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  1. Posted At Feministe: Teh Laydeez Jus Don Liek Teh Scienz « PhysioProf

    […] 15, 2008 Here is a taste of my second substantive post at Feministe: The New York Times just published a piece on the potential for application of Title IX gender […]

  2. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil July 15, 2008 at 2:12 pm |

    It’s John Tierney. I don’t know how much more there is to say.

  3. jb
    jb July 15, 2008 at 2:48 pm |

    Agreed, atrocious article. On to the merits, do you support applying Title IX to academic science?

  4. jayne
    jayne July 15, 2008 at 2:49 pm |

    So, I’m a female grad student studying physics, and one of the greatest parts of this experience for me is that the students in my group are mostly female (that’s 2 of 3 grad students, 1 of 1 post doc, and 2 of 3 undergrads) and one of my co-advisers is female. (Granted, I’m working in a theoretical physical chemistry group, not physics, but in general it’s still not a woman-heavy area).

    Crazy thought, but we’re all in this because we like hard science, although we’ve also ended up working together because it’s sooo much less sexist this way. My friend who works in nuclear physics…well, she’s not so lucky (she gets called “girl”, her input is ignored, professors assume she’s incompetent, etc). The more women you get into science, the more other women will want to join. My guess is that’s what’s driving the higher levels of women in biology and psychology.

  5. tster
    tster July 15, 2008 at 2:54 pm |

    yeah, this article totally pissed me off too. It totally neglected to mention that a) a bunch of studies have shown that there is systemic bias
    b) that women outnumber men in lots of graduate science programs, but still make up only a fraction of faculty. Look at tenured faculty, chairs, etc., of course, and the fraction drops even lower
    c) is just illogical. Unlike sports teams, where there is some reason for men and women to play in separate teams, male and female scientists already work together in the same “teams”. It’s not like “Physics” is the boys team and the physics teams will have to shut down if they’re forced to accept women. It’s also playing into the silly idea of scientists as godlike heroes, geniuses who need to work in peace without any kind of interventino from the outside world. Maybe there are a few geniuses out there, but the majority of academic science is workaday, just like the rest of work everywhere. It’s not so much about being brilliant as it is being meticulous, working your ass of, being logical, and playing politics.

    I’m one of the women who went from a science field (engineering) into a non-science career (science journalism). And what’s frustrating is that while, yes, in the end I made a choice that did suit me better, I also miss some of the number crunching and hard-core thinking that came with grad school in the hard sciences. And I have no doubt that I am “more well rounded” in part because I was socialized to be so. Who knows how I would have turned out if I didn’t have to toss out my transformers and learn to play with My Little Ponies when I hit kinergarten. (my parents were cool though, letting me play to my heart’s to content to non-gender conforming toys.)

    What I don’t miss is the pressure, the feeling that you have to work harder to be decent, and the sense that your entire self-worth is measured based on one narrow subset of your skills. I enjoyed math and science, but always felt like so much was at stake and was scared of making mistakes. And while I think most women are better able to overcome that feeling, it seems like fear of making mistakes is socialized into women much more than it is into men.

  6. mikeb302000
    mikeb302000 July 15, 2008 at 3:00 pm |

    Dear PP, Thanks for that exhaustive post on the failure of the New York Times to be what it could be. I love your writing.
    I’d like to ask a question though, not to you really, but maybe to the regulars here. Please forgive me if it’s been asked and answered. Here it is: isn’t there a problem with that ad on the sidebar, the Slim Slack ad? I know this isn’t Twisty’s place, but still I find it incompatible with the feminist message that I’m reading here.

  7. Peggy
    Peggy July 15, 2008 at 3:03 pm |

    I get so tired of this BS, particularly the whole QUOTAS (which no one, to my knowledge, has serious suggested) will RUIN AMERICAN SCIENCE (because da wiminz don’t have the right smarts or work ethic to be competitive) . And always quotes from the token women who never noticed discrimination anywhere and think there is no problem at all. (I’m glad you fisked it though, because I quit reading after the first paragraph).

  8. Publius
    Publius July 15, 2008 at 3:21 pm |

    The three-prong test for Title IX compliance is in the form of a disjunctive, so satisfying any one of the prongs is sufficient to meet Title IX.

    The easiest prong to meet is:

    “the school is fully and effectively accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.”

    That’s a pretty hard standard to meet if you’re trying to argue women are being excluded. Title IX simply forbids denying federally funded educational activities to persons on the grounds of sex. And doesn’t title IX technically apply to everything school-related?

  9. M
    M July 15, 2008 at 3:39 pm |

    You know, I hated this article just as much, and commented over in the other thread – I’m a PhD female scientist and the things said in the NYT piece make me want to slap someone.

    But, this is a really bad post. Poorly written, poorly defended ideas. I’m with Joe above. A post like this makes feminists look irrational.

  10. QLH
    QLH July 15, 2008 at 3:41 pm |

    Are you aware that another guest blogger posted about this subject only four posts before this one?

    Since she’s already begun a discussion on the subject, maybe you could have engaged in conversation there, and posted about something else.

