A few months back, a NYTimes article on gender in tech gave voice to some tech bros perspective on diversity, or should I say anti-diversity.
Throughout the years, I had several ways of coping with the gender bias, both in academia and industry. I complained, got used to, and the worst: naturalized some gender biased attitudes. At some point, it is so overwhelming that one freaks out, stays cynical about it, or just not ignores for the sake of protection, safety, damage-reduction. There are time when I didn’t even noticing it happening again, and that is scary. Little signs of misogyny are so frequent that there is a lot of risk to demystify them and not even perceiving it is a fact.
As a response to the NYTimes article, a female astronomer, Dr. Katherine Alatalo, wrote a response in her Twitter account. She describes a trajectory and scenarios that each of us have already gone through, rather we had noticed it or not. I have seen this happening with female colleagues and it is alarming how often the they don’t notice it happening.
As for future reference, I have copied the thread, and I plan to read it from time to time to make sure I remember this is our reality. It is a constant exercise. Lately, I have claimed that nice man should raise this flag, have solidarity, and speak out. It takes an entire society to stop misogynous, homophobic, and racist people.
@astrokatey’s twitter thread:
This article has made me super angry. Do you want to know what it is like trying to be a woman in a scientific space? Let me tell you. 1/
Your teachers will start telling you when you are young that you are “not ready” for advanced math. 2/
I was just lucky my mother stood up for me with that teacher. Otherwise I would not have been in calculus in high school 3/
In college, you will be in classes where your male classmates will tell you how easy the homework was. You’ll doubt yourself a lot 4/
to find out they were scoring Cs while you were getting As. Be ready for them to also say things like “women aren’t naturally scientists” 5/
Those same men will look at you like a possible person to date, when you just want to do your work. You learn to close yourself off. 6/
Then, if you’re lucky, the president of Harvard will give a speech about women being biologically inferior in science 7/
And you’ll get to listen to your peers repeating that all around you. You get into top grad schools, are told it’s because you’re a woman 8/
You go. Then your advisor makes you uncomfortable by staring at your chest 9/
You make it clear they made you uncomfortable. So they isolate you, insult you, and try to drive out of science 10/
When it is too much, you report it to the chair. Who tells you that you are overreacting, or lying. And threatens to throw you out 11/
You put your head down & try hard as you can not to “rock the boat” after the chair did you the “favor” of letting you switch advisors 12/
The stress of merely surviving saps you of the creative energy you needed to write and advance academically 13/
AND that ex-advisor is using his platform to denigrate you and your science 14/
MIRACULOUSLY you make it out. You graduate, you get your Ph.D. and you get a postdoc 15/
You work your BUTT off to catch up to peers. Build the networks your advisor usually helps you build and manage to get good science done 16/
YOU DID IT! You got a fellowship!! You talk about your struggles. Many don’t believe you 17/
Every day, articles like the one in the @nytimes come out to remind you your voice matters less than a spoiled white boy’s 18/
And those classmates and those harassers come back to your mind. And you wonder… 19/
Was the cost of having the audacity to want to be an astronomer while also being a woman worth it? 20/
Most women in science I know share some of my narrative. Do most men? No. They were assumed from kids to be sciencey 21/
When the day comes that vast majority of science women DO NOT have a tale like mine, then we can talk “biology” @nytimes 22/22