Thus Spake Zuska

From the September 15, 2006 AWIS Washington Wire

Women at Work-Striving for 25% Female Faculty
In 2000, the European Research Ministries set the goal that 25% of all faculty members would be female by the year 2010. Unfortunately, the numbers are likely to fall far short. To show what the visual impact of this proportion of women would be, Petra Rudolf, a professor and materials scientist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, convinced 35 of the university’s 50 female professors to show up at the opening ceremony of the new academic year. As a result of Rudolf’s planning pushed the gender ratio of those in gowns to more than a quarter. “The men seemed, shall we say, to feel the difference,” laughs Rudolf, “and they were not entirely comfortable.” But the men will have some time to get used to it. The university expects to increase female faculty from 10%, the Dutch average, to 15% by 2010. See News@Nature 443, 131 – 131 (14 Sep 2006) for more of the story.

Petra, baby, you so totally rock out loud! Can you believe the men were actually not comfortable just because they were suddenly, for one event, only 75% dominant instead of their usual 90% dominant? Sadly, yes, I can. And they call us the weaker sex. Bunch of timid turf-wardens. Hah!

Solving a Mystery of Life, Then Solving a Real Life Problem
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is one of the greatest biologists of the 20th Century. In the 1980′s, she and Dr. Eric R Wieschaus solved one of the central mysteries of life; how genes in the fertilized egg direct the formation of the embryo. In recognition of the importance of this discovery, Dr.Nüsslein-Volhard, Dr. Wieschaus and Dr. Edward Lewis were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995. Dr. Nüsslein-Volhard, one of only 10 women to win a Nobel Prize in the sciences, currently directs the Max Plank Institute for Developmental Biology. She has watched many brilliant young scientists leave science due to the strains of trying to balance a family and a successful career at the bench. Recently, with her own money and a grant from the Unesco-L’Oréal Women in Science Program, Dr. Nüsslein-Volhard has started the Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard Foundation to provide money to help young woman scientists to hire the help they need to excel in all their roles. The full interview can be read 1153195200&pagewanted=print>here.

That is one classy Nobel Laureate. Another classy Nobel Laureate is Dr. Carl Wieman who, since winning the prize in physics in 2001, has focused his career on improving science education.

These two individuals stand in sharp contrast to Nobel Laureate Dr. Susumu Toadygawa, I mean Tonegawa, at MIT. Which reminds me that I have been promising to write a follow-up to my August post in the old blog on Rollins president Lewis M. Duncan, and so I suppose I will have to do that next.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, September 19, 2006 (subscription required):

National Academies Panel Blames Biases for Women’s Underrepresentation in Science and Mathematics

Women are underrepresented in academic leadership positions in science and mathematics … because of biases, discrimination, and outdated institutional structures, according to a report issued on Monday by a panel convened by the National Academies.

The report, “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering,” says that despite making up an increasing proportion of science and engineering majors at all institutions, women continue to be a small portion of the faculty members in those fields at research universities. And they typically receive fewer resources and less support than their male colleagues, the report concludes.

Women are underrepresented in top positions in academe, professional societies, and honorary organizations not because of “a lack of talent,” the report says, but because of “unintentional biases and outmoded institutional structures that are hindering the access and advancement of women.” The report rejected the idea that the gap may be attributed to innate differences in ability, as proposed last year by then-President of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers. Mr. Summers’s suggestion sparked a wave of protest, eventually resulting in his resignation…[link added by Zuska]

…The panel … could find no evidence of “any significant biological differences between men and women in performing science and mathematics that can account for the lower representation of women,” …[and] blamed environments that favor men, continuous questioning of women’s abilities and commitment to an academic career, and a system that claims to reward based on merit but instead rewards traits such as assertiveness that are socially less acceptable for women to possess.