  11. The Feminist(e) War on Science [Karl]

    […] “response” at Feministe will not shock pw regulars: Step 1:Fail to do actual research, and just rely on fake-ass […]

  12. Katran
    Katran July 15, 2008 at 4:49 pm |

    >>>The more women you get into science, the more other women will want to join. My guess is that’s what’s driving the higher levels of women in biology and psychology

    Thanks for bringing this up, Jayne. I’m a product of an undergrad department in which women outnumbered men 2-1, in geology (which is still male-dominated at most universities), at an engineering school in which men outnumber men 2-1. How to explain that? The astrophysics department was the same. Pretty much no one matriculated thinking they’d major in geology; most were told by upperclassmen that it was a good department and took classes because of word-of-mouth recommendations. Strangely enough, women did well in an environment that didn’t appear to be sexist. The other women from my class are all in graduate school now as well. It’s anecdotal evidence, but I always bring it up when someone tries to argue that science is a gender-blind environment, and women just aren’t smart/interested enough to handle those cold, hard physical sciences rather than warm, cuddly biological sciences.

  13. james
    james July 15, 2008 at 5:50 pm |

    “Fail to mention that the overwhelming majority of faculty in those areas are men. Where the fuck are the women going, and why are they going there?”

    Does Title IX apply to faculty? I was under the impression it was directed at people on the receiving end of education and only applied to students.

  14. Ashley
    Ashley July 15, 2008 at 6:10 pm |

    Physioprof, I’ve been watching the responses to your posts with interest. It seems that certain conservative menz get almost hysterically angry over them. I find that interesting. Maybe some aspect of their identity feels… What’s the word?


    Almost as if someone has questioned male privilege, without seeming to have anything to gain from it. Almost as if that person presents such a typically “masculine” identity that they don’t feel they can adequately tear down said individual by pointing to his “feminine” (and therefore inferior) qualities. Almost as if this makes them feel extremely uneasy.

    Interesting stuff.

    Anyhoo, I just wanted to mention that some of the research on stereotype threat is also relevant to any discussion of why women and other oppressed people have difficulty moving through the scienceland ranks.

  15. Arnold Layne
    Arnold Layne July 15, 2008 at 6:31 pm |

    PhysioProf, do you intend to back your assertions with either actual analysis or cited works, or do you expect us to be content with your rambling assertions and sneering questions? The only rational point I can discern from that entire post is that you dislike the New York Times. C’mon, man, give us some substance to work with here.

  16. larue
    larue July 15, 2008 at 7:57 pm |

    I thought PhisioProf tore up the NYT and the article pretty well, using a combo of snarkilicious smack, point by point analysis, and generally summing up all that’s wrong with both the paper and the article.

    This site ain’t one of accredited academia that I know of . . . and pure opinion to confront what’s OBVIOUSLY pure bullshit such as the NYT and the article in question is what I THOUGHT teh blogs are all about . . .

    Sure, attribution when STATING someone else’s points of view or thoughts, are critical to ANY writing, but in this case, the attribution is the NYT and the article.

    The rest is Physio’s opinion, as expressed and he GIVES details for what he posts as his opinion . . .

    I LIKE what Ashley said . . . I think I smell jiveass bullshit male dominant geek fear of loss of power and control . . . hidden behind their skirts of SCIENCE! BY GOD! SCIENCE!

    Please, you hosers are fuckin with the best the blogoshpere has . . . go sit in Malkin’s lap and put on Coulter’s stained lil black dress. It’ll let yer inner queer/dyke child out to play for a while, as it’s OBVIOUSLY suppressed ALL to hell.

    Phisio/Feministe – 100 Gizallilon
    Screwed up mental male midgets – Zip. Nada.

    Rock on Physio ya potty mouthed bad boy you.
    And Feministe, too!

    GAME OVER!!! *G*

  17. brklyngrl
    brklyngrl July 15, 2008 at 8:06 pm |

    Dude, its John Tierney. Writing about his favorite topics – how women really do suck at math and science and sports, and/or how society at large, and schools and universities in particular, discriminate against men and boys. When he was writing for the Op/Ed page, I used to send The Times a letter about roughly every other column. I’m just glad they finally moved him into his own special pop-science-for-sexists section of the paper.

  18. Arnold Layne
    Arnold Layne July 15, 2008 at 9:01 pm |

    Please, larue, quote one original, reasoned point that PhysioProf made in that post.

  19. Lo-hi!-OH
    Lo-hi!-OH July 15, 2008 at 10:03 pm |

    Here it is: isn’t there a problem with that ad on the sidebar, the Slim Slack ad? I know this isn’t Twisty’s place, but still I find it incompatible with the feminist message that I’m reading here.


  20. Lauren
    Lauren July 15, 2008 at 10:44 pm |

    Notice: Some comments here have been deleted for being unnecessarily insulting to a guest blogger in addition to passive-aggressively back-handing previous guest bloggers instead of contributing to the discussion or arguing in good faith. Our guest bloggers put in time and effort to provide original content to the blog as they have been invited to do. Moreover, the regular bloggers have made a point of asking regulars to provide the guest bloggers with a little respect and leeway during their time here. A link from fucking Protein Wisdom does not refute this request.

  21. emjaybee
    emjaybee July 15, 2008 at 11:22 pm |

    To those who disingenously ask “but where are your CITES??” regarding an *opinion* piece which says nothing new or remotely controversial to anyone who has a brain, I will say, I’ve read Thank You for Smoking, and that was the exact same crap the smoking-industry-apologist narrator used to deflect criticisms too. Not working, dudes, try harder.

    To this fucking day, I wonder if Science is a Boy’s Game attitudes from my teachers and peers didn’t keep me from a very happy career–I would love to be studying diseases or just bacteria in general for a living. That’s some amazing stuff.

