Tag Archives: Feminism

No, you can’t wear that to school

UPDATE 14 NOV 2014 11:30AM: Matt Taylor made a sincere (according to trusted reports – I haven’t seen it yet) today.

Short-sleeved button down is unacceptable. The tie clip is unnecessary. What is that mess in your pocket? On the other hand, the four-in-hand knot was absolutely the right choice for your tie. Also, congratulations on landing people on the moon for the first time. That was pretty awesome.

Charles Duke (CAPCOM Apollo 11) making space history in a bad shirt without offending anyone.

I’m the proud parent of two small children. That means we occassionally (ie, every day) have to review the clothes they select and determine if they are appropriate for the day’s events (eg, landing a robot on a comet). Sometimes we have to intervene because they have made poor choices. We apply experience, knowledge of the day’s activities, and awareness of the effect their personal presentation can have on others to identify poor choices. I am the adult. Making sure my kids represent themselves, our family, and our values positively is part of my job.

My kids don’t always like being told that they need to make a change to their attire. That dislike is sometimes expressed in a loud – painfully loud – and vocal manner. They are young. They are inexperienced. They will be making bad decisions with total commitment well into the future. That does not relieve me of my responsibilities to limit the harm done by those bad decisions, because I am the adult. This is my job.

European Space Agency (ESA) scientist Matt Taylor must not live with responsible parents, because he showed up for work in a shirt covered with pictures of scantily clad women* (violating any HR policy not written by Silvio Berlusconi). He wore that shirt to work on the day that the ESA was landing a robot on a comet – on the day that event was broadcast globally – on the day he was going to appear on that global broadcast. Wearing that shirt was a bad decision.

Screenshot 2014-11-12 23.45.47

Matt Taylor’s individual bad decision turned into a bad decision for the entire ESA. He was allowed to go in front of the camera dressed like that. He was allowed to make robotic space exploratio appear unwelcoming to women. He was allowed to make that portion of the webcast unwatchable in my child’s classroom.

Screenshot 2014-11-12 23.48.59

Were they so unaware that they did not realize his clothing would offend so many? Or, were they aware, but decided the interview was more important than the offense? Either way it speaks to systematic blindness toward the negative and chilling effects of sexism. Cameras turn off.

During the webcast, numerous old, white guys spoke of ambition, collaboration, courage, and hope for the future; but no one had the bravery to stop one man from making a fool of himself, emabarassing their organization in their moment of triumph, and signalling that the field of robotic space exploration is not ready to treat women with respect and dignity.

Those “no ones” at the European Space Agency – those “no ones” who should have been “someone” – are the ones that I want to hear apologize and explain themselves. I have kids. I know the job you were supposed to do. You didn’t do it.

*No, I am not going to post a picture of it. If you want to see it, you can find it.

Are you a Twitter Science Superstar?

by Brainleaf Communications

In the beginning, there was Neil Hall’s tone deaf “Kardashian Index”. Then there was Science Magazine’s list of 50 Twitter science superstars. Combined they painted a pretty clear picture that being active on social media was only considered a desirable characteristic in a thin slice of the population – you know, white dudes.

Hall did so by mocking young scientists who are active and effective on social media. Science Magazine did so by featuring very few women or people of color in their list.

PZ Myers, who did make Science Magazine’s list, takes them, particularly the editors, to task:

Isn’t it weird how invisible people suddenly become apparent if you just look for them?

In doing so, PZ reminded me of a Blues Brothers themed piece I wrote a few years ago for Nature’s Soapbox Science about finding audiences where they are on social media. Rather than fighting over the niche audience of science fans, we need to be convincing people to be science fans – much like Jake and Elwood convinced people to like the Blues. Continue reading

Looking for personal stories from women in science

Originally posted on Marie-Claire Shanahan’s personal blog, Boundary Vision, on 27 August 2014.

The submission deadline for provisional topics and titles is 10 September 2014.

Me and my daughter admiring a penguin at the Calgary Zoo.Diving headlong into motherhood this year has meant less blogging (obvious to anyone who subscribes here…), but it has also made me think a lot more about the scientific life that I would hope for my new daughter and girls like her. Currently her research interests include ceiling fans, her toes, her soother, the dogs and the penguins at the Calgary Zoo. But should she be interested in pursuing science as a career, what would I want her to know? Continue reading

There seems to be a trend

In an depressingly similar story to those found in the SAFE13 study reported by Kathryn Clancy, Robin Nelson, Julienne Rutherford, and Katie Hinde, respected science writer Christie Aschwanden wrote up the results of a survey of science writers for the New York Times:

More than half of the female respondents said they weren’t taken seriously because of their gender, one in three had experienced delayed career advancement, and nearly half said they had not received credit for their ideas. Almost half said they had encountered flirtatious or sexual remarks, and one in five had experienced uninvited physical contact. – Christie Aschwanden

The results and additional information are available as part of the plenary presentation from the Women in Science Writing: Solutions Summit 2014.

Based on these surveys, it is hard to compare scientific field work or science writing to any other professions. It is disturbing that every time we actually take a look under this particular rock we find similar results.

The failure to look for the problem does not mean that you don’t have a problem.

 

Putting his money where his mouth is on gender equality in science

Doing it right. UC Davis microbiome researcher Jonathon Eisen not only turned down an endowed lectureship because the series was too male dominated, but also engaged the lecture series leadership and suggested replacements (hat tip to Evelyn Padilla).

For a more journalistic account, check out Elizabeth Case (hat tip to Jonathon Eisen).