Gender Discrimination (GD) Discussion Continued
I don't think any of that is the problem here.
If anything, I've been told that when I highlight my achievements it's perceived as 'arrogant', not 'impressive' so it's a very fine line to walk.
And if anything, the male professors are much more fixated on formatting than the women professors I've had look at my CV.
And in my field, there is absolutely no such thing as 'positive discrimination.' I strongly suspect that Fermilab is more like my field than it is like yours.
Again, I need to read the paper.
I am not a statistician, so in a way it won't matter what I say about the paper. So maybe I should just refrain from addressing it.
I think DrugMonkey picked up on my main point re: your post.
The point was that conference presentations, while perhaps not well supported by the data in the Towers' manuscript, are in fact quite likely playing a role. And that this issue is definitely deserving of further study if, as you say, you would only be convinced by more numbers. FSP and I have both blogged repeatedly about the dearth of women conference speakers. It's not like it's a hard phenomenon to witness.
Beyond that, what I'm saying is, this is an issue I care about deeply because I have firsthand experience with it. I've read some of the Absinthe blog so I know some of the story without needing to read the paper.
I think you should consider how you write about these topics, since you sounded doubtful of the existence of GD because of the way you criticized the arguments in the paper.
You actually sounded like this is the first you've really heard of it, and even worse, as if this is the only evidence or report on it. Perhaps none of that is what you intended but that's how your post reads, aside from one or two comments that seem painfully PC. I don't really care if you don't doubt that it "could" be occurring. What I'm saying is that IT IS. But you think that's some kinda religion-speak.
I don't think it's fair to say it's religion just because there aren't sufficient numbers.
The whole point of lack of representation is that there weren't many women to begin with, so how could she have large numbers of data points. HOW.
You're like those reviewers who say "this could be better" but don't actually have any ideas for experiments. What's the experiment? Ruin more female postdocs' careers and then see how they like it? I mean, seriously.
And in a way I'm saying that the point is it doesn't matter how many. That even one example is horrifying and needs to be brought to the light of day.
The allegation that it was systematic is not surprising to most of us. We're also not surprised that the documentation is somewhat spotty.
What's surprising is that it could be documented at all.
But perhaps she went about it the wrong way, trying to quantify it at all?
GD is anecdotal by its very nature. Ever hear of little fields of study like
Do you know how Cultural Anthropology works? They interview people and watch them work, play, live. Do you know how they document their observations? By writing down stories describing what happened.
Written observations in a narrative form.
It's much like a blog, in a way, if you assume that most bloggers aren't lying about what they're describing.
Or a Supreme Court decision. Or the notes taken by a clinical psychologist.
Many important things go on in the world, and believe it or not, they can be described accurately and completely without numbers.
To me, description is important and still a form of science, even if it's not as quantitative as you would like.
Still, I think the arguments about lack of numbers belie a certain naivete about how insidious these things are. Here are a couple more things for you to mull over.
1. Nobody likes backlash. So most women don't complain about GD. They just leave. That's going to limit your numbers right there.
2. Settlements include gag orders.Yep, that's right. Most of the time when someone complains about GD (or medical malpractice for that matter), the solution is to settle and that usually includes a promise not to ever mention it again. That's going to limit your pool of witnesses, too.
Again, I didn't read the paper so I don't know if these issues are mentioned in the article. But it's a negative result- unless she knew these women before they left, why they left and where they went, she can't track them down and find out if there were, perhaps, more cases than the 9 she reported.
But let's go back even further. Lots of the women who would have worked at Fermilab probably never got there. They probably quit science back when they were discriminated against in math class. There's lots of numbers on that, too. Maybe you should go look those up and think about whether that's not also a form of institutional GD.