I FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE facebook page is administered by one person and that person is a young woman. She has just started a twitter page, and this is what 'outed' her gender. Predictably, the flood of comments have been along the lines of 'Wow a chick, sexy' / 'You're a hottie!' / 'I can't believe you're a girl. And you are cute too!!!'
I know I was guilty of something similar myself a couple of years ago when Alex was commenting on another blog. A few of us thought she was a guy because she always talked about science and tech stuff and seemed really really smart (and she is) - her mentioning getting drunk and getting into fisticuffs when she was younger also I think cemented our ideas, it did mine, so that when it was revealed Alex is female, I was embarrassed and felt like a tool.
So I can understand that default thinking: guys are good at and talk about maths, science, technology. but it's changing, and this is fantastic. What's not changing are the comments - sexist comments - that are proliferating when something like this happens. It's a shame and it's disappointing and I wish it didn't happen. They are being challenged on twitter and facebook and even in the mainstream media but it just makes other young women out there [probably] think: Yeah, so why would I put myself out there, you cop this shit.
So instead of people focusing on this
it's all about this
EVERY COMMENT on that thread is about how shocking it is that I'm a woman! Is this really 2013?*
Check IFLS facebook and twitter. Have a look at the difference in comments and responses, compare when she was on facebook as just a genderless sciencey person and now that she's on twitter with a pic and a name and a gender and all that comes with that. I'd love it if this turned out to be a science experiment, a la all this interest and news is generated, it puts the IFLS stream in the main, and then it's revealed that it's a nerdy dude whose thesis is on sexism in science or something like that. How awesome would that twist be? Somehow, I don't think that's what's happening. BUT IF IT WAS?
Oh PS, I also meant to say: I'm going to LA and New York on the Easter weekend. Just came up, all random and spontaneous, decided yesterday that yep, Imma going. Moved a few appointments, it's the first week of the school holidays so I wasn't teaching. It's a whirlwind 6-day trip, flying biz class which is a little bit excellent and spesh, and plan to walk the Highline in Soho and do some shopping in LA (and maybe one of those tacky Hollywood bus tours that drive past famous people's houses. I've always wanted to do that.) So yeah. I'm also going to meet my agent, so that's exciting too.