Friday, July 21, 2006

They'll Believe a Man

So here we have this article, talking about Ben Barres, a male scientist who used to be a female scientist. A man with a unique perspective on the whole argument as to whether women are under represented in science because of how they think or because of how they are treated.

Where Summers sees innate differences, Barres sees discrimination. As a young woman—Barbara—he said he was discouraged from setting his sights on MIT, where he ended up receiving his bachelor’s degree. Once there, he was told that a boyfriend must have solved a hard math problem that he had answered and that had stumped most men in the class. After he began living as a man in 1997, Barres overheard another scientist say, “Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but his work is much better than his sister’s work.”
Remember here that his sister is his past self. Do you suppose that when Professor Barres speaks about this subject he is listened to because he's seen it from both sides? Or because the person speaking at this moment, to paraphrase Captain Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1, "wears his reproductive organs on the outside instead of the inside"?

6 comments:

J said...

Ugh. Remember Dan? He wouldn't believe me on things like the pronunciation of German words, or English grammar (She and I vs. She and me...he thought it could NEVER be me...), and I always knew deep in my heart that it was because of the location of my reproductive organs. You were worried I might marry him. You needn't have. ;)

(To his credit, he was miles ahead of the rest of his family...just wasn't far enough for me.)

Deja Pseu said...

Very interesting article. Although I'm not in a scientific field, I have had the experience (more than once) of bringing up an idea or a point in a meeting only to have it ignored. Then five minutes later some guy in the room will say exactly the same thing and the response will be "good point, Bob, we'll implement that!"

Maya's Granny said...

Pseu, That is such a common experience for a woman to have! I always make a point of crediting the woman with it, "Yes, it is a good idea, and it was a good idea when Pseu had it five minutes ago." I did know one man who would respond to being credited with the idea with, "Well, it's the point we all ignored when Pseu made it."

naomi dagen bloom said...

perfect tale to use when the idea of being a feminist is viewed as "too retro"--everything so much better. for whom? we ask.

Deja Pseu said...

Or as the bumper sticker says, "I'll be a Post-Feminist in the Post-Patriarchy." :-)

Maya's Granny said...

Oh, if only I owned a bumper! That's a sticker I would want on it.