Girls rule(s)

by Judith Curry

The #MeToo movement is spawning considerable reflection in academia.  Here are some reflections and advice from a senior female scientist (moi) who came up through the academic system during the bad old days of the 1970’s and 1980’s, and who has mentored many young female scientists as they navigate the professional world of academia.

The problems in academia have been articulated in a recent op-ed published in Science by Robin Bell and Lora Koenig: Harassment in Science is Real.  Also an article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The American Geophysical Union has a new policy that defines sexual harassment as scientific misconduct [link]

A different take on this is provided by Jacquelyn Gill and paleoclimatologist Dr. Sarah Myhre in this podcast: #MeToo: The Harassment of Women Scientists Online – and Off.  More on this podcast and Sarah Myhre later in the post.

My motivation in writing this essay is to remind these young female scientists that female scientists have never had it so good, they are on the cusp of genuine influence (‘girls rule’), but that this opportunity can be squandered (individually and collectively) by their inappropriate behavior.

The ‘bad old days’ of the 1970’s – 1980’s

Well things were definitely bad prior to the 1970’s (read this essay by famous meteorologist Joanne Simpson).  I didn’t emerge onto the scene until the 1970’s; here a few personal anecdotes, to give you a flavor, in roughly chronological order:

  • As an undergraduate, I was the only female student in my major.  One of my professors was particularly obnoxious.  I recall the class being outside take temperature and humidity measurements using a sling psychrometer.  The Professor said:  “Make sure you stand far away from Judith, you don’t want all of her body heat to contaminate your measurements.”
  • As a graduate student, I was the only female student in my cohort.  The first time I went to a Professor’s office hours to ask a question about a homework problem, he told me that I didn’t belong in the program and that I should find another major. p.s. I ended up getting an A in the course.
  • As a graduate student, I felt the need to hide the fact that I had a child, for fear that I would not be taken seriously.  Once I was ‘found out’ (when my child was 3 years old), I heard from a faculty member in another department that that this was a topic of substantial discussion among the faculty, along with changes in my marital status.
  • An amorous assistant professor wouldn’t take no for an answer and snuck into my house.  Fortunately I was studying karate at the time and managed to scare him off.
  • As a new faculty hire awaiting the start of my appointment, I subsequently heard that at a social event for a distinguished visitor, one senior faculty member got up on a table to complain about my hire, with a crude pantomime that involved menstruation.
  • This same senior faculty member was chair of the promotion and tenure committee and worked hard to sabotage my tenure (that had already been approved and was in my contract).

Apart from this litany, I was without any female role models or mentors until I arrived at the University of Colorado in 1992.  As I prepared to attend my first professional conference, I had no idea what to wear.  The few female academics that I had seen around campus either wore clothes that a man would wear or wore rather frumpy earth mother type clothes.  Sounds silly, but what to wear is an issue of non trivial importance, as we will see later in this essay.

In closing this section, I want to acknowledge several mentors who were very supportive of me during this period — Clayton Reitan (deceased), Louis Kaplan (deceased), Hsiao-Lan Kuo (deceased), Jerry Herman, and Ernie Agee.  My eternal gratitude to you.

Sexual harassment

In the late 1980’s and 1990’s, we begin to see affirmative action programs in the universities for hiring female faculty members (something from which I benefitted from in one hire).  However, the environment for female faculty members was pretty hostile.  There was plenty of misogyny among the faculty and lower level administrators, even if the higher administration was theoretically supportive.

After what I had faced over the years, I had developed a hide as thick as an alligator’s — all of this cr@p just rolled off me and I ignored it.  But at some point, I realized that this wasn’t just about me — what I saw was adversely affecting other females (students, postdocs and future faculty hires).

The last two bullets in the previous section were only the tip of iceberg of the discrimination and hostile environment that I faced in one of my early faculty positions.   I complained to the Chair — he rationalized the behavior of the male faculty members.  I complained to the Dean — I later heard that he told a male faculty member that ‘this is just a case of a female faculty member complaining about that stuff because she really isn’t good enough to be here.’  I finally found someone in the higher administration who would listen to me — an assistant provost  who was an African American — and I provided him with the full dossier.  He conducted a very thorough investigation, resulting in sensitivity training for the entire faculty in that department and some fairly severe sanctions for one of the faculty members.  At this point I had another job offer in hand and I left that university.

In the 1990’s there was growing awareness of sexual harassment in the universities.  In the early 1990’s, I was on a university committee to evaluate new training materials on sexual harassment.  I was astonished when I saw that ‘winking’ and ‘elevator eyes’ were on the same list as rape and quid pro quo behavior.  There was simply no hierarchy of sexual harassment sins — a problem that continues to concern me as we hear the latest litany of accusations.

The most vexing issue was ‘hostile environment’ and the subsequent  ‘backlash’ if you reported anything.  This issue became very real to me when a female faculty member in my department complained about lewd and crude cartoons being posted on the walls of  the Center administrative offices.  She complained to the Center Director – he wouldn’t take them down.  She complained the the Department Chair, essentially no response.  But then the backlash began, with attempts to harm her career.  She lawyered up based on the backlash, and after several agonizing years she apparently won her case (details were never made public) and managed to salvage her career at the same university and go on to have a very successful career.  What was exceptional about this case is that her job and career were salvaged in the outcome — other successful litigants in such cases usually ended up leaving their university because the situation was too hostile and unsalvageable.  I suspect that having a female Associate Dean helped this to happen.

The failure to discriminate among the hierarchy of sexual harassment behaviors is evident in the current round of accusations.  Behaviors in the ‘hostile environment’ category are particularly vexing, as individual women have very different sensitivities and desires in context of their casual social interactions with men.  However, assault, quid pro quo and backlash situations are very unambiguous, and we need to make sure that ambiguous hostile environment issues don’t detract from the most serious transgressions.

Navigating academia – challenges for females

Guidelines under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the U.S. for  sexual harassment in the workplace have evolved over the decades; I would say that nearly all universities had some policies in place with some actual ‘teeth’ by the dawn of the 21st century.  Overt sexual harassment, particularly of the quid pro quo variety, seems to be swiftly dealt with once it comes to light.  At this point there is some minor affirmative action that favors hiring of females, but rarely are positions set aside anymore specifically to hire female faculty members.

All this does not mean that it is particularly easy being a female in academia. There is a very ‘leaky pipeline,’ whereby many female graduate students and postdocs aspiring to an academic career simply drop out before they are tenured (or even hired into a tenure track position).  Apart from issues of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, there are numerous major challenges facing females in academia:

  • Females in academia very frequently have spouses in academia, making the two body career problem very challenging — either finding a faculty position at the same university or another university nearby, or necessitating long weekend commutes to see their spouses
  • The desire to have children in their 30’s, rather than wait until they are tenured and at higher physical risk.
  • Horrendous challenges facing single parents — particularly with regards to the large amount of traveling involved in building a national and international reputation
  • The drain of the above three points on your time — time spent commuting and on parenting takes away from the huge amount of time it takes to build a successful career at a top research university.
  • The pressure of the above  issues, making you realize that you are falling behind as the tenure clock ticks.
  • Culture and isolation if there aren’t other female faculty members in your environment

In 2002, when I was hired as Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, I had an opportunity to do something about all this:

  • I hired a total of 9 female faculty members, all of whom are now tenured (or are on their way to a successful tenure case)
  • Implemented family-friendly policies above and beyond what the university provided, supporting both female and male young parents with reduced teaching and service loads and in some instances additional financial help.
  • Aggressively sought jobs for spouses of faculty members, including numerous ‘couples hires’ in my department
  • Set up a series of panel discussions for graduate students and postdocs helping them navigate a range of challenges, including those associated with families, problems with advisors, etc.
  • Personal mentoring of individual female scientists, including advice on the most impactful things to spend time on, setting up alternative work loads and evaluation criteria such as rewards for excellent teaching, mentoring of students and university service work (all the while making sure tenure criteria are met).

I informally referred to these policies as ‘girls rule(s)‘, which gives the title to this essay. I did think twice about using the word ‘girl’ here, but decided sufficient context was provided to avoid any conceivable offense someone might take from my use of the word ‘girl’.

You can see that it’s rather difficult to categorize me as a ‘misogynist’, which is becoming rather problematic for some females (see below).

Who gets harassed?

Apart from the above career challenges, female scientists continue to face sexual harassment. Somewhere I read an article within the last week and now I can’t find it that surveyed a large number of females, which they categorized into ‘ladies’, ‘flirts’, and ‘tomboys.’ The article found that ladies were subject to the least amount of harassment, with flirts being subject to the most.  Not sure how to categorize myself:  a cross between ‘lady’ and ‘tomboy’ (if that makes any sense); most definitely not a ‘flirt.’

This opens up two issues:  how males perceive an individual female in terms of her susceptibility/interest in their behavior or advances, and how individual females perceive these same actions by males.  Re the latter, some females enjoy slightly bawdy banter with males, whereas other females might find this same banter offensive.  This is not easy to navigate, with mores varying between different workplace sectors, different regions, and changing with time (not to mention individual sensitivities).