(Hmmm…”rewards traits such as assertiveness that are socially less acceptable for women to possess.” Do we know any women bloggers who have recently been severely chastised for their assertive behavior online? Would said female blogger have been treated the same if she were a man criticizing another man? I’m guessing if she’d been a man criticizing another woman, nobody would even have noticed. They just would have assumed the woman asked for it, I mean, deserved the criticism, I mean, was wrong. Lighten up. What’s the matter? You can’t take a joke? You have to learn to shrug these things off. You can’t let everything get to you. Why do you make such a big deal out of everything? You are so sensitive. Gosh, you can’t say anything without you getting all bent out of shape! Here we go again, with the “thought police”. If you want to be one of the girls, you have to learn to roll with the punches.)

The panel offered recommendations in the report for university personnel at all levels, from trustees, presidents, and provosts, to deans, department chairs, and tenured faculty. Professional organizations were also called upon to play a role, and federal agencies and Congress were asked to “enforce antidiscrimination laws at institutions of higher education”. (Ah, I can feel that Title IX tidal wave getting closer all the time!

The Chronicle also noted that you can purchase copies of the report in book form for $57.95 plus shipping via the Web site of the National Academies Press.

Comments

  1. #1 Bill Hooker
    September 19, 2006

    You can read the Nat Acad report online for free here. It’s a bit awkward but better than $45 for a pdf file.

  2. #2 Jackie at ElementList
    September 19, 2006

    People don’t understand that it’s important to have women in faculty positions in order to attract female students and junior female scientists. Until they let women into the higher ranks, few women will want to work in the field.

    I think the truth is that women don’t want to be alone in a department made up of mostly men any more than men would want the reverse. For women, it gets lonelier the higher up they go, until they no longer have enough connections and get shut out of clubroom. They leave because they get tired of not feeling welcome.

  3. #3 Mecha
    September 19, 2006

    Zuska, playing the part of a martyr in parentheses is a bit disingenuous, especially when you are more assertive than half the guys who tried to point out you were being insulting when you actually were. Why the mocking martyrdom? What point does that get across to… anyone? I realize this is a bit of a rant journal, and all, but… it seems very unnecessary to, you know, insult anyone who disagreed with you (or even spoke, if they were male, because they were clearly ganging up on you!) as well as pointing out how sexist they clearly are. I’m fairly sure being insulting is being insulting no matter what sex you are, and falling back to ‘clearly they would NEVER criticize a MAN for doing ANYTHING’ and ‘they would think all women deserve anything that happens to them’ is a horrible insulting smokescreen. And, oddly enough, I criticized Chad too. Maybe I’m a traitor to my sex?

    In my mind, the last paragraph of that coverage of the report is a strong condemnation of the structures of the patriarchy on its own, and only needs strong affirmation from ones own experiences, not a chilling condemnation of any man who would speak to you.

    Most of the people reading this journal, I hope, get the concept that there is such a thing as a patriarchy (and if they don’t, seriously, look around once and a while) even if they don’t wholly understand it and its sometimes subtle influence. But anyone who is capable of reading should be able to put the report together and say that there is a lot more that can be done everywhere, and a lot of problems that exist, unless they have some sort of fundamental hatred of reports (or women) or can somehow cut the entire report’s methodology out from under it (which I highly, highly doubt.) Spending an entire paragraph afterwards making fun of everyone who criticized you in your posts, as if they never had a valid point because they were all men is in poor taste, even for a goddess.

    In the end, I am left confused. These are important issues to bring up, and it’s great you are. But insulting, in specific, every man who dared say that telling Chad he had his head up his ass, among other things they said about the other insults you levied, was actually insulting, and apparently unnecessary, since he corrected himself when people spoke up. Maybe you were right and he got the magical head-from-ass-dislodger for his birthday or something.

    Doesn’t all that just detract from your point? Is people telling you you were insulting when you were the true power of the patriarchy? Because that paragraph is perhaps the most insulting kind of thing I’ve seen. All the men who criticized you think women should shut up and never talk? That’s sexism, Zuska. Not patriarchy blaming.

