Getting Away from a Chilly Climate

Jennifer Ouellette‘s take on how hard women have it in the science/skeptic universes is a must-read. Unlike some of the more polarizing commentaries people have offered in the wake of Elevatorgate, this one’s just hard to argue with. As a guy, it’s tough to read, too.

Like this story about Linda Henneberg, a science communication intern at CERN:

What she found equally bothersome is that because she’s a woman in education, not physics research, she simply isn’t taken seriously by her male colleagues at CERN, who apparently treat her with amiable condescension. Henneberg holds an undergraduate degree is in physics and a graduate degree in science communication, yet “[P]eople here, men especially, treat me like some sort of novelty item. Like because I am not a physicist, I have nothing substantive to contribute to CERN, but it’s cute that I try.”

Some men (and even women) may not even realize when they’re making the situation even worse:

A teacher calls on the boys in class more than the girls. A CEO ignores what a woman says in a meeting but listens intently when a man makes the exact same point. A conference emcee mentions a female speaker’s appearance rather than (or in addition to) her accomplishments, but feels no need to comment on the appearance of male speakers. A guy at an atheist/skeptics meeting hits on a young woman in an elevator at 4 AM, ignoring the fact that she just spent the evening talking about how she hates being objectified at such gatherings.

Again, I know you (male readers) might not act this way, but it’s clear that plenty of men do, and it’s up to us to help fix that. (When I say “you,” I include myself as well.) I’m sure I sometimes do things like this without realizing it, but acknowledging that it happens (even to those of us with the best of intentions) makes me all the more alert to it. I hope I can catch myself if/when I’m unintentionally giving men preferential treatment or treating women as anything but equals.

If nothing else, read the Manifesto for Change at the bottom of the piece. There are excellent suggestions for both men and women to help fix the sexism problems we have in our community.

On a side note, I had a chance to interview Ouellette during TAM9 and we talked about some of these very issues. Not surprisingly, she made several fantastic points that need to be spread. I’ll try to get a transcript up on this site as soon as I can.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Marcbarnhill

    Agreed, Hemant. Maybe stressing that we include ourselves in the “you” being criticized will help reach some of the guys who are closer to the edges of this ugly whirlpool.

    - Marc at EffectualAgents.org

  • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

    How do you separate the effects of being female from the effects of having a (locally) stigmatized degree?

    • http://mamamara.wordpress.com/ Mara

      Well, to begin with, I’d say that a man with a locally stigmatized degree might  have been ignored or dismissed, but he probably wouldn’t have been groped. I mean, I suppose it’s possible all the scientists at CERN are gay, but I’d doubt it.

      Let’s face it: a workplace is a bad place for groping people, propositioning them, and lame sex jokes. Amazingly, women don’t find that flattering.

      • http://twitter.com/AjurnaJ ajurna

        so she was groped now too? thats different. thats sexual assault (in the strongest terms) and illeagle so i dont see how it matches.

        3 guys are telling a lame sex joke to each other in the break area. they find these jokes funny a woman walks in half way through, are they being sexist for not including her?

        • Red

          Yes.  Read Linda’s blog post, and her subsequent comments.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

          Mara is making things up.  She wasn’t groped.  In fact she writes: “I want to say right away that I have never really felt overtly sexually
          harassed while at CERN. I have not noticed any displays of blatant
          sexism. But I have noticed displays of subtle sexism and male privilege.”

          In other words she’s been trained to interpret events in a biased way by feminists.     A man hitting on a woman?  Oh my god, SEXISM!!!!

        • kairanN

          Yes.  But it’s for choosing to tell a marginalizing joke.  From that moment, they’ve made the work environment a potentially hostile place for a women.  Of course they
          wouldn’t want to share it with her but if they don’t she’s excluded…to share it or to keep it to themselves,
          either option is an act of marginalization towards a women.  The inclusive solution:  engage in banter that doesn’t rely on cutting down other people.

          • kairanN

            *a woman…oi, 2 am is too late for this.  I’m out.

        • kairanN

          Yes.  But it’s for choosing to tell a marginalizing joke.  From that moment, they’ve made the work environment a potentially hostile place for a women.  Of course they
          wouldn’t want to share it with her but if they don’t she’s excluded…to share it or to keep it to themselves,
          either option is an act of marginalization towards a women.  The inclusive solution:  engage in banter that doesn’t rely on cutting down other people.

