Skepchick Quickies, 2.15


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. Thanks for the articles, it always gets my goat when people argue that men are violent because EVOLUTION MADE IT SO, as if to handwave it away and go “welp, that’s just the way things are *dusts off hands* nothing more to be done here!” It’s a culture of violence and it hurts everybody and over time it can be changed.

    I saw a really good breakdown of it called Tough Guise : A Crisis In Masculinity by Jackson Katz, it should be up on youtube. It talks about how boys are targeted by the media to idolize violence, among other things.

    Sorry if this post feels all “what about the mens??” but it’s a neat documentary that goes well with the second article here :)

    1. “Men” are so violent? I thought it was just me…

      I think most people here would agree that “what about men?” is a perfectly appropriate response in this instance, as opposed to the whole “what about the mens??” as a minimizing tactic against women.

    2. You didn’t come off that way at all. This is a very important subject that affects both genders equally.

  2. Sweeping generalizations like “Men start all wars” and references to “hunter gatherer” cultures as “men = hunters” and “women = gatherers” set off my evopsych alarm bells.

    “Here, Johnny, play with this tank. Let’s cheer when a fight breaks out at the hockey game.”
    “Here, Jenny, play with this doll. Let’s have a tea party.”

    Sheesh, Johnny, why are you so violent?

    1. Yeah, it’s an interesting article and it could bring on some interesting discussions, but it rang some bells for me as well.

    2. Yeah, our culture gives young boys role models are are tough or mean, rewards them for living up to this role of “manly”, and also punishes them for going against the grain (terms like “sissy”, “wuss” and “pussy [a feminizing term itself]). Meanwhile women are encouraged into the more nurturing and passive roles, and ostracized when they try to join the Boy’s Club, so of course people carry that behavior with them when they grow up.

      That’s not even getting into hypermasculinity, which always feels like overcompensation to me.

      I was just waiting for the words “savannah ancestors” to come up because the article being called out is so bad.

      1. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

        I’m pretty sure all of pre-history was exactly like the year 1950.

  3. That interview about getting more women into Comp. Sci was interesting. I’ve been trying to get into the industry myself (from a GIS background). It’s pretty hard to do the transition later on as a career change (as opposed to going to uni and doing the comp sci route). I’m in a unique position in that I’ve been going to a lot of meetups/railsbridge type workshops that are a strong female presence, but when I go to a ruby6 hacknight, on the other hand, I’m usually one of only a handful of women. The good thing about this is that people usually remember me. The bad thing is that I never really feel like I belong. :/

  4. On the subject of “Rosie the Programmer,” here’s a link to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Entrepreneurial Heroes site. From their home page: “…is a series of magazine-style audio interviews highlighting women entrepreneurs in information technology (IT) careers.”


    The company I work for, CastingWords, has been transcribing videos for NCWIT (we also just transcribed one of Rebecca’s talks :).

  5. I don’t get the “When Scientists Choose Motherhood” article, this is not a new thing.. Mommy Tracking has been understood as playing an important role for years in advancement in and out of academia.

  6. As someone who grew up on a farm, I utterly reject the premise that women couldn’t handle the most physically demanding tasks. I saw women handling those tasks whenever those tasks needed to be done.

    I a priori reject any theory which depends on “women don’t handle it as well as men” as a premise. The number of examples fitting that premise = 0.

  7. That motherhood article is pure evil. In fact, for many years the main reason given for women leaving science is … children. The real truth is that the main reason they leave is DISCRIMINATION. This has been proven in a thousand ways. But you won’t see it discussed in the mainstream press. They love these articles about women in science having children. More pressure on childless women to continue not existing.

    1. They way I read it was more “Systemic issues that slant the deck for men and against women, and totally by accident favor childless women too” but maybe that wasn’t the most critical reading on my part.

  8. As a woman who gave up a scientific career (entirely voluntarily) to raise a child, I thought the motherhood article was spot on. I think our biology dictates that most women will want to have children at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, that same biology also dictates that if we want them to be our biological children, it had better happen in the first third of our lives.

    If it were possible for women to devote their twenties to forties to raising children and then begin a career in math or science, that might make it possible for more women to contribute to those fields. However, that scenario seems highly unlikely, both because men would have had a twenty year head start, and because many of these fields are better suited to younger brains.

    Obviously, some women can progress in science while raising a family at the same time. But we’re talking about women like myself who didn’t want to have to do both at once. I have no regrets about the choice I made. And now that I have more time on my hands, I’ve gotten back into science in my own way by writing a science blog. But I’m not sure how this issue can be resolved in a broader way.

  9. the “why men are violent” article was just awful… I just wanted my red pen so I could write “reference please?” all over it.

    But the when scientists choose motherhood was spot on. I think that as a society we have to learn to balance family/life with careers – the most interesting part of the article to me was that the entire tenure system was set up back when they assumed the single male professors would live at the university. The system is set up for academics to be monks, not members of the general public. I think that goes for almost any professional career – it is set up to reward only people who sacrifice every other aspect of their life.

    Even the old guys I’ve had as professors or bosses who had stay at home wives to tend their children to make sure they never had to miss an hour of their 60 hour work weeks have regrets. They regret the heart attack, the stress leave, the alcoholism, the divorce, the fact their children are indifferent to them or hate them because they cared about work more than them. The childless women who climbed to the top suffered the same health effects – the demands of these long hours are unreasonable for anyone, let alone a primary caregiver of children. That’s just the issue bringing it to a head. The whole Mommy Track “conundrum” makes it sound like it’s just women who want kids who have to choose: career or family, when it’s not really true – the men got to have kids, sure, but they didn’t get to spend time with them. They Career Tracked themselves out of family life.

    I guess my whole beef is that by just focusing on how to help women with children, it seems to engender this bitterness that women are being coddled, they can’t cut it in the career world without special privileges like a whole year off and flexible work hours (I’m Canadian, sorry USians); there is that predictable little sneer whenever someone learns that a woman in the office is pregnant, and will soon be abandoning her post for her all-expenses-paid luxury vacation. But the issue is that the way we think about professions is inherently unfriendly to people leading balanced lives, regardless of gender. It’s just a matter of which gender is giving up which aspect of their lives to get ahead in the other. Looking just at moms, and not families as a whole (and people who don’t want kids but want to, you know, have a freaking hobby) is too myopic.

    Or maybe I’m just bitter because I have totally had it up to here with my own 60 hour work week.

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