So any and all of you that have been following this blog in the last week, and Drugmonkey’s blog in the last week- are familiar with the discussion of gender in science. The post at Drugmonkey developed a rather long comment thread which took several parallel tracks.
But I want to spend one last post on a last point from that discussion which has been bothering me for the last few days. Discussant Dave got things started… and made some rather inflammatory remarks about the inclusion of women at meetings and such that drove the discussion for quite a while… and I think hit several people right in the gut- including myself at times. It was ugly at several points in the comment thread, really really ugly from many directions. But Dave- to his credit stuck with the discussion and actually started attempting to learn from it, took some suggestions seriously and started participating in the discussion in a real way. I acknowledged this effort on Dave’s part on the comment thread.
What disturbs me about this interaction is that some of the participants in the discussion are not willing to give Dave (and others like him in real life) the benefit of the doubt on his effort in the end and on his willingness to be open and change his opinion. As Isis noted in her final response post:
However, the types of statements made early in the discussion are statements that, when made in real life, cause women to leave academia. And they are made in real life. Frequently. I’ve heard them and, I imagine, other women that read the DrugMonkey blog have heard them.
I completely agree with this.
But here’s the thing. I’m a woman in academic science, surrounded by male colleagues in my field- some more progressive than others. Personally, I think that there is a lot of sexist behavior that goes on in real life simply because the perpetrator didn’t think first about what he said- and NOT because he was purposely trying to be an ass. So- ask yourself what’s the right thing to do in these situations.
Does it benefit you to write off every person in your field who has ever made a sexist remark no matter how subtle in your presence, even when you know those particular people to be otherwise good and decent colleagues??? Can male colleagues ignorant to the subtle sexism or ignorant to the inflammatory nature of their remarks or actions be educated to do better?? Are there some out there willing to listen and learn- willing to become your true allies??
For myself- I want to be preaching to more than just those already converted. So, how do you bring your allies around to your side- instead of just calling them asses and adding them to your list of enemies….