      • Bob Becker

        “A  workplace is a bad place for groping people, propositioning them, and lame sex jokes.”
        No argument on that. 

      • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

        Yes, I’m certainly not arguing that sexual abuse is a good thing. Thanks for straightening me out on that.

        The article in question describes “chilling effects,” or how multiple small incidents combine to create a very oppressive atmosphere. This doesn’t have anything to do with being groped or assaulted. That is an altogether different effect. What I’m trying to ask is how you distinguish between the chilling effects of misogyny and the chilling effects of having an “inferior” degree.

        • Anonymous

          In order to know for certain you would need to see how men with comparable degrees are treated. However as an individual, when you are stared at, have sexual innuendo thrown your way frequently, and even inappropriately touched, you know your gender has something to do with your problems at work. In that context being treated as “awww aren’t you cute!” can easily be classified as just another piece in the mistreatment puzzle. It may be a missclassification of course, but it does not detract from the larger point and it’s also made more suspicious given that it’s pretty clear that a lot of what happened to her wouldn’t have, had she been male.

      • Drew M.

        nvm

    • kairanN

      “the effects of being female,” eh? 

  • Nathan Palo

    The atheist/skeptic community doesn’t have a problem with sexism. The world has a problem with sexism. It just happens that atheists are not exempt (but I think we do a damn sight better then the religious).

    And how is propositioning someone the same as objectifying them? I don’t ask objects if they want to have sex with me. If I were to feel inclined to use an object sexually, I wouldn’t ask its permission first. However, if I want have sex with a person, I need their consent. Perhaps an elevator at 4 AM isn’t a good place to ask, and may come off as creepy and insensitive, but other than poor timing, I don’t see what he did wrong.

    And I also don’t see a problem with mentioning someones appearance. I don’t pay much attention to the way guys look, I am biologically forced to be attracted to women, so I notice it when they are looking good. Should I keep it to myself? I wouldn’t want other people to do that, I like it when people compliment me.

    And as for the example at CERN, maybe sexism has something to do with it, but then again, it could be the lack of an advanced degree. So 1 out of 3 examples potentially has sexism as a significant factor. Frankly I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    If you find examples of legitimate discrimination, please, point them out, but a man wanting to have sex with a woman is not sexism.

    • Anonymous

      “I also don’t see a problem with mentioning someones appearance. I don’t pay much attention to the way guys look, I am biologically forced to be attracted to women, so I notice it when they are looking good. Should I keep it to myself? I wouldn’t want other people to do that, I like it when people compliment me.”~~~~

      When you’re the emcee at a conference and you’re introducing one of the speakers?

      Yeah, you should keep it to yourself.

      In social situations? go right ahead.

      • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

        It annoys me that Conan O’Brien does this with every woman on his show. For some reason, I accept his “creepy man” act as comedy, but then every time a woman sits down to be interviewed he’ll tell her how great she looks, and it’s actually creepy.

        • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

          In this particular context, this form of creepy behavior is expected. It’s showbiz…that’s what they do.

        • Hibernia86

          You are confusing “You look great” with “I want to have sex with you” It is in a way a comment about her whole self, appearance, personality, future and all. There are, believe it or not, actually times when it is appropriate to say “You look great.”

          • Anonymous

            He doesn’t say it that way to the male guests. It doesn’t have to mean “I want to have sex with you.” All it has to mean to be creepy is “You are adequately attractive enough to receive our attention right now.”

            I suspect he really means “I can’t think of a better way to break the ice.”

            • kairanN

              I just think it’s a damn shame that every woman has to have her appearance mentioned and then noticed by the audience and almost subtly monitored (are you hot or not) to get to talk to freaking Conan OBrien’s…Conan will now speak with you; you have been suitably feminized.  Can you imagine if we took that much time to talk about a man’s clothes, body, possible weight loss(?)…how awkward…and revealing…would that be?  lol. 

              Also, pleasantries are boooooring.  Let’s get into the meat of it, or can’t they come up with anything funny?  What happens when ugly women come on…”so, uh, Hot Weather today, wasn’t it.” :-)

      • Nathan Palo

        maybe, but if a woman were the emcee and commented about my appearance, I wouldn’t see a problem with it. Or if a gay guy were the emcee, and complimented my appearance.

