The sad destiny of women in Academia

4 years ago

What is it like to be a women in Academia? Do you also encounter an a priori lack of esteem only due to your X-chromosome?

Recently, an essay by Prof. Deepak Sarma on the Huffington Post made many eyebrows rise. Sarma's point is that White people, if they convert to Hinduism, are only mimicking Hindus. Fortunately, many reacted to what seems to be a racist affirmation: unless you are Indian, you cannot convert to a religion which originated in India (what about God's infinite mercy? Should it be impossible even for Him/Her to save whoever S/He wants?). Many reactions came from intellectuals teaching in respected universities in the US.

The episode made me think again over another group of Academics who have to suffer constant discriminations, i.e., women in Academia. In his response to Sarma, Prof. Long says that it is often the case that his wife, who works in the same university as he does, comments on an issue and her comments encounters no appreciation, whereas the same comment, repeated later by him, is universally agreed upon.

Does it sound familiar? Do you have similar experiences to share? And do you agree that the fact that sexism might be inconscious (of the sort: if she seems bright, there must be a bright teacher/mentor/husband/lover behind her work) only worsens the situation?

I have experienced similar cases many times (with, e.g., people asking to my male colleagues questions about a topic I alone had been working on, just because they inconsciously assumed that I could have only come to interesting conclusions through some male help), and although I am grateful to the many idiots who made me tougher and more determinate, I wonder what does it mean for women who only want to work and research and not necessarily to fight.

Are not we risking to loose to science/research/academia half of the world?


Links and further readings:

A blog about the misadventures of women philosophers:

A blogpost about the small amount of women who manage to survive in PhD and post-Doc programs (be sure to read the comment on women's minor intelligence by "Russell"):…

Prof. Deepak Sarma's article:…

Prof. Jeffery Long's answer to Sarma:…


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