SfN 2012: Professors behaving badly

I don't actually know Dario Maestripieri although I have read some of his scientific work now and again over the years. His areas of interest include primate social behavior as well as mating systems and reproductive strategies. Apparently his interest extends to the human primate.

Professor Maestripieri has posted a rather idiotic observation about the Society for Neuroscience meeting and his apparent disappointment in the lack of  eye-candy available for his personal enjoyment. Now yes, he posted this on Facebook which is nominally private-ish. But clearly he has enough "friends" that someone was offended and saw fit to screen capture and send it around.

There is a very simple response here. Don't do this. It's sexist, juvenile, offensive and stupid. For a senior scientist it is yet another contribution to the othering of women in science. In his lab, in his subfield, in his University and in his academic societies. We should not tolerate this crap.

Professor Maestripieri needs to apologize for this in a very public way and take responsibility for his actions. You know, not with a nonpology of "I'm sorry you were offended" but with an "I shouldn't have done that" type of response.

UPDATE: I have now heard this tale from about a half dozen independent directions. Several people expressed thanks to me and mentioned their channel on the info hesitated to publicize for fear of some sort of retaliation. Well, the cat is well and truly out of the bag and there are multiple lines of revelation on this. If you are one of the original sources, you have company. I thank you all for bringing this behavior to light.

As always, feel free to sock up in the comments, use something other than your usual in the email field though.

See Janet's post here.

And Isis' post.

And Jezebel.

278 responses so far

  • Dave says:

    Hi is Italian. Need I say more?

    I think you are over-reacting personally.

  • Dr Becca says:

    I think you are over-reacting personally.

    Says the guy responding to sexism with ethnic stereotypes. Very nice.

  • Dave says:

    Says the guy responding to sexism with ethnic stereotypes. Very nice.

    ITS A JOKE!!!!!

  • proflikesubstance says:

    But he ended with "No offense to anyone"! Doesn't that absolve him of everything?

  • biochembelle says:

    A professor apparently thinks there's nothing wrong with judging his female colleagues by their appearance, contributing to the gender divide and creating another no-win situation for women in science.

    We're damned if we do, damned if we don't: We're unattractive, we don't care about our appearance (ergo, not professional), or we use our feminine wiles to land the job/grant/etc. Either way, the message is clear: We are outsiders in a male domain - no matter how many women are in the ranks.

    Here's a thought: How about we create an environment where we talk about women's science instead of women's bodies and attire?

    No, Dave, I think DrugMonkey's reaction is about on par.

  • becca says:

    But seriously, what's up with the unusually high concentration of sexist douchecanoes in neuroscience?

  • Dave says:

    A professor apparently thinks there's nothing wrong with judging his female colleagues by their appearance, contributing to the gender divide and creating another no-win situation for women in science.

    Oh, come on!!!

    Slight exaggeration, perhaps? Perhaps? This is one prof making a comment on his FB page at a bloody neuroscience meeting. Now, if Mitt Romney was making ridiculous accusations about single mums and gun violence, that might be a story. Oh wait.......

  • Chuck Currie says:

    "A professor apparently thinks there's nothing wrong with judging his female colleagues by their appearance, contributing to the gender divide and creating another no-win situation for women in science."

    And the reason Daniel Craig is James Bond instead of Danny DiVito is?...And it has nothing to do with their acting ability or accomplishments in their chosen field.

    Hypocrisy abounds.

    Cheers

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    Dave, do you think this is the very first inkling women in scientific fields have seen that the men in their fields may have the attitudes towards their female colleagues that biochem belle describes?

    Or do you think, perhaps, in the course of their training, work, conference travel, and so forth, that maybe they have seen other evidence of these attitudes (some of it not documented on Facebook)? Maybe even EVERY FUCKING DAY?

  • Kate Clancy says:

    Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention, Drugmonkey. I find Dario's Facebook post shameful. My understanding from those who are Facebook friends of his is that several women and men were great allies in the comments and pushed him on these sexist remarks (and unfortunately, a few were complicit). He was unapologetic, but at least they disrupted/problematized his grousing about a lack of "super model types" (whatever-the-eff that means) at SfN.

    So glad to have yet another reminder that, even at a scientific conference, there are men who will look at me as a sexual object and value me based on my looks rather than my science.

  • Most people are on the private facebook pages, exactly who they are. If he's disappointed about the lack of eye candy at SFN, how is he treating his female students?

    Chuck - same reason why Terri Hatcher is the bond girl and Whoopy Goldberg.

  • Sorry Chuck Currie, my sarcasm detector may be broken, because I can't tell if your comment was serious:

    "And the reason Daniel Craig is James Bond instead of Danny DiVito is?...And it has nothing to do with their acting ability or accomplishments in their chosen field.

    Hypocrisy abounds."

    Actors being cast for their looks for a role that has a 'look' requirement is at all similar to female scientists wanting to be taken seriously for their work? Last I checked, doing good science doesn't require a specific "look", while playing James Bond kind of does.

  • Grumble says:

    Dario Maestripieri is a discredit to the Society for Neuroscience. The Society should rescind his membership. I'm not sure I want to continue to share membership with slime like him in any organization.

  • drugmonkey says:

    JDS-

    Interestingly these stories *can* be the first inkling that men in science have. When Isis posted about grabass scientists some years ago, it was news to me.

    Doods- the wimmins don't necessarily tell *you* about Professor McDouchecanoe but that doesn't mean that they haven't had puh-lenty of experiences.

  • Grumble says:

    Resolutions to the Bylaws of the Society for Neuroscience
    Resolution 6. Expulsion from Membership. In extraordinary circumstances Council may expel from the Society a member whose actions are counter to the purposes of the Society. Said member shall be given written notice of expulsion and the reasons therefore, and shall have the right of appeal to Council.

  • Dr. Humbug says:

    Strange. Why would a supermodel like Dario Maestripieri make such a comment?

  • M says:

    Ugh. His post is annoying and sexist but personally, who cares? It's not like he's anything special... I wonder if Dr. Maestripieri has ever considered that neuroscience is NOT where he is going to find his sought after "supermodel type".

  • Kate Clancy says:

    DrugMonkey said: "Doods- the wimmins don't necessarily tell *you* about Professor McDouchecanoe but that doesn't mean that they haven't had puh-lenty of experiences."

    Exactly.

    Last night I gave a talk at Bradley University to a full house. It's an undergrad-focused university, so that was the primary audience. Towards the end of the talk, I brought up the Todd Akin stuff and went through with them the same thing I did in my blog post about it (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/context-and-variation/2012/08/20/here-is-some-legitimate-science-on-pregnancy-and-rape/). I walked them through how many people they know are gluten intolerant (1%), and how many are rape survivors (17%). You could hear a pin drop in the room as they all thought about how many rape survivors it meant were in the room at that moment.

    That's what these kinds of posts also do: they reveal to people with privilege or otherwise don't have oppressive experiences what it's like to be someone who does. How great the number of people who have this experience is. The silencing effect of sexist, racist, etc behavior. The more it gets called out, the less people feel it's acceptable. And those who once remained silent might be bold enough to speak against it when it happens.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Oh, come on!!!

    Slight exaggeration, perhaps? Perhaps? This is one prof making a comment on his FB page at a bloody neuroscience meeting. Now, if Mitt Romney was making ridiculous accusations about single mums and gun violence, that might be a story. Oh wait.......

    Yeah, you laideez are always blowing things out of proportion! And why worry about these little things when there are bigger issues!

    *places two bingo chips*

  • Alex says:

    "No offense to anyone."

    So he's aware he might be wrong? Doesn't make it OK.

    See also: http://alexanderbrown.info/2012/09/06/i-fucking-hate-sexism-in-science/

  • becca says:

    Grumble- he's a fellow of AAAS. That's more problematic than him being allowed into SfN, if you ask me.

  • Dr Becca says:

    What becca said. It was my understanding that one of those A's stood for "advancement."

  • Dave says:

    Yeah, you laideez are always blowing things out of proportion! And why worry about these little things when there are bigger issues!

    I never made any general statements about women in the workforce, either in science or elsewhere. But feel free to generalize on my behalf if you must. Nobody is claiming that women do not get a hard time in science (even this guy). I see it every single day and am not naive enough to believe all is fine and dandy. The point I am making is who gives a shite what some neuroscience prof says about how attractive the women are at a conference? Who fuckeen cares? I sit around the lunch table often and listen to women colleagues go on about how gross and unattractive their male counterparts are too. Does that mean they are generalizing about the inequality of the scientific workforce? I don't think so.

    This is an over-reaction, period. Calls for him to be banished from the AAAS/SfN are ridiculous in my opinion.

  • motsfo says:

    Women! Rise Up! Grade men according to their attributes!
    Men! Grow Up!
    Best!motsfo

  • BoysClubsAreBad says:

    I love how attractiveness is apparently a scientifically objective category for this douchebag. What a pig.

  • becca says:

    Dave, read the d00d's blog http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/games-primates-play/201208/the-extreme-female-brain
    He's making a *career* out of being a sexist pig. More importantly, he's leading people to WRONG scientific conclusions because of it.

    If it were one comment on facebook? Maybe you'd have a point. But there is the power structure to consider, and this particularly comment is probably indicative of how he represents his field and how his views will color how he mentors students and interacts with female colleagues. And this goof does not sound professional, or pro-social, or kind, or enlightened and it seems to me his work is most certainly not scientifically sound. So yeah, a fellow of AAAS? Weird.

  • Katie says:

    Dave,
    I suggest that consider what it is about you and your experience and privilege that is causing you to under-react. Because it is an under-reaction. At best you are naive, and this is an opportunity to re-evaluate your naivete and gain some empathy and perspective.

  • Dave says:

    At best you are naive....

    Why? Because I don't agree with your views?

    If it were one comment on facebook? Maybe you'd have a point.

    It is one comment on FB. All this chat is about this one comment on FB. Not his blog posts, his world view or his politics. One single post on FB.

  • Katie says:

    You are naive because you don't seem to grasp that his statement is deeply offensive and demeaning to specifically the ~20,000 women at SfN and more generally ALL women in science. Because of his position of power- professor, author, commentator, mentor, grant-reviewer, manuscript reviewer he both wields incredible influence over his junior colleagues, both male and female, amplifying the effect of his attitude and words. This is unacceptable entirely.

    You dismissing the response as an "over-reaction" demonstrates that you either don't understand what I have described above, or you don't care. I was being charitable when I said you must be naive, because further evidence in your response suggests basic stupidity.

  • biochembelle says:

    Who cares?

    Obviously several of us care.

    It's not about one scientist making a sexist comment... if only it were so rare.

    It's about a culture that brushes off sexist behavior as no big deal.
    It's about informing those who think sexism has been eradicated from science.
    And it's about letting women know that they have allies who will not remain silent.