        Of course, the emphasis should be on the content, but that doesn’t mean the introduction can’t be personalized and made a little less formal.

        It really depends on the context. The more professional it gets, the less acceptable it becomes.

        • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

          I disagree strongly.  There needs to be a clear and unambiguous line of demarcation between what is and is not acceptable in all forms or degrees of professional settings. What you seem to suggest is far too subjective and open to interpretation.

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

      The examples of sexism are in the many irrational responses that flooded discussions of the elevator incident. No, nothing in the elevator was glaringly terrible, but news of the event was a trigger for all kinds of overreactive sexists just waiting for a chance to spew.

      Just watch the comments here: Someone will overstep their position, and then there will be backlash, and the accusations will again fly both ways.
      (you open yourself to this with the “I like it when people compliment me” talk. It is easy to slip to blaming the victim etc from there, and hypersensitive folk will assume you are.)

      • Red

        The sexism was in the lead up to the elevator.  Rebecca had already expressed her desire to not be propositioned.   Elevator Guy put his desire to spend more time with her above her desire not to approached in that manner.

        It’s been established that Elevator Guy was at the conference and was at the bar with Rebecca.  In all that time he never said anything to her, instead waited until after she left the group, and stated publicly that she was tired and wanted to sleep, to introduce himself.

        To me, that’s the most sexist part of all this, regardless of his true intentions, Elevator Guy completely disregarded Rebecca’s stated desire to simply go to sleep.  Even if he really did just want coffee and conversation, she had already made it clear that she did not want any of that.

        It’s more than just social ineptitude on his part that led him to override her desire to go to sleep.  Maybe he wasn’t consciously thinking about it, but sexism and male privilege were definitely major contributing factors to his behavior.

        • Nathan Palo

          I don’t see how you get from social ineptitude to sexism.

    • GaffiGubbi

      I hope I can get the idea of male privilege across to you somehow, because your post exemplifies it very well. I don’t mean it in a disparaging way, because lots of men do it unknowingly and without any ill will and without having a misogynistic attitude.

      Privilege partly means ignoring systemic discrimination because it doesn’t happen to you, but also partly thinking that your experience of the world is the correct one and others ought to conform to it. For example, if a black man is suspected of being a car jacker and a white man thinks “Well if I was being suspected of stealing a car, I’m sure the police would have a good reason for thinking so!” – that’s privilege. If an atheist sets up a billboard that says “Atheists, you’re not alone!” and a Christian complains “How dare these militant atheists push their beliefs down our necks! Just keep your beliefs to yourself!” – that’s privilege.

      “I like it when people compliment me” – I’m sure you do, because I do as well. However, how would you like it if you were trying to advance a career in theoretical physics, you study your ass off, you write insightful papers and the prize you get is “Nice ass, dude!”? Moreover, you cannot walk a hundred yards without someone turning their head at your posterior, and you get whistles and uncomfortable smiles all too often…  This is the problem. You may think you’re just expressing your honest opinion about a woman’s appearance, but so does every other man who does that, and the aggregate experience for the woman is to think men only appreciate her for her looks. Men and women ARE different, which is exactly why you can’t draw conclusions from how YOU would react to a certain situation. (Btw, if that doesn’t convince you to be a little more discreet, consider this: compliments about her looks are actually the worst way to pick up women. Ask any pick-up artist and he’ll confirm this!)

      And yes, asking women to have sex with them can actually be sexist if it’s done incorrectly. You may think it’s just an honest expression of carnal desire, but for her it can (at worst) be an expression of “Look, I didn’t really give a shit about your talk this evening about how men should acknowledge women in the skeptical community – to me you’re still just tits and a pussy on two legs, so how about it? The man probably didn’t think of it that way, but that’s how it can come across if you don’t pay attention. Men and women do think about things differently, partly because of biology and partly because of conditioning, and for men to think our interpretation of a certain situation is the correct one is not only naive, but also rude.

      The main point to consider isn’t “Do I have sexist intentions?” but “How will she interpret what I’m saying?”. This can be difficult at times, which is why it’s so important to actually listen to women when they have concerns about men’s behavior. Thinking “Well I didn’t think it was sexist, so it isn’t!” only solidifies one’s status as a sexist.

      • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

        “Look, I didn’t really give a shit about your talk this evening about
        how men should acknowledge women in the skeptical community – to me
        you’re still just tits and a pussy on two legs, so how about it?”

        I think this sort of point is one of the things that really winds people up and sends these discussion spinning off into flaming death. There is no ‘just’ here. At all. For one thing it’s entirely possible to be interested in someone sexually AND intellectually, and secondly, and rather more importantly, a lot of people find someone’s intellect a lot more significant to their attractiveness than their appearance is.

        If someone shows a degree of attraction that simply doesn’t mean that they’re ignoring all the good things about you, it means they’re responding to them.

        • kairanN

          Ewan, read this again, because it’s golden:
          “The main point to consider isn’t “Do I have sexist intentions?” but “How
          will she interpret what I’m saying?” ”
          and
          “…the aggregate experience for the woman is to think men only appreciate her for her looks…”

          I agree with you that both traits can be at work when you’re attracted to someone.  But here’s why I think women practice such skepticism towards your attitude:  most women are used to getting “attention” from adult men for the superficial reasons and have literally had a lifetime (it starts in when you’re a toddler) of brainwashing about their value deriving from their looks.  Only a very naive woman would imagines each new guy she encounters be the one to see her as a full person.  The default setting is, ‘wait and see, but don’t hold your breath.’

      • Nathan Palo

        So because I am not discriminated against, you can’t come up with examples of discrimination? It is true that I might miss examples that I see, but I am asking for others to bring them up when they can, and explain how it is sexist. Nobody has yet done this for the elevator incident.

        All you have done is post vague examples of what you perceive to be sexism.

        Propositioning someone for sex is not sexist. Ignoring everything other than their sex appeal is sexist, but you can do one without the other. When I say you should bring forward any examples of sexism you find, I mean it, and I will gladly condemn that behavior, or if it is me that is doing it, I will try to change my ways. But I have yet to see a single example of actual sexism in the atheist community, aside from a few comments on Youtube and other forums (which are a cesspool by default, and I don’t think they are really representative of atheists in general).

        I like being complimented, you like being complimented. I have not met a single person and found out that they don’t like being complimented (a few feel slightly awkward and don’t know how to respond, but they still do like it).  So how is complimenting someones appearance a bad thing? If you do it instead of paying attention to other qualities that aren’t influenced by sex, then it is a problem, but not because you are complimenting them, it is because you aren’t paying attention to them as a person.

        And you cannot hold me responsible for how people interpret my actions, unless the actions are at least ambiguous, or even misleading. If I tell a woman she has a nice ass, does that say anything at all about my opinions of her character? If you think it does, then you are mistaken.

        If anything, your post shows that more sexism is perceived than actually goes on. It doesn’t help that the first thing you can tell about someone is how they look, so a lot of initial comments might be about that, but that is a product of the way we interact, not a product of sexism.

    • Anonymous

      “I am biologically forced to be attracted to women.”

      Got something against LGBTQs you’d like to come out about?

      • http://www.facebook.com/hotvernors Chrissy Depowski

        He didn’t say “As a man, I am biologically forced to be attracted to women.” Chill out.

      • Hibernia86

        Anonymous, there are many people who believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, but something genetic. They shouldn’t be accused of hating people just based on their scientific opinion.

      • Nathan Palo

        So now because I am straight I have something against LGBTQs?

        Last time I checked, sexual orientation isn’t a choice. I didn’t choose to be straight anymore than anyone else chose to be gay.

        The point is, I am biologically forced to pay attention to the physical attractiveness of women, but not the physical attractiveness of men. It is largely beyond my control, so I don’t see how it is morally wrong for me to notice or compliment the looks of women more than I do the looks of men. I would expect straight women to notice men more, gay men to notice men more, and gay women to notice women more. Sexual orientation is a fact of biology, don’t expect it to go away.

  • dauntless

    The story about the woman at CERN seems to be more about her lack of education than her gender. Anyone who’s gone to graduate school or done scientific research knows that undergraduate degrees are nearly worthless in the context of specialized science. Unless there is a specific example of her opinion being disregarded in a discussion about science communication, then I would give the physicists at CERN the benefit of the doubt.

