Ep. 399 – Women in Science

Science is typically a male dominated profession, mostly dudes, not a lot of ladies. From researchers to professors, to law makers, woman have a tough time gaining traction in such a heavily gendered field. Today we’re going to talk about what it takes to make it as a woman in science, what additional hurdles you’ll have to navigate, and what resources are available if you’re being harassed or discriminated against.

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This episode is sponsored by:  Casper, Swinburne Astronomy Online, 8th Light

Show Notes

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Transcription services provided by: GMR Transcription

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14 Responses to Ep. 399 – Women in Science

  1. Rich January 19, 2016 at 1:55 am #

    This episode was awesome. Thank you so much for doing it.

  2. Ron Sparks January 19, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

    I have listened to and enjoyed the Astronomy Cast podcast for a number of years. After I discovered the show, I went back and listened to all of the shows. I have never felt a need to comment on a show, but after listening to this deeply disturbing episode I feel that I had to comment. I don’t know which I found more disturbing; that someone who I have come to think of as a friend even though I have never met her has experienced this, or that a community that I always though represented some of the best aspects of the human species can be guilty of this behavior, not only on an individual basis but as an institution. That individuals can do this is a regrettable aspect of human nature. That the scientific community can condone it is just appalling. I applaud Dr. Gay for coming forward. It took a lot of courage. I can only hope that she suffers no negative repercussions from speaking out, and that her doing so will help bring about some real change.

  3. Lance January 19, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    Wow.. What a powerful podcast..!!!!
    Getting the message out there is hugely important, in order to reduce this abuse of power.
    Shine the light of truth on all the abusive rats passing themselves off as bastions truth and knowledge…
    Thank you for telling your story.

    Lance a long time listener..

  4. Zachary Kessin January 20, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

    Thank you for a great episode, this is the first time I can recall sitting in my car after I got home for another 5 minutes to listen to the end of a podcast.

    Also even for those of us not in high tech, this stuff does happen in other fields, so much of the advice is good there too.

  5. Andrew January 22, 2016 at 7:38 am #

    I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

    Seriously though, this was a sobering but great listen.

  6. Lance Isackson January 26, 2016 at 9:05 am #

    Wow .. What a powerful podcast. Thank you for your honesty and clarity. I have listened since day one and I have felt that I have got to know the both of you as friends. Don’t let the immoral conduct of a few scare you from your coarse. Keep shining the light of truth so that bully’s will not dominate.

  7. Chuck Tomasi January 26, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

    Thank you for this episode! As a father of two daughters-in-science in their early 20s, this is extremely helpful and frightening. I’m sending the link to them right away!

  8. Mark Hove January 29, 2016 at 12:07 am #

    Thank you for discussing this important topic

  9. Paul Mansfield January 29, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

    I was very saddened and troubled by this podcast. It really shouldn’t be like this. If this was a repeat of a 30 year old program then I wouldn’t have been quite so surprised (still horrified), but that this is still a problem is just so wrong. As a father of three, the eldest being a young woman going into medical science, and the youngest being good at maths and science, I am worried for the eldest at what she might have to face.

    I do know that if I heard of someone treating my daughters like that, I would do *whatever*it*took* to stop that person.

    I live in Cambridge/England, and work in computer systems engineering. This is a very male dominated business, and haven’t *seen* this kind of behaviour in the work place, but I’m not saying it doesn’t and is well hidden.
    I’ve not seen this kind of behaviour at company parties, but then I’m not really a party animal and so generally don’t stay late at parties. That said, a few months ago I did hear stories at work about the previous Christmas party where women had to fend off unwanted attention. Since I hadn’t heard anything official or any announcements in the work place, it seems likely that any complaints were brushed off, or the women didn’t complain, and now I can believe it’s because they would have faced an uphill struggle to be listened to. Again, I’m sad and sorry.

    It seems these misogynists and predatory men are generally pretty smart and along with being manipulative are good at keeping it hidden. And as Pamela said, if they find they can get away with it, they learn to play the system even more, and it makes it even harder for the new voice to speak out against an established one.

    I can assure that I wouldn’t stand idly by if I saw someone being abused or mistreated, whether it was over sex or race or ethnicity, whether they were male or female. But now I will pay more careful attention to the behaviour of male colleagues especially if there are more vulnerable people around.

  10. Kevan Whitten February 2, 2016 at 3:41 am #

    Thank you, Pamela, for being open about your personal experiences. Admittedly, it was tough to listen to, but also very necessary, so that this kind of thing comes to an end. I am the father of twin 11 year old daughters, and one of them is interested in science (which branch, I don’t know yet, and she doesn’t either, but that’s a whole other topic). I know I won’t be able to protect them forever, but I do want to teach them how to handle themselves and that it’s OK to speak up.

  11. Jerel Smith February 18, 2016 at 8:20 am #

    As an upper-middle age, white, male physicist I listened to this show with a combination of astonishment, despair and great sadness. I have spent decades around companies, universities and other institutions, with no concept of the pervasiveness of harassment and misogyny in our field. I’ve seen many articles in Physics Today and the APS Newsletter discussing why physics has such poor representation by women, but did not see (or did not register) this part of the story.

    Today I discussed the issue of harassment with one of my co-workers—her experiences were of a piece with the story you have told.

    Dr. Gay, thank you for your courage, and particularly for your information and perspective.

  12. Edwin February 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Thank you for this episode. I have seen some of the news stories that have been coming out of late and this was by for more informative to me. I think because even thought I was reading the news stories I was trying to resist the idea. Not because I thought it was false but because I see science and astronomy as the last place I would think these things could happen. I had hope that the quest for knowledge would some how be a sacred place that would not have these things going on.
    I have been listening to Astronomy Cast for about a year now. I have gone back and listened to all the passed show. So I feel a kind of connection to Pamela and Fraser. In fact listening to the show helped push me to buy my own telescope and I have since taken pictures of some planets and nebula.
    I think at the very less, to all us guys out there, that are a part of this community, we should be the guy that when we see something, anything, we are the ones that say “Dude not cool”. Stand up for what we know to be right. I know that I will be one to do so.

  13. Anders March 11, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    Ok, now I need to go hug my cat for a while.

    I don’t care if the person is a brilliant researcher – there are some things you just don’t do.

  14. Greg Meece April 18, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

    An article with more validation of Pamela’s concerns.

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