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In yesterday’s women in science lunch, we ended with this question: Why do so many women remain silent about all the day-to-day micro-inequities and minor discriminations and injustices they deal with. Ignoring the obvious (it’s really hard to report someone for a million small things that can be blamed on “Oh, he was just in a bad mood), there are also many other reasons to remain silent.

I long ago recognized that institutional bias against women – a bias that is often unconscious and unintentional – is something that is almost universal. Some institutions, when they recognize there is a problem, respond by working to positively change the institution. This occurred at MIT when it was realized that women were systematically given less workspace and were less often given matching offers when other universities tried to recruit them. In other instances, the recognition that there are too few women in science leads to university officials essentially saying women aren’t meant for science. This happened at Harvard, where former university president Larry Sumners blamed the scarcity of women in the sciences in part on innate differences in women. Problems are everywhere, and in a land of broken toys sometimes the best you can ask for is something that doesn’t have too many sharp edges. ... Read more by following the link
http://www.starstryder.com/2012/08/27/pink-tasks-post-22/
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When people think that they are alone, they retreat and suffer in silence. At that moment that is the path of least resistance. When individuals are able to say a very short word things change. This word is of course no. No more.
When I was a boy my parents divorced. If my mother got equal pay for equal work then I ate well or I got a new pair of shoes. This is the argument that nobody is making. That equal pay for equal work is in men's better interest. It might lower a man"s financial obligations to his ex wife and children. If her income were higher . Arguments for less harassment could be framed along the same line. "Men your mother was there for you. Now it is you chance to help her . Every indignity that she suffers. Is from your hand if you do not help.
Make men you allies .
 
Sometimes what happens when you speak up is you lose any chance at advancement in your career, however unofficial that may be.  You end up picking your battles, and unfortunately letting a lot of the little things slip by.

Men can be allies, and they way they can help most is by speaking up to the jerks.  There are many supportive men who are wonderful.  But if they also spoke up more often to tell other men (and women) that what they're doing is unacceptable, it would help.
 
+Tara Mulder makes a good point with those everyday, small acts of sexism. Our society is also permeated with sexist messages about gender roles and gender identity - this shoehorn both genders into pre-defined/destined categories which are very arbitrary. Society constantly tell women that they are supposed to be submissive, don't do things which are "men's job (whatever they are)", it is your gender's duty to do domestic chore, and if you don't do that, the least you can do is find a man - because if you are a woman and single then apparently there's something wrong with you. You are an emotional creatures that can't think straight - women can't be assertive, they get hysterical, if you speak up you aren't being confident, you are being shill, you are being a bitch.

I remember having a discussion with a friend about the things plastered over the cover of magazines like Cosmopolitan, and how even when they aren't blatant "21 best ways to give him head"-type stories, all the apparently "self-improvement" or "self-empowerment" style stories are framed in such a way that all that self-improvement are merely means of increasing your chances of "getting a man" (never mind the hetero-normative nature of that too) - the end goal of your existence as a woman.

Our society is saturated with these sexist messages, and unless you stop to think about it (which most people don't), it is very easy to fall into the trap of being blind to what is in plain sight. And most men simply aren't aware of it or don't want to know about it or are in denial of it because, let's face it, most of the time men get a pretty sweet deal from these preassigned gender roles.
 
For some men their own common decency is sufficient. When it is not, my job has a zero tolerance policy. Violate it and you loose your job. Fail to report abuse and harassment, if you witness it and you are potentially subject to discipline as well.
Women see themselves as workers in male dominated professions. That is checkers thought. Chess thought is that, women are the #1 consumers of education . So they are in fact the primary shareholders in the university system. Proper zero tolerance rules of some fashion with clauses that punish retaliation are needed. These measures, should start at a few forward thinking schools and spread like wild fire.
As usual women don't see their power. The victory is won. Women just must stand up united and claim it.
If you do nothing you are still being denied. So inaction is not working either. I still think that the majority of women and a plurality of men support women's rights. So the victory is at hand. Just need a few more Rosa Parks'.
 
The term "micro-inequities" is right on. I know I've experienced that in a variety of different places - academia, the workplace, publishing.

Thank you for the link, it was very informative. I was very interested by the tidbit about discovering that women were given less workspace at MIT - it made me think about how that could snowball - less workspace meaning that they got less work done, or were perceived as less important, or perceived their own work as less important - it's interesting to think about how those little iniquities - while small on the surface, could compound each other.
 
As far as reporting problems. The whole reporting process at nearly every company I've been part of is so screwed up, it's no wonder nobody reports. I recently had stuff happen at my work that I had to report. Totally unrelated to sexism, but despite the numerous times being told there would be no retribution, there was.. Nothing got fixed, it in fact got worse, and continues to get worse. Because I reported some unfairness, I've essentially been blackballed.
 
I will add, that that was the first time I've ever had to report something to HR at a company I worked for, and due to the results, it will most likely be the last. 
 
Hmm. I am in a union. Maybe I have have had protection that others don't have. But we have, less perks less disparity . The class ceiling is well above my paygrade. Still I am putting my money on women. The sooner they go nuclear the better for us all. The tipping point is near
 
I do want to thank you, +Pamela Gay , because you and a few handfuls (really not a large number, yet, sadly) of women are taking large strides into areas that are considers "boys clubs". I think because of women like you that my step-daughter may have an easier time getting into science when she gets older and is ready to find schools and her path.
 