  • becca says:

    Dave- the facebook status is a SIGN of a larger problem. A larger problem with the culture of science (perhaps neuroscientists especially, although despite my snark I don't have data on that), a larger problem with our culture in general, and apparently a larger problem with Dario Maestripieri (though IF he were an Outstanding Citizen generally, he probably would have backed away from the post once someone pointed out it's part of what makes female scientists, particularly young ones, feel like crap about the profession).
    You yourself are clearly motivated to ignore or even distract from the larger problem, which is... interesting. I'm inclined not to chalk it up to either ignorance or slow intellect, but rather that you have much to gain from the power system remaining as it is. After all, if you want to increase your odds of getting away with behaving like a misogynistic douchecanoe, it helps if you defend other's "rights" to behave exactly that way.

  • Dave says:

    Because of his position of power- professor, author, commentator, mentor, grant-reviewer, manuscript reviewer he both wields incredible influence over his junior colleagues, both male and female, amplifying the effect of his attitude and words. This is unacceptable entirely.

    I think this is taking it wayyyyy to far. This is my opinion. Take it or leave it.

    I was being charitable when I said you must be naive, because further evidence in your response suggests basic stupidity.

    You can call me whatever you like, but if this is how you typically react when someone disagrees with you, what does that say about you when you are reviewing manuscripts, mentoring fellows, reviewing grants. Is that an over-reaction on my part?

  • Shorter Dave: "I'm going to systematically and vocally deny the relevance of your experience as a human woman, but you called me a name, so I win."

    "Take it or leave it." Clearly, the overwhelming consensus is "leave it"

  • InBabyAttachMode says:

    Thanks for posting this DM. I'm not generally in favor of public shaming, but I think it's important that if future grad students or post-docs of this guy google him they see what his ideas towards women are.
    Also, Dave, being Italian is not an excuse for this type of demeaning behavior. It would be a weird world if there were different rules for people from different cultural backgrounds.

  • Dave says:

    You yourself are clearly motivated to ignore or even distract from the larger problem, which is... interesting.

    Of course I am, which is why on several occasions I clearly acknowledged there was a significant problem in science and elsewhere. My point is that I believe this is an over-reaction to THE POST ON FB. This is in no way an indication of how I feel about women in science.

  • suebee says:

    I was particularly struck that you wrote this, dave:

    Nobody is claiming that women do not get a hard time in science (even this guy). I see it every single day and am not naive enough to believe all is fine and dandy.

    followed immediately by this

    The point I am making is who gives a shite what some neuroscience prof says about how attractive the women are at a conference? Who fuckeen cares? "

    Oh, the inertia of unexamined male privilege. Of COURSE you have the luxury, indeed the responsibility, of judging a reaction as "to far" (sic)!

  • Firahs says:

    What a pack of harpies you are. Its not enough that you already dominate academia, but you want our balls too. Fuck all of yas

  • Dave says:

    I'm going to systematically and vocally deny the relevance of your experience as a human woman

    Where did I do that?

  • [...] DrugMonkey posts on a senior neuroscientist (and fellow of the AAAS) using social media to display his sexist stance towards women in his scientific field. (Too many unattractive women at the Society for Neuroscience meeting! Oh, the humanity!) [...]

  • You know, given the general negative feeling among the general public towards primate researchers in general, you'd think that people like Maestripieri would try to be *nicer* than the typical scientist who isn't "mean to monkeys" for a living...

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    Experience suggests that the public would like researchers to be nicer to monkeys. Being nicer to women is just not a priority.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    You can call me whatever you like, but if this is how you typically react when someone disagrees with you, what does that say about you when you are reviewing manuscripts, mentoring fellows, reviewing grants. Is that an over-reaction on my part?

    "you're being silly and over-emotional!"

    *places another bingo chip*

    Please pick "I'm taking my ball and going home" or "Women just can't be objective about gender issues" next so I can yell Bingo. I'm so close to winning.

  • "Where did I do that?"

    In every comment you've made. Every time you've screamed "over-reaction". Every time you've said "Who fukken cares?". Every cute little Italian joke meant to minimize others opinions. Every derail whining that Mitt Romney is worse, so this isn't a problem. Every time you've claimed it's Just One Facebook Post.

    Basically, everywhere.

  • IdleScience says:

    Dude obviously has a doucheCPU controlling his brain.

    Still find it hilariously ironic that a pseud blogger reblogs a private facebook post including the full name and credentials of the perp. Even failblog et al have the decency to blur that stuff out. So you don't have to be held accountable for the inflammatory shit you say in public, but this guy has to be accountable for his private douchery?

  • InBabyAttachMode says:

    If you don't realize that whatever you post on FB is not private, even with private settings you're not from this century.

  • Firahs says:

    "You're being silly and over-emotional!"

    "Women just can't be objective about gender issues"

    Please tell me then why, in a recent survey, the majority of women surveyed indicated that they prefer a male to a female supervisor.

  • Dave says:

    Every cute little Italian joke meant to minimize others opinions

    What? What are you talking about?

    Every derail whining that Mitt Romney is worse, so this isn't a problem

    Derail? I was just making a comment that Romney links single mums/broken families to gun violence and patronizes women by claiming that they need to leave work early to go home and make dinner, yet nobody talks about it. Some dickhead prof that nobody knows outside of neuroscience (apparently) makes a comment about how unattractive he thinks the women are at SfN, and everybody goes nuts. Just making the point. No motivation to derail. Just an observation.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    Dave, it's interesting that you are spending so much effort to tell others they are ... devoting to much effort to responding to this incident.

    If you don't care about the incident, that's fine. But your continued comments here make it look like you *do* care -- and like you're primarily interested in defending the status quo.

  • MarkCC says:

    Please tell me then why, in a recent survey, the majority of women surveyed indicated that they prefer a male to a female supervisor.

    I can easily point out a few reasons.

    (1) Women aren't immune to the social influences that tell us, from the time we're small children, that men that give orders are bosses, and women who give orders are harpies.

    (2) In male dominated organizations, women's opinions are constantly discounted, even when they're in purported leadership positions. If you report to a woman, that bias means that when your boss argues that you deserve some kind of reward/raise/promotion, you're less likely to get it than you would be if your boss were a man.

    (3) People have been told, again and again, that women in leadership positions only have those positions because their employer is doing affirmative action/unfairly promoting women.

  • Lee says:

    Dave:
    You're clearly on the wrong side of the argument and you should concede defeat whilst apologizing to your fellow scientists. Lamenting about the lack of eye-candy at a major society is just shameful, regardless of the setting. I might be able to overlook it if he had bemoaned the lack of attractive women at the bar the night before, but grading the meeting based on the attractiveness of the female participants is just plain wrong.

    Firahs: you’re a sexist douche that’s disconnected from reality. Hopefully, you’re not in the sciences because you certainly would be part of the problem.

  • zb says:

    Well, I definitely appreciate the public shaming. Ooh, kind of scary -- he looks just like another sexist Italian I know (I know it's not fair to brush all Italians with the sexist brush, and only one of the three Italians I know are sexist by my definition).

    Presumably, he'll stop making comments like this when it becomes a net negative in his life (i.e. I certainly wouldn't invite him to give a talk at my school after reading the comment). With dudes like this, I don't care if I change their minds, as long as they change their behavior. Facebook posts on the attractiveness (or lack thereof) of women at a scientific meeting will not make your life better -- hopefully a behaviorist can comprehend and modify his behavior accordingly.

    Sanctimonious feminists (of all sexes) go!

  • BDNf says:

    "Romney links single mums/broken families to gun violence and patronizes women by claiming that they need to leave work early to go home and make dinner, yet nobody talks about it."

    Errr... ???

    1) Don't know where you've been.

    2) Every science blogger has to talk about Romney first and foremost ?

  • Firahs says:

    Lee,

    I AM in the sciences and if I am a sexist douche so be it. I was not always that way, nor have I intentionally or unintentionally hurt, maligned, oppressed or otherwise done wrong to any woman in my life.

    Quite the contrary, I have always treated my female colleagues with respect and continue to do so. However, I am sick of being vilified just because of my sex. It seems that women don't want to be merely equals, which I have no problem with, but they want men to PAY for all of man's (supposed) historical injustices.

    Great, you have your cake and now you can eat it too.

    Mark, I feel sorry for you, feminist-neutered man-thing that you are.

  • Firahs says:

    And BTW, I am all for equality for women in everything. But I resent the hell out of men being treated as 2nd class citizens, which is already happening to a large extent. Men are no longer free to be men, as society and media increasingly try to feminize us. I will not stand for it.

    I am truly sorry that many women suffered under male patriarchy, but I really had nothing to do with that. Why should I have to pay the price

  • Kate Clancy says:

    Dave says: "I think this is taking it wayyyyy to far. This is my opinion. Take it or leave it."

    Leave it.

  • Kate Clancy says:

    Firahs says: "And BTW, I am all for equality for women in everything. But I resent the hell out of men being treated as 2nd class citizens, which is already happening to a large extent. Men are no longer free to be men, as society and media increasingly try to feminize us. I will not stand for it."

    Tee hee! I've got me a case of the giggles! Is this some kind of performance art?

  • Firahs says:

    Tee hee! I've got me a case of the giggles! Is this some kind of performance art?

    Nope, just where I stand. Someone has to say it.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    Firahs, when you say men are no longer free to be men, what exactly are you claiming?

  • proflikesubstance says:

    OMG - The Oppressed Man! BINGO!

    Firahs, you can strut around with your shirt off grunting in your backyard or home, but spare the rest of us poor feminized man-things. You have high unintentional comedic value, but not much else to offer.

  • becca says:

    Firahs- may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your nethermost regions, with which you are clearly far too besotted. Someone had to say it.

  • Firahs says:

    Really the issue is that women don't want equality with men, they want to upstage and outdo them in every way. That is not equality. Furthermore, just about every feminist I have met has some sort of chip on their shoulder. Just get over yourselves.

  • Lee says:

    Firahs, you're obviously missing the point. Being manly- tough, roughed, etc.- is completely divorced from besmirching women. Secondly, I don’t think anyone here is asking for reparations. They are, however, demanding a change in how men treat women. It starts with you realizing your popeye-esque attitude of “I yam what I yam..” needs to take a hike.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I feel entirely free to be "a man", actually. Where I might feel a tad of pressure is not to be an asshole. Those two things are different, btw.

  • RedFish says:

    Dave :

    The difference between Dario making comments on facebook about the attractiveness of women and women joking about the attractiveness of men over lunch is similar to the difference between Romney making a birth certificate joke and Obama making a birth certificate joke. The first is an act of entitlement and reinforcing certain kinds of power (sexism, racism), the second is an attempt to level those systems of power through derision.

  • Firahs says:

    Truly, I have never mistreated a woman in my life. Nor I have witnessed maltreatment of women in the environments in which I have worked in the passed.

    Currently, I work in a department that is overwhelmingly female and outspokenly feminist. Do you think that men get a fair shake here? Here, when openings have occurred, better-qualified male applicants have been turned down because they were the wrong sex. If it were solely up to me, I would hire the most qualified candidate, regardless of race or sex.

    Now I realize that my department is merely a pinpoint of this vast universe, and not necessarily representative of all female-dominated departments. However, knowing human nature, I would not be surprised if this were prevalent in many such departments.

  • Dave says:

    The difference between Dario making comments on facebook about the attractiveness of women and women joking about the attractiveness of men over lunch is similar to the difference between Romney making a birth certificate joke and Obama making a birth certificate joke.

