//// Over at Ed Yong’s blog he noticed something really interesting. People (commenters) react differently when a study applies to gender than when it does to race. Hop on over and check on the comments here (race) and here (gender). The study is identical. The reactions are not.
/// / Science Cheerleaders – I feel like I should post something about the debate over the Science Cheerleaders that had been swirling around the blogosphere. I will soon.
Three links I think are interesting. Look how lazy I’m getting.
///// Why “Science Cheeleaders” aren’t so great for female scientists. Sci recounts literally the same conversation that I’ve had about this with friends. It was almost like dejavu, reading it.
And when I see science cheerleaders, bouncing around in teensy shorts and extensive cleavage…well, they’re cheering for science, but they are also making themselves objects. Objects to be looked at by men, and not really to be taken seriously. And seeing them objectified seems to make it that much more ok to objectify the other women in science. The women on the job, the one’s who want to be presenting the papers and not holding the pom-poms. You see that woman, on the job…and you know, she’s HOT. She could be a CHEERLEADER.
///// Photograph 51 – and how it reminds us how far we haven’t come.
But although the story is set nearly six decades ago and despite the purposeful dramatisation, the scenes felt all too familiar to my own experiences in graduate school at Harvard University. “One thing that has surprised me,” says playwright Anna Zeigler, “is that a lot of female scientists have come to see the play and said that the world isn’t all that different today.”
///// The Guardian looks at the women in science during the Victorian Era. For more on female Victorian scientists – there’s a really cool list here.
Yet in Victorian Britain, the very idea of women doing serious science (except botany and perhaps geology) was widely ridiculed and even botany (with its naming of sexual parts) could be regarded as morally perilous. Mary Anning (1799-1847), the great West Country palaeontologist, struggled for years to have her discoveries – such as the plesiosaurus – recognised as her own.
Remember when we linked to an awesome article a few weeks ago about how breast cancer awareness has become an anti-feminist movement? Well, the New York Times is covering it too, and this article is also fabulous. Definitely check it out.
“I hate to be a buzz kill, but breast cancer is just not sexy. It’s not ennobling. It’s not a feminine rite of passage. And, though it pains me to say it, it’s also not very much fun. I get that the irreverence is meant to combat crisis fatigue, the complacency brought on by the annual onslaught of pink, yet it similarly risks turning people cynical. By making consumers feel good without actually doing anything meaningful, it discourages understanding, undermining the search for better detection, safer treatments, causes and cures for a disease that still afflicts 250,000 women annually (and speaking of figures, the number who die has remained unchanged — hovering around 40,000 — for more than a decade).”
Wired’s boob cover (which we linked to here) has been discussed a good amount by female science writers recently.
Cindy Royal had a really good post that took the conversation beyond just that cover, to Wired’s history of … interesting choices when it comes to women on their glossy front. So good, in fact, that Wired editor Chris Anderson actually responded to it in the comments, and Cindy was able to reply. It’s a lot of the same whining about not being able to find a “good female cover subject,” which is not sufficient justification for putting blatantly misogynistic images on there instead, but at least he’s willing to engage in the discussion. It’s worth reading the exchange, as it really does highlight a big problem in journalism: selling magazines at all costs, even if that means reducing women to sex objects.
A few cool things to tide you over until our next post.
I definitely think that women should be and need to be given the same opportunities (as men). But I don’t think there’s anything not feminist about saying that men and women are different — to the same degree that our bodies are different, to the same degree that our hormones are different, to the same degree that our physiology is different — I don’t know why everything that’s different about men and women in terms of feminist theory has to be from the neck down. Why can’t it be from the neck up? Why can’t women also have different motivations and brains?
An interesting interview with Diana Fleishmann, an evolutionary psychologist, on women. Evolutionary psychology gets a lot of crap, and often times not because the research is bad (although it can be) but because people misinterpret it all the time. (Thanks to Lena Groeger for the link)
Her thoughts on science journalism and evolutionary psychology are interesting too:
Specifically in regard to women, sometimes I feel what the media is doing is take a finding about women, about hormonal effects or something like that, and they almost make it sound like women don’t have any free will. These very subtle effects get blown up into this thing where you’re talking about how women dress sexier when they’re ovulating, and people will just blow it all out of proportion, like women are going to be wearing crotch-less panties out and nothing else when they’re ovulating, and they’re going to be wearing burqas when they’re not. I do think that’s something that happens more with findings about women than with findings about men.
- An interesting study on breast cancer patients and implants. There is a lot written about how breasts are somehow tied up with a woman’s sense of femininity and beauty, and breast cancer patients often struggle with feeling “ugly” or “masculine” without them.
- A play about Rosalind Franklin, the woman who’s research provided the basis for Watson and Crick’s double helix DNA discovery, opened recently in NYC. Here’s the review in the NYT. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t really say much.
- At conference entitled: Islamic Conference of Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research, there was a session called Empowering Women for Scientific and Technological Development in Islamic Countries. The panel disagreed over whether or not to set up a program for women scientists that operated separately from men, or to set up a large group without gender bias. What do you think?
- We still use the male name first, when we’re talking about couples or groups of men and women, a Scientific American article says. The story doesn’t really give you much information though, and I’m curious how they measured “butch” and “femme” names.
Amber Williams, fellow SHERPie and amazing writer, has thoughts on another Psychology Today article from that same issue we discussed a few days ago. She’s not a fan either.
This is a comic about how the internet can ruin discussions about feminism. Artist Gabby explains how it started:
“The comic below is a compulsive response to a recent, entirely unremarkable little dust-up over on Twitter concerning the excruciatingly polite, brief comments of a certain cartoonist concerning the way dudes talk about women cartoonists — and the shitstorm of whiny nonsensical defensive outrage that inevitably followed, just like any other time anyone on the internet has ever hinted at the possibility that perhaps, maybe, women could be treated a little more like, you know, humans.”
Pink Stinks is dedicated to building role models for young girls – offering them an alternative to Paris Hilton. I cannot express more support for their cause (including the name, I always hated pink).
A funny press release that, among other things, says “Men, women equally concerned about higher tuition, lower salaries.” Huh, it’s funny how men and women can both be concerned about things like how they’ll pay off student loans when the jobs out there aren’t paying well. I wonder if they have similar concerns about other basic problems too, like trying to open a chip bag in a quiet library or totally forgetting the person you just met’s name. Gosh, maybe men and women aren’t so different after all! Thanks Margaret Allen!