    -Mecha

  4. #4 venky
    September 19, 2006

    And the committee which authored the report had 17 women out of 18 members. How about some diversity ladies?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/18/science/19womencnd.html

  5. #5 Mecha
    September 20, 2006

    Okay, I may be taking issue with Zuska’s tone in that paragraph, but Venky, it is completely unfair to criticize this committee for being mostly female (and annoying that you tried to tack it on as an ‘and’ to my conversation. :P) For a number of reasons.

    1) This statement is galling especially because the phrase ‘How about some diversity, ladies?’ feels dismissive and almost diminuitive in its treatment of women (to me). It takes only a cursory examination of the field to realize that men outnumber women on most every _other_ committte at every univeersity. Would you rather every committee report be met with cries of ‘How about some diversity, guys, your consclusions are clearly invalid?’ Hrm. Wait. No. A high percentage of male-only committes is _indicitive of a problem_, mainly… a lack of female professors and a lack of willingness to accept their input. Some perspective, please.

    2) Women aren’t naturally wrong. Shocking, I know. Seriously. Is there an inherent ‘bias’? Probably. But is it a bad one that is causing them to make unfounded conclusions? Almost certainly not. Traditionally, women have to stand up and deliver these messages. Not because they’re trying to squeeze out men. But because men generally _don’t_.

    3) If you’re going to attack the report, you can’t attack it on the _basis_ of it being written by mainly women, whether it focuses on women in science or any other subject. (See point 2: Women aren’t inherently wrong.) If you must attack it, try taking issue with the methodology of the report, if you can. Looking through the data presented (which is easily available, if you — http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ . There. I saved everyone the effort.) Seriously. It’s not like they’re making giant logical leaps, here. The language of the statistics reports is very similar to the committee’s report, even. The numbers are clear, if a bit harder to wade through than graphs. The committee didn’t make these numbers up, and the implication that they did something underhanded simply because they’re women is appalling.

    Here, let me take a very simple part and small part of the 2004 data. (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf04323/pdf/sect4.pdf). All you have to do is look at the first page. Even before getting into the detailed analysis, the conclusion is very much in the black and white of the tet. Women are, percentagewise, in the ‘lower’ divisions of the tenure tracks despite equivalent age. And they’re significant percentage points, in the 10ish range. So are the NSF incompetent now? Or maybe there’s something here?

    Beyond the raw statistics and direct conclusions from them, there’s a lot of other parts of the proposal that are worth a look. Their coverage of theories of discrimination, for instance. It’s not Feminism 101, per se, but very little is except Feminism 101.

    In conclusion: A statement like ‘How about some diversity, ladies’, is dismissive to women (in tone alone!) and completely unbased in any actual criticism of the methodology or conclusions, which anyone can take a look at. It is also stunning in its complete lack of perspective: ‘How about some diversity, boys?’ is a fact of life in many places. One committee happens to say something negative about what is a male power structure, and all of a sudden it’s all about diversity? I think not.

    -Mecha

  6. #6 Pam
    September 20, 2006

    “And the committee which authored the report had 17 women out of 18 members. How about some diversity ladies?”

    Geez, if we dismissed every report written predominately by men in this way…where would we be?

    Reportless, I’m guessing.

    Very little is new in this report – at least from the perspective of a female scientist in the trenches. The most interesting part of the report to me (like Mecha also mentioned) are the theories on discrimination – not necessarily new stuff either, but when it comes to something like this, redundancy is a good thing.

  7. #7 venky
    September 21, 2006

    To Mecha and Pam,

    You are right. Just because a report is authored by a panel of 18 members out of whon 17 are women doesn’t mean it is invalid.

    Similarly if some department has a preponderance of white men as faculty doesn’t mean that that department is bigoted. Competence is not the domain of one sex.

    We have to start looking beyond people’s gender. The real diversity does not lie in your crotch or in the colour of your skin or in your facial features. It lies in the mind. Real diversity is the diversity of ideas.