    And if the two are of equal standing/power? What is the difference? What if a female division chair or CEO was the one making the comments about unattractive men in their department or company over lunch? Is she leveling a system of power, or creating a new one?

  • Antigone says:

    There is an obvious sexist threat for women in science, let's call it "explicit sexism", but there is also a more implicit one "implicit hierarchical sexism". The Maestripieri post is an example of the first type. The recent PNAS paper about preferring male students & offering them higher wages gets closer to the second. Every act of sexism falls on a spectrum between the two. But the second type is far more dangerous.

    The implicit sexist is more forgiving to mistakes by male students and more encouraging to their success. he/she over-punishes mistakes by female scientists, or assumes that any mistake confirms the general hypothesis that "this is expected from a woman", and is either dismissive of female success so 'they don't get any ideas', or is condescending towards it "oh you actually didn't screw it up, good job!" or "you must be exceptional". Although you won't notice at first sight, this type systematically and statistically gives less resources to women, and always finds some legitimate reason to account for it. It's the type that offers male students more networking and mentoring opportunities. Frankly I think this is the real way to discourage women in science.

    Explicit sexist comments are horrible, but they are recognizable and elicit clear moral stances from anyone who hears the story, pro or contra. The implicit type is sneaky, difficult to diagnose or prove, not obvious, and it's quite goal-oriented. it results into the marginalization and hence lower performance by females (esp. those that do not assume classical roles), in the long run gives them a less confident self-image, and recursively feeds itself: it can always hide behind "women had lower performance" arguments although it caused the decreased performance in the first place.

    I have seen a lot of attention to the explicit type, and that is good news, there should be more too. But focusing too much on the first type may (1) result into neglecting the second type as less important or pressing, and (2) result into the success of the implicit sexism that only reveals itself on a closer inspection of social hierarchies of access to resources and time. If we do not pay attention to the implicit social exclusion, gender hierarchy, and unequal opportunities that only reveal themselves on closer inspection, the smarter sexists who quietly establish the implicit hierarchies that discourage women don't only get away. they may even end up looking like saints by joining the cause of fighting "explicit sexism".

    Sorry if I sound controversial, but implicit social exclusion can severely change the self-perception of female scientists in ways that the classical chauvinist cannot, we have learned ways to deal with that type. The way to investigate the second type is indeed by methods such as the one in the recent PNAS paper (Moos-Racusin et al., 2012). Imagine a confidential statistical analysis of letters of reference written for female and male students from 1000 labs over a period of 10 years. I wonder what the results may reveal...

  • Firahs says:

    And, on several occasions that it came down to my vote, I have chosen female candidates over male candidates. For me it is about who is the most qualified.

  • A says:

    I can say so much... But a lot of it has been said above.

    The first comment just reminded me that just at this SFN, a different male neuroscientist's sexist behavior came up in conversation and the first comment was "well, he is an boy".

    This is not an overreaction. Women scientists should not have to worry about being judged by powerful, senior figures in the community to "supermodel" beauty standards, or in fact, any kind of beauty or outward appearance standard, period. I can only imagine the kind of atmosphere this kind of behavior can create for his students and colleagues (female and male).

  • A says:

    Oh Dave, you should be happy to know, I did just go and post on my facebook wall a warning to all my male neuroscientist colleagues that they better get their act together. this ugliness is intolerable. I am expecting movie star abs next year in San Diego. There's so much to do in addition to science: wax, laser, squat, lift. Quit lollygagging around here and get with it!

  • Antigone says:

    @Firahs

    You made a few statements that are, with all due respect, false. I'm sure you're being truthful that you treat women with respect at work and only judge an application by merit. I salute you for that, I wish more men and women in science were like you. But please allow me to expand on a number of statements that at best, are simply anti-correlated with the actual statistics available.

    1- " It seems that women don't want to be merely equals, which I have no problem with, but they want men to PAY for all of man's (supposed) historical injustices."

    No thank you, the female scientists I've discussed with just do not want to be patronized or socially excluded because they're not men, or white men, for that matter. Since race is still a strong issue at least in some parts of the world.

    2- "And BTW, I am all for equality for women in everything. But I resent the hell out of men being treated as 2nd class citizens, which is already happening to a large extent. Men are no longer free to be men, as society and media increasingly try to feminize us. I will not stand for it."

    You must be joking! Men treated as second class citizens?! Not free to be men?? Being feminized?

    I'm sorry but the statistics simply disagree with all of the assertions you've made above. If you take a look at the PNAS paper I quoted above, you'll find that implicit bias in both hiring, judging the quality of work, as well as offered wages all favor male students. In fact, sexism is NOT A MALE ISSUE! female professors in that study were also guilty of implicit sexist bias. The problem in science is sexism, not men!

    Also, statistically, men have the majority of executive positions, access to resources, social networking capital, mentoring capital etc. I'm sorry if you've had traumatic experiences, but you cannot generalize that to the society at large. We have statistics to make inferences, and in the name of scientific integrity and with all due respect to your personal and emotional experiences, they disagree with your statements. Sorry to reiterate but I think it's important to stress the following point: sexism, implicit and explicit, is the problem. Not women, not men. Men and women have both contributed to sexism, and a change in academic culture and a stronger participation of female scientists in higher positions is a joint endeavor. No one is being demonized here.

    The statistics I was referring to are not personal attacks on you or any other male or female individual. They come from a variety of sources, among them:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/14/1211286109.abstract
    http://www.amit-es.org/assets/files/publicaciones/pnas_dic_2010.pdf
    http://books.google.de/books/about/Why_So_Slow.html?id=qikWHO0JecAC&redir_esc=y

    and I recommend this blog for tasteful notes:
    http://science-professor.blogspot.com

  • Can we call this SFNgate yet?

    And, for the record, I wrote about Romney today...

  • Dave says:

    I am expecting movie star abs next year in San Diego

    Well then I have nothing to worry about.....

  • proflikesubstance says:

    It seems that women don't want to be merely equals, which I have no problem with, but they want men to PAY for all of man's (supposed) historical injustices.

    I'm guessing Firahs has spent much of his adult life thinking he knows what women want.

    Dude, if your department is so full of all these feminazis then it could be reasonably expected that you might actually crack a book or google something that might help you understand thy enemy. If you actually did that, you might realize that you're responses are basically a bad conglomeration of all the tired and worn out arguments that d00ds routinely trot out. Of course, there's no way you would do something like that. You're too manly.

    And Isis, fuck anythinggate.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    Proflike, you don't want to get that confused with "fuck anything!"-gate.

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    I just want to make sure I get my hashtags right!

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Not quite sure a couple of douchebags reiterating the patriarchal creed is on the same scale as Watergate.

  • Grumble says:

    "You are naive because you don't seem to grasp that his statement is deeply offensive and demeaning to specifically the ~20,000 women at SfN and more generally ALL women in science."

    The statement is deeply offensive to me, and I'm a man. It is offensive to any thinking human being.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Dave: you were given many, many opportunities in this thread to obey The First Rule of Holes.

    But it's too late for that. You're a frikken' douche.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "I am sick of being vilified just because of my sex."

    You're not being vilified just because of your sex. You're not being vilified because of your sex at all.

    You're being vilified because you're a pathetic douche. Totes delta.

  • Goose says:

    Well said biochembelle, well said.

    This should be a non-issue. If he was talking about unattractive women at a supermodel expo, this would be an appropriate comment, as it is a model's actual job to be attractive.

    By commenting on the appearance of the women at a NEUROSCIENCE conference, he is placing importance on their physical appearance, taking away from the value of their intelligence or other non-physical qualitites.

  • firahs says:

    Antigone,

    You raise some very good points and I thank you for the informative links. I applaud your civility and objectivity.

  • firahs says:

    Eh ok...Norman.

    BTW, isn't calling someone a "douche" in itself sexist?

  • Andrew says:

    If someone told me they were on fire but then had time to complain about how their big toe itches, I would be skeptical.

    Likewise, that the women in science community has time to write blog-post after blog-post about a comment some unimportant professor made on his private facebook page leads me to be skeptical of your grand tales of oppression.

    It seems more like you have to search high and low, near and far to find that which you desperately crave: something to complain about.

  • firahs says:

    proflikesubstance,

    I try not view my colleagues as enemies, a concept that is foreign perhaps, to your reptile brain.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Please. Go ahead and explain your reasoning on that, Firah.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    BTW, isn't calling someone a "douche" in itself sexist?

    Given that the blogospheric usage is pinned to the definition "useless tool of the patriarchy", and that the epithet is applied to men and women (and that it doesn't identify femininity as a bad thing), no, not sexist.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Firahs.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    that the women in science community has time to write blog-post after blog-post about a comment some unimportant professor made on his private facebook page leads me to be skeptical of your grand tales of oppression.

    Andrew, you may want to consider the possibility that (1) this professor and the sort of microagression on display are not unimportant in the career landscape of women scientists, and (2) this shit happens so often that the folks blogging about it can rely on muscle memory to knock out the blog posts about it.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Firahs's first post to the thread: "What a pack of harpies you are. Its not enough that you already dominate academia, but you want our balls too. Fuck all of yas"

    Later: "You raise some very good points and I thank you for the informative links. I applaud your civility and objectivity."

    Well. When you put it like that... no, still a douche.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    ...though an instructive exemplar of what's wrong here.

  • firahs says:

    "this shit happens so often that the folks blogging about it can rely on muscle memory to knock out the blog posts about it"

    *Cough, Cough* BULLSHIT! *cough, cough, cough*

  • firahs says:

    And, BTW, I've never heard a woman called a "douche"

  • Chris says:

    While I agree that the post so many people are outraged about is extremely insensitive, ill formed, and sexist, I'm not sure I can personally reconcile the idea that his blog post, which someone linked to, is also as sexist as it was made out to be:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/games-primates-play/201208/the-extreme-female-brain

    I was totally prepared for a tour de force of bias and anti female rhetoric. Instead, I found him also criticizing "extreme maleness", and generally saying no worse things about women in general than men in general. Furthermore, it was also not HIS work that was cited. Now, he may have some tendency towards chauvinism, but I don't see it represented in that blog, and I have a feeling that his facebook post that has inspired so much controversy was much more of the exception than the norm. Or at least more so than what is being put forth by a lot of people here.

  • Dave says:

    But it's too late for that. You're a frikken' douche.

    Because I don't cite Molly Ivins? God forbid. LOL

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Because you don't know when to stop digging, dumbass.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Firahs: your absence of evidence (or observation) is not evidence of absence. Dumbass.

  • freyav says:

    Oh dear. I was under the mistaken impression that conferences were meant to present and share knowledge. I didn't know that I was supposed to enhance the viewing pleasure of senior male academics. Right then, off the plastic surgeon I go. Prof. Maestripieri, plese send me your upcoming schedule and I'll make amends.

    Oh, and I'll be sure to bring my high-heeled pumps.

  • Dave says:

    Spicy Norman - take a deep breath.

  • firahs says:

    Andrew hit the nail on the head. Grand oppression indeed. Affirmative action is the best thing that has ever happened to white women.

  • firahs says:

    Norman, grow a pair thou wretched manling.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Dave: pulse 52. No deep breaths needed here.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    firahs: you are a vile little piece of work. Emphasis on the little.