This leads us to the topic of dress.  While in the 1980’s and 1990’s most female academics that I encountered were dressed like males or earth mothers, I did start to see a few fashionably dressed female academics in the 1990’s that were clearly paying attention  to their appearance.  For the most part these women were very tastefully dressed, although a few wore mildly provocative clothing such as  short skirts and tight clothing.

In the past decade I have started to see some young female scientists dress in a way that I find inappropriate, such as showing substantial cleavage.  Many of these women aren’t in the ‘flirt’ category; instead something else is going on.  I will relate one personal anecdote to illustrate this.  I was in a seminar with about 60 people in the audience.  The female speaker was wearing a skin-tight thin stretchy nylon top (sort of like a ballet leotard), with large nipples prominently poking forward.  The audience was stunned and appalled.  A senior male faculty member sitting next to me seemed to think that this was some sort of a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ and thought we should do something about it.  However, it was clear to me that this was a ‘statement’ — ‘my pregnancy boobs in your face’.  If the definition of ‘hostile environment’ is ‘unwelcome or offensive physical behavior’; well then I would say that this female seminar speaker was guilty of creating a hostile environment during that seminar.

There is a new category of females that superficially might resemble the ‘flirt’, but who most definitely are not flirting.  I will label these as ‘radical lipstick feminists.’  Paleoclimatologist Sarah Myhre provides us with description in this article she wrote for the Stranger:

Feminist rage has burned through my days and nights this last week, leaving me exhausted and anger-hangover every morning. Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Roy Moore, Al Franken–take them all down. I have fiery images in my mind’s eye of the careers of powerful men toppling like Saddam’s statue. BURN THEM ALL DOWN. I rage silently in my lipstick and heels, dressing as powerfully and sexually I can–as if to say, “try it on me motherfuckers”. I rage-walk from the bus to day care to work to the grocery store and I stare down every man on the street, silently shaming him with my eyes. It is a game I play through these rage-soaked days.
Read to the bottom of the article with a response from UW Professor Cliff Mass, who was attacked by Myhre in her article.  Read the comments, they are very illuminating.
Is this category of female scientists particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment?  Probably not.  However, owing to their strident and often irrational behavior, they are very vulnerable to not being taken seriously by males in the scientific community and viewed as undesirable for faculty or other leadership positions.
The video by Sarah Myhre and Jacquelyn Gill referred to earlier: #MeToo: The Harassment of Women Scientists Online – and Off raises the prospect of online bullying of women.
Hmmmm . . .  such as what Michael Mann has done to me?  Wait, Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill) spotted a tweet from Sarah Myhre from last spring,
My response:
If you read her tweets, you can see her conflating misogyny and climate denial (I seem to represent a particular challenge to her!)
If you see ‘misogyny’ everywhere (even from other females!), then perhaps you need to step back and reflect.  What is being objected to is not your gender but your behavior: your attempt to gain fame and build a career based on ‘victim’ status, your unfounded attacks on serious and responsible scientists in your field, and your irrational statements and general intolerance of anyone who is not in your ‘club’. This negative reaction to your behavior is not sexual harassment (or any kind of harassment) or discrimination.
Climate science has developed a perverse incentive structure that seems to reward this kind of unethical, bullying behavior — and I’m seeing more and more female scientists taking full advantage of this.
Girls rule
Here is some text from a very insightful article entitled The Warlock Hunt:

When Hanna Rosin wrote her 2010 Atlantic essay, “The End of Men,” she was not exaggerating. “What if,” she asked, “the modern, postindustrial economy is simply more congenial to women than to men?” What if? Because it seems very much that it is. “The postindustrial economy is indifferent to men’s size and strength,” she wrote. “The attributes that are most valuable today—social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus—are, at a minimum, not predominantly male.” America’s future, Rosin argued, belongs to women. “Once you open your eyes to this possibility, the evidence is all around you.” And it is.

Revolutions against real injustice have a tendency, however, to descend into paroxysms of vengeance that descend upon guilty and innocent alike. We’re getting too close. Hysteria is in the air. The over-broad definition of “sexual harassment” is a well-known warning sign.  We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. Mass hysteria and making demons of men will get us nowhere we should want to go.

In recent years, especially, we have become prone to replacing complex thought with shallow slogans. We live in times of extremism, and black-and-white thinking. We should have the self-awareness to suspect that the events of recent weeks may not be an aspect of our growing enlightenment, but rather our growing enamorment with extremism.

Women have long been victims, but now we are in so many respects victims no longer. We have more status, prestige, power, and personal freedom than ever before. Why would we want to speak and act as though we were overwhelmingly victims, as we actually used to be? What’s in this for us?

No woman in her right mind would say, “I want the old world back.” We know what that meant for women. But perhaps, instead, we are fantasizing that the old world has come back, rather than confronting something a great deal more frightening: It’s never coming back. We are the grown-ups now. We are in charge.

 Girls’ rules

The Science article states:

The scientific community must recognize the difficult conversations that have started and embrace this watershed moment as an opportunity for rapid and essential cultural change.

We don’t want to squander this moment by merely using this as an opportunity to ‘vent’ and shame males for minor transgressions long in the past.  In my essay I have not named any names or even named specific institutions.

This really is a tremendous opportunity for rapid and essential cultural change. To seize this moment, we need to:

  • Provide an unambiguous definition of sexual harassment that clearly distinguishes rape and quid pro quo from minor social transgressions.  Codes of conduct are needed. Due process should be followed for addressing any accusations.  Avoid turning this situation into a land mine for males.
  • Provide institutional support and train females to become more resilient and anti-fragile in the face of career challenges and in avoiding potential harassment situations.  Your behavior and dress matters.
  • Resist playing the victim card — instead,  focus on changing policies and weeding out the serial harassers.
  • Recognize that there are also female predators: I know of examples in my field of serial  ‘power fucking’,  and a female who cried rape when a consensual relationship didn’t go the way she wanted and also attempted to destroy the career of a young female scientist of whom she was jealous.  Females shouldn’t get a free pass for sexual or other types of harassment.

If we want to be equals or in positions of power, we need to seize the high ground of ethical leadership.  Let the discussions begin!



152 responses to “Girls rule(s)

  1. More scientists are required who are prepared to question and challenge the consensus, group think and dogma.

    Especially, challenge the consensus that GHG emissions are harmful!

    Where are these scientists?

    Answer: Non existent or in Purgatory!

    • Harry Twinotter

      “More scientists are required who are prepared to question and challenge the consensus, group think and dogma”

      So you are making an assumption there is group-think and dogma (not sure about the consensus, consensus is a good thing).

      You seem prejudiced and closed-minded. You are saying the current scientists are guilty of these things (your opinion only), and getting in new scientists will change that.

      Have you considered the possibility that new scientists will accept the consensus of evidence, and that at some point you will have to realize you are wrong?

      • It would be edifying to learn how Judith’s colleague Roy Spencer parses yeterday’s defeat of the locl politician who seems to best embody his views, the Hon. Judge Roy Moore.

        As a consolation prize seems in order, and many Trump climate appointees regard the law is the queen of the sciences, the UAH team could ask the Rev. Doctor Beisner to toss Judge’s Stetson in the ring, for the Heartland Institute Evangelical Climate Scientist of the Year Award.

  2. God bless you Judith Curry!

  3. “We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity”

    Excellent balance in your analysis. Every overture cannot be construed as harassment. A pattern that creates a hostile environment is.

  4. Thanks Judith. A great balanced article .Keep up the great work.

    I work in Tech as a software development team leader for a commercial company, so the issues are subtlety different but similar. In the first 10-15 years of my career I recall working with one software developer who was female. In the last 10 years it is has become fairly common. I’ve hired 5 female developers in the last 5 years.

    I am told explicitly I should choose females above males, all other things being equal. I get a higher bonus the more women I hire. If I hire a male for a role and interview less than 50% female candidates I need the approval of a very high-up manager. I work very hard to choose the best candidate, but there are strong incentives are there for me to discriminate against men, so I wouldn’t put my hand on my heart and say I don’t do it. I feel very uneasy with the ‘we must discriminate to end discrimination’ push, discrimination which I can’t see exists anymore.

    Lastly as a male, Christian and a father of daughters I find the standards around women’s clothing in the workplace very odd, but I suspect it is only a female who can tackle this issue. Modesty is surely the most underrated virtue in our society.