    • Twalker

       Did you read the linked article? I’m failing to see how “a hand on the knee, lame attempts at playing “footsie” with her under
      the table during meetings, and of course, tacky double entendres” might have anythign to do with her “lack of education” – unless you think this type of treatment is ok for the ignorant.

      • dauntless

        Obviously I did not. But I was responding to the part Hemant linked, where she specifically mentions that they ignore her opinion on matters because she is not a physicist. 

  • Tortuga Skeptic

    Hemant, Thank you for sharing this article,  it was really well explained.  Sadly, I’m not sure how well it will be received by those who need to understand it the most, but women need men, like you and some she named, to be part of the solution if we are to move forward.  
    I would encourage everyone to read the entire article by Ms. Oullette before drawing conclusions about exactly what she is saying.  Nathan and Michael, for example, those links are there so you can read more and get the full view before recycling old arguments about how there isn’t a problem that is specific to women.  

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

      Oh, is THAT what those links do? I tried it earlier, and couldn’t figure it out. Must have done something else wrong. Thanks for helping.

      • kairanN

        Yes, you apply a slight pressure to the button, while hovering over the intended area.  This instruction may be helpful to you in other areas as well, not that I’m making any assumptions

  • Anonymous

    To the above I would add a couple of things that make conversation on the subject maddening:
    1. Taking commentary about existing sexism as a personal accusation that YOU are sexist. Angrily defending yourself from a personal accusation of sexism that was not made while refusing to engage the larger issue of community-wide problems.

    2. Dissecting a single incident to death, while steadfastly refusing to engage the larger issue. Elevatorgate is a great example of this. Initially, it was cited as a mere example of attitudes that should not be had in the context of the larger issue of sexism within the community. Some people seem only interested in forcing the other side to admit that they could not 100% guarantee that X incident is sexist. Having either won (or simply worn the other side down) they leave, satisfied, and not actually having discussed any underlying issue.

    3. Related to 2, refusing to acknowledge that an accumulation of a bunch of small things can add up to a big thing. This is usually manifested in the straw-manning of a complaint.  “You think someone flirting with you or just commenting that a woman is pretty is sexism!” Of course this is absurd. What does happen is that for many women, going to a conference and having a large portion of the guys who approach you do it clearly for the purpose of getting in your pants, and not for hearing your ideas, oddly enough can make you feel like it’s only your body, not your mind, that’s valued. When enough women report having this sort of thing happen, you have an community problem, one that won’t go away by pretending that a single comment or proposition was the origin of the whole blow-up.

    There are probably a lot more but those are the ones that drive me personally most insane. Since this is a comments thread about sexism and as a manifestation of how not-a-problem it is in the community those tend to go so well I’ll add the sadly needed caveats that NO I’m not talking about all men and that I’m fairly certain most of the above is done unintentionally in many cases.

    • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

      Guilty as charged on Point 1. Public apology for being an overly sensitive and defensive turd some weeks back.

      • Anonymous

        I had totally forgotten about that particular incident, but I’m glad you did see my followup explanation. Apology more than happily accepted :-)

        • kairanN

          If only more men and women could do this over the issue of sexism–on the internets!!! Beautiful.

    • Hibernia86

      Okay, here is the issue as I
      see it. It is certainly exhausting to go through an ElevatorGate-like
      discussion where everything is sliced and diced into the smallest possible
      distinctions, but I still feel that people still learn more from that than the
      “The Atheist Community has a problem with sexism from some males somewhere
      that we aren’t naming specifically” because the second example leaves no
      way to tell to what extent that is true and if any progress is being made.

      My solution is that we should first
      talk about respecting women’s (and in general, people’s) right to be
      comfortable in social situations. Don’t immediately make accusations, even
      about the skeptical community at large, because then you are just going to get
      bogged down in a discussion of whether that is true or not instead of teaching
      people about the issue. Then when a specific incident comes up with
      inappropriate propositioning you can say “You may not have meant to, but
      you are making her uncomfortable, so just don’t do that in the future, okay?
      Thank you.”  And I think that that
      will make the discussions go smoother. For this to work we need to set down
      some general ground rules about when certain activities are acceptable since
      (shown by Rebecca and Stef) not every woman agrees on every situation. A
      general consensus should be reached which will help people to better know what
      to do in these situations.