  22. Arnold Layne
    Arnold Layne July 16, 2008 at 12:40 am |

    What is not working, emjaybee, is a blogger treading the same old ground — as you yourself indicated — by inserting the same well-worn snark-bites we have written and/or read for years into a fully quoted op-ed and then appending unrelated jabs at Shrubya on both ends. How much more formulaic can you get? That op-ed was fertile ground for original criticism, but all we get is hoary profanity-laden platitudes (or are these actually in-jokes that are being carried over from another blog?).

    All I can figure from PhysioProf’s posts here on Feministe is he either writes satire by imitating the raving ignorance of Free Republic, or he is an evangelist for the ‘rah-rah cis-boom-bah’ segment among leftists. PhysioProf not only gave us nothing to debate in this post, he gave us nothing on which to even agree. The content is zero.

  23. Mikeb302000
    Mikeb302000 July 16, 2008 at 2:40 am |

    Dear Lo-hi!-OH, What does “word” mean?

  24. volvatrack
    volvatrack July 16, 2008 at 4:31 am |

    I think there’s a whole bunch of trolls that hate PhysioProf. Blowjobs have caused shitstorms around feminist sites, but cussing? WTF?

  25. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub July 16, 2008 at 5:28 am |



  26. Schala
    Schala July 16, 2008 at 6:20 am |

    I wonder what would happen if we tried balancing the social sciences the same way. Female dominated fields getting parity 50/50 too? This seems logical that it should be applied unilaterally if its applied at all.

    You want a “gets it to pieces and puts it back together” person, that’s my younger brother (of 24). I can understand the basic workings, but I find dismantling/putting stuff back on to be generally boring. Not because I’m female, I’m just not interested. I wouldn’t be an engineer in that sense.

    But I can still work in the hard sciences, just not that field. I have more interest in the social fields, but not career interests for the most. I might become a translator. And not ‘because its majority female’, but because I know I could do it, and its something I can possibly do from home.

    While there is probable bias in the interest argument, it’s clear that people do have interests. It may be impossible to judge if true equal opportunity, with the absence of any bias, would result in a 50/50 male/female ratio. My guess is it would not. It might be more towards the middle, but I don’t see the 94/6 ratio of nursing changing to 50/50 just because gender roles and social bias are taken out of the equation. It might become 70/30 or 60/40 or something like that, and I’m probably optimist there.

    I work in videogame functionality testing, and out of a group of 17 or 18, we’re 2 girls.

  27. PhysioProf
    PhysioProf July 16, 2008 at 7:21 am |

    A link from fucking Protein Wisdom does not refute this request.

    What is this “Protein Wisdom” Web site, anyway? I never heard of it before now. Is it some kind of hangout for right-wing wackaloon douchecornets?

  28. preying mantis
    preying mantis July 16, 2008 at 9:28 am |

    “Dear Lo-hi!-OH, What does “word” mean?”

    It’s kind of like a modern version of “Right on” or “Hear, hear.”

  29. BB
    BB July 16, 2008 at 12:29 pm |

    1) Title IX won’t solve the lack of tenured women in science department; balancing motherhood with demands for tenure (stop the clock, other approaches) need to be addressed.
    2) I personally view a scientific as a sort of meritocracy based on brains, ingenuity, grantsmanship, and so forth. Except for the maternity leave/early childhood parts, the rest is or ought to be gender-neutral.
    3) Maybe women like biology more than they like physics. Is that a crime? Does it need a law? Turn it around- men may like physics more than biology. What is wrong with that? Free choice.

  30. the15th
    the15th July 16, 2008 at 2:35 pm |

    I wonder what would happen if we tried balancing the social sciences the same way.

    That would be great! Wait, you are aware that the faculties of humanities and social science departments are also generally male-dominated, right?

  31. Sappho
    Sappho July 16, 2008 at 3:12 pm |

    Thanks for a very satisfying read!

  32. Cedar
    Cedar July 16, 2008 at 5:15 pm |


    Is it some kind of hangout for right-wing wackaloon douchecornets?

    okay. PhysioProf? you win the internets. and “wackaloon douchecornets” is my new favourite insult. this is to inform you that i shall be appropriating it, and deploying it ruthlessly.

  33. Schala
    Schala July 16, 2008 at 5:51 pm |

    “That would be great! Wait, you are aware that the faculties of humanities and social science departments are also generally male-dominated, right?”

    I’m speaking of psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, “social workers on the field with young adults” (no good translation from French, it causes confusion). Make the faculties equal if you like, I’m speaking of the person I go see at the local health clinic, or external hospital clinic, or personal clinic.

    I could also speak of nurses, but that’s not a ‘science’ I think? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    I say keep the policies neutral and foster a code or policy to neutralize the bias as much as possible, in every fields, from engineering to nursing. The caring empathic guy who likes nursing sometimes has to hide behind a “I’m the only guy with dozens of women.” image to appear to have any masculine credibility. That’s a bias too.

  34. Mel
    Mel July 16, 2008 at 7:47 pm |

    1. Academia is ALREADY buried in federal paperwork. A little more will be hardly noticeable.

    2. His so-called science writing pretty much sucks, too.

    3. RAGE…lots of rage.

    And you know? The vast majority of scientists I’ve talked to in my academic life, male and female, completely recognize these issues. And they also recognize things that are not so much unconscious bias in academia, perhaps but the inevitable collision of a historically male institution with society’s expectations that women are responsible for the majority of child-rearing, which is why half the conferences I’ve been to recently have panels about Having Kids in Academia (and they’re all about breastfeeding while jobsearching and childcare while getting tenure, and almost all the attendees are women, even though you’d think men might worry about childcare too–expect, statistically, they’re much more likely to have at-home spouses, and I guess I JUST HALLUCINATED THAT BECAUSE THERE’S NO EVIDENCE THAT WOMEN HAVE MORE DIFFICULTY, OH NO).

