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more understated sexism

January 16, 2009

Well first one obvious one.  I’m taking a technical communications class from two profs, Dr. Martens (a man) and Dr. Siwy (a woman).  Today we were discussing the review process for proposals and papers.  Apparently, for an NSF proposal, Dr. Siwy got the comment back that this was appropriate for the Women&Minorities section, but not for the regular NSF section.  Her thoughts are good enough for a woman’s thoughts, but not for the general public…
She was understandably upset.

So we talk a lot about differences between men and women, and one thing that comes up is that women have more problems because we’re more emotional.  A NYTimes article even called it "hyperemotionality" (  Too often it’s worded as we’re "too emotional", not "more emotional".  Think about the implications of that wording, "too emotional".  The next thought is always that women need to learn to rein in their emotions, so that they can function in the world at large.
Wait a minute.  When did the ‘world at large’ become defined as ‘men’?  Why do we accept that we’re flawed in how we function, and we need to change who we are so that we can live in a men’s world?
I accept that I have to live in this world now.  I’m in a male dominated science, and my boss is very much of the old guard.  (Not that Ara’s in the least sexist…he doesn’t notice sex and treats us all the same.  Like men.)  Things are changing, though, and I’m very excited to see it.  I have friends in groups where they feel much more comfortable talking to their bosses more in the way women relate to each other.  I can’t wait to some day be in a position of leadership, and treat my students the way that’s best for them.  Though, to be fair, I might enjoy spending a year treating them all like women, to get back for the years I’ve been treated like a man…  Annnnyway the point is that we can’t just accept that a community is built for men.  Play by their rules when you have to, but as soon as you get some power start forcing them to play by more general rules.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2009 9:40 pm

    Its not that women are too emotional. Its that women are too emotional in public. Guys are just as emotional but they keep it inside until they get home because its not the business of their coworkers its the business of their close friends and family. I think men have it right there. Drama because of overly emotional showings at work take away from efficiency and make everyone in the work place annoyed or depressed. And a lot of women should reign in their emotions rather than have a nervous breakdown over something that they can’t change. Not so they can function in the world of men but so that they don’t piss off their coworkers (male and female alike). Our lab is a case study of over emotionality getting in the way of work (well it was before a certain someone left).

  2. January 16, 2009 10:20 pm

    My degree is Technical Commincation!

  3. January 20, 2009 4:44 am

    Haha no I’m not advocating hyperemotionality. I’m saying that it should be more acceptable to show any emotions at all. When you think about it, though, male shows of emotion are accepted. If guy is told he’s wrong (in some major important sort of thing), he’s reasonably likely to react angrily, and that is acceptable, if sometimes frustrating. A girl who reacts with tears in the same situation is scorned.

  4. January 20, 2009 7:01 pm

    Hello, it’s Julie!
    That strange pending friend request is me.
    Query: Exactly what would treating your male grad students like women involve?
    Thinking about it, pharmacy is something of an oddity: a formerly male-dominated science field where women are taking over. The male-female ratio in the 50s was VAST majority male; when my mom went to school, probably about 50-50, and now it’s skewing 60-40 female; most professors are still male. Am not entirely sure if that’s due to the fact that most profs are older, or if it’s because more men still do the Ph.D./research route that leads to becoming tenured faculty (we also do have people attached to Harper, DMC, Children’s, et al. who work at one of those hospitals but also have teaching duties. More of those are women.)
    I think quite possibly this is because pharmacy is more family-friendly than medicine for women – a doctorate plus an optional one- or two- year residency compared to a doctorate plus minimum three years’ residency(and likely average five? Longer for fields like neurology or surgery). At least with pharmacy, there’s relatively more time for personal life.
    I do know at least one person in my class is worried that, if it becomes a female-dominant field, salary and respect will both decrease.
    About that comment…why do they have a segregated section of the journal anyway? Is it meant to highlight the work of minorities and women? I don’t understand why there’s a separate section in the first place.
    Hope you’re doing well,

  5. January 23, 2009 5:17 am

    lol oh so I have a wonderful thought here- I almost want a guy to get angry about something at work now so I can say “honey now aren’t we getting a bit too emotional here” It would probably blow up in my face but it would be lots of fun!!! To bad all the guys I work with are to mellow to get angry.

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