Monday, May 17, 2010

A tale of two transgendered Stanford scientists


How the Sex Bias Prevails: Excerpts from Shankar Vedantam's The Hidden Brain.

When Barbara Barres became Ben Barres:

Ben once gave a presentation at the prestigious Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A friend relayed a comment made by someone in the audience who didn't know Ben Barres and Barbara Barres were the same person: "Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but, then, his work is much better than his sister's."

Ben also noticed he was treated differently in the everyday world. "When I go into stores, I notice I am much more likely to be attended to. They come up to me and say, 'Yes, sir? Can I help you, sir?' I have had the thought a million times, I am taken more seriously."

When Jonathan Roughgarden became Joan Roughgarden:

[In response to her theory of 'social selection'] ... [at] a workshop at Loyola University, a scientist "lost it" and started screaming at her for being irresponsible. "I had never had experiences of anyone trying to coerce me in this physically intimidating way," she said, as she compared the reactions to her work before and after she became a woman. "You really think this guy is really going to come over and hit you."

At a meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Minneapolis, Joan said, a prominent expert jumped up on the stage after her talk and started shouting at her. Once every month or two, she said, ''I will have some man shout at me, try to physically coerce me into stopping …When I was doing the marine ecology work, they did not try to physically intimidate me and say, 'You have not read all the literature.'

"They would not assume they were smarter. The current crop of objectors assumes they are smarter."

2 Comments:

  1. shrik said...

    A friend relayed a comment made by someone in the audience who didn't know Ben Barres and Barbara Barres were the same person: "Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but, then, his work is much better than his sister's."

    Specifically, that example needn't illustrate a 'sex bias' - could it at all be possible that Barbara/Ben Barres' quality of work has improved over time?

  2. lm said...

    @shrik

    Unlikely - there's data showing that FTM make more money than MTF -
    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1847194,00.html
    "Schilt and Wiswall found that women who become men (known as FTMs) do significantly better than men who become women (MTFs). MTFs in the study earned, on average, 32% less after they transitioned from male to female, even after the authors controlled for factors like education levels. FTMs earned an average of 1.5% more. The study was just published in the Berkeley Electronic Press' peer-reviewed Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy."

    From a Washington Post article
    "Nancy Andreasen, a well-known psychiatrist at the University of Iowa, agreed with Barres. ... When she stopped sending out research articles under her full name and used the initials N.C. Andreasen instead, she said, the acceptance rate of her publications soared."

    If you google orchestras and blind auditions - orchestras that have blind auditions (where you can't see the musician) hire significantly more women than orchestras that don't have blind auditions.

    As the WSJ article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115274744775305134.html points out - there is bias of competence in favor of men. More formally it's called micro-inequity.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microinequity