    *huff huff*

    4. According to that unimpeachable source, Wikipedia, “His article on “Recycling Is Garbage” has the dubious distinction of breaking the New York Times Magazine’s hate mail record.”

    Also, he’s another one of those completely-science-untrained journalists who “always wanted to be a scientist” but it was just too haaaaard.

    Maybe the NYT should have had a science writer with an actual background in academic science write that analysis.

    5. Anyone who thinks the biological sciences are warm and cuddly hasn’t taken a course in ecology recently, or read any of the papers. Warm, cuddly mind-bendingly complicated graphs and mathematical models, mmm. I find rocks far more approachable, personally (although ecology is good for me, so I’m trying to add that in; besides statistics are sexy, in their cold, hard way).

  35. SKM
    SKM July 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm |

    Hey PhysioProf, thanks for ranting about this. Tierney gives me hives and this piece was particularly atrocious. I was looking for Zuska to cover this but I guess she’s still on staycation. Glad to see you over here. You’re like my foul-mouthed male alter-ego or something.

    The only bright spot for me about the horrendous opinion piece marketed as a column is that a healthy proportion of the comments on Tierney’s related post on his blog (risibly titled TierneyLab, like he’s ever been near a lab in his life!) are telling him off, with cites, evidence, and anecdotes. It’s actually heartening (sad that that’s where we stand, being heartened that the public misogynists are at least getting told off a little).

    Oh, and this:
    The Times is a total fucking disgrace to the notion of a vigorous press that is supposed to function in a Constitutional Republic as reality-testing opposition to the propagandistic tendencies of Government.

    Is exactly why the NYT can’t have any more of my money.

  36. Schala
    Schala July 16, 2008 at 10:04 pm |

    “(risibly titled TierneyLab, like he’s ever been near a lab in his life!) ”

    Well I don’t know that person or blog. But I do know that experimenting and analyzing can be called lab work somewhat. I also don’t know what’s offensive about calling their own blog that. I can call my room a ‘den’, a ‘nest’, or whatever, even if its not actually any of those.

    Nitpicking maybe, but I felt the comment was also one.

  37. Barr
    Barr July 16, 2008 at 10:05 pm |

    PhysioProf being a guest poster. By all means. No need to kick him off, but because he has such a prominent position (being a guest blogger) he should do more revisions, or revise with a different attitude, before posting.

    Like Physio, I’m an ally; I agree it’s pleasant to have allies guest blogging every now and then, but I feel like Physio is degrading the discourse. Feministe usually has a very mature, focused literary style, much like an academic journal. Physio’s posts so far, while well-meaning, are a departure from that. For what I see are three reasons.

    1) Swears and anger can be powerful in moderation, but once you use them so much as to make them the framework for conversation, they become distractions and filler words.

    2) Also, while I appreciate “shout-outs” to other social problems when appropriate (for example, the NYT’s history of general political bias), when you drag in stuff which is largely irrelevant (Bush has “sick-fuck minions,” the national review is “america’s shittiest website,” bringing in the Iraq war twice, the AEI knows “diddly jack shit about anything other than how to please their sick-fuck neo-feudal corporate masters”), it is a needless, over-the-top distraction. There is a place and time for these discussions but it is not in a post built around a poorly written NYT article on gender and science workplaces. It would have been appropriate to just mention that the AEI is widely acknowledged as a neocon think tank.

    3) I tend to agree with Hysterical (from Physio’s last thread, post #18). Anger is excusable, but only if there is a commensurate amount of supporting evidence for each “antics of right-wing wackaloon fuckwit assholes” “total fucking disgrace” “piss me the fuck off” “I am enraged” “I am disgusted” “dumbshit losers” “sick-fuck minions,” “The Framers are turning in their motherfucking graves.”

    PhysioProf, I see that you are passionate about these subjects. But name-calling and becoming exaggeratedly emotional over generalizations are clouding the situations at hand and procrastinating real discussion.

    Example: you wrote in your last post about “fucking misogynist assholes” Did you need to include “fucking” or “assholes”? Say I come to the site and I don’t know anything about mysogynists (an unlikely scenario). Are those words going to convince me that mysogynists are assholes? Even if they did, how would that lead me to a loving, accepting view of females, or a useful understanding of misogyny? Hatred and war declarations against the “bad guys” will increase the amount of nonsense and inhumane treatment in this world, not decrease it.

    Successful feminism is a struggle for hearts, minds, and messages. Do not turn it into a quest to divide everyone into the “good team” which needs to be elevated and the “bad team” which must be destroyed/censored. Life is not that simple. There are people who have been fucked up by horribly twisted gender roles in different ways and degrees, some of them may be “mysogynist assholes,” some of them may have been “victims,” whatever generalizations you’d like to make. Ultimately, though, they are all people. PhysioProf, I would like to believe that you believe in democracy and humanitarianism. That you believe in everyone having a voice. But I believe right now, that if I were a misogynist or a rightist, that you would not listen to me, or you’d shout me down. And that scares me. What I’d like to see instead is hearing your “opponents” on a specific point, and then, if you still disagree, laying out your reasons for disagreement. We cannot put critical thought on hold until the-end-of-all-partriarchy.

