Monthly Archives: January 2012

If it looks like a compliment, and sounds like a compliment…is it really a compliment? [at Scientific American]

Today, I have a guest post at the Scientific American guest blog inspired by the Blogging Science While Female session at Science Online. The post is about benevolent sexism, those comments that may seem to be nice and flattering, but are actually insidious little gender equality ravagers.

Here’s an excerpt:

In 1996, Peter Glick and Susan Fiske wrote a paper on the concept of ambivalent sexism, noting that despite common beliefs, there are actually two different kinds of sexist attitudes and behavior. Hostile sexism is what most people think of when they picture “sexism” – angry, explicitly negative attitudes towards women. However, the authors note, there is also something called benevolent sexism:

We define benevolent sexism as a set of interrelated attitudes toward women that are sexist in terms of viewing women stereotypically and in restricted roles but that are subjectively positive in feeling tone (for the perceiver) and also tend to elicit behaviors typically categorized as prosocial (e.g., helping) or intimacy-seeking (e.g., self-disclosure) (Glick & Fiske, 1996, p. 491).

[Benevolent sexism is] a subjectively positive orientation of protection, idealization, and affection directed toward women that, like hostile sexism, serves to justify women’s subordinate status to men (Glick et al., 2000, p. 763).

Essentially, there’s now a formal name for all of those comments and stereotypes that can somehow feel both nice and wrong at the same time, such as the belief that women are “delicate flowers” that need to be protected by men, or the notion that women have the special gift of being “more kind and caring” than their male counterparts. And yes, it might sound complimentary, but it still counts as sexism.

To read the entire post, click here!


One of the most phenomenal movements going around the Twitter world right now is the hashtag ‘#IAmScience,” started by Kevin Zelnio as an attempt to get scientists to share their funny, emotional, and generally nontraditional paths towards becoming scientists and inspire the legions of burgeoning scientists out there who may feel discouraged by what they see as insurmountable obstacles.

As I still haven’t quite had a chance to write about my Science Online 2012 experience (a post that I have admittedly been procrastinating for the past 2 weeks), I realized that participating in the #IAmScience movement might actually be a perfect chance to discuss what exactly it was that I got out of Science Online.

Continue reading

From The Archives: Labels and logos? Looks like you’re powerless.

Ed. Note: This is a post from the archives; it was originally blogged at IonPsych on 2/10/2011.

You can see the original post here.

Imagine a woman who wanders into your local coffee shop with this bag thrown over her shoulder. What would you think of her? Well, you might think a lot of things — but more specifically, what would you think about her level of status or power relative to others?

How about a man who walks in wearing this belt? The brand is pretty prominently displayed; even if you don’t know much about the name, you can tell it’s probably expensive. He clearly wants you to know what brand it is. How powerful do you think he is?

If you’re like most others – or if you’re drawing the obvious conclusions that these hypothetical people are aiming for you to draw – you probably think they’re pretty powerful. But you probably aren’t right. Continue reading