Thankfully I haven’t experienced outright sexism within academia or education. However, I have experienced it in the paleontological monitoring setting, where women regularly work around a very solid “boys’ club” of construction engineers and other workers. I’ve been called pet names, catcalled, and told I would never really take part the good ol’ rapport of construction hand signaling, because that was something “only the brotherhood could understand”. For a little context, all I was asking was whether I could signal to a machine worker whether it was safe to enter a potentially fossiliferous patch of dirt.
Incidences like this only highlight an undercurrent of socially accepted sexism, and that’s bound to reflect itself in the academic world. It’s frustrating to think that calling incidences of sexism or racism out to our academic colleagues would somehow put our personal or professional image “on the line”, but the more visibility we as a community bring to it – whether we’re women or not – the more we can really galvanize change.
I think more events like the Women in Paleontology PaleoFest, women in paleontology round tables, and the women’s paleontology social at this year’s SVP will continue to provide a great set of springboards to keep change going strong. But we’re also going to need to recruit more women to our societies, and our career paths, if we’re going to tip the scales towards balance.
The link to the Priscum article wasn’t working on the Pharyngula science blog, so here it is: http://paleosoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Priscum_Winter2013.pdf