For the doubters and deniers, I recommend you go watch the video that Pamela shared of a talk she recently gave.  If you watched it and you still are saying it doesn't happen in science or that women should just speak up, please watch it again, more carefully.  Her experiences are far from atypical.  http://goo.gl/TTwFJ

And even with the law and unions and company policies on your side, report sexual harassment once, and you'll probably have all management above you stop what they're doing to watch every interaction you have with a male at the company from then on, to make sure you're not flirting or something.  Report more than once, and you get known as "that woman who reports people for sexual harassment."  But that's not what's being addressed here in the OP, or what I said later.  It's the micro-inequalities.  Whatever protection you pride your work or union on protecting, when someone speaks up about the everyday sexism every 15 minutes or more often, that will affect how she's perceived, and she isn't going to be the person who advances in her career, in almost every case.  That's why we learn to pick our battles, because we're usually alone for the small ones.
 
Just curious.  If it's unconscious on their part, how do you know it's sexism?  How do you eliminate the other possibilities, whatever they may be for the context? 
 
Here's a related question.  Even if not thought out by the person, how are phrases like "Man up," or "you run like a girl" not sexist?
 
+Tara Mulder I think the base of that is sexist. However it also ties into (VERY sadly, not excusing this at all) a cultural stereo-type. Obviously people learned these things, most likely at a young age when thinking about what is said isnt normally questioned. Of course context of how, or to whom it is being said matters, but I do agree the base of it lies in a crude form of sexism.
 
Yes I saw Dr Gay's video. I suppose that I am viewing the issue from my beliefs rather than from her experiences. I hate the ism's (racism, sexism, ect). You smart ladies will find a solution. Don't underestimate the amount of support that you have
 
My point is whether the person (man or woman) saying it meant it as sexist, it still is sexist.  It tends to be learned very young, but it doesn't mean that it's okay.  I think you get what I mean, +andrew mcdowell.

And because it's brought into people's thoughts so early and so consistently throughout life, you get micro-examples of it constantly.  Some places of work really do try to combat it, most just tackle the big, visible things, like sexual harassment.  And it's there so much, that even in best environments, it's not non-existent.  Even for scientists and mathematicians and such.  Even in corporations where the attitude ends up costing them profits.  Even in a lot of relationships with really great people.  It's exhausting, and often detrimental to combat it too much.
 
+Maurice Smith, her experiences are not just her experiences.  And I'll start believing more in the support when more men start speaking up and telling offenders that their attitude and language is unacceptable, rather than silently cheering on women from the sidelines.  When more of these support people put their career on the line sometimes by telling the president that his wandering hands offend you not just the person he's putting them on.  When they're willing to share the burden of being a complainer.

Some people do step up, but not many at all.  They are the exceptions, rather than the rule.  People who stand by and go up to say "you go, girl," or the equivalent when I stand up or complain are nice to hear, I suppose, but it'd be nicer if they independently and formally lodged their own complaints, or even cut off their peers before they even finish getting some of their behaviour and comments out there.  Because sexism hurts both women and men.  And men who know they're not part of the "bad" group should be putting just as much on the line as they think the women should, if they really feel they believe in it.
 
+Tara Mulder Im glad you saw what i was trying to say, I think my point was incomplete. It's the fact that its learned so young on, and less often challenged, it becomes engrained as OK and is tolerated. With my step-daughter im having to constantly remind her that its ok if shes a girl and likes "boy" stuff. She was worried about liking certain colors because they may not be girly enough, but her mother and I squashed that instantly. The large problem is parents are not stepping in to break down these, "you have to do this or like this because you are X gender" problems. If changed early on we can most likely expect better results down the road (obviously not 100%).

I shouldnt say context makes it ok as even jokes can spiral out of control if not met with the same measure on both sides. I think keeping something like that out of the profesional world all together is a smart idea.
 
A (black) coworker said that a (white) coworker was brown nosing. I said "there are a lot of brown noses in here and none of them are sucking up to the boss." LOL. Well since then. The office speak has been more neutral.
 
I tend to feel more comfortable with data. Can someone provide examples of sexism negatively affecting astronomy results? I'm not talking about naming names, just building a warchest of examples to support a position.
 
Sure those "astronomers " would be seeing (new) stars if they were given the thrashing that they deserve
 
Sexism shouldn't affect the astronomy results, other than possible discounting of input, suggestions, or criticism from some parties.  It affects the work atmosphere, and can negatively impact one's position in the workplace (meaning that some places can deprive themselves of having someone who might be the best for a position), if it's bad enough, the women targeted can have their work quality affected, and it drives people away from some of the workplaces that employ the worst offenders.  Once you're work in an area for long enough, you network and don't bother even applying to the places with the worst reputations for old boy's clubs, glass ceilings, and sexist behaviour.  And that goes for all sectors.

If I'm incorrect in saying that sexism doesn't affect the mathematics and data, somebody please correct me.
 
Sexism effects astronomy research by creating lost opportunity. Every time a woman is denied an opportunity, or simply loses a couple hours to crying at her desk, so potential is lost. I fear to wonder how many discoveries have been lost because a little girl was deterred from ever going into astronomy or because a women was pushed out of science.
 
Great points everyone. Sometimes I forget that this sort of thing is still happening because I happen to work at a corporation where a majority of the senior leadership are women. The only silver lining I can see in this is that organizations that make an effort at inclusiveness are going to have an advantage because they WILL get those extra hours of research and attract high quality scientists. Pamela - I only hope that the next time you experience something like this that you also remember the thousands of people who have learned about astronomy through your epic outreach activities. We all stand behind you even if we can't always be seen.
 
To OP. Having two daughters, I see this happen from time to time. I've been guilty of it myself, but that more comes from a fatherly(protective)/chivalric side of me. I try to instill to them they can be anything they want.

Don't like the institution, change it.
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