You’re talking to the wrong people

Speaking of Searle’s girls…Monica Byrne wrote this brilliant retort to Microsoft the other day.

It has to do with your new ad campaign, which I happened to see while I was at the gym last week. Here’s the gist: brilliant young girls express their ambitions to cure cancer and explore outer space and play with the latest in virtual reality tech. Then—gotcha!—they’re shown a statistic that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees. They look crushed. The tagline? “Change the world. Stay in STEM.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Microsoft, where’s your ad campaign telling adult male scientists not to rape their colleagues in the field? Where’s the campaign telling them not to steal or take credit for women’s work? Or not to serially sexually harass their students? Not to discriminate against them? Not to ignoredismiss, or fail to promote them at the same rate as men? Not to publish their work at a statistically significant lower rate? Not to refuse to take women on field expeditions, as did my graduate advisor, now tenured at University of Washington? Where’s your ad campaign telling institutions not to hire, shelter, or give tenure to serial harassers or known sexists, as UW and countless others have done? Where’s your ad campaign encouraging scientific journals to switch to blind submissionsand blind peer reviewers? Or to pay women at the same rateas men?

In other words – don’t tell girls to Try Harder and Push Through; tell people and institutions to stop putting up all those barriers and obstacles.

It’s what we keep having to retort to Christina Hoff Sommers and Michael Shermer and Sam Harris: stop telling women to suck it up and try harder, because nobody should have to try harder simply because others throw obstacles in their path.

It’s that awful, smug, callous libertarian pseudo-Stoicism in which everyone is a pioneer hero surviving a North Dakota winter in a tent. This is not the first human exploration of Mars, this is people working in institutions that systematically disadvantage some people for reasons of sex or race or other arbitrarily disfavored category.

Among the comments:

  • So true. This is why I left STEM, years of being told repeatedly by mentors, teachers, and professors that I could not be in the field because of my gender and ethnic background meant I decided to make a career elsewhere.
  • Sadly yes. I saw the same adds, I was really excited about it at the first glance. And then I soon felt something is wrong, it’s missing the point. I have a STEM degree and work at this industry. I can clearly tell it’s way less friendly to women, I has to be over qualify for my job but still get a lower pay than my other male colleagues. So I left my job.
  • Yes – the sheer volume of hostility from my STEM professors and my advisor – all male – was what discouraged me into leaving STEM.
  • Amen. I left tech for my own health and survival, coming up on two years ago now. Until I see ads about lecherous VCs and abusive executives being fired en masse, I don’t want to hear it. Filling the pipeline doesn’t matter when the field can’t retain the women it does bring in, because of abysmal behavior, pay discrimination, and all the rest.And thank you for this: “Everyones’ noses have been pushed in these same data for decades and nothing changes.” Exactly. And in my anecdotal experience, it is worse than it was decades ago. If anything, it’s gotten worse.

That’s only about halfway down the page; there are lots more.

H/t ibbica

6 Responses to “You’re talking to the wrong people”