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NYT excuse for dearth of women scientists: Men scientists harass them by asking them for dates

March 9, 2016

From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:
Historical Photographs of Scientists in Love

The Curies: Was their courtship actually sexual harassment?


Newest form of sexual harassment: One of your co-workers asks you out on a date.

And we can’t have that. Here’s the New York Times op-ed–in which writer A. Hope Jahren, a professor of geobiology at the University of Hawaii, does her darnedest to try to convince us readers that the amorous interest shown to one of her former students, also a professor, by a colleague-professor, amounted to an insidious campaign to weed out women from the department. The op-ed is titled “She Wanted to Do Her Research. He Wanted to Talk Feelings.”

Here goes:

“She forwarded an email she had received from a senior colleague that opened, ‘Can I share something deeply personal with you?’ Within the email, he detonates what he described as a ‘truth bomb’: ‘All I know is that from the first day I talked to you, there hadn’t been a single day or hour when you weren’t on my mind.’ He tells her she is ‘incredibly attractive’ and ‘adorably dorky.’ He reminds her, in detail, of how he has helped her professionally: ‘I couldn’t believe the things I was compelled to do for you.’ He describes being near her as ‘exhilarating and frustrating at the same time’ and himself as ‘utterly unable to get a grip’ as a result. He closes by assuring her, ‘That’s just the way things are and you’re gonna have to deal with me until one of us leaves.'”…

Now you might be saying to yourself: A scientist in love!


There’s more:

“Perhaps she decides to ignore this first email — and this is often the case — knowing that she has little to gain, and a lot to lose, from a confrontation. Once satisfied with her tendency toward secrecy, the sender then finds a way to get her alone: invites her to coffee, into his office, out for some ostensibly group event. At said meeting he will become tentatively physical, insisting that if people knew, they just wouldn’t understand. At this point, any objection on her part wouldn’t just be professionally dangerous, it would seem heartless — and she’s not a horrible person, is she?”

Um, isn’t an invitation “to coffee” otherwise known as a date? And isn’t becoming “tentatively physical” what guys usually do on dates? Having a brother-sister relationship usually isn’t why they’ve asked you out.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen


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