Female SciProf told: "Thank you for not reminding us you're a woman."

Go read this account of reading the reviews from a recent grant application, in which Female Science Professor was thanked for not including the fact of her sex in her BI (Broader Impact) statement:

In one review of one of my recent proposals, I was thanked by one reviewer for not mentioning myself or other women involved in the project as a broader impact. The reviewer was very happy to see that my proposal was therefore not obviously biased against men.

OK… you’re welcome.. but you know what? Even if I wrote in the BI section that the proposed research involved female investigators and therefore in some way helped broaden the participation of an underrepresented group, this does not demonstrate bias against men. It would be stating something that is part fact (I am the female PI whether I mention it in the proposal text or not) and part opinion (my involvement in research broadens the participation etc.); no men were excluded or oppressed to produce this proposal.

So the message is, “don’t tell us how we should think about your sex.  We saw your first name, we have our own ideas, and we can use that information however we like.  We don’t like having our privilege checked, don’t’cha know!”

This reminds me of reading the reviews of my NEH grant application (unsuccessful!) for my first book project, in which I was lectured that “[Another young woman scholar] has just written a book about warfare in this period, so I don’t see what this one will add.”  Riiiiiiiight.  Because all women have the same brain and the exact same ideas, arguments, and evidence and share the same LadyBrain, whereas men are permitted to write as many books about a given topic because men are individuals.  (How many times, I wonder, is a male applicant lectured that another man wrote a book on a similar topic but with a totally different emphasis and argument, and that this disqualifies his project for funding because of his sex and the sex of the author of the just-published book?)

Such, such are the joys of being a member of an underrepresented group in one’s profession!  I’m sure many of you have your own stories.  (And I’m sure that these stories are only more common among nonwhite scholars.)  B!tch away, friends!

0 thoughts on “Female SciProf told: "Thank you for not reminding us you're a woman."

  1. I tell the story often, but one of my TexAss colleagues once announced in a department meeting that we offered “too many boutique classes” that only catered to small audiences (women, Latinos, queer folk, African Americans, etc.) and we needed to get back to the “real history.” This, of course, meant dead white straight men. He conveniently ignored, of course, that those “boutique classes” were often filled to the brim.


  2. Riiiiiight–because we need fewer classes (like the ones you cite) that address majority concerns AND attract students?

    It’s funny how people perceive what’s a majority-interest class and what’s a minority-interest class. A friend of mine once taught in a department that offered so many military history courses of specific wars that he started joking that he was from the Department of War. By definition, I suppose, any class that’s not specifically a women’s history class is a minority-interest class, because women outnumber men globally. (See–anyone can play!)


  3. But women don’t make history. History is made on womens’ bodies. Therefore, woman, as object, is a minority interest because very few people are interested in learning the history of objects.

    Same goes for African Americans, particularly because of the history of slavery in this country. Probably Asian Americans with particular reference to the history in CA and the gold rush/railroad. Probably Latinos/Latinas and Hispanics with particular reference to illegal immigration.

    Objects all.


  4. My story goes back to 1976, when I took the comprehensive written test for acceptance into a PhD program for medieval literature. I, fortunately, did very well on the test, and recieved the only Pass with Distinction for my year, with a couple of paragraphs of positive commentary. Throughout the comments, despite our incoming group being about half men and half women, “the candidate” — that was me — was called “he.” I don’t think that was simply grammatical purity, since the second wave was in full blossom.


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