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confronting net discrimination?

Angeline Kantola kantola at u.washington.edu
Mon Jul 25 15:39:04 EST 1994

First: I'll admit up front that this inquiry is, strictly speaking, 
off the topic of women in biology. However, I've been thinking about it 
as a result of recent posts on this group, so I'll send it anyway. I'd 
be glad to receive and discuss responses in private communication: 
kantola at u.washington.edu is my address. Yes, I'll send it to other fora 
and would appreciate suggestions via email of other places to send it. 

Last week a few women wrote that their postings signed with gender- 
neutral first names or with 'sexless' initials were treated more 
respectfully than those signed with decidedly feminine names. I've 
certainly observed this and other markedly sexist attitudes on the net as 
well. My question is this: how many of us have then publicly challenged 
those responses? Drawn attention to a condescending tone or a 'hon' that 
wouldn't get sent to a man? I've seen some brave and witty feminist 
retorts, I've seen some of those authors subsequently get skewered, but 
mostly I've just seen (and let, admittedly) a lot of offensive garbage 
slide by. 

Another recent (and more encouraging) post told of a woman fighting for 
and winning a tenure-track position at an institution which was 
systematically discriminatory--a reminder that sexist cultures can 
be made to change if they're challenged. I'm interested in hearing about 
experiences with fighting sexism on the Net, mostly in the experiences of 
women but men are welcome to respond as well.  I'm also interested in 
conversing with people about the possibility of a more organized effort; 
it's easier to take a stand if you know people are going to back you up. 

As I said above, please reply to kantola at u.washington.edu

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