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Re. Abused junior scientists.

Cheryl Fillekes fillekes at ihug.co.nz
Wed Jul 14 17:54:13 EST 1999

sorry for the extensive quoting in this, but it's all just too good to

This is sort of an Anti-flame.    I also like the one where you're asked
to write proposal after proposal after proposal, and then when one
gets funded, they try to put the next male that comes along on the
funding you've gotten.  And when you say, "but what about me?" it's
like "oh, aren't you going to be having children soon?"  True story!

What I don't get is how the MIT report could have identified this kind
of nonsense as "unconscious" discrimination.  Aren't these the smartest
people in the whole bloody world?  Scary!  "Why did you put your hand
on your female graduate student's thigh, Professor?"  "I was unconscious."

"Why did you say that a male student would be better suited for this
funding obtained by a female student, and cite her potential for
as the reason?"  "I was unconscious."  "On what basis did you negatively
characterize a woman's results when they were identical to a man's who
received positive comments from you?"   "I was unconscious."

There's an awful lot of unconscious faculty members out there.
Are they unconscious, or are they just drunk?  By AAUP rules,
can unconsciousness be grounds for breaking tenure?

Can we make a comedy show out of these horror stories?
comic strip?  After all, look at what Dilbert tapped into.
Send all your horror stories to me, I'll make
your detractors squirm with horror at seeing their
own words placed in the mouth of a negative character!

50 years of progress: 5 frames at 5 decades, 5 different outfits,
each one an older male scientist talking to a younger female...
starting in 1950 at Los Alamos: "we know that you're the only
gal that can program the ENIAC for these ballistics calculations...
so why don't  you take an hour next week to teach one of the
secretaries how you do that, just in case you get pregnant or

1960 at...University of Chicago: Maria Goeppert-Mayer: "Well,
yes, we know you're a Nobel Laureate and all, but we're
giving the paid position to your husband, and sure, you can
have a desk and some chalk, but anti-nepotism rules, you know...
but hey, aren't you going to be having children soon?"

1980. "Hey that's a terrific program you wrote!  Here's a new
undergraduate hire...why don't you show him how to  run it,
he's going to be doing some research with us."


Actually, we could have a ball with it.


Thanks SL Forsberg!
>Thanks, Linnea!
>This topic has come up here before.  While none of us denies that family
>issues are very important, there is a dangerous tendency to assume
>that they are the only issues affecting women scientists and this
>engenders complacency ("oh we've dealt with maternity leave so there's
>no problem now.")  Well, guess what?  Those of us who don't have and
>don't intend to have kids are hardly free from discriminatory behavior.
> Materinity can be used as an excuse  (eg, the infamous "mommy
>track") to marginalize women, whether or not they are pregnant--but the
>problem isn't pregnancy, it's being female.
>Peter Prevelige (prevelig at uab.edu) wrote
>> I am a bit concerned that anecdotes, gleaned from the internet, under
>> the subject line of "Abused junior scientists" for a magazine
>> targetted at a lay audience, may lead to an article with a very
>> biased perspective.
>And of course, if John does write his story about pregnancy issues,
>then a large portion of the population will just say, "well,
>then women shouldn't be scientists."
>Or am I a cynic?

I'm going to crib something from Priscilla Auschinsloss here:

What are distinguishing features of the professional culture of science?
Where does this culture come from? How might it contribute to the absence of
women in science? David Noble has made an extended argument that Western
science is rooted in Christian clerical culture and is essentially the
outcome of a thousand years of efforts to create a "world without women."
Evelynn Fox Keller has addressed the questions: Is science "masculine"? Why
does it seem so? What does this mean? Her work speaks to the effects of
removing women from science, of polarizing ideas into "masculine" and
"feminine" categories, and of overvaluing so-called masculine qualities of
knowledge, at the expense of so-called feminine qualities.

Recognizing that science failed to be "objective" in relation to gender,
philosophical studies have asked: Is science objective at all? What is
objectivity? What determines the degree of objectivity in science? Helen
Longino, for example, has argued that objectivity is a social process, not
an individual one. Objectivity depends upon the capacity of a community to
hear and respond to criticism from all qualified participants; and science
benefits by cultivating diversity -- of backgrounds and ways of thinking --
among its participants. Donna Haraway points out that any observation,
whether by human or technological "eyes", is necessarily embodied and
situated (in space, time, and culture); science cannot give us a total or an
exact representation of nature, only a collection of embodied, situated
interpretations of nature -- each of which may have particular uses.

====so, thanks Priscilla!

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