  • Gliewmeden

    I have often times been puzzled at bio’s of male/female personalities at conferences. [Not atheist/CFI/Skeptic/et al]

    Often times the female bespeak of family and social ties whereas males reiterate their educational and work accomplishments.

    Knowing that the majority of speakers write their own bios, may I suggest that
    each of us call up our own dilemmas?

    • kairanN

      You’re right, of course–everyone must confront their inner sexism.  But imagine this woman’s plight:  I’ve done that self-work.  Now where do I take my internally-liberated-self so that I may live and work without the same constraints?  The system of patriarchy lives on around us if we do not confront it.

  • Charles Black

    What we must all realise is that sexism against women isn’t merely a religious problem, it is a systematic problem spawned by the love of money.
    Does the quote “The love of money is the root of all evil” mean anything here?
    http://www.sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=6978:sexism-its-systematic&Itemid=542

  • Anonymous

    We need to encourage more people to move into science.  That doesn’t just mean experimentation but all the other areas that work with scientists.  That is men and women in almost equal number.  When men and women make up half the workforce each in an industry at all levels then the novelty value will cease.

    • Bob Becker

      Encourage?  Not sure “we”  [schools? School boards?  Who, exactly.] should be actively encouraging students  to lean this way or that in re: career choice.   Removing any artificial impediments based on stereotypes to individuals making  a fully free choice?  Absolutely.   But actively encouraging students to become this or that to achieve some “balance”  you think would be beneficial to society overall?  No.   Equal access, yes.  Equal opportunities, yes.  Removal of artificial barriers, yes.  But active encouragement to choose this way rather than that, to serve some  allegedly “higher” social good?  No. 

      • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

        There’s a good number of commenters who would disagree with you. I’m not one of them. Too many folks see enforced social engineering as the way to make positive change, all while (of course) ignoring or downplaying any data that might conflict with their idea of what constitutes utopia.
        If we teach people to make sound choices based on a solid foundation of critical thought and reasoning, then we will be having less and less of these conversations as time goes on. We can’t coerce problems away. At least not without a lot of violence.

    • Anonymous

      There’s still a long way to go to get to that point. In my major, there are about 50 people in my class with the same major, and only two of them are women. In our sister major, they have about 40 students, and none of them are women. I agree with hoverfrog when he says we need to encourage more people to move into science; science really is the harbinger of a lot of good things. It’s tough to tell people what they should do though, so while I agree it would be great to even things up all over, especially in science, I’m not sure what the best way to go about it would be.

      • Hibernia86

        While it is true that it is good to take occupations that are mostly one gender (the sciences, elementary education, ect) and make them more inclusive, we also shouldn’t be forcing people into these careers just to even the gender ratios. We should strive for just openness.

      • Anonymous

        The state could offer grants to students in the hard sciences or encourage universities to lower their fees by sponsoring them.  Businesses could offer low cost loans to students and train them during gap years.

        If you have an industry that has a shortage of trained staff then make it more attractive by paying them more or offering incentives like low cost loans, relocation packages, preferential mortgage rates, package deals on benefits, stock options, etc.

        Sure it’s social engineering but it’s that or a generation of lawyers and accountants.

  • David McNerney

    Just so I can be the dickhead here: I’m not overly impressed with Oullette’s article.

    1. I think this has been beaten to death.  At this point most people get it – or aren’t going to.  I also fear that this elevator guy is possibly insecure and, given the vilification he has received, might not be that far from tying a rope to a rafter.

    2. Since when did the guy become a drunken Irishman – thanks for perpetuating that stereotype. For all we know he’s PZ Myers or AronRa.

    • Michael

      That is actually a very serious point. Does anyone know of any corroboration for the claim that he was Irish and smelled of alcohol?

      • kairanN

        Turns out he was Welsh, but so drunk, he sounded Irish.

    • kairanN

      The elevator drama should translate into deeper dialogue and ultimately, change.   I’m sorry that this topic has you all tuckered out–but–it appears sexism is an ongoing issue for half of the population. 

