A friend and colleague of mine sent me this blog post entitled, "Don't be that dude: Handy tips for the male academic." The email I received obliquely indicated that I was guilty for either doing some of these things or tolerating these behaviors in my group. So naturally, I was a bit offended when I first read the email. I felt that distinctive stinging feeling. That was pride messing with me.
Once I gathered myself, I recognized an opportunity to learn and better myself, as well as to strengthen my group and improve my science by fostering a healthier, more equitable work environment. Dudes, I encourage you to do the same: deal with that little sting, be receptive, read this list. Read, learn, adjust. In the process, you will do better science and enable better science in your departments by making some extremely minor adjustments. Nothing major. No 12-step program. Just be aware and stop doing some minor things that have nothing to do with science.
Here's a subset of the full 20-tip list:
1. Use the appropriate salutations when writing to a woman academic. Don’t call your female professor “Miss” or “Mrs.” Don’t write to a colleague as “Ms.” when you would otherwise say “Dr.” or “Prof.” There is a long history of baggage around names, and I guarantee that most women are sensitive to this. Show that you’re not One of Those Dudes by respecting a woman academic’s titles, at least in the initial greeting.
2. Don’t comment on a woman’s appearance in a professional context. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are; it’s irrelevant. Similarly, don’t tell someone they don’t look like a scientist/professor/academic, that they look too young, or they should smile.
3. Don’t talk over your female colleagues. There is a lot of social conditioning that goes into how men and women communicate differently. You may not realize that you’re doing it, but if you find yourself interrupting women, or speaking over them, stop.That last one resonates with me. I catch myself doing that all the time. A short pause in a woman's train of thought is not an invitation to speak up and "score points." Let the pause hang, more is coming. How do I know? Because I pause sometimes, too, and hate it when people leap in to wrest the conversation away from me.
Do Unto Otters, and all that...
A little Tarantino to reinforce the first part of this post (Totally NSFW! But totally appropriate.)