  8. #8 Greg
    September 21, 2006

    That some department has a preponderance of white men is just a little joke played on us by chance. There is no need to feel anxious nor to seek institutions with more natural gender balances.

    There is no homosexual conspiracy. Most men think like Venky, that “competence is not the domain of one sex”. If from time to time some rascals manage to subvert the hiring and tenure processes and build a mostly male or mostly white team, we should applaud their courage and support their efforts to show that white men can do science too.

  9. #9 venky
    September 21, 2006

    The comment about the Title IX Tidal wave also piqued my interest. Do women only universities like Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, etc receive federal funds? Should they receive federal funds given that they actively discriminate against men?

  10. #10 Greg
    September 21, 2006

    Why don’t you find out?

  11. #11 venky
    September 21, 2006

    Found.

  12. #12 Mecha
    September 25, 2006

    I come back from vacation and I find… um, well, let’s respond.

    Venky: A ‘preponderance of white men’ in a situation is not a problem in and of itself. Remember that you are the one who brought up that ‘lots of women is clearly unfair!’ However, this is not the real issue, which is part of why your initial post was wrong.

    The issue, which is very easy to research, is why this ‘preponderance of white men’ exists (and, in fact, why this report having a large amount of women is actually noticeable, especially for someone who thinks that we shouldn’t concern ourself with gender/ethnicity.) And it does, in jobs, in academia, in media, in fiction, in government, etc. Any attempt to pretend that a perfect meritocracy not having a distribution of people equal to the distribution of people in general society edges perilously close to racism. You seem to imply that it’s all about competence, and yet there is an enormous gap between ‘male white people’ and ‘everyone else’ in many, many, many places (including science: Read the report.)

    I would ask you how you rectify these heavily conflicting facts, when the report by the women you admit is not inherently false provides a far more comprehensive view, not focused on this one derailing issue of committee composition. Don’t focus on one little detail and try to make it a proof of everything: it fails inherently. Don’t try to suddenly ‘turn sexism back on women’, when you were the one who sarcastically and insultingly tried to imply that those women were lying/being inherently sexist: it destroys your argument and credibility. Women are discriminated against in many places, in many ways. Look at the entire situation. Look at the report. Try to apply the logic of “if society were equal, then why is there no good non-discrimintory reason for every single discrepancy between ‘general distribution of society’ and ‘general distribution of [insert subgroup here]‘”. The evidence of discrimination towards women? Large. Very, very large. And no amount of ‘ignoring gender and ethnicity’ by you will make that untrue. No amount of trying to tell women that they shouldn’t point out that under the guise of ‘ignoring race and sex’ will make that untrue either. Feminist progress didn’t happen because of passivity.

    Again. If you’re going to attack the body of statistics that supports the report, do it. Don’t intimate reverse sexism: It is a rare point in human history where where a scientific report based on statistical evidence was dismissed due to lots of men being on the committee, yet you started off your conversation here with just that.

    Greg: Homosexual conspiracy _what_? Applauding that ‘white men can do science too’ _WHAT_? Please, please, please educate yourself on this issue, because those two statements are incredibly… well, bad. Patriarchy is not a homosexual conspiracy, it’s a power structure and social norm and a bunch of other little things (it’s the christian fundamentalists that think there’s a homosexual conspiracy, and it has nothing to do with this issue.)

    And as to your other thing… white men happen to make up the majority of scientists. If ‘white men’ can’t do science, then, at the moment, quite a bit of science wouldn’t be done, because the number of non-white non-male scientists is low. Read the report. Look into patriarchy.

    Both of you should look into inherent male privilege and white privilege: http://colours.mahost.org/org/maleprivilege.html . You may not agree with everything in them, but examine them. Think about them. The concepts behind them are very real.