  • firahs says:

    You obviously need a pair if I need to explain the context in which "douche" is used and define it when used in said context.

  • cory says:

    I was warned a decade ago at a meeting by a male colleague to stay away from Dario. We laughed it off as "machismo", but now i am thankful.

  • firahs says:

    Thank you Norman. From you, that is a compliment.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    n(t) ≥ n +1

    Where n = number of things firahs can be wrong about in a single thread.

  • gingerest says:

    Calling someone a "cunt" is sexist because it vilifies a person by comparison to a vagina - it relies on the idea that vaginas are terrible awful no-good things. Which they're not. Douches, though, are designed to "correct" a non-existent sanitation issue. At best douches are useless, and they're often harmful to vaginal health. Calling someone a douche is vilification because douches are terrible sexist products. It's not a sexist insult.

    Application of the term to women: Ann Coulter is a complete douche. Michelle Malkin is an extraordinary douchebag. Phyllis Schlafly is a douchenozzle.

    So how's this for ungendered? You're as repulsive and useless as high colonic hydrotherapy, firahs, and as scientific as homeopathy.

  • Julian Frost says:

    @firahs:

    "this shit happens so often that the folks blogging about it can rely on muscle memory to knock out the blog posts about it"

    *Cough, Cough* BULLSHIT! *cough, cough, cough*

    Just because you don't personally see it happening doesn't make it bullshit, sunshine.

  • anon says:

    Unbelievable! A highly educated person making such a comment about a scientific meeting on a social network!. And is he a behaviorist?.

  • I am Strong says:

    Ladies,
    Don't get angry or feel hurt! ridicule him.....that's what he deserve.
    I am pretty sure he might have tried to make a pass on few women during the conference but unfortunately he didn't get the success, so he is simply venting out his frustration. Or typical male ego! Women might have beaten him in intellectual conversations during the conference or in research work.

    It happens! Shit happens! ignore.....and chill

  • Douche Badge says:

    He is obviously out of line, but you have some balls complaining about this publicly without providing some ID.

    What's your name, dare we may ask?

    Don't judge, lest ye be judged.

  • pinus says:

    I can't even begin to understand why a person would say this. Why? because I have friends, family members and colleagues, mentors and mentees that are women and this is offensive and defines them by their looks/appearance. they are not defined by their looks. they are scientists trying to scrape by in the same shit career. who the fuck cares how they look. i am not an attractive man, but that will never be an issue.

    oh...and regards to complaining without ID...maybe check this out:

    http://www.iusmentis.com/technology/remailers/fallacy.html

  • proflikesubstance says:

    proflikesubstance,

    I try not view my colleagues as enemies, a concept that is foreign perhaps, to your reptile brain.

    Hahahaha, firahs, you are so wrapped up in contradictions you don't even know which way is up. Your litany of comments vilifying feminists, followed by your claim that most of your colleagues are feminists, speaks far clearer than this lame attempt to backpedal. It's amazing how synthetic the reptile mind can be.

    Nevertheless, what remains uncontested is my assertion that you are a dumbass for feeling so put out by all these crazy feminists who rule your life, yet you have NO CLUE what they want or even the haziest inkling that your exact retorts are probably older than you. Yet you puff your chest and hold the banner espousing the same Neanderthal tripe that has been torn to shreds countless times. An intelligent individual might take half an hour to actually read even one article on that which they fear will neuter them while they stand at the urinal. But not you, you're a true man!

    And Dave, give it a rest. In the early stages of the comment thread I would have put money on the fact that you would be the token dumbass who fuels the comments, but you've been out douchebagged, so let it go. Cede the Title Belt and slither on home.

  • IdleScience says:

    @douche badge, par for the hypocrisy course. If the point is social commentary on trying to improve the lives of female scientists, you don't need to google bomb someone personally to be effective. If you are going to dox someone, at least have the balls to put your name behind it.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    IdleScience, before you swoon too hard, take ten seconds to consider the power dynamics involved and why someone might blog as a pseud. How does that affect participation in the conversation? Does that change one's ability to speak up when something like this happens and an AAAS Fellow is the culprit?

  • IdleScience says:

    I understand why people blog as pseuds, but using a pseud as protection to dox someone else is hypocritical and cowardly. It'd be ok if DM was a white hat pseud using it to protect his research, but more often than not he uses it to hide from a long trail of fwdaoti, bullying, and trollery. On these grounds alone, many people have the similar "right" to out him. So yes, in this case it's intensely hypocritical.

  • odyssey says:

    @DoucheBadge and @IdleScience:
    And the reason you're both hiding behind pseuds would be...?

  • sleddog says:

    firahs said:

    "this shit happens so often that the folks blogging about it can rely on muscle memory to knock out the blog posts about it"

    *Cough, Cough* BULLSHIT! *cough, cough, cough*

    This comment is not directed to firahs because he is clearly a lost cause. But to others who may be reading these comments and thinking perhaps he has a point, I want to say -- as a young, female, junior faculty member -- sexism is still alive and well in the sciences, both explicitly and implicitly. I am sure it is better than it was years ago, I am sure it is better than in some other parts of the world. It's still miserable to deal with it. I have heard a male PI comment on the size of a female research fellow's breasts, had a male PI casually mention to two women in his lab (research assistant and post-doc) that he would not consider hiring a postdoc candidate they liked because she was in her early 30's and married and would probably "just have a baby soon," and been told by a male senior to me in my department that a teaching award I won (voted on by students) was due to the "sympathy vote" because I had had a baby in the previous year. I could go on. If you think there is no longer sexism, ask a woman in your professional sphere.

  • Dave says:

    And Dave, give it a rest. In the early stages of the comment thread I would have put money on the fact that you would be the token dumbass who fuels the comments, but you've been out douchebagged, so let it go. Cede the Title Belt and slither on home.

    Yeh, sure. Whatever you say. Perhaps if you and others didn't keep baiting me by using teenage-like disses constantly (did you just learn the words "douchebag" and "dumbass"?), then I might have disappeared from this "debate" a long time ago. If you want more attention here then I'm sure there are more sophisticated ways for you to get it.

    Anyway, moving on. I think the guy basically concedes any right to an anonymous discussion when he puts this on his FB page. He should know that nothing on FB is private and that there was a chance it would get picked up by the twitts etc. I don't think that is an issue and one has the right to comment on it regardless of whether their identity is public or not. In the same way that I believe strongly that one has the right to say whatever they want regardless of whether some people like it or not.

  • Zinjanthropus says:

    The saddest thing to me is that it seems that he's trying to formulate some sort of scientific hypothesis. "Fact: Unattractive women study neuroscience. Hypothesis: Attractiveness is inversely correlated with interest in the brain. Test: ??? Conclusion: Hypothesis not falsified."

  • Dave says:

    -- sexism is still alive and well in the sciences, both explicitly and implicitly

    There is absolutely no doubt about that.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Who am I supposed to be "bullying" now?

  • Everything on the internet is a "gate" nowadays. If Mr. I doesn't change the roll before I get home, we're going to have toilet papergate this evening.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    IdleScience = concern troll.

  • Sheila says:

    In an alternate universe, what would the comment thread have been like without all of the derailingfordummies behavior out of the gate?

  • Sheila says:

    Looks like someone left off a trailing "i" or "em" tag. I wonder if I can fix that or if the blog owner needs to.

  • Phreddy says:

    I am an old fart. I have nothing to do with sociology. Are there now objective standards for physical beauty? If so, isn't the total lack of anyone who meets them a statistical impossibility? Or if not, wasn't his comment a personal opinion?

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Well, the derailing/for dummies trolling is a vivid illustration of how a significant number of people see the problem, i.e., they don't see it at all, and since their view of the world is (obviously, to them) omniscient and all-encompassing, those who point out the problem must be either fabricating it (firahs) or blowing it out of proportion (Dave et al.).

    The bottom line is that it one takes the time to listen to women in science, they've generally had to put up with this shit. And the longer they've been in the game, the more observations they have made.

    There is also the fact that if one is perceived as tone-deaf, one is unlikely to be entrusted with what are often painful narratives.

    So we end up with people who resort entirely to arguments from personal incredulity. The amazing thing is that many of these people see themselves as rational scientists, but deny the subjectivity of their own experience and the ensuing observational biases.

  • [...] Drugmonkey and Dr. Free-Ride have posts up right now about d00dly University of Chicago professor Dario Maestripieri who recently attended the Society for Neuroscience meeting and lamented on his Facebook… My impression of the Conference of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans. There are thousands of people at the conference and an unusually high concentration of unattractive women. The super model types are completely absent. What is going on? Are unattractive women particularly attracted to neuroscience? Are beautiful women particularly uninterested in the brain? No offense to anyone.. [...]

  • Spiny Norman says:

    To add: the argument from personal incredulity (AFPI) is a signal marker of dipshittery and douchebaggery. Hence the extremely frequent deployment of AFPIs by creationists and climate denialists.

  • Pris says:

    I am a woman of science (neuroscience even) and I am not shocked by this post. It's a facebook post! I can totally see me writting this the other way around on my own facebook "SfN is awesome but no hot guy in sight! Awwwwww". So I guess i'm sexist too... but would it unleash the same hell as in here??!
    People need to chill a little...

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Pris: How old are you?

    You might consider the possibility that others here have a great deal more experience (their own, and that of friends and colleagues) to draw upon.

    Again, do not make the error of trying to prove a negative on the basis of your own limited observations.

  • a says:

    Well i am a woman in science (not neuroscience, but a very heavily male dominated science) and I do not find this offensive... I am 35 and on the other hand do find the above comment to be agist! Sexism definitely exists, and battles need to be fought. I just don't think this is one of them. and 134 comments on this drivel? No wonder I don't read this blog more often.

  • Sheila says:

    A lot of times I wonder if the derailers are genuinely ignorant instead of trolls. I usually have a snarky reaction of playing mental bingo, but for any genuinely ignorant people who could use a non snark reply, here is a sexism 101 from the point of view of the tech industry, which explains a lot of this without the snark. With also a post from the point of view of "but I'm a women and this hasn't happened to me, hmmm"

    http://www.netmagazine.com/features/primer-sexism-tech-industry

    and http://farukat.es/journal/2012/10/669-kathy-sierra-primer-sexism-discussion

  • Dave says:

    ....or blowing it out of proportion (Dave et al.).

    I think the reaction to THIS FB POST is a little over the top. Not once have I failed to acknowledge that inequality in the workforce is a huge problem, nor have I failed to clearly state on multiple occasions on this page that women have a tough time in science.

    Sexism definitely exists, and battles need to be fought. I just don't think this is one of them.

    That has been my point this whole time.

  • Dave says:

    You might consider the possibility that others here have a great deal more experience (their own, and that of friends and colleagues) to draw upon

    Wait, is that the goalposts I see moving......?

  • Spiny Norman says:

    No, it is not.

    This has been another episode of simple answers to stupid questions.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "I am 35 and on the other hand do find the above comment to be agist!"

    Older people, by virtue of having been alive for a longer time, have experienced more things, and thus have more cumulative experience to draw upon than younger people do.

