Whether or not Hunt was joking and whether or not he apologized satisfactorily are beside the point. Neither is it likely that such outdated and seemingly entrenched attitudes can be dispelled by practical attempts to counter gender inequality in science (see Nature 522, 255; 2015 and 7; 2015). Nature 523,
Conspicuous by its absence in Nature so far is this: a woman commenting on the harm done by the flippant public denigration of women in science by a prominent scientist who is male.
A new paper published in the Journal of Polar Biology reports a disturbing behavior of male Antarctic fur seals. The sexual harassment of penguins by seals…. multiple times. Check out the paper if you have access, or check out this great BBC summary of the paper. The BBC summary also has videos… some of which are graphic. It turns out that young male seals are attempting to copulate with king penguins. While the authors are unsure why this is happening, they offer a number of possible reasons and that they believe it could be a learned behavior that is on the rise. Another example of nature that makes me reconsider how bad humans are. hahaha.
The ESA has truly made science history!!! Twitter and everyone else is celebrating the successful landing of Philae on Comet #67P from the Rosetta Spacecraft! !
Unfortunately, the ESA also made science history today for having poor and sexist garment choices be a part of their press interaction. One of the main project scientists for ESA’s Rosetta project, Matt Taylor, decided to wear the shirt shown in the tweets below on TV coverage of the historic landing. UGH! For more perspective on this, check out this great post by Small Pond Science!
His shirt says to girls watching from their elementary classrooms: Science is not for you. You shouldn’t be an engineer sending robots into space.
His shirt says to women in STEM: I have no respect for you as a professional. When I look at you, I see a sex object, and not a colleague.
UPDATE: While it is important to talk about the many reasons Matt Taylor’s decision was so far from ok, it also strikes CauseScience that publicizing the bad behavior of a man is also a dis-service to the women of Rosetta Mission (they should be getting the press). Check out the CauseScience follow up post celebrating the women of the ESA Rosetta Mission!
UPDATE 2: CauseScience has left up as many comments as possible. However, a number of comments had to be taken down due to either language or content that was not appropriate for this blog audience. Comments were not taken down for criticizing or disagreeing with this post. If commenters cannot comment using appropriate language, their comment has no place here.
This is the scientific head of operations for the ESA’s rosetta project. Cool shirt for an engineer 🙂 http://t.co/AfWEox9sLo—
John Papadakis (@yannisp) November 12, 2014
Sciencegurl (@sciencegurlz0) November 12, 2014
When we said there should be more women in science, this is NOT what we meant. https://t.co/s7ofbpmwSQ—
Lindsay Waldrop (@invertenerd) November 12, 2014
Cyrus Radfar (@cyrusradfar) November 12, 2014
A nice Slate article explaining the results of a PNAS study on looking at gender disparity in the sciences. For some of us, this comes as no surprise, but I do believe studies like this are the first step towards equality. Women are most definitely still a minority in the sciences.
Conclusions from the study:
- 52% of Biology PhD’s are women… but only 18% of tenure track professors are women (a leaky pipeline).
- Male faculty members are significantly less likely than female faculty to bring female trainees into their labs
- If the male professor had won a prestigious award, he was even less likely to take women into his lab
One thing yet to be determined… WHY does all this still happen, and WHY are women leaving the field? While some in the article may claim “women don’t like or just aren’t good at science and math” (say WHAT?!), I believe the issue is a more complex one, and the article goes into more realistic possible reasons: male aggression, etc.
One thing is for sure, starting conversations about this inequality and the “leaky pipeline” problem is a step in the right direction.