    If we say that a group of people who have contrasting opinions are evil, stupid, uncurable, etc. leads us down a path to dogma and aggression. If I say “misogynists/republicans/etc. are just wrong! They’re morons! They’re evil! They’re just wrong!” “Or this idea is wrong! It’s crazy! No sane person would ever think of it!” I’ve shut down the conversation. I’m blocking any analysis, closing myself off to their arguments. You’ve got to realize that David Tierney is a human being; perhaps he’s a bit uninformed about women and science, but he’s come to a conclusion that he thinks is fair through what he thinks is rational thought. He doesn’t know any better. You or I don’t know everything either. I’m no better than a misogynist or racist, I just happened to be lucky enough to be raised under an egalitarian family and to study feminism in college. I’m privileged in that sense, and using that privelege as an excuse to say “David Tierney is less human than I am” is exactly the same behavior as David Tierney using patriarchal oppression to say “women not being in the sciences is their fault for being less sciency”.

    Being wrong should not be made out to be a horrible, scary state of affairs. Let’s not make conversations into winner/loser battles, when our goal here isn’t a bloody fight, but teamwork. Holier-than-thou activism which so proudly denigrates those who don’t say or do the right things (recycle their plastics, use gender-neutral-pronouns, or be a republican) as worthless human beings is a great way to make a cute little club. But to reach a future that’s pleasant for everyone, we need to live for role models, not people to hate; we need an attitude of inclusion, listening, and consideration of other people’s opinion.

    If I instead of insulting say “this behavior (eg. measuring sexism in science by grad school numbers) can be harmful because it moves us away from *this behavior* that we *do want* (accurate reporting of who has the power in the corporate science world, of who has positions in the academic world)” the listener is in a much better position to change their action for the better. If I should be for regulation of giant chemical manufacturer’s emissions, it’s not because corporations are irresponsible assholes, it’s because most citizens are willing to take responsibility for their earth, and the government should be the mouthpiece for their will. I want a change in media access. It’s not because four or five media conglomerates control all our access to news and value profit more than anything else, it’s because the media exists so every person should have equal access to a diversity of perspectives, and everyone should be able to be heard if need be. If I want guys to label themselves as something other than feminism (which, in its pursuit of equal power and treatment among genders, today functions primarily as advocacy for females), it’s not because males who call themselves feminists are especially deserving of mistrust, it’s because females have a right to choose their advocacy, and to be the decision-makers of what is right for them.

    Please, PhysioProf, dogma is not going to help us. It is going to tire out those who come here for education, and turn away people new to feminism.

  38. JC
    JC July 16, 2008 at 11:54 pm |

    PP –
    I think some of these folks need to check out one of my personal favorites:
    I didn’t write it, but damn, it’s spot on. And hey, how about Zuska’s “being polite” one:

    Thank you for guest blogging – I read your posts elsewhere as a troll. I have many great male mentors, I’m a tell-it-like-it-is kinda gal (who happens to be a federal biologist AND res asst prof at a large univ), and we gals need more male voices shouting with us. I do have a great laugh at your posts while I’m crying inside beyond the sarcasm. It’s my damn sarcasm that gets me through the discrimination sometimes. To all you gals reading this – you WILL have to work twice as hard to get half as far. you WILL need as many men as possible who are supportive of you and will go to bat for you. and you will need balls. BIG BALLS. grow them. NOW. They don’t grow in corners or on walls – roll up your sleeves, don’t be afraid to get dirty – and most importantly, do not play by THEIR rules. You will lose or they will change the rules (and you will lose anyway). Fight smarter. Best wishes to the gals and thanks PP.

  39. TheNerd
    TheNerd July 17, 2008 at 1:03 am |

    I believe XKCD says “Science. It works, BITCHES”, not “Science. It works, RICH OLD WHITE ASSHOLES!”

  40. RebekahD
    RebekahD July 17, 2008 at 3:05 am |

    When the op-ed author trots out the same old crap we’ve read time and time again, is it so surprising that a blogger who has read that same old crap time and time again might react with venom and vitriol? I know my reaction to each quoted passage was along the lines of, “heard this shit before,” “well, fuckity, fuck, fuck,” “geez, not this crap again,” and “what a wackaloon douchecornet!” Sometimes, when one sees “this behavior” again and again and again ad infinitum, after *this behavior* that we *do want* has already been recommended and rejected or ignored again and again and again ad infinitum, one gets pissed and blows the fuck up.

    This op-ed is OPINION. This blogger response is OPINION. Neither piece claimed readiness for peer-review.

  41. Samia
    Samia July 17, 2008 at 1:24 pm |

    Profman– I friggin’ HATE you. People keep walking by my cube, and I’m sitting here convulsing in silent fits of laughter like some demented pothead. Barr: as a girly in science, I need an outlet sometimes. I need to know someone understands and gets as pissed as I do about stuff. Posts like this are cathartic for me.

    A book I’d recommend to any young female professional is Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Also, Re: JC’s comment about playing the game, see a great comment on a Wired Campus article here. It’s comment 62.

  42. Samia
    Samia July 17, 2008 at 1:50 pm |

    Cutting funding for Fermilab! OH NOES! I wonder where those dudes’ prank-condom money is going to come from now…

    You know, PP, I don’t think there IS an honest way to react to that article *without* being foulmouthed and angry. I don’t need someone like Barr to tell me anger is “excusable” if I justify it adequately. It’s an effing FEELING, and it’s totally understandable if you’re sick and tired of having thoughtful arguments met with sexist idiocy time and time again. I don’t mind shouting down a racist or sexist opinion writer. At all. There is a time to be thoughtful and organize serious, meaningful, grassroots change, and I think most of us here are involved in the more pragmatic problem-solving aspect of the feminist movement in some capacity. But some of us need a place to vent, to sharpen each others’ steel, and this is where I go. I work with people who joke about fucking slavery, for fuck’s sake, and there is only so much I can do in the way of voicing objections at my workplace. I like the variety in posting styles here. Again, it’s cathartic.

