Useful and interesting links


I thought this could be a place to share and discuss interesting articles and other stuff from around the web.

I’ll start. These are the ones that I’ve collected from various places and people:

Sexism in STEM

Stuart Pimm, prominent ecologist, reviews a book in a prominent journal and casually throws in a sexist analogy.
A wonderfully reasonable, rational, and unfortunately necessary explanation as to why the analogy was so inappropriate.
Why shirtgate was never about the shirt.
The importance of Athena Swan.
I didn’t want to Lean Out- a heartbreaking story of one women who just couldn’t take it any more.
Getting women into STEM isn’t the problem, keeping them there is.

Sexism in General (while many are discussing STEM they are relevant to all aspects of work)
Girl Guides find most girls have experienced sexism
A BBC report on the Girl Guides report
Stop Interrupting Me: Gender, Conversation Dominance, and Listener Bias
Respect isn’t enough
On the insidious nature of "women’s work."
Children don’t ruin women’s careers — husbands do, Harvard study finds
Stop looking for “hardwired” differences between male and female brains - a major bugbear of mine - variation within sexes is much greater than variation between but still we have the ‘men are from mars, women are from venus’ trope.
Dear Men, STFU - - the angriest and probably most controversial of the links.

Racism and STEM
The Different Ways Black and White Women See Stereotypes in STEM

Backlash against speaking out
How Gresham’s Law explains why news sites are turning off comments
The Week is the latest to close comments

Sexism in tech: the Uber example
Whistleblowers - why speaking out is so risky but why we should do it anyway
Free speech or freedom to troll?

What critics who want us to ignore microaggressions don’t understand
Crunching the numbers on sexist microaggressions - why even if microaggressions are applied to both sexes equally, they will seem to be more targeted at women online

Miscellenia that have parallels to sexism
Interview with the head of Stonewall - there are some similarities between the fight for gay rights and women’s rights.

Interesting Blogs
tenure she wrote - - a collaborative blog devoted to chronicling the (mis)adventures of women in academia, from undergraduate to Full Professor.



There’s the Women in Astronomy blog which has a lot of interesting stuff on it. 



The links that Fishnet put up aren’t working for me :frowning:



Hmm, they don’t work for me, either.



Balls. And it took me ages to do them. I’ll investigate.


Balls. And it took me ages to do them. I'll investigate.

Think they are all missing the colon after http.


Balls. And it took me ages to do them. I'll investigate.

Think they are all missing the colon after http.

Hopefully they are fixed now. 

I think what had happened is that when you added the link, the box to paste it in already has ‘http://’ in it, and if you paste a full URL then you end up with http://http://… which then doesn’t work. For some reason, the browser was translating that as http// with no :. No idea why. 


Thanks so much for fixing them Suw :). I was too tired to investigate last night and had just come to have a look.


In what was an otherwise largely forgettable piece, Robert Webb gave a really good explanation of why feminism benefits men as well,

". . . Worse, like some of their sweet brethren in the online gaming community for whom a rape threat is a kind of mild rebuke and like the guys in university societies who make up misogynist chants to sing, there’s a pathetic air of persecution. They talk as if threatening women with violence were some kind of free-speech issue. The crowning absurdity is the sorry-assed inadequates of men’s rights activism who point out how the prisons are disproportionately occupied by men and that rates of suicide are disproportionately high among men and decide to blame – wait for it – “feminists”.

No, lads. Feminism is an attack on social practices and habits of thought that keep women and men boxed into gender roles that are harmful. Most of the people in prison are men because men committed most of the crimes: that is at least partly down to the violent expectations of masculinity and “bread-winning” expectations of a patriarchy. Most suicides are male at least partly because the tough-guy requirements of masculinity prohibit sharing our feelings or going to see a therapist."

A more STEM related article shows the problems with putting famous scientists on a pedestal, namely that by making them seem superhuman it makes them harder for people to relate and think that they are capable of similar accomplishments.



I just remembered about this article I found the other day. Three MIT computer scientists did an AMA on Reddit. Three female computer scientists. Guess what a significant number of the questions were about.

