Notes from the Road 06-08-16

— The conference food is awesome, but the coffee is just plain disgusting. I found a nice coffee house today and finally had a decent cup of joe, so my outlook has significantly improved.

— The conference is technically excellent and I have a whole bunch of exciting new ideas to pursue.

— While the late-career speakers are mostly white, the early and midcareer speakers are mostly Asian; this is in keeping with the composition of the modern graduate student body.

— The speakers are virtually all male (one woman out of two dozen speakers).

We had an election for future conference leadership. There was a sizable roster of nominees; not a single one was female. Shocking. Except that it’s not.

It seems that most male colleagues just don’t care. Many think this whole women in science  business is somebody else’s problem, not theirs, if the issue ever crosses their mind at all. Alternatively, they think they only see merit; if the women were any good, they’d be well known.

On the upside, Former Postdoc (male) noted the ridiculous absence of women and went WTF? (This was without any prompting whatsoever from me.) It really seems that men who work closely with women can become sensitized to the fact that women are nowhere to be found in the professional sphere and can become genuinely bothered by this fact. I suppose that’s how allies are made. Men who work with female advisors or have close female collaborators or advise excellent female graduate students: Guys, please help us out! Don’t you think it’s unfair that the contributions made by your advisors, colleagues, and trainees seem to be invisible to most people? We really need you to speak up and speak out on our behalf!

— I have some work on a paper to do tonight, so I find myself listening to the The White Stripes.

Here are some great older ones:

3 comments

  1. “Alternatively, they think they only see merit; if the women were any good, they’d be well known.”

    Ugh, yes. Never before have I been so conscious of the boys club. The gender bias on speakers’ acknowledgement slides is even worse than the gender bias in the audience. It includes young as well as old. They drink and do everything together and send one another their best grad students and postdocs. I’m at the same stage as a male collaborator and friend (considered a rising hotshot) who was adopted by this group, and even though he’s farther removed from this hot new field than I am, they’re discussing his potential for accomplishment in the hot new field and seem unaware of my published ones. I feel like I have to try so much harder to be known and respected.

  2. “Men who work with female advisors or have close female collaborators or advise excellent female graduate students: Guys, please help us out! Don’t you think it’s unfair that the contributions made by your advisors, colleagues, and trainees seem to be invisible to most people? We really need you to speak up and speak out on our behalf!”

    Exactly right! Professional societies can also speak out on this issue–the ASCB in my field will send you a list of potential speakers for your conference (not that this should be that hard to find on your own!). NSF is also very cognizant of it if they provided any funding.

  3. You said it, xykademiqz! At ProdigalU, the diversity in the speakers we bring in (gender and otherwise) strongly depends on who is the seminar organizer. The speaker quality doesn’t vary much from year to year, nor do field demographics. It makes a big difference to our students when they see people who look like them succeeding in science. Only the colleagues who actually care about such things make sure it happens.

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