    So, Barr, I must respectfully disagree. I feel a little condescended to, actually. Let me be angry here because some of us have nowhere else to go to vent and remember there are gals and guys out there fighting the good fight. I promise I don’t curse randomly in real life. ;)

  43. SJ
    SJ July 17, 2008 at 2:40 pm |

    I think that the last word on this article is that the writer (physioprof) just wants to get people to react. All of this stuff is old hat. Larry Summers made his comments in January of 2005 (he also said a lot of other things in his speech which aren’t mentioned here). Isn’t it about time to let it go?

    Just because women are being discriminated against doesn’t mean that men *aren’t* being discriminated against in a different way.Where is physioprof’s list of solutions to the problem? Swearing and carrying on gets lots of attention but doesn’t help anything.

  44. SKM
    SKM July 17, 2008 at 3:03 pm |

    Samia sez: as a girly in science, I need an outlet sometimes. I need to know someone understands and gets as pissed as I do about stuff. Posts like this are cathartic for me.


  45. Zuska
    Zuska July 17, 2008 at 4:42 pm |

    Just because women are being discriminated against doesn’t mean that men *aren’t* being discriminated against in a different way.

    OH NOES! The poor, poor mens! Can’t we for one minute think about the mens????!!??

    …the AEI knows “diddly jack shit about anything other than how to please their sick-fuck neo-feudal corporate masters”…is a needless, over-the-top distraction…It would have been appropriate to just mention that the AEI is widely acknowledged as a neocon think tank.

    See, those two sentences just don’t communicate the same thing to me. The latter suggests that the AEI is respectable. The former calls it what it is.

  46. miwome
    miwome July 17, 2008 at 5:24 pm |

    You know, I think it’s very telling that PP keeps getting told he can have his nice little opinions if he does it right and doesn’t bother anybody. Oh, and that anger and emotion aren’t content.

    Sound familiar to anybody?

  47. 'tude
    'tude July 17, 2008 at 7:20 pm |

    Well, crap! Zuska beat me to the anguished wailing and chest-beating on behalf of the mens. Because, really some mens must being discriminated against and we should stop everything and fix. that. now.

    rolls eyes

    PhysioProf, you must be doing something right. Please continue.

  48. absinthe
    absinthe July 17, 2008 at 7:42 pm |

    Great post PhysioProf (I don’t care what trolls might say to the contrary). It steams my clams when the popular media conflates gender equity in the sciences with the degradation of the sciences. I love how the article talks about money being wasted on Title IX reviews…trust me, realistic reviews of Title IX compliance at places like Fermilab (which I note the article mentions) *never* happen. In fact, even unrealistic Title IX reviews don’t happen.

    And for all those commentors who appear to be woefully ignorant of Title IX, here is the quick and dirty; Title IX applies to anyone engaged in any federally funded research or educational activity. It applies to people attending or employed by universities. It also applies to people performing research at our national laboratories (whether as visitors to the laboratory, or as employees of the lab itself). All of our national laboratories are classified as “educational institutions” under Title IX (but to-date no Title IX lawsuit has ever been filed against a national laboratory…such a lawsuit is long overdue at at least one of our national labs). Title IX also applies to extra-curricular activities at an educational institution that would not exist but for the existence of the educational institution itself; stuff like sports team, chess clubs, whatever.

    In practice, if you are *employed* by a educational institution you can only bring federal discrimination lawsuit under Title VII in most states. However, Title IX is the *only* federal law that protects scientist who perform research at our national laboratories as visitors. And trust me when I say that complete lack of federal oversight of this law as it applies to our national labs results in the labs being breeding grounds for all kinds of atrocious discriminatory behaviour.

    I should note that Title IX is the only federal anti-discrimination law that specifically forbids discrimination based on parental status. It has a nice long statute of limitations (two to three years in most states), and monetary damages are not capped if you prevail in a Title IX lawsuit. These last two aspects are what make Title IX a law with a lot of clout that scares the bejeezus out of the patriarchy. If and when Title IX is ever applied in any meaningful fashion in science academia it stands a good chance of being revolutionary. Hence the vicious opposition from the right wing.

    Becase God forbid we should actually *apply* a law that has been on the books for ages.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I have a couple of statistical studies of gender “equity” at Fermilab that I need to ram down the throat of a NYT reporter…

  49. sailorman
    sailorman July 17, 2008 at 7:45 pm |

    Step 7: Fear-monger using the scary notions of “federal paperwork” and “quotas” being forced onto the “most productive” scientists for a problem “that may not even exist”. Imply that it is the MANLY MAN scientists who are “most productive”, and not those lazy-ass chatterbox women who just want to “deal with people” instead of “manipulating objects and machines”.

    This deserves a bit more discussion, you know…

    Someone has to decide things on merit. When you assign a third party or a neutral government agency to evaluate hiring practices and question whether or not they were based on merit, then that third party is going to functionally have an effect on the hiring.
    In some fields this can be a very good thing. Just because Jane is great at running the production line and gets appointed manager, doesn’t necessarily mean that Jane is great at figuring out (in a 20 minute interview) who would make the best team leader. But the input of third parties teds to be most helpful in a general sense, or if it relates to things the third party has knowledge about. (this is why you should run your hires through an HR department. And so on.)

