In line with our argument that feminism is being enacted on the smaller screener, we want to take a moment to appreciate a current series, Masters of Sex. The series is based on the story of Doctors Masters and Johnson, the scientists who pioneered reseach into human sexual response. Set in the 50s and 60s, the series does not attempt to hide the sexism of the time, especially as it deals with sexuality itself. Full of incredible female characters, Virginia Johnson leads the pack as a woman who begins as a secretary in a teaching hospital, slowly working her way up to student, research assistant and ultimately a doctor herself.
In her journey, the sexism ingrained in education is shown time and time again, before she even reaches a professional level where if anything, it worsens. The Guardian recently put together an article on the sexism that women have to deal with at an academic level including:
“It’s not just club nights and initiations – female students come up against sexism in the classroom too. Two world-class debaters faced sexist abuse about their appearance and cries of “Get that woman out of my chamber” while participating in a competition at Glasgow University union last year. And another recent NUS report found that female students were experiencing sexism across campus, including venues such as lecture halls and the gym.”
An article in a similar vein was posted earlier this year which looked specifically at women in science. Written in first person by an anonymous academic, she laments
“Women in science face persistent challenges and discrimination. My less experienced male colleagues will attend conferences instead of me. I will be told by my supervisor not to worry about enthusiasm and hard work because in the end, I will leave science for marriage and children.
I have been asked to divulge my relationship status and future maternity plans in interviews. I have even watched my professor refuse to interview astounding female candidates because they have a child. It is completely unacceptable.”
This blog started as an investigation into women pursuing careers in male dominated fields, to raise awareness of what they experience and how it can change and I ask again and again, how will it change? Our anonymous academic asks much the same and I flounder without an answer. The fact is, there is no industry that is not male dominated. They may begin with more female students but across the board, men get more attention, more pay and more key roles. I find myself leaning towards radical feminism, yearning for systemic overhaul and change. Whatever we do, a social media campaign will not be at its heart but I hope it points someone or something in the right direction.