      ::puts smarmy inner bitch away::  Look, we’re all upset to find sexism present in our own community but giving up changes nothing.  Would you so easily surrender a challenge in the face of religious bigotry? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YX7ASMUKML5PBUZ4AT5ZHBQB7A Moq

    There’s no doubt that “Elevatorgate” has been dissected into minuscule bits and pieces by now. The behaviour of EG seemed so foreign to me that I had a hard time deciding whether it was a big deal or nothing at all. If it’s a symptom of deeper issues within the sceptic/atheist “movement”, then it should be addressed. But as someone outside the “movement”, and purely interested in scientific/atheistic topics, there has been a few too many blog entries on the subject that doesn’t offer anything new. It does generate traffic, however.

    “A teacher calls on the boys in class more than the girls.”

    I always try to ensure that even the most timid girls participate in class, but it isn’t a big problem. The problem is activating the less capable students, regardless of gender.Personally, I don’t think I’m a perpetrator of sexism nor turn the blind eye when it happens nearby, but sometimes it’s useful to be reminded that problems of this nature still exist in the 21st century. I also wonder if there are differences between Europe and the USA in terms of progress towards equality of gender.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    “Like this story about Linda Henneberg, a science communication intern at CERN”
    As someone who has worked in numerous corporate environments, I can count on one hand the number of times ANYONE took an intern seriously, regardless of their sex. Of course, this could just have been the firms I worked in, but this is a possible scenario that needs to be taken into consideration. Accusing others of some form of discrimination is often the default setting for those who just don’t know any better, lack imagination, have an ulterior motive or are somehow deficient in their work related skills or knowledge.
     Yes, sexism exists. My current wife and my ex have both suffered from it to one degree or another in their respective careers. It has cost our family many tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages alone, not to mention the emotional distress that accompanies being treated as a second class citizen. I get it. I also know that actively promoting everyone that claims sexism or racism detracts from those who have legitimate claims. Accusations of discrimination are serious and need to be treated seriously. Every allegedly oppressed individual does not have a right to my attention merely because they think they might have a claim. Instead of reading about someone being a big meanie, I’d rather be reading about what the alleged victim was doing from a legal standpoint to remedy the situation. If there is no legal remedy for what was allegedly  happening at work, then I guess what was occuring is not considered as sexism or harasssment by the law,  the complainants case is too weak OR the alleged victim decided that it wasn’t really bad enough to pursue in the first place. If any of these are the case, then what are they blogging about it for? Rhetorical question, although I’m sure at least one person in this thread will respond.
    If we are going to be promoting anecdotal accounts of alleged discrimination, it would be nice to hear the other person or persons side of the story as well, whether from formal court proceedings or media interviews.
     As a demographic that supposedly prides ourselves on demanding evidence,a great  many of us seem to abandon all requirements for evidence in situations like this.
    Food for thought.

    • kairanN

      Hmmm…another one who didn’t read the source article and yet he “gets” it enough to write a short essay.

      The intern knew the discrimination was about more than being a lowly intern because the men displayed…uh, SPOILERS…ah, ah, you’ll have to read the article to get those tid bits.

  • Anonymous

    The problem that I think is at the root of all the sexism denial in this community is that many people in the community don’t think they need to study social issues in order to understand them.

    Seriously, to those of us who do social research, y’all sound like creationists. 

    Yes, this case is an anecdote. What some don’t seem to understand is that it is a representative anecdote. You know, an example. 

    Have a connection to a university library? I know a lot of us do. Go to psychinfo and search for objectification, for stereotype threat, for stigma. Read. Then stop asking the rest of us to produce a sexist crocoduck.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    In the ideal world, there would be a time for work and a time for play.  Problems arise when some people are all work and no play.  These people then try to sneak “play” in at work.  These people need to get a healthy balance in their life – to gain some separation between work and play.  Then the women can have a safe experience at work where they can simply excel to the limit of their potential without dealing with “play” at work.  IMO. 

    • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

      I concur. If some guys were having more fun outside of work, they wouldn’t necessarily feel the need to act out on the job.

    • kairanN

      LOL!!!  “Get a social life, you nerdy sexist!  ‘Cuz true playaz keep it off the clock.”  *wink, wink*  :: SLAP:: 

      (you decide if that was my palm hitting my forehead or the aforementioned playa whapping his coworker’s ass)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

    “she simply isn’t taken seriously”

    “graduate degree in science communication”

    I think the article has already identified at least part of the problem.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=563093016 Maria Diana

    After Richard Dawkin’s sexist rant on the page mentioned in this article, I’ve lost all respect for him.


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