Everyday Sexism in Academia
Earlier today, I co-hosted a panel discussion by +STEM Women on G+
on Everyday Sexism in Academia, along with Dr +Buddhini Samarasinghe
a Molecular Biologist from the UK. Our guests were Professor +Rajini Rao
PhD in Biochemistry who runs her own lab at Johns Hopkins University USA, and Dr +Tommy Leung
, Evolutionary Biologist with the University of New England, Australia.
We discussed the sociological definition of everyday sexism, which demonstrates how everyday social exchanges between individuals are connected to institutional discrimination. Specifically, how conversations between academic colleagues that are sometimes called "benevolent"
or "unintentional" sexism,
are actually the outcome of systemic issues of gender inequality.
This includes "jokes" that play on a woman's gender and sexuality ("You're a cheap date"); complimenting a woman on her looks and propositioning a junior colleague at a conference; and critiquing a woman scientist for the way she speaks, such as saying she's "too aggressive"
in negotiations or "not nice enough"
when addressing sexism (this is often known as "tone policing"
We also covered the recent case where the Journal of Proteomics
published a photo of a bare chested woman in an abstract to promote a scientific paper (more on this later but you can read our article on our STEM Woman website http://goo.gl/GV4EvA
). Finally we discussed how, even in professional contexts, people often discuss women scientists as mothers and wives first, rather than focusing on their professional achievements. For example in The New York Times
obituary of rocket scientist Yvonne Brill (http://goo.gl/PRt6Ma
Everyday sexism shows that women's gender is a both a barrier to professional recognition, as well as a heavily policed focal point of scrutiny.
People think these seemingly innocuous examples of sexism are subjective - that women should just take a joke and not be "so sensitive." We showed how social science actually connects these everyday comments to the professional barriers that women face in their scientific careers. This includes women's pay, their career progression and professional esteem, their publications, women's contribution and participation in STEM, and other more overt forms of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment.#sociology #gender #feminism #science #stem #stemwomen #womeninstem