Sunday, February 15, 2015

Black Women, Science & Masculinity

Study: Black Women in science Seen as “Masculine" and violent

By Michal Ortner

A series of studies have been done on stereotypes involving jobs such as scientists and janitors. Second graders were asked to draw a scientist. The overwhelming results were of white men with glasses wearing white lab coats.

In an extensive study done by UC Hastings College of Law, 60 women of color in various scientific fields were surveyed about bias and discrimination.  100 percent of the women surveyed affirmed that they had experienced bias or discrimination in some form.
Latina and African-American women shared that they were most often mistaken for janitorial workers. “I always amuse my friends with my janitor stories,” one black woman scientist said. “But it has happened, not only at weird hours.”

In an online survey, 500 African-American female scientists were interviewed, along with 60 in-depth interviews. Over three-fourths of those surveyed said that they were required to verify their competence repeatedly.

Four typical types of gender bias against women were reported in “Double Jeopardy? Gender Bias Against Women of Color in Science.” The four biases are: having to prove yourself again and again, coming across as too masculine or too feminine, running into the maternal wall/motherhood bias, and experiencing a clash between the other few women in the company.

The National Science Foundation funded the study that discovered definite heightened gender bias towards women who were assertive. The women surveyed said that they were easily labeled “angry” or “emotional,” especially among the Latina women.

“Several of them were actually being treated as admin, expected to fill out other people’s grant forms, coordinate other people’s meetings, and they couldn’t get out of it,” said Joan Williams, a law professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law who worked as one of the authors of the new report.

“In others studies, we heard of white women being expected to do the ‘office housework’ – say, if you’re a lawyer, that means you’re responsible for doing the task list, or keeping track of everything going on in litigation,” Williams added. “It’s not like this – doing secretarial work.”

“The numbers have just not moved in all the STEM disciplines in the last 10 years,” said Janet Koster, executive director of the Association for Women in Science. “Women start out, but seep out of the pipeline when they go into early careers or academic education. For people of color, we’re not even getting them into the pipeline in the first place. That has to change.”

“We’ve been trying to change these organizations for 25 years. But they have not changed,” Williams said.

“So what women need now are very concrete strategies.”

Two of the five oldest women on earth are African American 

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