincentives for one to be part of the latter… and you drive us towards increasingly divided camps who will never see eye to eye.

    There are multiple kinds of not getting it.

    What *I* would really like to see is not screaming and abused of everybody who doesn’t exactly toe the party line as defined by Zuska or whoever is declaring me or Chad or some such evil this week. What I think would help a whole lot more is if light were shined on what’s going on. We keep brushing the abusive events under the rug, and not letting people know specifically what is going on. When it’s always general, it’s easy to believe that it’s not in your deparrtment; if stuff is going in your department, then everybody in that department needs to know that it happens there. And not in a screaming, kill-the-bastards kind of way, but just in the light of revelation and honesty.

    -Rob

  41. #41 Greg
    September 15, 2006

    “There are multiple kinds of not getting it.” And one of them is to know, yet still jump into the fray.

    I looked at the Chandra Dark Matter picture which you posted a few weeks ago at your academic site. Aside from looking at pretty pictures and taking much of the math on faith, I have no training in Astronomy. Also, I wear bifocals and have a few patches of astigmatism. So, the picture is middling pretty. The colours are neat, but the red has no visual anchors. I thought there must be some unusual gravitational lens. I read your explanation. Then I scrolled back up to the picture. It had become very different.

    Of course, before seeing that picture, I read your adventures in Astronomy 102. (I almost stopped reading when we got to Pluto.. and would have missed Chandra. Yikes!) You caught on pretty quick that the obvious thing didn’t work, in A102. You tried something else which you have found unsatisfying. Now you are challenging the authority of tradition. You have scrolled back up and looked again.

    So now you at Zuska’s blog. She has slandered and insulted you. She’s got a mouth on her, too, doesn’t she. Are you going to keep following the same old text book? Are you going to say, there is something wrong with the red patches, take them back and fix them to where I expect them to be? Of course you are…

    Nah! You are going to read some of her other posts, maybe some in her old blog, maybe some of Pam’s blog, and Absinthe’s. You are going to think, wow! I would be assertive, too. You are going to notice that the words, for all their power, didn’t actually make you bleed. It is not as if she is The Lord High Executioner. Certainly not The Tenure Committee. You will filter the noise and look for the signal. Right?

  42. #42 Lab Lemming
    September 16, 2006

    Well, I freely admit that my question was inflammatory and obnoxious. But not toally without merit. Consider:

    A lot of the world’s growth in research and engineering is currently happening in eastern Asia, much of it in countries that do not necessarily share traditional western ideas of individualism or fairness. So if you can find and promote a reason for recruiting women into science that does not rely on a traditional liberal belief system, the scope of people who you can potentially help is much greater.

    If, however, your arguments rely on sharing a common ideology or vision, then you’re basically preaching to (or yelling at) the choir.

  43. #43 Greg
    September 16, 2006

    To insist that nothing be done until we find the perfect solution is a popular and effective way to assure that nothing be done.

  44. #44 Lab Lemming
    September 17, 2006

    So how do you suggest tackling problems such as this one:
    http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com/2006/09/playing-name-game.html

  45. #45 Greg
    September 17, 2006

    If your complaint is that the database/search operators do not link Degeling to Tomkins, you should address that complaint to them. I expect they will carefully consult and respect her wishes.

    If your complaint is that Ms Degeling should not have changed her name to Tomkins, you should address that complaint to her. I am very interested to know what grounds you present to her, and how she responds.

    It may well be that the operators of the databases are lazy dumb-asses, and Ms Tomkins may share your dismay. If so, you might encourage her to organize a group of women and men, who lost visibility after changing their names or who decided not to change their names for fear of losing visibility. You could organize an allied group of men and women, who lost sight of important research results when somebody did changed her or his name.

    It may also be that Ms Tomkins had/has reasons to change her name, good enough for her, which she may refuse or neglect to share with you. You might be forced to change your search patterns.

    Except that they are women who changed their names, and that you noticed, I do not see any common factors in the three cases you mention. Their significant issues are so disparate that I would be astonished to see them choose the same solution to their problems.

    Likewise, I fail to see any connection at all between their cases and Asian countries that might share the Western tradition of not necessarily sharing traditional Western ideas of individualism or fairness.

  46. #46 L.L.
    September 17, 2006

    The connection is that this is an example of culturally non-specific (while the choice change or keep a name may be culturally specific, the ability of the machinery of science to deal with the change is not), quantifiable problem amenable to an engineering solution. The process of disambiguating Dr. Tomkins’ publication record has nothing to do with comfort zones, or marketing, or representation, or a lack of empathy and outreach ability amoung ‘hard’ scientists.

    As such, the continuing existence of this sort of problem is relevant to the testing of the hypothesis that the men in charge are helping to the best of their ability, but that they are hindered by not being experts in the necessary fields.

  47. #47 Zuska
    September 17, 2006

    Well, LabLemming, that’s a problem (Tomkins/Degeling name-tracking in scientific indexing databases) that the patriarchy has created for itself, isn’t it? The nice little patriarchal tradition of women’s identities being subsumed into that of their husband’s, quaint as it is, is something that many feminists would like to see eradicated for lots of reasons. And now, I hope you see, though you say you are not a feminist, that feminism has something to offer you. The patriarchy is not always beneficial for men.

    Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’d argue that the incessant policing of each others’ masculinity that men engage in 24/7 is also not such a great benefit of the patriarchy, but that’s an advanced class.

  48. #48 Greg
    September 17, 2006

    I’m curious to see what the ‘hard’ scientists will do when they figure out LabLemming thinks they lack the expertise to instruct their assistants to send emails advising the keepers of the databases to fix their search engines.

