sourceThe good Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde spotted something the other day that I can't believe hasn't been noticed by a wider audience. In the wake of the Sotomayor nomination, DJ&MH posteda telling quote from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).
From this week's NY Times Week in Review:
But Justice Ginsburg said her own influence in all sorts of cases at the justices' conferences was uncertain. "I will say something -- and I don't think I'm a confused speaker -- and it isn't until somebody else says it that everyone will focus on the point," Justice Ginsburg said.
That is, she is one of the nine highest-ranking judges in the nation, with the power to define and defend constitutional law, and she sometimes kinda feels like people ignore the points she makes...until a guy says the same thing ten minutes later.
For those in my audience who are unaware, this is one of those lame situations in which women frequently find themselves, including in bioscience. Frequently, from what I can deduce.
Now I have to acknowledge that I am someone who (in some professional environments, not all, some*) has a pronounced tendency to talk and argue and generally be an active participant (no doubt because of a hypertrophied d00dly-opining d00d lobe). Of course I don't think of this as gender privileged behavior**, I, um, fail to defer to d00ds too!
As I am sort of vaguely realizing the impact of my usual antics on women and possibly other underrepresented groups in science, I was receptive to an interesting comment left over at DJ&MH's place. Some pulsating d00d-lobe type opined:
This is one of the most difficult aspects of male privilege to overcome as a man. I consider myself pretty aware of male privilege and how it makes me act like a misogynist shithead. But sometimes I, nevertheless, find myself discounting or ignoring the voices of women in contexts like a conference or other group discussion. I constantly make an effort to not do this, but it still sometimes happens.
Huh! Yeah. I really don't know. How would one? I mean this sort of discounting is not, presumably, intentional. So therefore it operates at a level not accessible to one's recollection.
I am thinking that I should adopt a citation style in discussions. Seriously. I mean if you are constantly saying in your lab meetings after bringing up some brilliant new idea ("....which Postdoc Smith first brought to our attention, right?"...) wouldn't this help keep credit straight in our own minds? And if we make a mistake wouldn't this be an explicit invitation for someone to correct us?
In roundtables, conference Q&A sessions, study section, Dept meeting...it could be applied. Slightly ponderous, perhaps. But wouldn't it help to interrupt that subconscious process of ignoring women's comments and attending men's comments?
**It is though.