    • David L. Hagen

      Judith Curry
      Thanks for an excellent article. I appreciate your highlighting the problems of blatantly inappropriate dress. “The female speaker was wearing a skin-tight thin stretchy nylon top . . .with large nipples prominently poking forward.”
      Such aggressive attire severely distracts from any presentation, making it difficult to follow what is being said.
      “Do you want to be judged on your brains or your boobs?”
      Scott Murray As a “male, Christian and father of a daughter” I especially say “ditto” to your last paragraph. I would be tempted to get up and walk out.
      Dr. Sarah Myhre appears sadly consumed with sexual warfare: “I rage silently in my lipstick and heels, dressing as powerfully and sexually I can”. Such a sexually visual assault detracts from her scientific message. Her rage is probably harming her health.
      Mhyre has been very poorly mentored by climate “scientists” to commit illogical rhetorical attacks rather than upholding true science by exploring ALL models and testing them against ALL data. Her ad hominem attacks of “climate denier” and “irresponsible” against Judith Curry are severely damaging climate science, nullifying Mhyre’s arguments. They will probably harm her scientific career. Her lemming herd reaction is typical “cargo cult” mentality. It is diametrically opposed to the high standard of scientific integrity advocated by Physics Noble Laureate Richard Feynman in Cargo Cult Science.
      Will she ever recognize the current genocide of 30 million girls “surgically” killed before birth in the USA since 1973?
      Now Mehyr appears consumed by ideological warfare. I don’t justify Trump’s brutish comments. Rather I uphold the effort to rein back the waste of funds on foolish attempts to control climate. Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus show far wiser ways to steward scarce resources. Will Mhyre ever see things in perspective and advocate for wise stewardship?

  5. As I was reading the post, my first reaction was, “this can’t still be happening “. My second reaction was what a prudish experience I had. My third reaction was to realize how old I am. To me, the old days were the 50s and 60s. My first memory of the attitude now called sexism was when my father told me in the 50s that if women got into the workplace, they would take over the world. He also had some repugnant views about race, so I wrote it off to his generation.

    Beginning in the 70s, I sat through hundreds of Directors Office meetings, early on with no females present. There were some tough old, grizzled, WWII vets in the group but the discussions were always on the highest plane. I never heard a denigrating comment about females in those meetings. But, when Judith brought up the use of the word “girl” that did trigger some memories. The older executives would use that term frequently, with the women and younger “sensitized” men giving an eye roll. Gradually use of that word became extinct. ( At the time I saw the issue of attitudes toward women as a generation problem.) Many of the meetings in the Directors Office were focused on the incumbent governor’s initiatives to further diversify the workplace, including women, with recruitment and promotion. Each subsequent decade, with younger leadership, saw first of all, more women at the table, but also, I felt, a genuine concern about getting more women in the organization and placing them in more responsible positions. That is why your anecdotes about some of the comments and behavior toward women is so foreign to me. I thought it was ancient history. While I was aware of other organizations having those problems in the 50s, 60s and 70s, it never occurred to me that it was still going on in the 1990s and, worse yet, even now. And on top of that, in the universities? Not possible. Apparently it is possible.

    I’m flabbergasted that the attitudes and actions depicted in the post are still commonplace today in academia. (And now for a partisan shot). Especially in academia, since they are supposed to be the enlightened ones, the models for appropriate behavior, the paragons of elite cultural norms, and the resident lecturers, with a decidedly leftward tilt, to the lowlifes and Neanderthals in society. It appears, due to recent revelations, that the political swamp and celebrityville also have their own houses to clean up.

  6. I taught in academe from 1961 to 1993. My first female graduate student was average academically, but a good worker. I basically treated her like one of the group but if she came with a request for special accommodation, I arranged it. When her Master’s neared completion, I encouraged her to present a paper at a regional meeting of the Geological Society of America, which she did. After the question period, her male classmates came forward and presented her with a bunch of flowers which went over with me like a concrete cloud. Perhaps they were jealous?

    My second female graduate student was a shy lady but aced every course she took. When it came time for her doctoral prelim she defended it well and had a clear idea of the research she wanted to do. However, there were two problems. First, she could not carry out the research at all and despite strong efforts to help her, little progress was made. Second she married one of my senior colleagues. I finally made a difficult decision to terminate her, but another colleague took over supervising her and eventually she completed her PhD with a very difficult defense. Both she and her husband retaliated and it reached a point where the administration stepped in, removed the department head, and sustained my actions. That was in 1977.

    I also supervised several other lady geologists on research projects. One is now director of SIO, another a senior research leader at the US Geological Survey, and another one is head of geosciences at one of the campuses of the California State University system.

    My approach with these ladies was to treat them no different than anyone else and do so fairly, make accommodations where needed, train them to become professionals, mentor and advise professionally, outline strategies for any pitfalls that could occur in their careers, and be available to discuss anything they wish and listen. If there was one thing I advised, particularly during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s was that when taking a job, beware of jealousies from secretaries, accounting clerks and office staff. I advised they take them to lunch once in a while to reduce any problems that may arise.

    Did I observe sexual harassment during my time in academe? Yes. I also noticed that the biggest perpetrators were struggling in their own careers and dealing with the frustrations of career development that did not go according to hopes and plans when starting out.

    George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA Professor Emeritus, Geology, University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign.

  7. PS. I should disclose that early in my career, I was married to a Lady PhD who taught in English Departments, and she gave me advice on how best to deal with lady female students.

  8. It’s useful sometimes to step back and put some long term issues into context. Here’s a interesting speech by Isaac Asimov in 1974 that is both quite engaging and funny (and quite revealing). Enjoy!! Read the whole thing.

    The Future of Humanity
    Topic: The Future of Humanity
    Place: Newark College of Engineering
    Date: November 8, 1974
    Isaac Asimov

    But notice the difference: once you want women not to have children, you’re going to have to give them something else to do! It is absolutely impossible to tell a woman that she can’t have children, and at the same time that she can’t do anything else either except maybe wash an occasional dish.
    Because if you tell a woman that, she’ll figure out some way to have a baby.
    I think I know the way, too!
    Well then, in the world of the 21st century in order to keep the birth rate down, we’re going to have to give women interesting things to do that’ll make them glad to stay out of the nursery. And the interesting things that I can think of that we give women to do are essentially the same as the interesting things that we give men to do. I mean we’re going to have women help in running the government, and science, and industry…whatever there is to run in the 21st century. And what it amounts to is we’re going to have to pretend…when I say “we”, I mean men…we’re going to have to pretend that women are people.
    And you know, pretending is a good thing because if you pretend long enough, you’ll forget you’re pretending and you’ll begin to believe it.
    In short, the 21st century, if we survive, will be a kind of women’s lib world. And as a matter of fact, it will be a kind of people’s lib world because, you know, sexism works bad both ways. If the women have some role which they must constantly fulfill whether they like it or not, men have some role which they would have to constantly fulfill whether they like it or not. And if you fix it so that women can do what suits them best, you can fix it so that men can do what suits them best too. And we’ll have a world of people. And only incidentally will they be of opposite sexes instead of in every aspect of their life.

    • Every young woman needs to see this! – Jordan B. Peterson

    • Jordan Peterson – Studies in Scandinavian Men & Women

      JBP says In Scandinavia where most has been done to equalize the opportunities, this has resulted in maximizing biological differences (in interest). So result has been 20/1 Female/Male in Nursing and 20/1 Male/female in Engineering. (The opposite of what the Social Constructionist Activists expected and wanted)

    • Jordan Peterson – Equality Amplifies Gender Differences

    • Modern Times: Camille Paglia & Jordan B Peterson

      What Happened to Men and Women? – Camille Paglia & Jordan B Peterson

    • Sir Julian Huxley (1887-1975)
      He saw Humanism as a replacement ‘religion’
      The book ends with the concept of “transhumanism” “man remaining man, but transcending himself by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature”.

    • The New Divinity
      By Julian Huxley
      I believe that an equally drastic reorganization of our pattern of religious thought is now becoming necessary, from a god-centered to an evolutionary-centered pattern

    • Curb your enthusiasm
      High priests, holy writ and excommunications – how did Humanism end up acting like a religion?
      Julian Huxley’s vision of an ascending human evolutionary path could be notably indifferent to individual human beings. Like many intellectuals of his generation, he had been an enthusiast for eugenics in his youth. Unusually, though, he did not abandon eugenical thinking in the wake of the Second World War. Indeed, his proposed world government would have had a mix of eugenics and population control at the core of its responsibilities: no other institution would have sufficient rational, scientific and moral authority to do so, as he wrote in UNESCO: Its Purpose and Philosophy: ‘Political unification in some sort of world government will be required … Even though … any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care, and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that now is unthinkable may at least become thinkable.’
      The trouble is, there is no simple line from evolutionary biology to the ethical life, and there is no guarantee that an alternative secular religion will lead us there

      • Let us agree that science itself is not a religion. But Humanism is a different matter, and in its most virulent form, it does try to make science into a religion. And despite the protestations of Dawkins and his fellows, the behaviour of the Humanists does not exhibit the kind of openness to evidence and adaptability that we’d expect from a rational, non-religious mindset. On the contrary, it is awash with the intolerance of enthusiasm.
        For a start, there is the nigh-hysterical repudiation of religion. As with religions themselves, the implication is that those who fail to follow the New Atheist line are not just wrong, but morally challenged. Dawkins again

    • First, They Came for the Biologists
      The postmodernist left on campus is intolerant not only of opposing views, but of science itself.
      Who would have guessed that when America cleaved, the left would get the National Football League and the right would get uncontested custody of science?