    Please explain: how is that ageist?

  • Spiny Norman says:

    The two articles that Sheila posted above are extremely useful.

    The second one in particular focuses on the problem of observer bias -- the common logical error of assuming that something doesn't generally happen merely because one has not personally noticed it happening.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Yeh, sure. Whatever you say. Perhaps if you and others didn't keep baiting me by using teenage-like disses constantly (did you just learn the words "douchebag" and "dumbass"?), then I might have disappeared from this "debate" a long time ago. If you want more attention here then I'm sure there are more sophisticated ways for you to get it.

    Dave, I was totally gonna go for the sophisticated approach of defending the status quo, but I didn't want to step on your attention gig.

    And you really outdid yourself using the phrase "teenage-like disses" there. My irony meter is in pieces. And I just bought that one.

  • Dan L. says:

    @firahs:

    This was your first post in this thread:

    What a pack of harpies you are. Its not enough that you already dominate academia, but you want our balls too. Fuck all of yas

    What makes you think you have any credibility after that?

  • Pris says:

    I am 33 thank you very much.
    I would be offended if that man was saying something like "oh that girl had a poster that seemed interesting but she was so ugly i couldn't get bothered". There I would find a reprehensible and non-professinal behavior. Here we just have a guy saying "damn! No hot women!" So what??! He is allowed to think the women at sfn were ugly as long as he does not undermine their science, efforts and results based on that criterion!
    Are you looking at validation of your results through your beauty?? I am not. And I don't care the slightest if that guy finds me ugly or hot as long as he judges my results fairly on a scientific basis.

  • bill says:

    using a pseud as protection to dox someone else is hypocritical and cowardly

    Read an MSM story about Violentacrez and learned a neat new word, huh? Only you didn't actually learn it, because if you had you wouldn't keep misusing it. Idiot.

  • bill says:

    Pris: I don't care the slightest if that guy finds me ugly or hot as long as he judges my results fairly on a scientific basis.

    Sure, but do you think he is going to do that? Do you think this guy sees you as anything other than a decoration, that he takes you seriously as a person or as a scientist?

  • Pris says:

    "Sure, but do you think he is going to do that? Do you think this guy sees you as anything other than a decoration, that he takes you seriously as a person or as a scientist?"
    Absolutely. I said it earlier I would not have any problem to write on MY FACEBOOK (because I think it needs to be reminded that all the fuss is about a FB post...) that I found the men at SfN not to be hot if that was the case. Still I'd be able to appreciate their science and results... And I know many men that will say "damn! no hot women" but will be very appreciative of their work.
    I really do not understand all that crazyness around this comment from that guy. It was a comment on a personal space, not a full summary of his experience at the conference. Again, I think people need to lighten up. Or is it a cultural thing? I come from a country where sexist jokes/comments are usual but do not interefere in the appreciation of the results and the brain behind...

  • ll says:

    I also find men in science to be dull and boring, and not hot at all (and neither do they earn fat salary). I actually find lawyers to be cool (my dad was one of them), why is that so?

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Pris wrote: "Here we just have a guy saying "damn! No hot women!""

    Here's what the FB post actually said:

    "There are thousands of people her and an unusually high proportion of unattractive women. The super model types are completely absent. What is going on? Are unattractive women particularly attracted to neuroscience? Are beautiful women particularly uninterested in the brain?"

    So he's saying a good deal more, and it's a good deal worse, than what your summary implies.

    And he knows that what he's saying is deeply offensive. Which is why he is compelled to close with:

    "No offense to anyone."

  • drugmonkey says:

    where sexist jokes/comments are usual but do not interefere in the appreciation of the results and the brain behind...

    I find this highly unlikely. A systematic culture of sexist joking (where invariably women are the butt and/or object of the 'joking') is most often associated with a failure to equivalently value the contributions of "the brain behind" these women. Such a claim requires extraordinary evidence.

  • Pris says:

    Wow... you people are really really uptight...
    I do not find that what he says is worse than what I said. And I tend to think that the "no offense to anyone" is for people like you that are just going to jump at someone's throat for a comment. You find it offensive? Fine, I guess it is to you but please to not come forth in the name of "all women". Some are not offended by his remark, accept it.
    And yes drugmonkey, I happen to know many many examples of men doing sexist jokes with me and highly appreciating my brain. But again... maybe it is because they know I'm going to have a good laugh with them and tease them back instead of sitting there and getting all upset and shocked at their remarks.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "Some are not offended by his remark, accept it."

    Obviously that's true.

    But we do not set appropriate standards of professional conduct based on what it takes to offend the thickest-skinned (or in some cases most oblivious) people in a given group.

  • [...] of some of the talk around the 'tubes, it's possible that you may be in the mood for a game of [...]

  • gingerest says:

    Pris, you're missing some context, which is that Maestripieri draws conclusions (and publishes them, no less!) about the proper workings of human society based on his perceptions of Hot or Not:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/games-primates-play/201203/the-truth-about-why-beautiful-people-are-more-successful

    (Note that he misses at least one really obvious possible explanation of why First Class is so heavily populated with hotties, to wit: rich people, especially conspicuous consumers, are more likely to spend great gobs of money on looking good.)

  • drugmonkey says:

    SN-
    Nor do we base it on the thinnest skinned response, I'll note for the slower types. That's why there is discussion and explanation of why a particularly offensive thing might be worthy of censure.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Sociobiologists/EvPsych people seem to have a special talent for getting cause-effect relationships wrong.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I think it a distraction to delve off into Maestripieri's field of interest to explain his comment. Other subfields have their idiots too. We should focus on criticizing the behavior that pushes women out of science, out of full participation, etc

  • Pris says:

    gingerest: well ... not to be the devil's advocate here but in the link you posted he stipulates an observation and then refers to the work of others. Whether we agree or not is kind of irrelevant. And he has the good taste to joke about his little observation stating: "My observations and mental calculations, of course, cannot be considered scientific data by any stretch of imagination. I encourage all of you—the readers of this blog—to do the same observations next time you fly and send me your average attractiveness scores for the F/B and the E passengers. When I have enough reports, I will run a statistical analysis and we will all publish our results in Science magazine (or more likely, I will write another blog about it)". The last part just proves to me that this man has some sense of humor no? And not to mention that we are talking here about FB posts or blog posts. I do not know this guy's work (and maybe then i'll found him to be a horrible man) but so far I don't see anything outrageous worthy of so much attention and ...well yeah... outrage!
    I think his FB post was just a little joke... how many times have I complained to my friends that they were no hot guys in science at uni, where the hell are they all? etc.... Should I be the focus of someone's report because of that??

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Good points, DM.

    Pris, there's a difference between acceptable behavior for an undergrad student @ uni, and what's appropriate for an AAAS Fellow who's a tenured full Professor at one of the top universities in the US.

    There are huge differences in stature, in influence, and in power. And with those things comes commensurate responsibility: to trainees, to colleagues, and to the scholarly communities that he participates in.

  • [...] where the supermodels were. His post quickly became public and the subject of outrage by women. The comment thread on the Drugmonkey blog that reposted the original remarks puts the state of Venus and Mars in the US in stark [...]

  • Pris says:

    This I can agree! I'd say it was probably a bad idea for him to write such a thing in his position (clearly seeing all that's been said here) but I am not sure it is worthy of all of this attention and backlash. That's all.
    And I am not an undergrad at all. Just saying :)

  • Ian Holmes says:

    You have to love trolls who jump in with the first comment "You're all overreacting" and then sit back and reap the harvest of indignation. Dave, if you really believed that this was a bad thing but people should just get some perspective, then you would not fan the flames. It really is funny when someone posts "This is a battle we don't need to fight!" and then spends ages fighting with the people who are fighting it. I've spent a decent proportion of my own internet career as a troll... I can spot one when I see one. And I know you're almost certainly not always this much of a prat. Give it up.

  • physioprof says:

    Mastropeenie is an ugly balde fucke premature ejaculating furtive copulator with a two-inch-long pencil dicke.

  • FlabberGasted says:

    Support for Pris, including her final statement above ( I'd say it was probably a bad idea for him to write such a thing in his position (clearly seeing all that's been said here) but I am not sure it is worthy of all of this attention and backlash). And the claim that "A systematic culture of sexist joking (where invariably women are the butt and/or object of the 'joking') is most often associated with a failure to equivalently value the contributions of "the brain behind" these women" tries to connect an observation about attractiveness (a flourishing field of study in neuroscience, btw, that makes the comment contextual) on a private Facebook page to "a systematic culture of sexist joking" .... that assumes way too much about the intent of the poster. I think a lot of well-meaning people are simply using this benign post to score points in their larger (noble) battle, not too dissimilar to what is going on in the tedious US presidential race at the moment.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    The "intent" of the person being criticized is never the point.

  • RedFish says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Dario_Maestripieri

    Apparently, a screenshot isn't proof enough to post this controversy to Wikipedia. Obviously we are all committing libel. Stupid feminists, making stuff up to keep men down.

  • FlabberGasted says:

    By intent, I intended "meaning". What the post means (given that it can be read with multiple interpretations based on the context in which it is read, which depends on the reader). I know there is a better, more formal way to say this, but not off the top of my head.

  • Nancy says:

    He's an evolutionary psychologist - of course he's a sexist asshole - that is the area of study most popluar with sexist assholes.

    And I hate having to see pictures of his aging grizzled bald head.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    FlabberGasted, I think this is a situation with some parallels to drugs that have intended effects and unintended (and frequently harmful) side effects.

    Regardless of what Dario Maestripieri meant in observing the "unusually high concentration of unattractive women" at SfN, putting that observation outside his head, in a semi-public space frequented by other members of his professional community, has an effect on the climate of that professional community for women. Whether he meant it or not, the effect is real.

    Awareness of that kind of effect is important, just as awareness of a drug's side effects is important; it allows you to anticipate the unintended effects of making your point and reflect about whether they're worth it.

  • Grumble says:

    II: "I also find men in science to be dull and boring, and not hot at all (and neither do they earn fat salary). I actually find lawyers to be cool (my dad was one of them), why is that so?"

    Well, since you asked: because you have bad taste?

  • FlabberGasted says:

    Janet, I agree with part of that unhesitatingly: the effect on at least some members of the scientific community is objective, real and easy to observe on this blog, and this is also what Pris said at the end. And indeed, awareness of such effects will factor into the Prof's thinking next time he posts, without doubt. Whether this specific post, or the discussion of attractiveness in general, has any effect "on the climate of that professional community for women" in general is quite debatable; and at the very least, I would imagine that a random survey (of SFN attendees, the students in his class etc) or some other form of actual data or convincing reasoning would be needed before making the numerous strong claims and assertions (and demands for blood) that have shown up above. Perhaps all the passion and vitriol that this discussion has generated will serve to motivate some more calm-headed and serious analyses.

  • FlabberGasted says:

    Nancy, what an age-ist, tricho-cephalist, anti-grizzlist and generalizing comment.

  • FlabberGasted says:

    Janet, ps. yes, he should choose more wisely which Facebook friends he allows to see his "musings on attractiveness" posts, perhaps get explicit approval from them before he does so...

