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 »

Sexist skeptics? Here’s how to find out

Some have said that skeptical conferences have too many older, white men… (photo by Scott Hurst)

There has been an ongoing (and really rather bitter) argument over discrimination against women in the skeptical/atheist community – particularly over whether or not conferences are preferentially selecting old, white, male speakers.  Arguably this could be expanded to include discrimination against youth and against different races, but the sexism issue is that which has been front-and-centre over the past year.  The allegations have been that the organisers of various conferences (particularly TAM) have not been inclusive when considering female speakers and that this has contributed to an unwelcoming environment at skeptical conferences.Read More »