"Within an hour, the thread had rocketed to the Reddit front page, with hundreds of thousands of pageviews and more than 4,700 comments. But to our surprise, the most common questions were about why our gender was relevant at all. Some people wondered why we did not simply present ourselves as “computer scientists.” Others questioned if calling attention to gender perpetuated sexism. Yet others felt that we were taking advantage of the fact that we were women to get more attention for our AMA.

The interactions in the AMA itself showed that gender does still matter. Many of the comments and questions illustrated how women are often treated in male-dominated STEM fields. Commenters interacted with us in a way they would not have interacted with men, asking us about our bra sizes, how often we “copy male classmates’ answers,” and even demanding we show our contributions “or GTFO [Get The **** Out]”. One redditor helpfully called out the double standard, saying,“Don’t worry guys – when the male dog groomer did his AMA (where he specifically identified as male), there were also dozens of comments asking why his sex mattered. Oh no, wait, there weren’t.”"

It’s a worthwhile but wholely depressing read.



I just read this article from the Guardian which is in essence a summary of the year in feminism. It feels like it should be a depressing read but in fact it’s really powerful, passionate and full of hope that this may be the year that things have finally begun to change.



A really interesting article on the sacrifices those who speak out are forced to make as they deal with threats of violence from those who dislike what they do.



I just stumbled across this opinion piece from on why feminism should matter to men. It’s nice to see people ‘getting it’!



A nice summary of the big stories about women in STEM from 2014. There’s a lot of good links there too which are well worth exploring, for example, this one.


I just read this article from the Guardian which is in essence a summary of the year in feminism. It feels like it should be a depressing read but in fact it's really powerful, passionate and full of hope that this may be the year that things have finally begun to change.

I read that piece. In some ways it’s quite hopeful. In other ways, I find it troubling - not explicitly but because it activates a couple of niggles I have about the whole debate about violence against women, sexual or otherwise. Perhaps this encapsulates it:

"What matters most in celebrity cases may not be that a few are belatedly
held accountable for past crimes. It’s the message that these cases
deliver: that the age of impunity is over; that in the future,
committing such crimes will not be so easy to get away with. In other
words, the world has changed enough to change the odds for victims and
perpetrators. Women have voices now."

I’m (1) not so optimistic and (2) it’s missing a something, which isn’t raised in this piece at all. Most of the rape abuse and shame cultures described here are about power. In Britain, that manifests as class and ppower structures. And that is certainly not just about women either. If you look at all the high profile abusers who are being brought to book now, they are people who are abusing positions of power, and the victims are often boys as well as girls and women.

I don’t know. There’s something niggling me, and I think it is that the framing of the debate around women, and women fighting back is one thing (and an important one, don’t get me wrong), but I worry that only encapsulating the debate in this way brushes under the carpet the fact that this is a profoundly political issue that doesn’t just affect women.

Does that make sense? Hmm. I need to think about this more, I think.



I think I see what you’re saying and if I’ve understood you correctly, I agree with you. The abuse cases being brought in the US and definitely in the UK are people (pretty much all men, though whether that’s because men are more abusive by nature or because there are "(and certainly were) more men in positions of power that they could use to protect themselves) who used their power and authority to prevent victims from seeking redress.

I read this review of a book on Jimmy Savile and it was really eye-opening as it spoke about things that are easily forgotten, particularly regarding the massive amount of misogyny and unsubtle innuendo on TV that led to a sexualised society even as it pretended it was all very prim and proper. The reason Savile et al. got away with things for so long was not just that they were powerful but because children were, by default, considered poor witnesses and that crimes committed against them were less important than things done to other adults. One painful paragraph says,

Vera McAlpine, whose daughter Claire killed herself in 1971 aged 15,
leaving behind a diary in which she revealed that she’d had sex with two radio DJs (Savile may have been one), later told the Guardian that she should have contacted the police when she first read the journal a month before Claire’s death. “But I thought they would be more severe with my daughter than they would with the DJs,” she said, a lament that is no easier to read for knowing that she was almost certainly right

In other words it’s that wherever there is a power differential (be it through sex, age, class, race, disability, etc) those on the ‘losing’ end are less likely to be believed or have their concerns cared about by police, social services, etc.