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    It's interesting to me that asking a senior member of a professional community to treat other members of that community with respect rather than openly judging them on non-scientific criteria (in a way that has, historically, served to marginalize their full participation in that professional community) is described as a "demand for blood".

    I'm not looking for blood, just basic decency (or at least good outward behavior).

  • FlabberGasted says:

    No, that is (of course) not what I was referrin to by "demand for blood". I spent a minute or two scanning through the comments some time back, and had no difficulty finding demands for rescinsion of SFN (and AAAS?) membership, gratuitous insults against him and his entire field, etc.

  • FlabberGasted says:

    Just as an aside, not to put too strong a point on it, but I can easily construct a plausible scenario where a careful study of attractiveness and the entry/presence of women into the scientific profession serves to elucidate *some* factors that may be reducing the proportion of women in general who stay in science and achieve high positions. This is not to say that the Prof's tweet was such a study, and I would understand and support a demand that a high level of caution, rigor, awareness and sensitivity is needed before addressing such topics and they should not be the topic of casual, public and habitual banter.

  • FlabberGasted says:

    ps. Facebook post, not tweet.

  • Neuroschizl says:

    Drugmonkey, did you try contacting Maestripieri to get his take on it? Maybe it was sexist, but maybe it was simply a bad attempt at humor. You don't know since you didn't make any attempt to find out.

    Seems only fair you'd try and get in touch with him since you're dragging his name through the mud ...

  • [...] are completely absent.” The comment, originally discovered and posted by Drug Monkey on his blog, went on to ask, “Are unattractive women particularly attracted to neuroscience? Are [...]

  • drugmonkey says:

    had no difficulty finding demands for rescinsion of SFN (and AAAS?) membership, gratuitous insults against him and his entire field, etc.

    You will not find me making such calls and indeed I have been suggesting these are not a good idea in these circumstances. Nevertheless, the fact that there are such calls from the more impetuous makes no nevermind to the original set of comments which were, and remain, detrimental to our field.

    You don't know since you didn't make any attempt to find out.

    You have no evidence on this whatsoever.

    Seems only fair you'd try and get in touch with him since you're dragging his name through the mud ...

    Why is this "only fair"? As I've said above, his intent is of essentially zero interest here. What is at issue is the original comment and any public apologies or retractions he might care to make.

    If it comforts you, do note that the actual journalists who are on this story at the moment have received a "no-comment" from his direction. So those with a platform far higher than this humble blog have extended him to opportunity for a "fair" opportunity to respond.

  • Nancy says:

    "Nancy, what an age-ist, tricho-cephalist, anti-grizzlist and generalizing comment."

    My point which you missed utterly is that he has no right to judge others on the basis of appearance.

    But wait - of course we know it is the perogative of any man, know matter what he looks like, to pass judgement on any woman.

    And of course evolutionary psychologists are convinced that women prefer older men. They even promote the idea that baldness exists because it was selected FOR!

    Here's the best part though - in Maestripieri's Psychology Today article linked above, he seems to think evolutionary psychology has found an important insight about the "female brain":

    "Bremser and Gallup also showed that the association between empathizing and anxiety about negative evaluations is higher in female than in male college students and that, in females, this association is also accompanied by the occurrence of eating disorders, which are notoriously more common in women than in men. These researchers argued that the intense fear of becoming fat, a defining feature of eating disorders, may not be the fear of fat itself, but a fear that arises from the potential to be evaluated disparagingly by others. Therefore, just like Autism Spectrum Disorders may be the product of the combination of the extremely high systemizing and low empathizing tendencies that characterize the extreme male brain, eating disorders may be a manifestation of high negative evaluation anxiety that originates from the combination of the extremely high empathizing and low systemizing characteristics of the extreme female brain. Individuals with such brains may be hypersensitive to social stimuli and worry a lot being judged by others, including judged about their physical appearance."

    Wow, ya think? Women might be sensitive to being judged by others about their physical appearance? Like they are human beings?

    Oh wait - it's not something humans do - being concerned about being judged on your appearance is a manifestation of the "female brain."

    Oh you have to love evolutionary psychology for it's plain utter stupidity. Maybe females have more occasion to be worried about their appearance so much because of high-ranking academic assholes like Dario Maestripieri who sit in public judgement?

    But the simple answer will never work for EPs - everything has to demonstrate the sacred Darwinian algorithm so they absolutely refuse to consider social dynamics. What a joke.

  • Nancy says:

    And I predict that if Dario Maestripieri ever does respond to this, he will used standard EP bullshit to justify it - you know, that's just how guys evolved. Men are more visual, yadda yadda yadda.

    The entire aim of EP is to justify male supremacy, so we shouldn't be surprised if Dario Maestripieri responds to a group of intelligent and accomplished women with disparagement. In spite of their stupid female brains these neuroscientists are doing quite well - so of course he's going to have to come up with another way to trash them - and "you're ugly" is the time-honored way to attack women.

  • [...] many others, I was appalled when I saw Dario Maestripieri’s comments on the attractiveness (or lack thereof) of women at the Society .... Janet Stemwedel wrote a really nice post about what is wrong with this behavior and why we need to [...]

  • AA says:

    I'm amazed at the negative response the facebook post has gotten. It was harmless joke and now everyone is calling him a sexist? Please... it's an overreaction and I think alot of women here (and some guys) are being oversensitive.

    If my female colleague went to a conference, and exclaimed how many old and fat men were there (which is probably true anyway)... I would probably laugh with her on that. For the record, I'm not attractive or handsome...

    Maybe someone should do a study on sexism. How much is real sexism and how much is perceived due to oversensitivity or overreaction. People should stop making mountains out of molehills. Sexism is "she's a bad scientist because she's a women". Sexism is not "there's not enough hot chicks at the conference".

  • miko says:

    I'm super impressed by all the brave men who have stuck by their objective beliefs instead of bowing to the merely subjective experiences of Others throughout this.

  • miko says:

    "Maybe someone should do a study on sexism. How much is real sexism and how much is perceived due to oversensitivity or overreaction. People should stop making mountains out of molehills. Sexism is "she's a bad scientist because she's a women". Sexism is not "there's not enough hot chicks at the conference"."

    Yeah, SHUT UP, LADIES. You don't know what sexism even IS! Because we haven't done the RESEARCH!

    This is getting bizarre.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    I am relieved that we have men commenting to tell women what counts as real sexism.

  • AA says:

    Miko, you've just provided an example of what I meant by oversensitivity and overreaction. Nowhere in my comment did I suggest or hint on "Yeah, SHUT UP, LADIES. You don't know what sexism even IS!"

    I was merely suggesting that sexism can be classified into "real" acts of sexism versus "perceived" acts of sexism (it's in the mind of the "victim"). If it makes you feel better, the same classification can be applied to the issue of racism as well. I personally feel that some people are just too racially sensitive and make a fuss out of every remark.

  • miko says:

    I think we all get what you mean by oversensitivity.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Are you saying women have ways of shutting legitimate discrimination down, AA?

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    Are you saying women have ways of shutting legitimate discrimination down, AA?

    The physiology of the human female never fails to surprise.

  • AA says:

    DM, I think the point I was making is that a line has to be drawn. To a hypersensitive women, *ANY* remark can be suggested as sexist.

    Dario Maestripieri could have remarked "Hey, good neuroscience conference, lots of hot chicks", and then people would remark he's a sexist because he's objectifying women as sex objects, etc... or a comment like "Met a young and reasonably good looking female collaborator in the meeting", and it's still sexist because it says something about her looks.

    The point is that if no harm was done, then I don't see the point to crucify this guy. Now if the situation was different and Dario Maestripieri had posted on FB that "I rejected a postdoc applicant cause she's a woman even though her qualifications were good" or "my female students can't get anything right... I think girls just make poor neuroscientist"... then that is sexist.

  • AA says:

    And to respond to DM's original question:
    "Are you saying women have ways of shutting legitimate discrimination down, AA?"

    I am asking - Does Dario Maestripieri's facebook post constitutes as a form of *legitimate discrimination* in the first place?

  • drugmonkey says:

    So it is only legitimate discrimination when the Discriminator states explicitly that he or she is biased ? That is a very interesting criterion for "legitimate" vs "hypersensitive" concern.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    AA, why, given that numerous women in science have remarked (here and elsewhere) on how this kind of behavior creates a professional climate that harms them, are you so confident is deciding that no harm was done here?

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Damnit, Janet beat me to it. AA, kindly remove head from ass.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    Proflike, I'm telling you: muscle memory.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Using well-worn Autotext can really help with speed-commenting, I see.

  • AA says:

    DM, that is not correct. Using the examples I provided earlier:

    "Hey, good neuroscience conference, lots of hot chicks",
    "Met a young and reasonably good looking female collaborator in the meeting"

    Harmless and perhaps tasteless (for some) jokes to his friends.

    "I rejected a postdoc applicant cause she's a woman even though her qualifications were good"
    "My female students can't get anything right... I think girls just make poor neuroscientist"

    These statements are clearly discriminatory because he's using a generalization (i.e. gender) and associated bad qualities with members of that group - and using it to influence his decisions that affect other people in their career.

    Let's go back to what is the meaning of discrimination (from dictionary.com):
    "Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit"

    So yes, if the strictest definition of the word, Dario's remarks of "neuroscience women are ugly" is discriminatory. But does he treat or consider ugly women any different from attractive women? That has not been conclusively proven in his FB post.

    So my stance would be his comment at worst is an "illegitimate discrimination" - i.e., it's discrimination, but the reactions against him are not justified because he has not acted on it that has negatively impacted another person.

  • drugmonkey says:

    And of course without "conclusive proof" there is no way to establish legitimate discrimination, I assume?

  • GC says:

    Personally, I'm only offended because I thought I was looking pretty hot at SFN. It is entirely possible to respect someone professionally and personally but still think they are minging.

  • odyssey says:

    To a hypersensitive women, *ANY* remark can be suggested as sexist.

    That's on my card! *places bingo chip* We are still playing, right PlS? Best of three?

  • drugmonkey says:

    A LINE simply HAS to be DRAWN, Odyssey!!!

  • [...] many others, I was appalled when I saw Dario Maestripieri’s comments on the attractiveness (or lack thereof) of women at the Society .... Janet Stemwedel wrote a really nice post about what is wrong with this behavior and why we need to [...]

  • Dave says:

    Personally, I'm only offended because I thought I was looking pretty hot at SFN. It is entirely possible to respect someone professionally and personally but still think they are minging.

    Fucking love that, primarily because I don't get to hear the word minging much anymore.

  • Dave says:

    .....it's an overreaction and I think alot of women here (and some guys) are being oversensitive.

    How is it that this person has not been called a "douchebag" AND/OR a "dumbass" yet?

  • AA says:

    DM on "conclusive proof", I'm basically arguing from the perspective of innocent until proven guilty, which is also how things work in the legal system (ideally of course). So yes, I would prefer to see something more concrete (it does not need to be >99% conclusive), but all the remarks I've seen so far based on speculation.

