Say it with me: XX are not inherently "bitchy"

Jul 10 2012 Published by under academia, gender

Today as I am flitting about spastically trying to get shit done before I leave town tomorrow, I was distracted by a conversation on twitter that pissed me off SO MUCH. I don't know how it started, I noticed when someone made a comment about hiring (I think it was Namnezia [ed: OK, so it was apparently ProfLike Substance. My bad - gz]) wondering if the boilerplate diversity statement "woman and minorities are encouraged to apply" actually did anything to encourage women or minorities to apply. A fair question, I think.

And then shit went off the rails. There are apparently a lot of tweeps that are urging their PIs to hire men for open positions in their lab. Not because the XY candidates are more qualified or anything. But because there are already "too many" females. Now, I think that most labs have too few members to make an argument about over- or under-representation (statistics of low n and such). I tried to ignore this conversation - I have a lot of shit to do! But I couldn't resist pointing out that the XX faculty are pretty underrepresented where I am. Other folks chimed in that this was true for them, too. Now this is just another anectdote, I know. But there is a certain amount of hand-wringing about the "leaky pipeline" that I think XX representation in science IS actually a problem*.

So why do the tweeps (many of them XX, btw) feel the need for more XY lab mates? Because "too may XX - more conflict/bitchiness/problems in the lab".

OH FOR FUCK SAKE PEOPLE. Can we stop with this already? Men are just as conflict-prone and bitchy as women. It is just that we hold it against the XX. This is the classic no-win situation. Please, stop this shit. Everyone. It drives me insane to hear WOMEN make this argument. Ladies. We can do better than this.

I think I may have bitched about this topic before.


*again, I'm a little swamped so I don't have time to look up the stats.

25 responses so far

  • Zuska says:

    Oh my fucking god if I had a dollar for every time this line of bullshit has surfaced and had to be beaten back, Mr. Z could retire and we'd be off to the beach. PEOPLE are bitchy, folks, or they are not. PEOPLE are cranky-ass douches, or they are not.

    Every time someone blathers on about how XX are more bitchy, especially when there is some critical mass of them gathered (usually: two), that someone is engaging in essentializing women. All women. Everywhere. At all times. Which is stupid and totally non-scientific. It's just as dumb as saying all men are raging testosterone-fueled beasts who are just barely human, so controlled are they by their animalistic impulses.

  • Pascale says:

    Everyone knows that it's only a problem when we're premenstrual, menstruating, pregnant or menopausal.

  • Alyssa says:

    A work colleague quite often likes to talk about how being male is brutal in the sciences these days because "all jobs" are "given" to women because universities "have to show" they care about equal representation...that there's not even a point for him to apply for tenure-track positions because he'll never get a job as a male.

    Woe is me.

    Ugh...and the whole "women can't work together because they're bitchy and backstabbing" drives me fucking insane. I totally agree with what Zuska said on that topic.

    • Zuska says:

      If every dude who ever whined about all the jobs being given to women and it's no point him applying because he'll never get a job as a male, actually just whined himself off into the sunset, (1) they would all be doing a great service to humankind, and (2) all the search committees would have many fewer applications to wade through.

  • biochembelle says:

    Totally with you on this, Gerry. (I will note that the too much conflict with too many women was from me, but only as relaying sentiment spouted by someone else.)

    When it comes down to it, I am dispirited by some of the attitudes and judgements I've encountered among women toward other women in science. Actually that goes for men toward women in science as well. But I feel like the level of bullshit we deal with is bad enough without taking aim at each other.

  • I come from a large (read: >20) person lab, and at one point we were 80% female. Sure, some women were bitchy; most were not. And the bitchy women were equally catty towards women AND men, making it very clear that they independently were the problem, not the number of females total.

    • gerty-z says:

      exactly. being a jerk does not derive from gender. sometimes, people are just assholes.

      • Spiny Norman says:

        And women who are assertive -- on average -- are more likely than men to be called "bitchy" than men who exhibit identical behaviors.

        We should also note (yet again) that saying someone has a tendency to be "bitchy" is very often a passive-aggressive (if not bitchy) way of describing someone as a bitch, while pretending that one is not doing so.

  • scicurious says:

    I've worked with male and female assholes, probably more male because there are generally more men in my field, but I bet when controlled for gender there'd be no skew. It galls me no end that a guy being a jerk is seen as fine and competitive, while a woman being a jerk is seen as being horrid. Maybe both jerks just suck, people.

    • Hermitage says:

      We really should just retire the word bitchy and use asshole all the time. PEOPLE are assholes, but genders are socialized to be assholes in different ways. It is a relative, not absolute, velocity.

      Or something.

  • DrLizzyMoore says:

    I can't tell you how many times I have to field the following comment: "your job is so much harder because you have a lab full of women. A lot of drama....".....

    um no more drama than any other lab, you douchewhanker. Additionally, it's not my lab full of women that make my job *harder*; it's the pervasive attitude that men are more authoritative and even tempered that makes my job *harder*.

    • gerty-z says:

      yep. 1000x yep.

    • Spiny Norman says:

      Srsly? Whoever TF said that needs to be punched in the neck.

      • DrLizzyMoore says:

        The most recent comment came from a female technician-type (not from my lab).....of all people. My Division is XY heavy, so I'm like a motherfucukken hawk about this shitte. My tolerance for bullshittery is seriously at an all time low. I spoke my piece about her little observation, whether she *heard* me or not is another issue entirely.

  • tmbtx says:

    Ah, memories....

    There was a male in my grad school lab who was pissed off that we other males didn't invite him to play a board game (yes, a fucking board game). This, combined apparently with his perceived exclusion from a prank on our advisor (by XX and XY), led him to start telling people he wanted to beat me up.

    Really? This caused friction for weeks. No fight though, which is probably good for me.

    So yeah, small numbers, anecdote, blah blah blah, men can just as easily fuck up the environment with drama too.

  • I also hate the idea that simply because a PI is female she is automatically supposed to be understanding / supportive of females -> Women can be good and be shitty mentors because shockingly women are human.

    • DrLizzyMoore says:

      Excellent point! I have gotten more than one student in my office looking for sympathy in unsympathetic situations and are truly shocked when I greet them with 'expectations' and 'benchmarks' of performance.

  • Michelle says:

    I'm sure my response will be unwelcomed, but let me just say that every bitchy encounter and internal conflict I've ever had to deal with in a professional setting was, in fact, started by another woman.

    Before heading to grad school, I worked in the "real world" (e.g., cubicle farms and corporate offices), and I came to detest working in any female-dominated environment. If you're one of those women who can find yourself in the "in" clique, then it's great. But if you're not one of those ladies---and I wasn't---it's a disheartening environment.

    I'm in physics now and I love it. 100% of the conversations I'm a part of are pleasant; no gossiping or bitchiness. And almost all of the conversations are science-related, which I like. And I just plain get along with men better than I get along with most women.

    • gerty-z says:

      Sounds like you worked with some assholes. And now you don't.

    • TripleThreat says:

      I had the same experience. Although, it's my own fault, I'm a woman of color working in a female-heavy science field. I was never going to be accepted by anyone. I am out of science now, proving that I was as worthless as was insinuated by my female colleagues. /shrug

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