Dr. Ben Barres Presentation at Harvard…

A colleague sent me a link to (the webcast can be found if you scroll down to 3/17 to find the presentation/ you need realplayer to view this) this presentation given at Harvard last month by Ben Barres, a professor at Stanford University who is transgender and underwent a sex change from female to male 14 years ago. He has lived and worked first as a female scientist, and also as a male scientist. Following the irresponsible remarks of Harvard President Lawrence Summers in 2006 that there may be less women in science because women are innately less good at science, and Dr. Barres wrote a commentary in the journal Nature (‘Does Gender Matter?’), while the scientific establishment sat quietly on its hands. Dr. Barres has continued to work to open the eyes of the establishment to the depth of gender bias against women in science and propose innovative ways to counter discriminatory practices against women.

Last week there was a rather lengthy discussion over at Drug Monkey about biases against women in science, and about being ‘that guy’ who stands up and actually does something about this. Dr. Barres is ‘that guy’, I hope that the scientific establishment will be forced honestly look at the data- and make some serious adjustments- this can’t happen fast enough. But Dr. Barres also has a message for us women scientists too- we need to ASK for what we want and keep asking (child care support for example), we need to organize if necessary (and it is necessary), and we need to educate and enlist the help of our male colleagues in changing the culture of science. We need to provide the best example to our students, mentor and encourage to build self-confidence of our young scientists- this is especially important for young women. Doing this takes active effort- it doesn’t just ‘happen’ because we wish it to be so…


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