    It’s less effective and can actually be a problem as the specialty increases. You would, I presume, be a much better judge than i when it came to deciding who would be a better postgrad for your lab, if you have a lab. And it’s far less likely that I would have sufficient background in your field to recognize that Mary’s paper in Cell is better and more pertinent to your research than Jill’s paper, which she got published in Science.

    So if you want to hire Jill, and Mary complains to me, you’re going to have to justify it. I may know very little about the field; I may base my verdict on a simple belief that “Science is harder to get published in than Cell, so Mary is better qualified,” whether or not that’s true.

    And if you’re worried that you CAN’T justify it, and you don’t want the fallout… well, then, even if you think that Jill is the better candidate, you might hire Mary. And that’s a bummer.

    In real life, there are some women who ARE more qualified and who should be hired–but who are not hired. Quotas or hiring reviews are aimed at increasing the size of that group. There are also some men who are NOT qualified, who should not be hired–but who get hired anyway, because of their Scientificalismic Penis. Quotas reduce that group, too.

    Of course, quotas make it more likely that underqualified women will get hired, and less likely that qualified men will get hired.

    [shrug] Is the tradeoff worth it? Sure, probably, especially if you consider the long term effects of better gender balance. But it’s not so obvious, and I don’t think you can just ignore the problem.

  50. absinthe
    absinthe July 17, 2008 at 7:51 pm |

    Oops…I neglected to give the standard disclaimer in the above comment that I am not a lawyer, I just talk like one.

    I have been repeatedly told in recent years (by employment lawyers, and lawyers at the National Womens’ Law Center) that I know more about Title IX than most lawyers in the U.S. I can recite it chapter and verse.

    You know how some kids can belch their ABC’s? Well…

  51. sailorman
    sailorman July 17, 2008 at 9:01 pm |

    # PhysioProf says:
    July 17th, 2008 at 7:49 pm – Edit

    You’re very confused if you think I have expressed any opinion on whether I favor quotas.

    Um, OK. I guess you can count me in the folks who don’t really get your writing, then: if that’s the case, what DID you mean by the paragraph I quoted?

    Feel free not to respond; you’re doing enough talking about talking about talking about things on that other thread, as it is. But dude, I have almost never seen this level of miscommunication here on Feministe. And seeing as I basically agree with your point (as far as I can tell) I am not saying this out of malice. Perhaps it’s not all, entirely, the fault of your various “very confused” readers? Just sayin.

  52. Jeff Kaufman
    Jeff Kaufman July 18, 2008 at 10:43 am |

    The times article did not have the rigor of a journal article, but it did cite experts and studies. It may be wrong in its conclusions, but if so it is the role of critics to demonstrate how. Unfortunately, this response relies primarily on profanity and ridicule in an attempt to make the times’ conclusions sound absurd.

    Given that the claims presented in the times are very similar to long held stereotypes about the interplay of gender and work, I’m not surprised that people would respond in a manner typical of confronting bigotry. But while mindless cultural sexism can be confronted — at times quite effectively — with ridicule and humor, similar claims backed by interviews with women and other data do not deserve the same response. Criticize their questions, their sample, their statistics; not their conclusions.

  53. Samia
    Samia July 18, 2008 at 11:14 am |

    Hi Sailorman:

    Kindly consider my $0.02. Tierney is jumping right to the quotas idea to scare people into considering the idea that science might be “watered down” with a bunch of underqualified women. He assumes more women aren’t in science because we just aren’t interested in it. This requires actively ignoring the experiences of a significant number of very brilliant science-minded women who have left their earlier careers due to a perceived hostile work environment. Tierney seems to think that quotas are the only way to address gender inequity in science because he believes that the inequity itself is simply a natural reflection of all that estrogen us laydeez are swimming in. However, if one acknowledges that there are real barriers causing motivated women to *leave* certain professions and others not to choose them in the first place, then Title IX is no longer synonymous with quotas but offers the exciting possibility of identifying and systematically eliminating the sexism that interferes with female participation in the sciences.

    I’ve found that the women who complain of sexism in the sciences are angry and disappointed that their work environments weren’t more meritocratic. They wanted to focus on their work. They loved what they did, but other people put social and gender norms ahead of science. That’s the tragedy, not some unfounded fear of quotas.

  54. Samia
    Samia July 18, 2008 at 12:35 pm |

    I would say Tierney’s article was about as scientifically rigorous as PP’s, actually. Some of these comments are infuriatingly patronizing. I’m flabbergasted. I may have to write my own response to that dumbass article this weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I use “experts and studies” as airtight as the ones from that NYT article.

    “similar claims backed by interviews with women and other data do not deserve the same response”

    Dude. Do the experiences of women here not count or something? Have you read anything at all about the experiences of women in science? PP himself has provided examples of sexism he’s seen with his own eyes.

    Yeah. I’m gonna have to blog about this myself…

  55. hysperia
    hysperia July 18, 2008 at 10:00 pm |

    Hi. I don’t comment here often and am a complete lurker at PhysioProf’s blog, mostly because I don’t have the knowledge and am there to learn. I must say, I really enjoyed this post, even though I have read other things about this specific issue and the NYT. Physio said almost at the beginning of the post that if people were whiney-assed about the use of colorful language they ought not to read on. If that wasn’t a tip-off to a bit of a rant, I don’t know what would be. I thought teh blogz were about teh rant, at least sometimes. This was one of those times. If I wanted to read an academic journal article on the issue, I’d go find one. And anyone who thought this post was going to be something along those lines didn’t read the beginning of the post. Sometimes I imagine that some people out there are being held in some kind of head-lock with their eyes prised open, forced to read stuff they don’t wanna read.