    • Julian Huxley’s Transhumanism

      Biggest threat to traditional Women’s emancipation and Rights movement seems to me to be this Transhumanism agenda.

  9. Dr. Judith, that is one of the most masterful, interesting, and clear expositions of the reefs and shoals that face women, not only in science, but in the workplace. It should be required reading in colleges across the US, not just for the stories and the problems, but how well you handled it, the grace with which you came through it, and the actions you took to ensure that yours was the last generation to face many of those problems.

    My warmest congratulations to you, one of your finest pieces of writing—passionate but restrained, detailed but big picture … very, very well done.

    My best to you and yours,


  10. Fantastic post; 100% behind your position and reccommendations.

  11. Judith, a fine summary, in every way. I am older, and my ‘good old days’ were the late 1950s and early 1960s, and in Australia, followed by Oxford and the USA. There were few women as doctoral students and fewer still as faculty. And there was a pronounced male bewilderment at the thought that women actually wanted to be faculty — well, at least, outside nursing and community education. I don’t remember any sexual harassment. Rather, such women struggled to be accepted as equals. But the 1980s there were more women at every level, and some of the old battles faded away as the older men retired. And sexual harassment, or predation, began to be talked about.

    In the 1990s there were a few reputed cases of ‘A for a lay’. One came to my desk, and I interviewed the aggrieved student, a women in her thirties. When I said she would have to tell her tale publicly, at least to a small committee, she was aghast. ‘No way!’ We didn’t have good procedures to deal with some cases, and very generally, no one has good procedures.

    One rule I insisted on was that if a faculty member and a student formed a relationship, then the teacher/student relationship had to end. At once.

    It is nearly sixteen years since I left academe, and I am not in a position of knowledge about current culture. But I do agree that it is a minefield, and clear distinctions need to be made. Flirting is hard to avoid, on both sides. But both men and women need to make clear what they won’t tolerate, and why.

  12. Wow. Excellent post Judith. I’m genuinely appalled and surprised by your tales of outrageous misogyny endured even in the 1980s/90s. The situation in the UK appears not to have been so dire. So not only have you been the subject of appalling discrimination from male colleagues based on your gender but, later in your career, also subject to appalling discrimination from colleagues based upon your science-based interpretation of the evidence for man-made climate change. The supreme irony now is that young women who have all the opportunities for academic freedom which you had to fight tooth and nail for, are accusing you of misogyny based not upon sexist behaviour, but upon your supposed ‘climate denier’ status! The world truly has gone mad.

    • Yep. Passion, practicality and peacemaking. I went to this year’s Battle of Ideas in London six weeks ago partly to hear something this balanced on #MeToo. You’ve exceeded anyone there and that is saying something. We are further in your debt.

  13. The most clarifying presentation on the subject, to which I have been enlightened.

    Excellent shapes of thought.

    And just elegant writing.

  14. Thank you for the article Judith. I have seen what you talk about.

    In my country some scientific disciplines have a near equal or even majority of women scientists. While not equally represented in the highest positions they are clearly not infrequent, and right now the head of the National Scientific Council, the highest scientific political position in the country, is being held by a woman, and she is not the first. We have also had women as Secretary of Science and Technology (ministerial position in government). I was trained in science mostly by women and one was my PhD advisor. I never saw women in science as any other thing as people, exactly the same as men.

    When I arrived for a postdoc in the US in the early 90’s, I was surprised by the situation of women scientists there. There was a clear atmosphere of discrimination that made their careers a lot harder than they should be. A lot harder than for men. As a consequence while women were abundant among graduate students and post-docs, they were a lot less abundant in faculty positions and rarer even as tenured.

    While the US is very advanced in many aspects, in this particular one is a backward country. And the best way to end that is not to discriminate in a different direction but to stop all discrimination and treat people according to their professional merits regardless of gender. Rewarding anything that deviates from a meritocracy is clearly the wrong path. The goal is not to have 50% women in all scientific disciplines but to have the best people in science regardless of gender. This will mean that in some disciplines there will be more women than men, and in others more men than women, and on average it will approach half and half, as scientific capacity is by no means influenced by gender.

  15. Are Women Really Victims? Four Women Weigh In

  16. Led Zeppelin – Communication Breakdown (Official Live Video)

  17. This has got to be one of the best “Etc” ever from Climate Etc.

    I have read this blog for years and come here every day because of the rational and reasonable writing. I am rarely disappointed.

  18. Often people can be quite bright in one area and very off in others. Judith continues to confirm my understanding that she is bright, rational capable, careful and fair across many spheres. Judith – Thanks for this one and all you do.

  19. Global Warming Is Now A ‘Women ’s Issue’ Due To ‘Ecofeminism

    Environmentalists are increasingly claiming that global warming is a “women’s issue” and that the world needs “eco-feminism” as a path forward.
    Ecofeminists believe that women and nature are bonded by traditionally “feminine” values and their shared history of oppression by a patriarchal Western society. This patriarchal society is built on four intersectional pillars of sexism, racism, class exploitation, and environmental destruction.

  20. We are always men and women. That’s the top category. The best you can do is domestication of the difference, not its elimination.

  21. I personally can’t wait for the MeToo movement to hit our universities, and expose the Sex for Grades Trade. Just look at how many professors marry students? The social sciences and liberal arts areas are certain to fall. The problem I have with this MeToo movement is the selective application of it. Why has the Rap Music Industry been given a pass? Why have the Universities been given a pass? Why did the DNC give Sexual Harassment a Pass until they saw an opportunity to bring down Trump with it?

  22. Judith – Yours is among the most insightful and balanced expositions I have read of the harassment, quid pro quo, and assaults that women have endured and continue to endure in academia. It is made all the more powerful by your personal, matter-of-fact account of your experience, and, as ever in your climate writings, your balanced judgment of the consequences for our actions and attitudes today, male and female. In times of rage and “anger-hangover”, in whose rough tides we are now carried in so many social seas, the temptations to bond with others in black-and-white thinking (be it radical or reactionary) are extreme, and it is only the truly strong who uphold justice, intellectual discrimination, reason and compassion. I continue to be inspired by your courage and integrity, and will distribute your essay to all in my circle.

  23. I worked at the world’s largest computer company’s International headquarters in Armonk, NY….where a young female, supported by the feminist-power “old girls network”, rose through the ranks, and used her power to destroy the career of a dear friend, having him fired for a joke he made (in very poor taste, no doubt) while he, she and her husband and a group of employees were all out drinking (too much) together. Several years later, I read in the NY Times that she has made a sexual harassment claim (and won a huge financial settlement) from a New York professional sports team, where she has been employed after moving on.

    There is no one who dares call out this type of behavior either. Predatory feminism.

    Even within stable, long-term marriages there are opportunities and examples of misunderstanding and hurt feelings over sexual matters — I know, I have been (long ago) a marriage counselor. To make these types of misunderstandings between workmates, colleagues and professional acquaintances — a poorly worded compliment, a misguided flirt, an innocent touch that creates a mutual (but undesired) spark, an invitation to dinner or for a drink, a misunderstood minor intimacy — into crimes worth destroying careers and lives over is itself a far greater crime.

    As an adult, I have been spared most of this — though it was the norm of college-age post-adolescence. But men experience the same sort of unwanted sexual advances as women — as a (married) officer in the merchant marine – sharp uniform, good looks, pleasant personality — I received my share of overt (inappropriate) offers from young females on the ships on which I served. Such offers were firing offenses — but part of being an officer and a gentlemen included never reporting such incidents and the art of turning such offers away without hurting feelings.

    All men and women are occasional tempted — that’s just part of life. There is a vast gulf separating ill-advised sexual flirting and criminal sexual violence — a difference that is being minimized and ignored in the rush to condemn.

    • Kip Hansen –

      Over the last 15 or so years I have observed a lot of ambitious and unscrupulous young women in the workplace that see sexual harassment claims as an advancement strategy. It is really a shame because their “complaints” get lumped in with those that are legitimate. It also has lead to an almost unbearable, stifling atmosphere in regards to office banter.

  24. I find it fascinating, and disgusting, Judith Curry writes up Sarah Myhre’s commentary as:

    Is this category of female scientists particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment? Probably not. However, owing to their strident and often irrational behavior, they are very vulnerable to not being taken seriously by males in the scientific community and viewed as undesirable for faculty or other leadership positions.
    The video by Sarah Myhre and Jacquelyn Gill referred to earlier: #MeToo: The Harassment of Women Scientists Online – and Off raises the prospect of online bullying of women.
    Hmmmm . . . such as what Michael Mann has done to me? Wait, Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill) spotted a tweet from Sarah Myhre from last spring,

    Then paints her as a hypocrite because Myhre did things like call her a “denier.” Here is something Myhre wrote:

    As a student and then a professional scientist, I have been assaulted, raped, harassed, demeaned, belittled, and threatened on the job. That is right. Every single professional gig that you might read on my CV comes with a litany of backstories of abuse and violence.