    -Mecha

  13. #13 Zuska
    September 25, 2006

    So, so, so, so tired of the rebuttal that goes: “I am going to focus on this one little nitpicky detail that has nothing whatsoever to do with the overwhelming body of evidence that rampant sexism is the norm in science-as-usual and claim that this one little nitpicky detail is a major huge issue of overwhelming significance that we must discuss unto the very death and no matter what you say you cannot convince me otherwise that this one little nitpicky detail negates all the incredibly undeniable evidence that rampant sexism is the norm in science-as-usual and therefore since we cannot get past this one little nitpicky detail I am under no obligation to even consider the overwhelming body of evidence that rampant sexism is the norm in science-as-usual because I am really upset about this one little nitpicky detail and why why why can you not soothe and stroke me and make me feel better about this one little nitpicky detail and I don’t understand why you women always get so upset and angry and belligerant whenever a man tries to point out a problem with your argument and you women are so emotional and you can’t be logical and that’s what the problem is and if you could just be calm and rational and speak in a civil tone we could talk like adults about this but you are always flying off the handle and being rude and what makes you think I even would be willing to listen to someone who is so rude and if all you can do is rant and be rude it suggests that maybe you don’t really have much to support your position and you never did respond to me about that one little nitpicky detail that I am really interested in and all I am asking is that you address that one little nitpicky detail and if you could just answer me, about that one little nitpicky detail, then we could be having a dialogue, but your refusal to acknowledge, let alone even try to answer, my question about that one little nitpicky detail, calls into question your whole enterprise, and I think it underscores the importance of that one little nitpicky detail. Plus, there’s no need to be so rude. All I was doing was asking a simple question, raising an issue. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

    To which Zuska replies:
    Please step forward and take a seat in one of the chairs against the wall. Extend both legs just a little with feet flat against the floor, space about 6 inches apart. This will maximize efficiency and optimize coverage area for me to PUKE ON YOUR SHOES.

  14. #14 Absinthe
    September 25, 2006

    *AMEN* to that Zuska. I too am getting pretty freaking tired of comments on my blog about how I might be “a more effective advocate for change” if I just “toned down the anger”. I love the comment by someone in your comment list above complaining about you “playing the martyr”. I got a comment like that too. I am no martyr…I am one righteously pissed off physicist with one kick-ass research and publication record who got black balled from the field only because I chose to have a baby and then dared to complain about the endless egregious discriminatory bullshit that followed in the wake of the birth. And this righteously pissed off female is on a quest to do everything and anything in her power to change the fucked-up field of particle physics in any way she can. And you can be assured she isn’t going to be doing it with quiet demure arguments that are carefully crafted to offend absolutely noone. No, instead I choose to be eloquently angry, and eloquently vitriolic. And you know what? It has gotten the attention of some important and very powerful people who can actually do something about the problem. Stay tuned on that.

    So fuck the quiet, demure, and diplomatic route. Keep telling it like it is sister.

    Luv,

    Absinthe

  15. #15 Zuska
    September 25, 2006

    Mecha, I think Absinthe might be referring to you RE the martyr comment. I know that usually you are a quite sympathetic commenter and I am not inclined to go ballistic on you…that said, I wrote this reply some time ago but the system was messed up at the time and it wouldn’t publish…so here it is, 5 days later.

    Hmmm…well…I don’t feel like a martyr. I’m certainly not interested in martyrdom. I considered that as a career option when I was about 8 but got turned off when I realized all the cool Catholic martyrs ended up dead awfully early.

    The parenthetical was meant to be an observation of something that I think is true in the virtual world as well as real life – women are held to a different standard of behavior. There is also a growing body of literature on the phenomenon of cyber-harassment. I’m not saying that the response to my post on Chad was cyber-harassment. Just that I think things would have unfolded differently if (1) I had been a man criticizing someone else, male or female, or (2) if I had been criticizing someone whom the denizens of Scienceblogs generally are already critical of. Let’s say I had made an observation about something William Dembski had written, and I noted that he had his head up his ass while writing it. I doubt that the same readers would have rushed to his defense (though maybe the Intelligent Designers would have come out of the woodwork; that’s a different story). I do not think, however, that the same people would have been bothered by my “rude” or “uncivil” tone in criticizing Dembski. They’d probably have enjoyed it.

