Sexism is a (horrible and depressing) fact

When I posted the proposed method to look at diversity in skeptical/atheist conferences, one comment was particularly illuminating.  I stated that part of the motivation for the exercise was that:

“…there is clear and unequivocal discrimination against women in a wide array of situations and so we should be conscious of that bias when we choose speakers for conferences.”

A commenter responded that:

“Ok, I’m not sure as to what you are referring, it appears you are just performing some vague political posturing. If there were clear, and unequivocal discrimination against women at these conferences, you wouldn’t need a study to demonstrate it. It would be clear and unequivocal, such as a sexist, limiting clause in an organization’s charter. No such thing exists, so your point seems moot.”

Unfortunately, the commenter is taking a very simplistic view of sexism.  Systemic sexism of the kind to which I was referring is an insidious and far-reaching problem.  This post is a quick review of some empirical demonstrations of the subtle and systemic bias that women face, because it is clear than some people need to be made aware of the extent of the problem.  This is not a post of vague anecdotes, though – these are scientific studies.Read More »


Why does breast cancer research receive more research funding than prostate cancer?

Carcinoma of the prostate

“Men’s Rights Activism” (MRA) is a dirty phrase in many circles.  The MRA movement is a fairly diverse beast ranging from claims of inequality in child custody cases to accusations of full-blown, societal-scale misandry typified by higher death rates in men and lower levels of social investment.  One claim in particular that the MRAs make is that breast cancer (a cancer that predominantly, though not entirely, affects women) receives substantially more money in terms of research funding than prostate cancer, despite similar numbers of people dying from each.  First I’ll review some of the specific claims made, I’ll look at the data on funding, then we can delve into a few stats on the impacts of these two cancer types (bear with me!).  I’ve also included some more detail on whether younger men are more at risk from prostate cancer as an appendix for those who are interested.Read More »