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Saturday, July 04, 2015

"Female scientists 'too concerned about how they're perceived'"

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 12/06/2015, Female scientists 'too concerned about how they're perceived':

Prof Dame Valerie Beral, director of Oxford University's Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford:

There's been a lot of research of a certain sorts on that, and it's completely clear that one major reason is that women do not apply for senior jobs.

Women who are equally qualified as men will not apply. And I think there's some truths in what, possibly truths, I mean what I've said so far is factual, but I think that some of the things Tim said have to be thought about, and I think that even though he said them awkwardly and have been misinterpreted, I think, I think they are directly relevant to *something*.

I think women find, I mean very exciting to work in a lab out of university with all these very bright people doing interesting work. But things happen in that context.

As he said, people fall in love, out of love, have affairs, criticise each other - often very intensely. And I think, and I think this is something we really should be thinking about quite seriously, that maybe women really find that sort of environment too difficult to cope with - not intellectually, not intellectually, not work-wise, but emotionally.

I think women are much more likely to take criticism personally, think that there's something wrong with themselves, rather than with, y'know, the work which might've been criticised, and I think this is the problem that we really should be thinking about...

There is this, to me, problem that women don't feel, they're too concerned about the way they're perceived rather than the way their science is perceived...

Caroline Criado-Perez: If it was literally just because of these comments, no I don't think that resigning was absolutely the, the only thing that could be done. I think that we could've, they could've perhaps reviewed the decisions that he was taking, and the positions where he had authority over women's careers.

I think that there is, I do feel slightly concerned over a, the sort of progressive section of society that seems to leap from someone making a comment that we disagree with to immediately they are cast out and ostracised.

Host: It's hounding.

Caroline Criado-Perez: It is hounding.

And I do worry about, well, for two reasons.

One is that, the idea that it is just a couple of bad apples actually I think takes away from what is a structural problem and I don't think it's just about getting rid of a few sexist men.

But also this idea that people can't learn and they can't change and that we can't educate people. And I think that's really what we need to be doing is changing people's minds rather than just saying "You are no good, get out of here"...

Prof Dame Valerie Beral: I've read a lot of things in the last 24 hours and the one thing you really cannot accuse Tim Hunt of being is sexist.

He's very supportive of women in the lab. There's been a lot of online comments of how, how much he's liked and has always been supportive of women.

And it's just, he said very odd things which I absolutely agree sounded terrible and he stood by them in the sense of saying, of honesty. He's sort of scrupulously honest, he said: "Yes, I did say that"...

He just said they're things that happen and that's what happened to me and I confirm that's what happened to me and I think that anyone in any field where there are intense, lots of bright young people working together, it could be in the City, it could be anywhere - have seen these sorts of things happen.

And I just think women take these intense environments a bit too seriously, and if something goes wrong, they take it too personally"
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