    The latter half of the parenthetical remark is a summary of the kinds of things that get said to women whenever they resist harassing comments, or raise gender issues. I have heard every one of them at some point in my life. In the last one, of course, I substituted “girls” for “boys”. It sounds very odd, doesn’t it, when it’s turned the other way? It sounds harsh and unpleasant and rude and mean. It sounds just like what it sounds like when it comes towards women. Which is what I was trying to illustrate. NOT, as you seem to think, trying to play martyr. I’m much more interested in living well than in being a martyr.

  16. #16 Mecha
    September 25, 2006

    I don’t know if Zuska’s replying to me, because she didn’t address me, and there’s plenty of other things to be angry at in the comments here. I certainly did take issue with one aspect of her post, while supporting the others, which is at odds with her actual response (wherin she said that the people she was yelling at were trying to bury discrimination.) So I can’t quite be sure, even though I was a male who commented on the earlier discussion, so I’m covered in the parenthetical attack. If she’d like to address me directly, that’d be great. If not, oh well.

    However. Absinthe did take issue with what I said, and got angry that I pointed out and believe Zuska was playing the martyr in that paragraph, so let me work on the chain of logic backing it. Look at what she wrote, parenthetically:

    (Hmmm…”rewards traits such as assertiveness that are socially less acceptable for women to possess.” Do we know any women bloggers who have recently been severely chastised for their assertive behavior online? Would said female blogger have been treated the same if she were a man criticizing another man? I’m guessing if she’d been a man criticizing another woman, nobody would even have noticed. They just would have assumed the woman asked for it, I mean, deserved the criticism, I mean, was wrong. Lighten up. What’s the matter? You can’t take a joke? You have to learn to shrug these things off. You can’t let everything get to you. Why do you make such a big deal out of everything? You are so sensitive. Gosh, you can’t say anything without you getting all bent out of shape! Here we go again, with the “thought police”. If you want to be one of the girls, you have to learn to roll with the punches.)

    Now. This was clearly in reference to the previous discussions about Chad’s post on Zuska’s journal. The clever not mentioning of names fools nobody. Then she straw-persons the entire argument by going ‘Would said female blogger have been treated the same if she were a man criticizing another man?’ Well. I criticized Chad (in two places!), and didn’t get torn up by Chad… but I also didn’t use Zuska’s language and tell him he had his head up his ass. So it’s hard to tell (seriously, it is) but the assumption that ‘the only reason anyone spoke up is because I’m female’ (and not because of any other reason, despite what anyone said)… interesting, sometimes backed by evidence in certain situations… but characterized by the word ‘martyr’.

    The _entire rest of the paranthetical_ is the building up of this sexist straw person… well, now a straw man, clearly, as it is male, in place of everyone who raised their voice in the comments and was a male. Some of that type of behavior WAS seen in the comments, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by sheer lack of understanding. However, a large part was not. It is seen in the real world, and is angering, demoralizing, awful behavior. But by tying it to the questions levied at Zuska, in that instance, it is setting up the men in the entire discussion chain as, essentially, evil misogyny sexists, and Zuska as the bright and shining martyr for the cause, standing up against men (in the environment she has complete control over.)

    Is it ranty? Yes. Is it Zuska’s blog, so she can be ranty? Sure. But it hurts her argument, badly, in this post, and is incredibly disingenuous to act like that entire argument had… well, any sort of power over her or strict relevance to the report, or is all that comparable. (Her situation in life? Likely comparable. That comment argument? Does not compare to women being dissuaded from working in science by bad environments, male blindness, lack of female role models, etc.) The report covers a lot of things. The parenthetical remark… was just pure sarcasm. It’s a side-jaunt along the realms of treating anyone who argued with her as evil. There’s pretty much nothing I can take issue with in the rest of the post, but then she does the equivilant of gossiping about the horrible men who would dare stand against her. And she paints _all of them_ with the same brush. That is, in general, the exact kind of behavior that makes it hard for people to tell in general whether you’re talking about the patriarchy or them (which Zuska took issue with in one of the discussion threads: people thinking they were being yelled at when Zuska was trying to be general) Because this time? You were talking about all of them as if they were nothing but tools of the patriarchy. Even if some of them didn’t get it, some of them were trying, some of them did.