    Mme Curie’s contemporaries appear to have had no such disability. Within eight years of changing her name she had a share of a Nobel Prize. Eight years later, she had another one all to herself. And in between she was the first woman to park her butt officially in a Chair at the Sorbonne. (Neither my French nor my English references mention the Davy.) Not bad for a woman supposedly hindered by culturally non-specific men not being experts in the necessary fields.

    Ms DiScala’s associates also appear able to keep track of her names and careers. (I doubt, however, that she should expect a Nobel or a Davey, not even a nomination.)

    Dr Tomkins’ colleagues, on the other hand, don’t seem to want to know her.

    It seems to me that the lazy dumb-asses are not the database keepers, but the database users.

  49. #49 Adam
    September 18, 2006

    The problem with any debate on issues of gender is it deteriorates into a flamewar with all rational arguments are discarded. Sexism, Reverse-Sexism, Feminism, Political Correctness, and Affirmative action have no place in such a debate as they make people walk on eggshells to not appear sexist or evil. Baseless accusations are trademark in such a debate with blanket statements such as All Men Have Power, All Men Are Evil, All Men sit around twiddling their moustache devising an elaborate scheme to keep women out of their NO GURLZ ALLOWED club. Personal attacks achieve nothing, and I don’t agree with your personal remarks on Chad.

    If you can’t follow these few rules in a rational constructive debate:
    1) Everyone is equally entitled to their opinion, and it is just as valid as yours
    2) No name-calling
    3) No baseless accusations or playing some form of Race/Gender/etc. card

    then you are just trolling.

  50. #50 Adam
    September 18, 2006

    Theres a perfectly good logical argument in there with very good points, but its overshadowed by flamebait.

  51. #51 Lab Lemming
    September 18, 2006

    Curse you clever feminists for being so correct and on-target. But which is more feminist? Eliminating the practice of name changing, or giving the freedom of choice without repercussion?

    As for index notification, I should point out that Dr. Tomkins added “nee Degeling” to the first paper she wrote after getting hitched. Unluckily for her* that paper got stuck in review, while the next three sailed straight through into publication.

    As any clever google scholar detective here has probably surmised, Dr. Tomkins and I know each other from grad school. So I’m not gonna talk behind her back any more. But I will blog (and she does occasionally read the lounge) if and when either of the indices that I queried about this issue reply to my emails.

    *Some scientists may not consider having three papers sail through the review process to be unlucky.

  52. #52 PhysioProf
    September 18, 2006

    “If you can’t follow these few rules in a rational constructive debate:
    1) Everyone is equally entitled to their opinion, and it is just as valid as yours”

    Huh? What makes a debate “constructive” is that it leads to at least some conclusions about the relative validity of opinions being argued. If it doesn’t, then it is not “constructive”; it is “pointless”.

  53. #53 Greg
    September 18, 2006

    Good show, LabLemming. Maybe more scientists of all Moh-indices will join their emails with yours.

    Hey, Adam! How about showing a little manly strength and courage. Let’s crush some of those egg-shells and stir up an omlette over the flame-bait.

  54. #54 Rob Knop
    September 18, 2006

    Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’d argue that the incessant policing of each others’ masculinity that men engage in 24/7 is also not such a great benefit of the patriarchy, but that’s an advanced class.

    As a male in our culture, I will say for the record that I’m aware of this and by and large hate it (although doubtless I often participate in it without realizing I’m doing so).

  55. #55 Koray
    September 18, 2006

    I’m saying that by not paying attention to issues of gender equity and by not making an active effort to make their website appealing to potential women students, their website may well inadvertently turn women away.

    Inadvertently is the keyword, and it’s not evern their fault. As everybody here agrees, there’s nothing inherently sexist in the pictures. If a young girl’s perception, for some reason, is that she won’t be welcome in that department, then it must be explained how such a thing may be assumed. Are we about to set straight everybody’s assumptions about total strangers? How are we supposed to know what a latino/black/asian hetero/homo man/woman assumes when they look at any of this? Do you care whether men think they would be welcome if they wanted to become kindergarten teachers?

    Chad claimed he’s not part of the problem of turning women away from physics, the problem exists before they even enter his class. I am making the point that he and his colleagues are part of that problem, too, if they do not actively work to prevent accidentally being part of it.

    No, you can’t label Chad part of the problem. You can only label him of ignorance if you have evidence that he witnessed it and did nothing about it. Expecting people to be on the lookout for problems in other domains (I consider high schoolers outside Chad’s domain) is a bit too much. One would expect you to be scolding high school science teachers first here, about whom you wrote not a single word. It’s just weird.

    I did not accuse them of having an agenda to drive women away via the photos. The photos are just an illustration of the many ways in which fields get marked as masculine if care is not taken to EXPLICITLY mark them as open and welcoming to both genders and people of all backgrounds and races.

    Get marked by who? People of wild imaginations? Does every high school girl really wonder whether there have been any women physicists at this day and age? What are they told in high school? What gives them the reason to imagine that a department will be hostile to them because there are no women in a bloody picture?

    You can play the PC police and make sure that women and minorities are included if you want. I don’t care. I don’t think you’re fixing anything.

    Koray, get your head out of your ass.

    You’re so concerned about who feels welcome where. I don’t feel welcome here. You’re angry first and informative last, unlike any other blog at scienceblogs.com. Have fun preaching to your choir with your posts on male bashing.

  56. #56 Greg
    September 18, 2006

    “How are we supposed to know”

    We could refrain from shooting messengers like Zuska who come to tell us.

    “I don’t care”

    That was too much work for someone who doesn’t care.

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