Re: Lab Chicks


... it's really amazing how much more--simply more--women have to deal with.

Yup. And not just in the hard sciences. I experience this in the social sciences too. And a lot of the women I went to graduate school with have either gone to industry/consulting, taken administrative positions, or otherwise decided to not engage in the game with the big boys because it will just wear them out. One is in a social science research lab right now where she *should* get promoted based on recent vacancies, but she likely won't because the lab head claims he "doesn't know how to interact with her" and she sees that being able to interact (play golf and have a beer?) is a key element of being second in command 'round those parts.

Sad ....

Posted by: profgrrrrl | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 7:40 AM
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I get the reverse of this. I'm a guy in a female-dominated area (10/14 of my grad courses were taught by women. My supervisor, my mentor, the department head, the chair, and 45 out of 50 people in my class in the department--all women). It makes it really obvious the benefits of being a man. People assume that I'm more serious about career advancement, think I'm smarter than I am, and even notice and listen to me more. I'm uncomfortable with it, but frankly I suck it up.

It is sad.

Posted by: guilty | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 8:56 AM
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Nice to see that reporters don't always feel obliged to go for balance by presenting opposing views.

Posted by: rilkefan | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 12:49 PM
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I shared guilty's experience when I was an English major in undergrad. Now in seminary, I am experiencing quite acutely the advantages of being straight and white as well. I no longer feel aggrieved by the existence of minority-oriented scholarships and such like.

Re: race -- in a class that is dominated by African-Americans in seminary, historically being white has been a disadvantage, even if the professor was also white. Everything a white person says is automatically suspect. It's frustrating, but also a valuable experience.

Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 12:55 PM
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Given how much of the article is straightforward statements of fact such as "men are given longer letters of recommendation than women," what would count as balance? Maybe "Other people think all of these facts are irrelevant." But I don't know.

Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 1:08 PM
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Some facts; Better candidates are given longer letters of rec than worse candidates. The crime rate in the black population is much higher than in the white population. At the time of the invasion, Saddam Hussein was a genocidal tyrant who had defied the UN for years.

Facts need context.

As far as "balance" is concerned, the blatant mischaracterization of Summers's statements should be noted. As far as the article seems to think, if you disagree with Hopkins you're "controversial". If Hopkins can't get as much space as her [longer tenured? better grant-collecting?] colleagues, it surely must be because she's a woman. If a man pushes another man to get a grant instead of Hopkins, it can't be because there's politics or mentorship involved. Perhaps I'm reading too much into the article, but I definitely got the sense there's an agenda between the lines.

Posted by: rilkefan | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 2:04 PM
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I definitely got the sense there's an agenda between the lines

Oh say it ain't so!

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 3:38 PM
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Rilkefan -- First of all, let me say that your taste in poetry is apparently exquisite.

Second of all, let me say that the way you put things, the burden of proof for a systemic bias against women in science is impossibly high. No matter how much evidence she presented, one gets the impression that you would find some way to explain it away. Your psychologizing of the author -- as though she were just doing this elaborate research in order to cover over her own failings -- is a ridiculous ad hominem.

In short, two thumbs down. Just because you're sick of hearing about systemic biases against women doesn't mean they don't exist.

Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 4:27 PM
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Rilkefan, that's partially a valid point, and partially a question of how many times does the system have to be shown to be treating specifically women unfairly for one to think that it's because they're women.

Also, ogged, it's not like we can't comment on the above post in this, or any other, comment thread.

Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 4:28 PM
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Yes, w/d, I understand that, but I take it that people will act in the spirit of the thing.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 4:29 PM
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not me you sexist bastard.

Posted by: textualist | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 4:34 PM
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Foiled again.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 4:37 PM
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RF, Walter, I understand what you're saying, but there's a distinction about newspaper reporting that we have to keep in mind. The distinction is between the use of anecdotes to demonstrate vs. illustrate. It seems pretty clear to me that this article doesn't attempt to prove that systemic bias exists; it takes that as settled fact, and gives us a sampling of the reasons for that presumption: the facts it adduces (the blind orchestra auditions are tough to argue with), the quotes from people who have studied the issue ("It shows up in every study."), and also the anecdotes.

If you simply don't trust the paper, you have no reason to credit its judgement. Fine. Neither of you has dismissed sexism as a problem, only taken issue with the article. But I would just say that the article might be doing something different than what you're expecting

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 4:40 PM
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Adam, I wouldn't dare claim systemic bias against women doesn't exist in a wide range of fields.

There are however rational things to say about the relative importance of that bias and a whole host of other factors - things which I suspect Hopkins would vehemently disagree with and which the article elides.

If I happened to read an article in a right-leaning newspaper (a very unlikely event) describing a male or female prof who repeatedly hired female postdocs only to see them drop out of projects due to getting pregnant, plus a few anecdotes about run-ins (s)he'd had with female colleagues who didn't support her/his research, I'd complaining in the same way.

Posted by: rilkefan | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 6:09 PM
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If I can be thoroughly frivolous, I understand that there's a reason you aren't specifying which kind of science your ex got her PhD in, but "PhD in science" is still a funny phrase, like something you'd see on Scientifiction Playhouse.

Maybe you can edit the post to refer to your ex's "PhD ... in science"?

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 6:32 PM
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Wait, Ogged, how did I get included in your comment? I was just pointing out that bias in newspaper articles is not exactly unheard-of, and Rilkefan was sort of acting as if it were a unique thing.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 8:06 PM
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Sorry, I thought you were endorsing. I misunderstood, again, sorry.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 8:10 PM
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I misunderstood

Seems to be a lot of that going around lately. No big deal.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Link to this comment | 04-16-05 9:15 PM
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