    As an example, I’d like to think that I’m, uh, actually not arguing for the subjugation of women, what with my disagreeing with Greg and Venky and who knows how many others, but by Zuska’s wide paintbrush, that’s apparently exactly what I’m doing, because I was one of the men who didn’t agree with her (and again, in this comment thread, it becomes likely I’m also an evil tool of the patriarchy, as per her last comment.) Does that help her argument? If she were attacking me, who has tried to point out male privilege and link to statistics that support the report directly… does that actually help her argument?

    Putting aside the general argument of ‘are women allowed to be angry about things’, because it’s stupid: Of course they are, especially about sexism, and the general argument of ‘does being angry help people realize there’s a problem’, because it’s stupid: yes, sometimes it DOES (as you and Zuska have apparently found, and I have as well, after all, I probably wouldn’t have commented on Chad’s journal to point out the problem with _his_ ideas/argument if Zuska weren’t angry)… does what I just described, this particular situation help, or hurt?

    In general, acting like anyone who disagrees with you is trying to take away your ability to speak is a gross exaggeration. And making out some blog comments as perfect representations of the evils of sexism, without actually arguing against them directly… well. I said Zuska was making herself out to be a martyr unnecessarily in that paragraph, and as nobody’s actually argued against it (just the men who spoke) I’m still left with that impression.

    So. If I am wrong, would someone like to show me why? Or not?

    -Mecha

  17. #17 Mecha
    September 25, 2006

    Ah, Zuska, my apologies. You did respond while I was typing my (justification) response to Absinthe. And you did clear up whether you were referring to me in general, and for both, thank you. (I fear that my big post might be too heavy-handed now as to my justifications. Ah, the internet. You can never take it back.)

    I think that the way you’ve rephrased the meaning of the first part in the first big paragraph of your response is worth considering for _everyone_ reading here if they didn’t nod immediately on seeing it. Women often _are_ held to a different standard. General demureness, being told to ‘smile more’, etc, all of which is a step away from the ‘we’d listen to you if you were nicer!’ tripe. I’d like to think (1) was not the case in all comments (yay optimism) but I’d be dumb to think it was not the case in at least _some_ (especially the ones that addressed you directly as a woman.) And (2) is definitely true. People often don’t defend the very disliked. (Or the discriminated against.) Both excellent points. (And for those of you that don’t get the general view of it, look around a little. You’ll see exactly what she’s talking about.)

    I caught the last half as a summary, but I saw it (as my giant post above this points out) as a characterization of the men who were criticizing you, building up the straw-man of evil, not as a total turn around. But you are right on that it happens a lot, at least in my view.

    In that perspective, I still think the brush was wide, but martyr was indeed the wrong word to use. And you have shown me why (even before I asked. ;) Thank you.

    -Mecha

  18. #18 venky
    September 28, 2006

    So I use Zuska’s tactics against her and she is all hot and bothered.

    Zuska says — All academic departments which are dominated by men actively discriminate against women and favour men.

    I used the same argument to say (tongue in cheek; refer to my response to Mecha and Pam) — All study panels which are dominated by women discriminate against men and favour women.

    Which of course touched a raw nerve in Zuska (or shall I say her digestive system since she has evinced a desire to puke on my shoes; as an aside if you give me your address I will send you my shoes)

    There is only one word to describe you Zuska — HYPOCRITE

  19. #19 Zuska
    September 28, 2006

    Venky, please send your shoes to me in care of Scienceblogs.com, I’m sure they will forward them. They’ve been most helpful with everything to date. Don’t forget to include return postage and a mailing label if you want them back.