    Myrhe talks about sexual harassment and rape of women, along with misogynistic remarks and behavior of people. Curry responds by ignoring all that, portraying what Myhre complains about as being no different than the “bullying” Curry faces when being called a “denier.”

    Using this topic as an excuse to fling out the same tired rhetoric as ever is disgusting.

    • Brandon:

      I have enjoyed reading your comments for years. However, lately it seems like you criticize others because they don’t think or write exactly the way you do.

      I find your recent criticisms a bit strained.

      Just an observation.

      • While I appreciate you taking your time to share your views Richard Arrett, I have to say I have no interest in what people say they think about what I say if they provide no substance or detail which allows me to understand why they think it. That’s true whether their remarks are positive or negative.

    • Brandon – and please tell us what you think of Sarah Myhre including a story of assault with her disagreement with Cliff Mass.

      • I’m not sure what you’re asking as I don’t recall Myhre telling any “story of assault.”

      • Curious George

        “Here is something Myhre wrote: As a student and then a professional scientist, I have been assaulted, raped, harassed, demeaned, belittled, and threatened on the job.” Brandon does not have a long attention span.

      • Brandon – So you slammed Judith without even bothering to read the linked article?

      • Curious George, surely you understand the difference between referring to something having happened in passing and telling a story about it happening. If I mention the fact Donald Trump has been elected, that doesn’t mean I’m telling a story about how he got elected.

        tomthegreekguy, if your lame attempt at an attack here were accurate, I imagine you would have quoted whatever portion of the story I have supposedly not read. That you haven’t pointed to any part of what Sarah Myhre wrote showing her telling a story of an assault suggests to me you realize she told no such story. I’d loo forward to being shown wrong.

      • Brandon –

        The story Myhre told, is copied below. Your schtick of “super careful detail guy” is really old and tired, so give it up and get a life. BTW, I did not “attack” you

        “For example, as an undergraduate student at Western Washington University, I did research in Caribbean Costa Rica, in a small village named Manzanillo. At 22-years old, I spent hundreds of SCUBA hours, over a period of four months, underwater studying coastal fringing coral reefs. One night in the bar in the village, after working in a wetsuit all day, I was approached by a man with a plaintive: “Hey baby, what is your name, talk to me.” Exhausted, I walked away from him and sat down in the bar tables away. Moments later, his hand was on the back of my head, lifting me out of my chair by my hair, throwing me on the ground. I fell to my knees and quickly got back to my feet to stand and face this man. As I faced him, he spat in my face–in my open eye. Instead of involuntarily wiping the spit, I defiantly blinked away his mucus and looked at him. He said to me, “If I ever see you again, I will kill you.”

      • Getting accosted in a bar by someone you do not work with or otherwise engage with professionally does not count as academic sexual harassment. What SM describes is something entirely different.

      • tomthegreekguy, I assure you I am not ignoring your response. Our hostess decided to delete my latest comment. I don’t care to try to dodge moderation to have a discussion so I’m afraid this may have to be where this one ends.

      • Sarah Myre wrote about a culture of male violence, rape, abuse, harassment and bullying. If what she said about Cliff Mass is true it fits the pattern to a tee. Equating it to denier and calling her a lipstick feminist fits a pattern of trivialization and marginalization of these enduring crimes that you should all be ashamed of perpetuating.

    • It would take too long to discuss your multiple personality disorders.

    • “If you read her tweets, you can see her (Myhre) conflating misogyny and climate denial…”

      “…portraying what portraying what Myhre complains about as being no different than the “bullying” Curry faces when being called a “denier.””

      Well. I think it was like this:
      Expressed as online bullying
      Myhre has done online bullying of a woman

      A question being, Myhre is for or against online bullying?

      • Ragnaar, at the simplest of levels, bullying a women is not inherently misogynistic. For bullying to be an expression of misogyny, it must express a prejudice against or contempt for women. Simply expressing contempt for a particular person, who happens to be female, is not expressing misogyny. This is why we don’t accuse Andrew Montford of misandry when he throws abuse at males like Michael Mann.

        At a slightly more complex level, when people are talking about misogyny and sexual harassment, pretending that issue is no different than calling someone a “denier” is pathetic. I can’t think of a more lame excuse to throw out one’s tired talking points like was done here. It’s partisan hackery at its finest.

      • Brandon S:

        Looking at what I quoted of Curry’s above, it appears Myhre is equating the two, conflating misogyny and climate denial.

        If we take that as a given, we need similar responses to both things. And climate deniers are just as bad as misogynists. And if they are the same, men hate women and want to destroy the climate. We get 2 for 1.

        But what I didn’t see is Curry agreeing that they are the same thing.

    • Brandon, I hate to pile on here but my observation is that you have begun to spin out of control recently. You have become more and more legalistic, focusing on largely irrelevant details of issues you know virtually nothing about, and disagreeable. You would be happier if you tried to see Judith’s points clearly before piling on. In both Judith’s and McIntyre’s case you would be better served by trying to carefully consider the points being made.

  25. Reblogged this on HiFast News Feed.

  26. Thanks Judith. Words of the wise. Very balanced article.

  27. Pingback: The Warlock Hunt | Transterrestrial Musings

  28. Dr. Curry, your balanced account of this current and historic gender dilemma makes it very believable and to the point. Unlike a number of published climate science papers I have analyzed, I see all sides of this issue presented in your essay here.

    My professional career goes back to the bad old days where there was dearth of females in science classes and in positions of authority in science fields outside of academia. The male problem in these situations was not, as I saw it, one very often with a sexual connotation but rather one of accepting and reacting to a female associate or boss as one would to a male in the same position. I did not see those situations where the majority of males in an organization made excuses for male harassment of a female associate, although it well could be that those incidents where it was reported or relayed to me was from those females who would never play the victim role and/or never feared for their careers and that a much larger number of such incidents never came to light from more reticence females.

    I was familiar with two pioneering women in the field of science/engineering outside of academia – one who worked for me and another who was at the same managerial level as me. Both were tough as nails, very motivated and at the same time very feminine in appearance and manner. I had my differences on work matters with both of these women as I did with their male counterparts in the organization. I sometimes had to remind a few males in the organization that what they might complain about these two ladies they would admire if it were a male.

    I would admit to being somewhat behind the times with female independence in those days by a couple of examples where a summer help hire, who was a daughter of a coworker and quite attractive had to tell me I was being over protective of her and that she could handle these matters herself and another time at a company touch football game where I admonished a younger male who worked for me for blocking a female player like he would a male and was told in no uncertain terms by the female that she was not in the game to be treated differently.

  29. This really is a tremendous opportunity for rapid and essential cultural change. To seize this moment, we need to:

    This really is about…

    It can be seen everywhere and it certainly cannot be tolerated in public-funded education, although, the problem has been addressed in female sports–e.g.,

    Billie Jean King first encountered gender inequality at the age of 12, while participating in a tournament at the Los Angeles Tennis Club.

    It was 1955, and Billie Jean was barred from a group photo of junior tennis players because she had decided to wear tennis shorts that day, rather than the tennis skirt traditionally worn by female athletes.

    She soon learned that the unequal treatment that female athletes experienced wasn’t only relegated to dress code. ~

  30. Images don’t post but I thought the bridge challenge was an interesting look at being bold…

  31. “Ladies, Flirts, and Tomboys”

    Ladies, Flirts, and Tomboys: Strategies for Managing Sexual Harassment in an Underground Coal Mine
    January 1991 Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 19(4):396-422

    It is on Researchgate here:

    This article discusses three basic strategies used by women coal miners to manage sexual harassment. “Ladies” sought to cast men into roles as gentlemen and withdrew socially when they encountered offensive behavior. This approach was often effective for older women but inhibited Ladies’ promotion aspirations. “Flirts” engaged in interactions with men in a way perceived to be seductive. They were likely to receive come-ons from men which Flirts interpreted as flattery. However, they experienced severe harassment as a consensus grew that the women were using their sexuality to obtain preferential treatment. “Tomboys” emphasized an identity as miners and engaged in jocular/sexual interactions associated with the work role. They experienced a great deal of sexual “razzing” but this was often intended and interpreted as friendly, inclusionary treatment. Those Tomboys who reciprocated the level of vulgarity typical of men, however, risked escalation of razzing into harassing episodes that distressed them. Policy implications of the study include supportive programs for women and greater structuring in training and assignment procedures.

  32. Judith, first intelligent article I read on the subject. Martin Kokus

  33. Dr. Curry

    Thank you for shining a light and perspective on academia with some of its impact upon aspiring women.

    As for me, I was always a day late and a dollar short as far as my interaction with women, academic as well as women outside of academia. You see, I was under the impression that a sexual relationship was for having children and the man’s role was to provide support for both mother and child. The women’s task was to cultivate and demonstrate the benefits of a long term relationship, not only during child rearing but well after the kids have (hopefully) flown the coop. As this long term relationship evolves, personal adult developmental tasks along the lines of Erik Erikson would include mutual support for progressing and achieving important life goals.

