At what point are we going to allow female scientists to just “be”, without continually commenting on their appearance?
“In my profession today I work closely with many talented men. We write on related topics and speak to similar audiences. Yet, I’m regularly reminded that I face many challenges they don’t have to deal with. No one jokingly whispers about their receptivity to sex during conferences just loud enough to overhear. No one questions whether they were hired so the boss could to get some “tail.” These kinds of experiences are common for women in and out of the ivory towers. We rarely complain for fear of being considered troublemakers or worse. We work hard and don’t want special treatment or penalization, so we turn a deaf ear, aware that some will never see past what’s on the surface. We stop speaking up and a negative feedback loop continues to reinforce gender roles over time.”
Sheril Kirshenbaum is once again forced to comment on her sexuality when someone considers it a compliment to congratulate her on her desirability. Instead of being “grateful”, Sheril reminds us just how different the science community can be for men and women, and how the constant focus on a scientist’s appearance is, in fact, not a compliment.