sexism

Recent posts

Obstacles To Teaching About Racism And Sexism

Discussing structural racism in the classroom recently made news when a professor who lectured on this topic was reprimanded for making white students feel uncomfortable. The Slate article reporting on this makes a number of excellent points, which I’ll summarize here and apply to other educational situations. Article author Tressie McMillan Cottom points out that “When colleges and universities become a market, there is no incentive to teach what customers would rather not know. When colleges are in the business of making customers comfortable, we are all poorer for it.” We know that gendered and racist micro-inequalities and micro-aggressions persist in academia, which is ironic because the ivory tower is supposed to be a place of free thinkers and intellectual inquiry. Continue Reading →

Academia’s Hostility To Women

The Guardian documents a new study reporting on why women in the sciences are leaving academia at much greater rates than men. According to the study’s results, the number of women in science PhD programs who report wanting to remain in academia plummets the longer they spend working on their degrees. Women learn, by observation and experience, that their gender will be an impediment to their progress, and they reported more than men did that the great sacrifices demanded of them were too large. While this study focused on the sciences, I think it might apply in the social sciences and humanities as well. Academia is full of gendered micro-inequalities, though women have largely made progress over time. Continue Reading →

Sexism In Science

In case you missed it, a scientist who contributes to Scientific American turned down a blogging opportunity from one of their affiliates – who then called her an “urban whore.” And yet, rather than use this as an opportunity to combat racism and sexism in science, the blog removed her post commenting on the issue. It’s since been restored, but important questions remain: how can we hope to address issues of inequality (by gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and other identity factors) if there’s still so much bias at institutional levels? And how do efforts to combat sexism and racism in science reflect similar struggles in other parts of society? Continue Reading →

Texas Voter Laws Affect Women Disproportionately

As reported in Salon, a new voter ID law in Texas could disenfranchise up to one-third of women voters. Many voting-age women do not have an identification document that currently reflects their legal name (due to marriage, divorce, and so on). Additionally, photocopies are not accepted for the multi-step name-change process, making additional hurdles for women and transgender people – but not cis-gendered men. This makes me feel somewhat cynical, as Texas already doesn’t have the greatest record of looking out for its female citizens. Ideally everyone, regardless of gender identity, would have access to facilities to easily change their names, marital status, sex, and so on – or if that access is restricted, it shouldn’t affect their ability to do vital things like vote. Continue Reading →

Why To Keep Using The Word “Feminism”

We’ve all run into someone who says things like, “Yeah, I agree with a lot of feminism, I just don’t like calling myself a feminist because [XYZ].” One common reason given is that feminism is (supposedly) just about improving women’s living conditions, while the speaker considers him/herself a humanist, someone who wants to raise all of humanity. Which is a nice idea, but there are, in fact, specific reasons to describe oneself as a feminist. And no, they do not include hating men. The brilliant blogger Spacefem describes her reasons for doing so in a blog post here. Continue Reading →

Creating A Culture Of Inequality

I’ve posted in the past about sexism in the geek community, which extends to the tech industry as well. This letter, written by tech journalist to her daughter’s high school programming teacher, exemplifies many of the concerns about gender equality in technology and geek culture. Being the only girl in the class and having little support from adults when the boys began to marginalize her led to a terrible experience – no doubt similar to what many women who enter all-male fields go through. How does one begin to change a sexist subculture? The letter is full of helpful suggestions on how to create a more supportive environment for learning. Continue Reading →

Tips For Male Allies In Academia

Don’t be that dude: handy tips for the male academic is a lovely post aimed at male professors who are sympathetic to the sexism and gendered micro-aggressions that many women in academia face. I like that the post recognizes the importance of collaboration in achieving gender equality, and I think a lot of the tips are applicable outside the ivory tower as well. Continue Reading →

Simple Ways To Be A Male Ally

Michael Urbina’s blog post 101 Everyday Ways for Men to Be Allies to Women contains a lot of great suggestions for men who want to become aware of and cut back on sexist behavior that they might be unconsciously modeling. I like most of the ideas, though I don’t think that a guy having nude pictures of women is automatically a no-no when it comes to being an ally. But then, I hang out with a lot of artists, and we’ve got an artist in my family, so I’m pretty de-sensitized to nude images. What do you think – is the list missing anything? Could any of the suggestions be tweaked or improved? Continue Reading →

Systemic Racism, Systemic Sexism

The consequences of racism, sexism, and other intolerant attitudes are far-reaching and deep in America, and yet they also result in everyday acts that wear us down, battering at our sense of self-worth and value as a human being. Many of these acts are systemic, meaning that they are the results of a social system that has been in place for a long time and goes largely unquestioned. These daily acts of racism and sexism mirror each other in strange ways, and yet each brings with it unique circumstances. When I read Michael Twittty’s open letter to Paula Deen (regarding the accusations of her racist speech and acts), it resonated with me. Not because I am African-American; no, my ancestors were largely European, and I recognize that I come from a place of privilege. Continue Reading →

An International View Of Women In Combat

The decision to lift the ban on American women serving in combat has led to mixed reactions. Some marines, for instance, are skeptical that integration on the front lines will be beneficial or realistic. However, National Geographic’s overview of 8 other nations that send women into combat shows that a variety of solutions to these dilemmas exist. Israel and Canada both provide examples of integration (the Canada link is especially worth reading since its author dispels many of the assumptions that female soldiers will be weaker or more frightened, citing the traumatic effects of war for soldiers of both genders as well as male soldiers’ underreporting due to constructions of hyper-masculinity). Of course, there are numerous examples of historical women in combat, so none of this is necessarily new ground. Continue Reading →