    At least in my opinion, it is not justified to say that Dario's post was sexist. It may have been distasteful, mean, offensive, etc... but it's not entirely clear how it can be sexist. Dario's FB post was about him bitching how neuroscience women are unattractive and then he goes on to make an exaggeration of how only "ugly women are in neuroscience". The former is an observation based on his "analysis", which you can refute (e.g. physical attractiveness is a subjective quality), and the latter is a generalization that you can argue is wrong (sample size not large enough, not enough data points, etc...).

    Ask yourself, if Dario's post had been about anything other than gender, would you react accordingly with the same fervor? E.g. he commented that most neuroscience professors are fat, or bald, or insert some adjective that describe some unflattering aspect of a person. If you honestly think you would not be so riled up, then I would say it is in your head... which brings back to my original post of perceived sexism.

  • scientistbabe says:

    Out of the 1000s of people at Society for NS, there was an unusually large concentration of truly stupid men. Are stupid men especially attracted to neuroscience? Are smart men not interested in the brain? Perhaps the beautiful women and the smart men are consorting at some other scientific conference.

  • SF says:

    AA, that is really what I find so distasteful of this whole affair. The witch-hunt being carried out by some of these commentators reeks of McCarthyism like persecution to seek out "impure thoughts" and destroy those who may harbor them. There is ZERO EVIDENCE that DM is actually sexist, other than an idiotic comment he placed on facebook. Yet, we have these noncontributing asses whose only purpose is to hyperventilate over any possible offenses. Real scientists, male and female alike, judge each others merit on their contributions to peer-reviewed research, encouragement of young scientists (female and male alike), and commitment to higher education. They sigh and shake their head when one of their fellow scientists makes a comment like DM did, but they don't condemn him to an academic death, at least without evidence that he is actually a sexist or is hurting the scientific community.

    This trend towards righteous outrage in blogs is becoming seriously worrying, and is being encouraged by bloggers to generate controversy and increase ad-revenue. A great editorial on the subject of "online bullying" was published in the guardian online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/18/online-bullying-ugly-sport-liberal-commenters

  • scientistbabe says:

    Really, there wouldn’t be an issue here if we just accepted what we all know is true: men judge women including their abilities and talents, by their looks, regardless of the profession. Dario is simply saying out loud what his male colleagues are thinking. Women are fooling themselves if they think otherwise. Especially if they think that this will ever change. Legal rights, equality, control over our bodies & destinies, all worth fighting for and winning. But give up on the idea that men, including "real scientists" will ever evaluate you *first* on your merits.

  • [...] How else do you explain all the d00ds, who are clearly living in the 1800's, commenting here? [...]

  • SF says:

    Women in biology and neuroscience graduate programs now often outnumber men. Carla Shatz, a woman, is one of the most famous and respected (and some would say feared) scientist in all of Neuroscience. Women are successful scientists and this was owed not to their looks but to their mind and passion for science. I recommend not living your life always concerned that you will be overlooked because of your looks, but to work hard, like all scientists do in academia, to do good work and be recognized for it. Everyone can say "well I would be more successful if I had x, y, and z."

    Succeeding in science and becoming a professor is extremely difficult. Perceived sexism is the last of your worries.

    http://www.brainfacts.org/about-neuroscience/meet-the-researcher/articles/2012/carla-shatz/

  • drugmonkey says:

    Ask yourself, if Dario's post had been about anything other than gender, would you react accordingly with the same fervor?

    You bet your ass I would if his post had been directed at those that are powerless. That's the point those who insist on braying about neuroscience male professors being bald and fat and ugly seem to be missing. These are traits associated with those that hold the power in this situation and it is not even remotely equivalent. Sorry, but nobody gives a flying fig about whether men in science are bangable. Or what they wear to present their poster or talk. Never comes up in any sort of vitriolic, critical way. There is zero pressure to conform to anything at all, appearance-wise, when you are a white male heteronormative doodly dood of science.

    Had Maestripieri gone after gays, various minorities or the disabled you are damn sure right I would have reacted with "fervor".

  • SF says:

    Women are now a powerless group in neuroscience? You do realize these are PhD holders, correct? It was not the janitors or food vendors he was talking about. This is getting ridiculous.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Dario is simply saying out loud what his male colleagues are thinking.

    If you are suggesting that all male attendees at SfN are walking around thinking "where are all the supermodel type hot babes?" then you are quite mistaken I can assure you.

    But give up on the idea that men, including "real scientists" will ever evaluate you *first* on your merits.

    For the vast majority of scientists that I "evaluate", I meet them first through their name on the author line of a publication. I have no information whatsoever about what they look like. So...yeah. Again, you are quite mistaken.

  • drugmonkey says:

    There is ZERO EVIDENCE that [Maestripieri] is actually sexist, other than an idiotic comment he placed on facebook.

    It's about the time when we need to revisit illdoctrine

  • [...] siiigh. that is really what I find so distasteful of this whole affair. The witch-hunt being carried out by some of these commentators reeks of McCarthyism like persecution to seek out "impure thoughts" and destroy those who may harbor them. There is ZERO EVIDENCE that DM is actually sexist, other than an idiotic comment he placed on facebook. [...]

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    I suspect that DM meant those for whom there is a power disparity.

  • Dave says:

    You bet your ass I would if his post had been directed at those that are powerless.

    Errrrr, what?

    It's about the time when we need to revisit illdoctrine

    Not sure about that DM.

  • Dave says:

    I suspect that DM meant those for whom there is a power disparity.

    I see, so "powerless" now means "power disparity"? Let me just go and look in The Oxford.....

  • scientistbabe says:

    DM says: "For the vast majority of scientists that I "evaluate", I meet them first through their name on the author line of a publication. I have no information whatsoever about what they look like. So...yeah. Again, you are quite mistaken."

    I suspect not. Look here for a concise exposition of the many ways women's names (& the women who are connected to them) are negatively evaluated in science:

    Jo Handelsman and Rosalind A. Grymes. Looking for a Few Good Women? DNA and Cell Biology. September 2008, 27(9): 463-465. doi:10.1089/dna.2008.1506.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Well sure, I get gender. Mostly. But the topic of the week is "supermodel type" rather than male/female per se.

  • amy says:

    " The point I am making is who gives a shite what some neuroscience prof says about how attractive the women are at a conference? Who fuckeen cares?"

    Me.

    I always love it when people decide, on behalf of other people, just how upset they ought to be about something. By the way, put on a sweater, I'm cold.

    Mom

  • scientistbabe says:

    Right you are, DM. But the two are not unconnected. Women’s merit is devalued when looks matter in a scientific context; this carries over even when their looks can’t be evaluated. Women in science do not evaluate men in science by their abs, cheekbones, butt, legs, and shiny hair because men’s merit matters. If Dario were simply saying that he didn’t see anyone he wanted to fuck at SfN, he would just be another jerk. He was reminding all of us that women scientists are evaluated not by merit alone.

  • JustAnObserver says:

    The chair of Dr. Maestripieri's department is a female neuroscientist (Leslie Kay), and two prominent members of his department are also female (Martha McClintock and Jill Mateo). I would imagine that the next department meeting will be an interesting one for this group at UC.

  • whimple says:

    scientistbabe: Women in science do not evaluate men in science by their abs, cheekbones, butt, legs, and shiny hair because men’s merit matters.

    Really? Women in science do not do this? How do you know?

  • becca says:

    "Perhaps the beautiful women and the smart men are consorting at some other scientific conference."
    http://gm.asm.org/index.php/general-info/future-meeting-dates-a-locations

    Oh wait, sorry. That's the Smart AND Beautiful scientists, of assorted genders.

    For beautifuul women and smart men you probably want AACR, or something with a large contingent of clinical types. All those pharmaceutical reps appealing to doctors, ya know. Now *that's* a social gendered phenomenon worthy of analysis.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Thought experiment*:

    "There are thousands of people her and an unusually high proportion of unattractive Jewish men. The virile types are completely absent. What is going on? Are ugly Jewish men particularly attracted to neuroscience? Are handsome Jewish men particularly uninterested in the brain?"

    Doesn't sound good, does it. Perhaps more 1937 gedankenexperiment than thought experiment. But it is not substantively different from what Dario Maestripieri wrote.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    AA typed: "So my stance would be his comment at worst is an "illegitimate discrimination" - i.e., it's discrimination, but the reactions against him are not justified because he has not acted on it that has negatively impacted another person."

    As an attempt to re-frame the question into pseudolegalistic gibberish, I give this a C-.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    ...and that's only due to grade inflation.

  • sure says:

    AA, yes, let's play the substitution game. "So many people at the SFN conference this year are black. Where are all the real, white neuroscientists I prefer to see?"

    Gosh, does that sound racist? Like it might represent a problem?

  • SF says:

    sure, if you warp what he said like you did it would obviously be offensive. Of course, he didn't say anything close to "where are all the real..." etc. like you dishonestly claim he did. When those who are so offended by Maestripieri's comment resort to these kinds of tactics it shows how little there really is to be upset about. I believe "making a mountain out of a mole hill" is a suitable description.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "Warp," says the person who flings about the phrases "witch hunt" and "McCarthyism" as though he had any idea what those terms actually mean. It is to laugh.

  • [...] plan ginormous solar power in California deserts (deserts are fragile ecosystems, not absences) SfN 2012: Professors behaving badly (and the author is an evolutionary psychologist–go figure; also see this excellent comment and [...]

  • Joe says:

    Irrespective of the ethics of making such a statement semi-publicly, it's also incorrect. There's were tons of hot women at SfN.

  • Dave says:

    For beautifuul women and smart men you probably want AACR, or something with a large contingent of clinical types. All those pharmaceutical reps appealing to doctors, ya know.

    I hang out at the diabetes meetings - which are pretty clinical - and I can assure you that there is plenty of unattractive males and females all over the place. I imagine the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons (AACS) meeting would be pretty good for eye candy though.

  • antagonista says:

    wow. the fuckebaggery levels were astounding at this year's meeting. this is just one cited instance but it shines a light on the undercurrent.

    maybe it's me and the whole thing where i'm breastfeeding, and i couldn't exactly go and pump several times per day- but i was subject to plenty of unscientific attention this year as i walked around in clothing specifically chosen to draw attention *away* from certain enlarged features of mine. i shouldn't *need* to point out good d00dly behavior and offer up cookies for it, but the instances where i was able to have an entire scientific conversation without a couple of boob leers were damn refreshing by the time all was said and done. being objectified by people who i had hoped to connect with scientifically in interactions perhaps leading to future career benefit- that made me feel so much like an equal, let me tell ya. i came back just feeling soooo enthusiastic about my field.

  • [...] on why this statement is problematic and offensive have been written by, among others, Dr. Isis, DrugMonkey, and Janet D. Stemwedel. I encourage you to read these posts, and at least some of the comments, [...]

  • [...] recently lost when it’s best to STFU. This post originally ran in Jan 2011. Thanks to Isis and DrugMonkey  Janet Stemwedel and Jezebel for pursuit this to my attention, amid many distration, and Kate [...]