I’ve noticed that as I’ve got more interested in feminism I’ve also got more interested in disability rights, racism and the problems associated with poverty as I’ve realised that one thing they all have in common is that they all involve people who are marginalised.

I need to think about this more as well, but I think I’m starting to realise that you can’t just talk about sexism without recognising that it’s just one aspect of a much bigger issue.


fishnut, yes, you’re expressing similar thoughts to me, and I too have become interested in other equality issues - in my case, being in education, it is particularly the debate around widening participation, social mobility sort of issue.
I think all of this is political, and the elephant in the room is that it is left-wing political. There aren’t, to my knowledge, many right wing or libertarian feminists - though I may be wrong, and all examples gratefully received! All the evidence of what works to improve social mobility tend towards leftist policies. So yeah, it is very political. I think.



I think that these things are related to leftist political tendencies because the right-wing (at least socially) seems to be more about harkening back to a time when women stayed at home raising the kids while the man went to work with a bowler hat and a briefcase and dinner was ready for him when he returned. You know, that time that never really existed. More realistically, it was a time when disabled and gay people were hidden away and minorities were only ever seen in the local Indian or Chinese restaurants that served anglicised versions of dishes because no-one would eat there otherwise. It’s not really a world-view that tends towards equality for all, though, like you, I’m happy to be shown to be wrong.

As an example of how far we still have to go, I just saw this article on how women are treated when returning to work after maternity leave. Truly depressing stuff.



Another interesting article. It’s about racism in Hollywood but many of the arguments can be applied to sexism as well. This bit particularly caught my eye,

It is only after stepping back and looking at the films produced over the span of a decade that one is able to see that a disproportionate number of films are being written from a white perspective, mostly feature white characters, and that speaking roles are disproportionately awarded to white actors.

Try reading it while substituting ‘male’ for ‘white’.

The conclusion is good too and, again, just as relevant in terms of sexism as it is in relation to racism:

There is an old cliche that the only color Hollywood executives see is green. Indeed, as I alluded to above, one common defense offered by those who make films is that they are simply giving the public what it wants. What is rarely discussed is that people are not simply born with preferences. To the extent there is truly a preference to see white actors, it can only be the result of years of a very racialized socialization. Just as advertising media attempts to shape consumer preferences, Hollywood films shape our racial preferences.

ETA, I just read this article which, while a few years old, is still as relevant as the day it was written. It’s also about the lack of diversity at the Oscars but this bit really stood out,

Frank Pierson, a former academy president who won an Oscar for original screenplay for “Dog Day Afternoon” in 1976, said merit is the primary criterion for membership.

“I don’t see any reason why the academy should represent the entire American population. That’s what the People’s Choice Awards are for,” said Pierson, who still serves on the board of governors. "We represent the professional filmmakers, and if that doesn’t reflect the general population, so be it."

The thing is, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, is why should professional film makers not be representative of the general population? Is there something that prevents women or black people (or, god forbid, black females) from being less able to work in the film industry than white men? Or is it that there are systematic barriers to entry for those who aren’t white and male that keeps out a lot of talent? I know where I’d put my money.



Another interesting article, this time about the subtle sexism seen in the tech industry (and other places).

However, I think it’s important to note that it’s not restricted to just a few industries. I recently got a job and talking to a colleague she has had all sorts of sexual advances (from inappropriate comments to love notes left on her desk!) from people. Our office is very small but we interact in person and on the phone with many other businesses and many of these advances have been from these people. She is young (though wise beyond her years) and attractive and it’s clear that to some she is, not a professional, but a sex object. There are annual get-togethers for staff from the various offices and it is well known that there are some managers who essentially use the time to perv on their younger and more nubile colleagues. And because they’re higher-ups no-one will do or say anything to them, they just create a network of women protecting women - warning and watching in case anyone’s being made uncomfortable so they can go and rescue them. It sounds so familiar and is totally depressing to hear because this is not an industry you’d think should have a problem with this sort of thing. But it just proves to me that this is a widespread problem that needs tackling at a societal level.