  56. SKM
    SKM July 18, 2008 at 10:18 pm |

    Yeah. I’m gonna have to blog about this myself…–Samia

    I’m looking forward to it!

  57. button
    button July 19, 2008 at 6:26 am |

    “A post like this makes feminists look irrational.”


    it doesn’t take a post like this to make feminists look irrational. just about all of their man-hating posts do that!

    while y’all are busy tearing down the “male-dominated” fields, we guys are wondering why it is that a segment of the female population absolutely hates men. this “revenge” thing has consumed feminists. they’re fine with tearing down science, engineering, men’s athletics, etc. with their quotas.

    if they really care about equity, why don’t they go after nursing and psychology?

    if you really care about forcing women into careers where they’re under-represented, why not demand that women take half of the construction & farming jobs?

    that’s right, i’m asking why we don’t go after a 50/50 mix on that framing crew. i want to know why you aren’t pushing for more women to be represented up in the hay loft, stacking 80# bales.

    isn’t it time for y’all to go after those vocational programs in high schools? shouldn’t there be more young ladies in welding and more young men in cosmetology?

    i’ll answer my own question. it’s obvious that you don’t care about equity. equal opportunities already exist. people take advantage of them every single day.

    you just want to select a few easy targets and ignore the realities of the world.

    what y’all really want is pay-back.

  58. Jeff Kaufman
    Jeff Kaufman July 19, 2008 at 11:46 am |


    > I would say Tierney’s article was about as scientifically
    > rigorous as PP’s, actually. Some of these comments
    > are infuriatingly patronizing. I’m flabbergasted. I may
    > have to write my own response to that dumbass article
    > this weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I use “experts
    > and studies” as airtight as the ones from that NYT article.

    If you believe the studies Tierney refers to are poor, why not say how? I don’t know anything about those particular studies, but I could certainly imagine they misuse data in some important way.

    > > similar claims backed by interviews with women
    > > and other data do not deserve the same response

    > Dude. Do the experiences of women here not count
    > or something? Have you read anything at all about
    > the experiences of women in science? PP himself has
    > provided examples of sexism he’s seen with his own
    > eyes.

    Of course the experiences of women here count. And of course the sexism that PP has seen counts. I’m sure many commenters here have experienced objectively wrong treatment by males in the sciences. But when you try and understand a large scale fact (“many branches of science are almost entirely male”) by going only by the experiences of people you know, you’re subject to a pernicious bias. I just graduated from college and I’ve watched all my female friends who started off studying hard sciences end up doing “softer” things. One was a very talented engineering student who switched in her junior year to religion. Another majored in computer science and engineering, but will be working in media. They both moved to something they enjoyed more, much less because of the people than the activity.

    You would object to me using these experiences to claim that personal preference is the root of the division. And you would be reasonable for you to so object. We all have to realize that the experiences of our friends may not be typical. And if we want to understand something as large as the division of employment in the sciences, we have to use a sampling method that draws from as large a range of people, not just those unhappy enough about the status quo to comment on a feminist blog.

  59. Samia
    Samia July 19, 2008 at 9:29 pm |

    Hi Jeff, I’m working on a more well-buttressed rebuttal of some of the points Mr. Tierney made. I will definitely post a link when I’m finished. I’ve found quite a number of studies on sexist bias in the sciences. Most of them are quite depressing. Have a great weekend!

  60. Quickies « Impolite Conversation
    Quickies « Impolite Conversation July 20, 2008 at 9:49 am |

    […] Feministe takes on the NYT piece explaining that women just aren’t interested in science. […]

  61. sister of physics brothers
    sister of physics brothers July 22, 2008 at 8:42 pm |

    The predicted damage to male college sports never occurred. That someone is still spouting that BS two decades after Title IX, shows lack of credibility for the speaker and the publisher. Take a look at ESPN/Cable channels and regular TV: they are bursting with men’s college sports (but now women’s college sports are also popular).

    See you can share.

    (PS, men can file Title IX complaints, too. The law saws ‘gender’ not ‘female.’ But I forgot , men don’t deal well with people and filling out forms.

  62. Luna_the_cat
    Luna_the_cat July 25, 2008 at 5:30 am |

    Just a thought: Back in May I attended a family gathering. One of my younger (13-14?) female relatives was being asked the usual bumff from older relatives about “do you have a boyfriend?” and “have you thought about what you’re going to do when you grow up?” — the boyfriend question seemed to take priority, but gah, I remember how this kind of question galled when *I* was 14. But, to the point, this kid is quite bright. She’s better than I am at maths, and she’s taken technical drawing classes already so as to be able to do proper blueprints, she loves building things, and she started talking about maybe going into architecture or engineering.

    The IMMEDIATE family response was, “oh, honey, you wouldn’t like that. And you would find it so hard to get boys to go out with you! You should look at something like graphic design, instead.” This from her mom, too.

    (I tried to counter this as best I could, but I was one voice against five. It’s an open question as to whether it did much good.)

    Do I think she would have gotten this kind of feedback if she had been a boy? Not just “no”; HELL no. Do any of the “studies” Tierney quotes take into account this kind of cultural feedback to teen girls? Not just “no”; HELL no.

    Can you make ANY kind of statement about what girls “naturally” want, with this kind of thing going on under the radar?

    I think the answer follows a certain pattern, don’t you?

  63. Samia
    Samia July 25, 2008 at 6:03 pm |

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