    As my father died after a long illness when I was 10 yr/old, I seemed to have missed out on the fatherly guidance regarding women some other men acquired. Well, I’ve made my bed. I guess I’ll just have to lie in it.

  34. This is an excellent and very personal discussion of sexual discrimination/harassment in the academic workplace, and it makes it clear why, traditionally, many academic areas are not fully representative of the wealth of scientific skills present in the population. When 50% of the population has been treated like unwelcome intruders for many decades, and when they have faced inhuman obstacles to simply following the path of science, the outcome is a squandering of scientific potential that could have solved innumerable problems facing humans and the natural world.
    This is just one of many adverse power dynamics where those with inherited or assigned power over others can take advantage and reap unearned benefits to the disadvantage of the powerless. We need to work toward organizational structures that insulate decision making and normalized behaviour from these unproductive power dynamics and rather enforce decisions and relationships based on the merit of individuals and their ideas. This is analagous to how the rules of good scientific practice are meant to insulate against bias and error so that the outcome of research is as close to a natural truth as possible.
    In reality we are simply struggling with human nature and the tendency to use might over reason in seeking our own advantage. The evolution of the modern society we enjoy is in large part evidence of our success to date in that struggle, but there is much left undone.
    It is a tribute to the enormous resilience, determination and talent of Dr. Curry that she not only survived and thrived in spite of the environment that struggled against her during her career, but that she is now a leading light of reason in an area of scientific debate that has the potential to impact human civilization more than any other in recent decades.

  35. Excellent, insightful and eloquent essay, Judith. Gutsy, too. It didn’t take long for some snide little worm looking to make a name for himself to come along and attack you.

    You reminded me of Camille Paglia. That’s a compliment:

    • Interesting that you would criticize Judith for comparing “realists” to jihadis but fawn over her comparing “denier” – labeling to rape (while ignoring the constant labeling among “skeptics” such as “alarmist,” “warmista,” comparing to mccarthy, etc.)

  36. Engineering is almost entirely male dominated – environmental science far less so of course. On my first day of engineering I spied a girl in the bookshop leafing through a book on explosives. We became friends. We were sparring at Taekwondo and she said – you wouldn’t hit a girl would you. Well – no – and she proceeded to beat me up.

    Much later I was mentoring a young colleague in a tube top. I was not sure where to look. I talked about it in a team meeting when she was not present and they laughed at me. Along the way there was a smart young woman in a little black number – but what she did outside of work was not my concern. On occasion there would be confidences about the new boyfriend or questions about how cute I thought they were. Personally – nothing of any huge significance.

    Obviously there are immense social problems that stem from a culture of male violence. I have experience of that in the mean streets – and overcame it through self discipline in decades of martial arts. Changing the culture of violence requires a sea change in how both boys and girls are socialized.

    But wandering about in a rage at the crimes of some prominent men is counter productive and personally debilitating. I’d question as well the conflation of climate science with gender politics.

  37. Having nothing to do with sex, but I have had several females try to sabotage my career merely out of personal dislike for me (i.e., not backlash, not because I did something to them). That is the flip side of the response to harassment.
    Another aspect of the male discrimination in science is that some women expect to be cut more slack in terms of achievement than men because reasons. For example, it is well-known that women academics in general and scientists in particular tend to publish far less than men yet still expect tenure. Dr. Curry certainly is not one of these, but I have known some examples, such as riding the coat-tails of post-docs–that is, the female prof never writing a paper alone, where she did all the work but rather putting her name on the work of students. Some men do this too, but women don’t want to be called on it.

  38. blueice2hotsea

    Thank for the sharing! It evokes many memories for me.

    Long ago, in the 70’s, there was a sole female in my EE graduating class. She was a top student and lady/tomboy who wore boys clothes, short hair and no makeup. When she walked to class there was an inner circle of boys in her entourage jostling with those in the outer orbit trying to elbow their way in close enough to say hi to her and to be cheerfully achnowledged. She was everyone’s friend, no flirting necessary.

    In our junior year, there were rumors of two additional women tranferring into the department. I remember the anticipation, then the groans of disappointment when someone dashed into the breakroom to report an actual sighting. They were wearing dresses and makeup and giggling and flirting!

    For 20 yr old male STEM majors, the sexual and emotional energy of flirty types can disturb one’s clarity of thought. Plus I was married. So like many others, I chose polite avoidance for self-defense. Predictably, the women transferred out in less than a year. Were we guilty of misogyny?

  39. I had a post last night but it never showed up. Bottom line. I agree with Judith’s first bullet point. There needs to be a line between being handsy (think Bush 41 and Biden) and assault, and due process to sort this out. I also sense that Al Franken was hard done by and basically bullied out of Congress without due process. In some cases this can be handled with appropriate warnings and apologies.

  40. Sad that you had to endure such a tough time at college – I hope things have improved since those days. Also admire you courage on the Climate change side. Keep up the great work.

  41. Terrific post. Much food for thought.
    One observation. As a very senior exec first at one of the worlds largest true consulting firms (BCG) and then at a Fortune 50 (Motorola), I worked extra hard at mentoring junior women because of the real ‘handicaps’ to their careers in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Complex job, because you had to be sensitive to their personal circumstances (family, children) but also to the organizational realities (long hours, travel). Never encountered to my knowledge (maybe awareness) most of the issues you raise here. Maybe academia and the media world are different. Both business organizations were strict meritocracies with very clear rules about behavior toward colleagues of both sexes. Violating those rules were grounds for immediate dismissal. I can recall only one case, where a senior (male) HR manager at the Fortune 50 got romantically involved with a direct report. Fired same day discovered, although the consensual opposite of harassment. Firing Logic was that the relationship might enable (at least optically) favoritism, undermining meritocracy. Corporate culture can be a powerful behavioral thing, properly tended.
    I do worry that in this fairly new post Weinstein MeToo climate, unsubstantiated or unfounded (misunderstanding) ‘she said he said’ allegations are having consequences that disregard due process. There are several examples at the univeristy title 9 level in the recent past. Duke lacrosse, the RollingStone incident,… OTH, Conyers and Franken and Ailes and Weinstein and Oreskes at NPR were caught multiple times in flagrante dilecto, so due process in such cases mostly an unnecessary academic exercise.

    • Forgot to mention Trump. Or Moore for that matter. Or O’Reilly. Just an oversight, I’m sure.

      • Joshua, somehow you always show up with more slime. I said multiply documented. Provide your irreffutible documented accusations, the whole point of my post. Else, go away (a polite version of what I actually think). Plus, it seems clear that you have never been there or done that in real time, as my post anguished over. A polite suggestion: STFU.

      • Rud, check email.

      • CtM, have now done so. You are good to go, outside these most populous channels.

  42. “However, it was clear to me that this was a ‘statement’ — ‘my pregnancy boobs in your face’. If the definition of ‘hostile environment’ is ‘unwelcome or offensive physical behavior’; well then I would say that this female seminar speaker was guilty of creating a hostile environment during that seminar.”

    Bravo Judith. Men are simple creatures and easily distracted by displays of female anatomy. But any man saying this will be met with the accusation of victim blaming or worse. “Whatever a woman is wearing its no excuse for … (whatever)”. Professional dress is a courtesy to both sexes.

    “I rage silently in my lipstick and heels, dressing as powerfully and sexually I can–as if to say, “try it on me mother*******”. I rage-walk from the bus to day care to work to the grocery store and I stare down every man on the street, silently shaming him with my eyes. It is a game I play through these rage-soaked days.”

    If the subject of this diatribe was any group other than men it would be classified as hate speech.

    • Say yer so cool, Judith…
      Battle of the sexes …

      It’s such a
      cated game.
      ripeness and
      genetics rule-
      women sought
      freedom from
      ‘n seclusion,
      any wonder -duh!
      Now we’ve secured
      legislative freedom
      let’s get on with it…
      not victim – hood or
      pay-back bullying,
      we need each other,
      ying and yang,
      let’s make it inter
      -active and fun.

  43. NB found I needed the stars otherwise my post is blocked! JC can post swear-words but we can’t quote them in replies :-)

  44. Great article.
    ‘I would say that nearly all universities had some policies in place with some actual ‘teeth’ by the dawn of the 21st century.’ This is really important. Don’t let anyone tell you that what has been happening in Hollywood, DC and the media is typical. In almost any other modern industry, men do not generally behave this way – we would be afraid to! Not a chance; we know we would lose our jobs and our careers.
    There is still what to do to make our workplaces decent, but don’t let that distract you from clearing up the industries that are still hellholes.

  45. Good article Judith. I am sure it took courage and much introspection to write.

    As for me, this is all just too complicated and convoluted to deal with in my advancing years.