  • Dabbe says:

    He has a book too, which kind of identifies him as a narcissist. This tendency might explain a lack of attraction to most other people in general.
    For example, he describes a situation occurring one morning while riding the elevator of his building:
    "I’ve already pressed the
    ground-floor button, and it’s the only one that’s lit up. Two or three
    seconds go by—the time it takes him to make a decision. He presses the
    ground-floor button again, takes one step back, and stands in a corner
    while continuing to stare at the panel. It’s obvious to me that the
    stranger’s behavior is not the result of failure to notice that the button
    was lit, or simply habit (the same action repeated mechanically every
    day, without thinking). It’s clear that he has looked at the button panel,
    paused, and then deliberately pressed the ground-floor button again.
    Why has he done that?"

    After which he argues the fellow elevator passenger does not want to acknowledge him as an autonomous being, as demonstrated by the unnecessary button-push.
    Clearly a serious neuroscientist would consider lack of inhibitive control as the more plausible explanation, it being morning and all.. But Dario knows for sure that it has to be all about him.

  • Dave strikes me as a "Type A" person who **has to win, period.** He refuses to admit when he's wrong, which in this case is that the FB post appears to reflect a larger symptomatic stance.

    I don't know if Dave is a douchebag or not.

    I do know, though, that by this point, he's a troll.

    Dave, take your ball, your argument and your Type A refusal to admit you're wrong, and go somewhere else.

  • LisaM says:

    Dave is right. This is a massive over-reaction. There is no evidence that the professor was ever judging women's actual work based on their looks. He was judging their attractiveness based on their looks, and most honest women out there would admit that we also do it all the time. Especially at conferences. Actual presentation and participation in conferences is over in a few hours, but you are in a fun city for 3 days or so..lots of flirting and checking out other attendees going on for both genders. If we had to "behave" like scientists all day and night, life with a PhD would be the most boring affair known to mankind.

  • physioprof says:

    If we had to "behave" like scientists all day and night, life with a PhD would be the most boring affair known to mankind.

    Do you really not understand the huge difference between going out to Bourbon Street after the sessions end and hanging out and meeting other neuroscientists and flirting and possibly even getting laid versus posting on your faceshitte page that too few of the female scientists at the meeting look like supermodels and why are only hideous hags attracted to neuroscience?

  • [...] Are beautiful women particularly uninterested in the brain? No offense to anyone..”  (h/t to Drugmonkey, and see another great post by Dr. [...]

  • becca says:

    LisaM- I personally know scientists whose hobbies include : home brewing, kayaking, travel, gourmet cooking, kinky sex, wine tastings, running marathons, clubbing, dancing, and being hilarious on the internet. So either "behaving like a scientist" is extremely elastic, or scientists are, in fact, (*gasp*!) people who behave like people.
    However, not one of those things is inherently incompatible with said scientists also behaving like decent human beings, which is what is called for here.

  • gingerest says:

    He was judging their attractiveness based on their looks, and most honest women out there would admit that we also do it all the time. Especially at conferences. Actual presentation and participation in conferences is over in a few hours, but you are in a fun city for 3 days or so..lots of flirting and checking out other attendees going on for both genders.

    Just to let you know that you don't speak for all women, I take conferences much more seriously than that - I'm pretty much "on" for the whole time I'm there, and I'm thinking/working so hard I'm no fun to be around. (My husband has stopped accompanying me to conferences unless they're in places he can amuse himself the whole time, because I am floppy and useless by nightfall.) I know I'm not the only one like this, either - for a lot of us, this is our main time to shop for new collaborations and jobs, and flirting is not central to the process.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Lot of us are old, happily married geezers with no interest whatsoever in "checking out" or "flirting with" other attendees. One can socialize enjoyably without, gasp!, it being about mating rituals you know.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    To add to becca's list... I know serious scientists who are ninja knitters, skiers, SCUBA divers, mountain climbers (serious enough to end up in Alpinist magazine or summit an 8000m peak), backpackers, bike racers (at an international level), auto racers, sailboat racers (at a national level), science fiction and mystery readers (and at least one multiply-published writer), visual artists, classical musicians, rock musicians (in one case, in a band you probably know), DJs, ultra-runners....

    I *know* that some of these people have libidos. I would guess all of them do.

    So far as I know few or none of them post to Facebook about how fugly their female peers and junior colleagues are and why don't *pretty* women enter their profession and oh by the way NO OFFENSE, right, you PRUDES?

  • [...] Dario Maestripieri was facebooking from the Society for Neuroscience meetings. Does anybody see anything wrong with this observation? My impression of the Conference of the [...]

  • Geoffrey says:

    "And the reason Daniel Craig is James Bond instead of Danny DiVito is?"

    Ask yourself a different question: who is the female equivalent to Danny DeVito?

    Acting has plenty of roles for men of all shapes and sizes. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elijah Wood, Richard Griffiths, Danny DeVito - as long as you have some kind of acting talent (and the usual amount of luck) you can achieve stardom. Ages too; if there's an upper limit for a male romantic lead, we haven't seen it yet.

    Women... not so much. If you're not pretty, your options are going to be severely limited.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    "No offense to anyone."

    So he's aware he might be wrong? Doesn't make it OK.

    That was the well-know technique of the pre-emptive notpology ... like the :) at the end of a scathing insult.

    It means all the stuff that preceded it doesn't really count against his "Nice Guy" image, and anyone who complains is an overly sensitive poopyhead with no sense of humor.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    @Dave I imagine the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons (AACS) meeting would be pretty good for eye candy though.

    One of the best plastic surgons I have ever known looked like Abe Vigoda with a hangover.

    Those guys on "Nip and Tuck" ... they were hired for their looks, not their surgery skills.

  • Lambda says:

    Nice one about putting the intelligence of women he finds attractive into question too. Classy.

  • I found the responses (included the attempted defense of women in science) equally alarming. My piece on this was published today in the Chronicle of Higher Education ("Does this lab coat make me look fat?").

    http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2012/10/23/does-this-lab-coat-make-me-look-fat/

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Sort of fascinating that you wander by to promote your article but fail to link to the half dozen or so online observations, including this one, Karen.

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    Shameless.

  • physioprof says:

    Now you're the fucken link police!?!?!?

  • Grumble says:

    "Now you're the fucken link police!?!?!?"

    Well, DM did break the story. Yet our friend the Director of the Center for Ethics couldn't find room in her article to link to DM. Speaking as a professional grumbler, I think he has a right to grumble.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Normally I am not the link police and don't really care about credit. However this is an issue of the so called established press having policies regarding online sourcing that are at odds with other sourcing practices.

  • Well, you are a pseud. We all know those folks aren't to be trusted.

  • What'sthatnow says:

    This is a shameful comment, but truthfully most men are going to notice your relatively level of attractiveness. Most wont judge your intellect on it, albeit Mr. "Where are the supermodels?" might ... but I would just like to point out that I saw MANY ATTRACTIVE WOMEN at SFN.

    Also, it is true that European men tread the line a bit closer than here in America and that should be kept in mind.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Let them "notice" just so long as they keep their "noticing" to themselves.

  • Slade Jones says:

    Why oh why do so many scientists refer to their experiences as some sort of validation for an opinion? Has anecdotal evidence somehow become more valid when I wasn't looking?

  • James Bishop says:

    Still, the original question remains unanswered, 'Are female nueroscientists generally unattractive physically?' Huh? Are they?

    Maestripieri ain't no centerfold either.

  • whimple says:

    I think you safely postulate as the null hypothesis that ALL neuroscientists are generally unattractive physically.

  • [...] Just another professor creating a hostile work environment for women. (found via jezebel) [...]

  • Spiny Norman says:

    @whimple -- Just because Maestripieri drives the arithmetic mean way, way down it doesn't follow that he's budging the median.

  • Fenbeast says:

    Wow.

    Not a neuroscientist, nor even, technically, a scientist... although I spend most of my time reading (and editing) sci/med manuscripts.

    A few thoughts:

    1) Those who think this isn't a big deal clearly don't get why it IS a big deal. Women in science are put in the crosshairs of these sorts of attitudes EVERY DAY. The attitudes themselves are offensive because they diminish women's qualifications and capabilities. And since most women have had to work twice as hard to get where they are in their respective fields as the men who casually toss off such comments, it is never "one little stupid remark" — it is a whole avalanche of little stupid remarks. Consider: if you were subjected to such remarks day after day after day in the course of your career, do you think maybe you'd get tired of them? Do you think you'd harbor a burning hostility toward the men who make them... as well as toward the men who defend the commenters and/or downplay the significance of the comment? Just so.

    2) Do we really need to use the word "douche" so excessively? It's pretty icky, and when you think about its original meaning & connotation, it's actually not terribly appropriate. Substitute "plastic receptacle filled with a vinegar-based solution intended for the utterly unnecessary, but once socially supported, internal cleansing of women's reproductive organs" for the term in question and you'll understand why I say that. I grew up in the era when "Summer's Eve" was routinely advertised on TV with a woman in diaphanous white talking about wanting to feel "fresh", and nary a description of how the product accomplished that goal. I was utterly grossed out when I discovered what it was for.

    3) I understand that it can be uncomfortable when someone belonging to a group in which you're a member by virtue of a characteristic over which you have no control gets roundly criticized for behavior that is PERCEIVED to be a function of that characteristic. The correct response is not to say, "Aw, it really wasn't that big a deal." The correct response is to say, "You know, his behavior was wrong, and I resent that it reflects badly on [group of which you're a member]. Please bear in mind that not all of us are like that."

  • Landon says:

    Okay. Well I just read up on a lot of these comments. Crazy debate. I'm a younger man with no scientific experience, so I'm coming from an outside perspective here. I think his comments were insensitive. Regardless of whether you believe this man to be sexist or not, the fact remains that his behavior is unprofessional and disrespectful. His debatable position on gender equality can be discussed endlessly, but if I'm not mistaken, science is based on the pursuit of factual evidence and the conclusions based therein. To me, the EVIDENCE suggests that this guy does not take his field of study seriously enough to view his colleagues in a dignified light, regardless of gender. Personally, I don't want this man's findings released as scientific evidence, simply on the basis that he has proven he is not a dedicated professional. I'd rather see my truths coming from true people.

  • Landon says:

    I'll also say that even though this was just one comment, it's very telling of this man's underlying beliefs about the value of human life in general. Sizing those women up the way he did shows that his focus does not lie in truly advancing science, and his heart does not embrace these other people as equals in the pursuit of such endeavors.

  • Aya says:

    This sort of attitude is why I left computer science. The methods of teaching were very different depending on the gender of the student. It was very difficult for females to learn, and the overall atmosphere was threatening.

  • cliff says:

    I'm not a scientist but I am interested in science. I'm also interested in human relations. I read about this pig on a science site I peruse to learn things. I am wondering how many people who have posted here have called or written to the University of Chicago to register their feelings about this completely unacceptable behavior? I did. Perhaps if enough scientists, especially male scientists, were to get in touch with them, they might actually make him sorry for holding such backward beliefs. Let him get fired, he has no business teaching students - male or female. Perhaps he could get a job working in a lab under a female boss and hopefully with all female colleagues.

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  • lila says:

    hahahahaha... it just reminded me what I saw the other day walking the neighborhood. There was a young man, homeless almost naked, very tiny boxers laying on the street. He was calling the attention of every woman by tapping his upper leg and saying: You wanna touch, here, here, just one dollar !!!!!. It sounded familiar! hahahahaha

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