    There is certainly more than one word to describe Zuska, to wit:
    Goddess of Science, Empress of Engineering, Avenging Angel of Angry Women. Didn’t you read the “About” tab? I don’t believe the word “hypocrite” was there.

    Zuska is never hot and bothered, except perhaps when Mr. Zuska arrives home at the end of the workday.

  20. #20 Absinthe
    September 28, 2006

    First of all, I’d like to say that I know Zuska very well, and she is the least hypocritical person I’ve ever met. She tells it like it is, never uses Double Speak, and stands behind every word she says with data and long personal experience to back it up. If you can’t handle someone telling it exactly like it is for women in the sciences, perhaps there is some other blog you should be spending your time reading.

    Second: Venky, be sure to send your shoes on to Zuska. Zuska, if he does, please, please post the before and after photos.

    Third: I don’t give a damn if it is an all male panel, all female panel, or a mixed panel of people doling out the career advancement perk of the day. I would be overjoyed if any of those mixtures would start blatantly favouring women over men. Yes! you heard me correctly. I would like to see blatant and exuberant favouritism of females over males. Ahh, it brings a smile to my heart just thinking about such a scenario.

    Because, as Debra Rolison once put it “Isn’t a millenium of affirmative action for white males enough?”

    Damn straight it’s enough, Debra. Time to dedicate the next millenium to wholehearted exuberantly kick-ass no-holds-barred affirmitive action for females and minorities.

    And no doubt pretty much all the males out there will get their knickers all in a twist about anyone suggesting aggressive affirmative action for females. God Help Us if a female were ever actually to be favoured over a male for anything, even once, let alone for an entire millenium.

    And given that there has been obvious affirmative action for white males for the past millenium, doesn’t it make all the males who resisit aggressive affirmative action for females over the next millenium the true hypocrites?

  21. #21 tonyl
    September 29, 2006

    Absinthe: And given that there has been obvious affirmative action for white males for the past millenium, doesn’t it make all the males who resisit aggressive affirmative action for females over the next millenium the true hypocrites?

    No, because their parents taught them that two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Affirmative action for females is a useful and necessary measure for correcting current disparities and increasing the number of women in these fields, but most of us are hesitant to punish future generations for sins of thier ancestors.

    The true hypocrites in your scenario are the ones claiming that affirmative action is wrong, so we should institute afirmative action.

  22. #22 venky
    October 5, 2006

    A good reasoned commentary on the report by Cathy Young

    http://www.reason.com/cy/cy100306.shtml

  23. #23 Zuska
    October 5, 2006

    That is so funny, Venky! For a minute there you almost had me – I thought you were serious! Ha ha ha ha….oh wait. You are serious, aren’t you?

    Young asks – but does not answer – the following question:

    But what if single-minded devotion to work really is essential to outstanding success in science?

    then goes on to say

    None of this is to say that women are incapable of being outstanding scientists – many women are, and their advances in these fields have been spectacular – or that nothing can be done further to reduce the gender gap. Cultural stereotypes undoubtedly play a role in the fact that even mathematically and scientifically gifted girls are more likely than boys to choose “human interest” professions rather than science.

    So what’s the point of all her huffing and puffing about the report and her oh-so-touchingly tearful lament of the late, great, departed Harvard president Lawrence Summers? Well, it’s much more fun to impugn the members of the committee that produced the report – easy task, all you have to do is call them “feminists” – e gads! feminists!!! the horror, the horror! Then, impugn the report itself by claiming it portrays women as victims; why bother to actually deal with the real report itself? This is a favorite tactic of conservatives who wish to position themselves as supporters of women’s issues while not actually having to do anything – portray the opposition as “victimizing” women.

    Where’s Cathy Young right now? I’d love to puke on her shoes.