  46. David L. Hagen

    Will #MeToo now ban George Bailey in “Its a wonderful life”? Or let its annual broadcast continue?
    SJWs Warn Against Viewing It’s a Wonderful Life: The Great PC Purge of Our Language Is Coming

  47. Well put – thank you!

  48. Geoff Sherrington

    It is a shame that this had to be written. It exposes weaknesses in some present education system and more generally in some sectors of society.
    You have written a dispassionate, scientific analysis which is what we have come to appreciate from you. You have not only given an example of how to present science well, you have also shown a topic needing coverage and why.
    There was none of this nonsense of gender inequality in my 1960s experiences, apart from obvious, harmless flippancy. I saw only people accepted for their abilities and overall, were treated as equals regardless of gender. I can believe more serious stories from others as that is man and his nature.
    Thank you Geoff.

  49. Once upon a time I would have given prima facie credence to a woman’s claim of a man’s sexual misconduct. In the state of rage that is the US today – that is no longer the case. The scene is akin to the tribunal révolutionnaire or peasants with pitchforks – and the peasants are revolting.

    I am – however – uncomfortable with categories into which woman seem to be being shoehorned. Ladies, flirts and tomboys is just an extension of impulse to pigeonhole and control. The male equivalent would seem to be gentleman, Lothario and effeminate and would never enter into a serious discussion. Nor is anything that a woman wears any business of anyone but her. This too is a hangover from the bad old days where a woman politician’s hair and frock are more important than gravitas and policy.

    Nor are a woman’s reproductive decisions any of your business under the right to individual privacy guaranteed by your Supreme Court. There are freedoms given by God and free peoples are answerable only to God. And if you are so insecure in your God that you worry about what Richard Dawkins says – you have already deserted Grace.

    For both men and women only freedom matters. This of course implies the ability to say no. Where a no is accepted – there is no crime. Where it is not – that’s what prisons are for. Harassment and bullying while not rising to the level of the seriousness of sexual assault are reaching epidemic proportions in modern society.

    This post – that I barely glanced at originally – was always a thinly veiled whine about Sarah Myhre – as a lipstick feminist apparently. A glib allegation at the best. Really as if feminists can only have hairy armpits. She certainly seems to go way the top – and Judith seems to agree with her about misogyny in academia – but the personal slurs are hypocrisy given the rules of the blog. The imputations are so labored that I find it impossible to find a purpose other than from a personal antipathy.

    I originally thought the comments were verging on sensitive and supportive of workplace – and indeed societal – equality but the deluge of both conservative and reactionary – as opposed to progressive – drivel convinced me otherwise. And really – if you are so insecure as a man that you feel inadequate to the modern world you are hardly worth the name.

    • Eloquently expressed.

    • Yes, now its some kind of Cultural Cool to be a Sexual Harassment Victim, which only inhibits serious evaluation of the issue.


    • +3/4
      Good comment. Not +1 though, because I think “included a thinly veiled whine” is a better description than “was always a thinly veiled whine”.

      I also think the whine is justified. SM called Judith a “denier”. That is name-calling and imho is a form of academic bullying, coming as it did from a climate scientist of some repute. It would be no better than someone in a position of (scientific) authority calling SM a “delusional, chicken-little alarmist”. It contributes nothing other than a sneer to the scientific argument. Unfortunately Twitter seems designed for labelling and name-calling.

    • Damn Rob,
      This is well said.

  50. Tribute to great women scientists of the past:
    Hypatia – the first female mathematician and astronomer (ca. 400 A.D.)
    Caroline Hershel – first female astronomer elected to the Royal Astronomical Society (1835)
    Mary Somerville – astronomer and popular science writer; also elected to the Royal Astronomical Society (1835)
    Ada Lovelace – mathematician, wrote the first computer program (1843)
    Marie Curie – first woman to win the Nobel Prize (1903); first person to win the Nobel Prize twice (first in Physics, second in Chemistry)
    Emmy Noether – considered to be the greatest female mathematician; formulated the Noether theorem (1915); Albert Einstein and David Hilbert were her admirers (in mathematics)
    Lise Meitner – physicist, co-discoverer of nuclear fission (1938) that led to the Nuclear Age
    Irene Curie – won the Nobel Prize in chemistry (1935) for discovery of artificial radioactivity
    Vera Rubin – astronomer, discovered the flat galactic rotation curve (1980) that led to the theory of dark matter

    • Only 8 of 100 the most important people in history (4000 BCE – 2010 CE) were women and none of them were scientist. I think genetics has something to do with it.

      • It’s not genetics, it’s discrimination. Women were not admitted in universities until 1869 (Cambridge University) and restricted from faculty position until early 20th century. If you reverse the situation, I bet the top 100 people in history would be dominated by women. Remember no man has yet equaled Marie Curie’s Nobel in physics and chemistry, which she accomplished when women faculty was restricted in most universities!

      • It is genetic. There aren’t any black people on the list either.
        But the past means nothing now that we have CRISPER and gene drive technology.

      • All races came from Africa and migrated to different parts of the world. Europeans descended from Africans. All human races are more identical genetically than chimps are from each other. Egypt, Iraq, Syria and China had older civilizations dating back 5,000 years. If you list the top 100 people in 2000 BC, there won’t be any European or American on the list.

  51. Judith,

    Regarding the Myhre versus Mass & Curry et al curfuffle.

    I wonder if part of what we are seeing is a generational divide. I have witnessed/experienced this kind of interaction before. It seems to me that many individuals brought up on social media view disagreement as a personal attack. If I don’t “like” what you say then I will unfriend you… why are you still here disagreeing with me?

    There was a court case in Ontario recently where an older male was accused of on-line harassment/stalking by a female blogger. Eventually the courts ruled that stating your disagreement is not harassment and continually stating your disagreement in a public forum is not stalking (though I’ve probably morphed the actual finding to suit today’s thesis).

    In reviewing the comments on the Stranger article, I believed I could see something of the commenters age in how they expressed their opinions. To some Mass is expressing an opinion, to others he is wrong and evil to be wrong and his opinion should not be allowed.

    Younger people have been brought up to say whatever they want on-line and as long as their friends don’t disagree, they are correct. As long as they are correct, anyone who disagrees is wrong and wrong to express their disagreement.

  52. Lyle Cosmopolite

    A female scientist that should be included in Dr Strangelove’s list: Emilie du Chatelet.

    How an academic woman should dress.
    Blazer with loose slacks. Blouse with high neckline. Heels no more than 5cm high. A bit of costume jewelry. Academic life is not the place for a women to be maximally feminine, much less seductive.

    • Let me add
      Emilie du Chatelet – first woman scientist since the fall of the Roman empire (476 AD); translated and explained Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1749)

    • Two more women contemporaries of du Chatelet worth mentioning:
      Laura Bassi – first woman science professor; Professor of philosophy (physics) in 1732 and Chair of experimental physics (1776) University of Bologna; wrote 28 papers in physics and hydraulics
      Maria Agnesi – first woman professor of mathematics (1750) University of Bologna; first woman author of textbook in calculus (1748)

  53. We need to remind ourselves that a couple of hundred years ago, in the west, women ‘belonged’ to their men. It takes a while to unwind embedded behaviors and cultures. Parts of the east, women are still the property of their menfolk!

    It will take a few more generations yet.

  54. Curious George

    Can a woman sexually harass a man? A wink or “elevator eyes” is considered a sexual harassment – coming from a man. How about ‘I rage silently in my lipstick and heels, dressing as powerfully and sexually I can–as if to say, “try it on me m-therf-ckers”, coming from a Most Influential Seattleite with a background in biology. Is it a way to get a sexual advantage over intact males?

  55. Thank you for your well-written post, Judith. Two points –

    * My career (management in the chemical industry) spanned the mid-70s to the mid-2010s. Over that time I saw occasional appalling male behavior in the 70s and early 80s followed by tremendous progress, at times uneven, over the following decades. What sticks with me is the progress. Things have improved greatly.
    That great improvement is no consolation to young women who might experience harassment today but it does make me feel better, and hopeful.

    * In the last two decades I saw few problems among peers or middle management in the chemical business. The big remaining problem area was/is senior male management (VPs and such). It was an entitlement mentality (“I’ve made it to mahogany row and so I can now do whatever I want to do”). It’s the attitude that Trump expressed in that infamous Access Hollywood tape.

  56. You have a well-measured and appreciated take on this issue, Dr. Curry. Thanks for that.

    What with the current Spanish Inquisition of males, I’m wondering if the women who accepted the quid quo pro and got the promotion, or was actually the aggressor and got the job – will they be outed and forced to step down? What’s good for the gander …

  57. Writing from the perspective of a retired high school instructor in advanced placement chemistry and physics, i am also one who really appreciates Climate Etc, but rarely feels that I have much to contribute. Not that I don’t have many thoughts, but I usually leave it to others who have expertise in a specific area.
    I have read many books, articles, studies, papers on the various aspects of climate change. It seems to me that beyond a masters degree, most people, at least those pursuing careers in science, become very accomplished experts in a very narrow range of study, As a result, with the broadening of knowledge and understanding there is an increasing dependence on the integrity and honesty of colleagues. I am writing a book, perhaps simply to satisfy myself, on characteristics of human nature–interspersed with general nuggets of climate science. Can anyone describe an extensive period of time when the climate has not changed? It seems the review process has become tainted with efforts from (do I dare say it)– the good old boys.
    1) It seems that, in part, human nature, and the climate system both show some qualities of simple harmonic motion. That is, there is always a tendency to move toward some equilibrium position, but due to the fact that the distance to that position becomes too great, the acceleration will always cause movement well beyond equilibrium. Of course, the quality is only partially SHM because there are so many forces, and each would result in a different period of oscillation. The periods can be from a decade to centuries, or millennia or even longer. It may be that the confluence of where each forcing is in its cycle that causes much of the climate at any one time. It might be a mistake to think so much of tipping points, when the confluence of forces causing an acceleration back to an equilibrium will eventually. become predominate.
    The Meme has become too much ‘Nothing else could cause the warming’ and with that there is an increasing confirmation bias.

    2) Periods in human nature are often relatively short, but sometimes very long. Technological advances have caused a shift in the equilibrium point, which economists, politicians, and the health industry should recognize. Humans have moved from being hunter, gatherers to agrarian to a rapidly accelerating tech society. Where there was 23 tool and dye workers in a business, there is now one.operating a computer. We are rapidly becoming less healthy but with rapid improvements in the health industry we, at the same time, are living longer. (Although that is starting to change)
    Cutting this idea short, we need an acceleration back to healthier life styles.

    3) In the discussion of religion interspersed in the previous statements. I would like one aspect of the Christian religion to be considered. If left alone, we will always make mistakes, and we never can assume that we are correct. At the end of the day, whatever we do, we should seek to improve upon what we are doing. For me that is/was as a teacher, a coach, a parent, a foster parent, an adoptive parent of special needs children, a soldier, a husband. One of two rules/guidance I had for anyone who due to what we are doing is/was subordinate to me **You are Good, only whey you are working to get better** That had nothing to do with where one may be at the time.
    The elegance of the Scientific process is that skepticism, of others work, and more so of our own is a hallmark of the scientific process. It should be a complement when people take the time to critically analyze a study. The purpose of the critique is for the benefit of the presenter, which in turn, is for the benefit of society in general.

  58. I find it astounding Myhre called JC a ‘climate denier’. What is this, Junior high? Great expose on the conflation of other cause celebre on climate science, and very revealing about some of the more intimate issues people like Myhre are really having -this really reflects poorly on her.

  59. Harry Twinotter

    “Hmmmm . . . such as what Michael Mann has done to me? ”

    Name dropping? Well OK you brought him up, what has he done?

    • Previous posts at Climate Etc. discuss what Dr. Mann has done to Dr. Curry.

      Here is a clue, he lied about her to Congress.

      • Harry Twinotter

        You missed my point. I know too well of the feud between Dr Curry and Dr Mann. But bringing up Dr Mann’s name in an article about the bullying of female academics because they are female (ie misogny)?

        Unless Dr Curry is trying to imply Dr Mann is guilty of misogny?

      • Then you missed her point.

  60. Harry Twinotter

    Sarah Myhre I am calling you out. You are one of the biggest online climate bullies out there. In case you haven’t noticed, I am a ‘woman in science’

    It is clear Sarah Myhre is expressing her opinion of you. But where is the evidence that her opinion has anything to do with you being a woman?

    • She expressed concern in her video (including the title) about online bullying of female scientists. Pot and kettle and all that . . .

      • Harry Twinotter

        You did not address my point. Where is the evidence?

      • Can’t help you if you don’t actually read what is in my post.

      • Harry Twinotter

        No evidence then. You are all too transparent. You are misrepresenting criticism as “female bullying”, and have thrown Dr Mann’s name into it as well.

        I know what you are up to. I can only guess at your motives, but that is a puzzle I will leave others to discuss on their blogs.

      • blueice2hotsea


        Your point is that one should not carelessly accuse a bully of bigotry. Yes, they might be an equal opportunity abuser on a narcissistic rage walk stepping on all except toadies.

        But currja’s accusation was hypocrisy.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Or are you saying that Myhre is a misandrist hypocrite rather than a misogynist hypocrite.

        I don’t know. That’s going back to accusing a bully of bigotry.

      • Harry Twinotter


        Thanks for your reply, it much better than the verbal abuse I usually get on this blog.

        The bottom line is I find the timing of all this interesting, especially because of which two people are on one of the AGU’s panels – strange how their names got brought up in an otherwise good article on this blog. Dr Curry has every right to be unhappy about what Dr Sarah Myhre publically tweeted, but it was back in March 2017 and the “bullying” angle is new and really has nothing to do with gender prejudice.

        Yes I don’t consider criticism “bullying”. Bullying is a lot more complicated than that, and a lot more savage.

      • blueice2hotsea


        Heh,heh. Have you considered that the verbal abuse you usually get on this blog is actually a form of constructive criticism?

        But seriously, verbal abuse is a form of bullying, with savagery or not, and by the way so is trolling (hint). Since various forms of harrassment are a subtopic of Girls Rule(s), Myhre is on topic.

        The bottom line for me is that admiration for talent, power, beauty, etc. does not extend to unconscionable behaviour. Kudos to curryja for sharing and shining a light.


      • Harry Twinotter

        “Heh,heh. Have you considered that the verbal abuse you usually get on this blog is actually a form of constructive criticism?”

        Constructive criticism? No. For the reason that it isn’t constructive criticism :-)

      • Harry Twinotter

        “Kudos to curryja for sharing and shining a light.”

        Ummm yes, maybe. Dr Curry wrote about some interesting anecdotes. And Dr Curry bringing Dr Mann’s and Sarah Myhre’s name into the article was just a coincidence, I am sure. In other words, I do not think it a coincidence. I speculate it was actually the point of this article.

  61. Unfortunately with Tenure, Academia has to put up with truly horrid destructive people, and cant get rid of them.

    End tenure

  62. In younger years there were times when I had female superiors, while some were excellent I did find that being slightly shorter than average often left me at a disadvantage to my taller male peers, not rarely would they be praised and promoted for work unarguably inferior to mine in quality and volume…the favoritism to the taller male was evident and when it was pointed out it was met with absolute denial and even some shaming for mentioning it, in all three cases I quit and moved on. So while there certainly are excellent women in management my opinion is that many are incapable of seeing their sexist instincts, yes men can do the same but my take is that at least they are aware of what they are doing and why. I hope things are better now.

  63. In the approximately 40 years since I left the Navy, I’ve had as many women managers and supervisors as men. And I have worked in primarily engineering and construction. On average there has not been a lot of difference. If called upon I would give the edge to women as being the better boss.

    I have no sisters, just brothers. My mom remains as my top role model for women. She raised 4 sons, with my dad having to be out of town for 4 out of 7 days. Her mom was a single mom before the term was ever coined. My grandmother was a working mother starting in the Depression.

    But even without all that it does not take any great insight to understand who is the tougher half of the human species. Any man who does not drop to his knees and thank God for being born with outdoor plumbing is a fool, idiot or both. I’ve had doctors – female doctors – tell me I have a high tolerance for pain. Just the thought of delivering a baby makes me want to cringe. And lets not for get the many examples from history. Look up who survived from the Donner party.

    Call them girls, gals, women. They are our wives, mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, colleagues, coworkers. They are half of who we are. I have always suspected they are the better half and as men we should appreciate women, support them, follow them and when it becomes necessary, protect and stand up for them.

    Remember, Adam was God’s first try.

  64. Pingback: People who Call Others “Denier” Deserve to be Raped | Izuru

  65. I just listened to Myhre’s podcast. I can empathise with these women. I empathise also with Judy Currie. Everyone has an opinion and is entitled to it. Everyone seems to be so bombarded with nasty comments that they treat all commenters with suspicion. I do not see a solution to this.

    As far as I am concerned, both scientists can continue expressing their opinions in the non-science arena. No one has the right to physically threaten anyone. That threat keeps me quiet. I wonder how many more women are lurkers rather than contributers to the conversation.

  66. Larry, somehow the message hasn’t sunk in. You’re off your meds, despite all the admonitions by those closest to you. The first step is the toughest, the one where there is admission of a deep seated problem. How about a new New Year’s resolution? A new Life.

  67. This post makes me think of the lyrics to this song, which I always thought were very well done:

  68. one thing about “the backlash”.

    If women (primarily) and sometimes men, as well as those who support them, are NOT hammered for false accusations and/or using The System to score petty points, then I have zero issues with “the backlash.” Given that the current paradigm is ZERO SYSTEMIC consequences for false accusations, tough crap ladies.

    “complaining about lewd and crude cartoons” ALSO can create a “hostile work environment.” If ONE out of 300 finds it offensive, then that person damn well better learn some tolerance, unless those cartoons are TARGETED at that individual. The dividing line between “lewd/crude VS offensive” is no thicker than the dividing line between “a gentle soul who’s innocence should not be trampled VS a narrow minded, uptight, Puritan scold.”

    If you think that a work environment crafted to satisfy the “needs” of feminists isn’t a hostile one to men, then you’re ignorant of what’s been happening in our grade schools.

  69. Pingback: The Top 50 Women in STEM | Climate Etc.