We need a word for this concept

Mar 30 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I spend a lot of time thinking about causes of the gender disparities in science. Partly this is because my mother-in-law's research is principally about this question, so every time I see her, we discuss it. One of the less well-known factors is that PI's, who are disproportionately male, often organize fun activities that are more appealing for male lab members than female ones. Fun activities are fun, and don't in principle involve direct scientific mentorship. But they probably lead to greater bonds among the attendees, etc, etc. Everyone knows this, but as far as I know, there is no term for these activities. It's a thing, and it deserves a term. Also, I want there to be a term so that I can ask the Twitterverse whether my favorite medieval/fantasy card game, Dominion, is in this category.

5 responses so far

  • Natalie says:

    (I love Dominion too.)

  • Dan says:

    I've not seen or heard of any PI-sponsored activities around here that weren't eating, with the possible exception of ski trips which I never thought of as particularly gendered.
    A vicious cycle I do see, however, is that whenever a research group drops to one or no female members it tends to stay that way (i.e. has a harder time recruiting). Since so many research groups are small, this can happen even in spite of a PI's efforts to keep a balanced group.

  • Ski trips and hikes are our big things, and they include both genders equally. (in fact all the females in our lab are better and more experienced snowboarders than all the males) I haven't noticed (or heard about) much gendered casual lab hang out in science so far (certainly not the 'take the client to strip clubs' business meetings that i read about in Delusions of Gender.) , but then again I'm female and my PI is too. But really every activity is going to exclude the people who don't like that activity. Be it bad skiers, or non-dominion players. I don't think a fantasy card game is gendered, but it might weed out some non-geeks. 🙂

  • UnlikelyGrad says:

    I am female and I love Dominion.

    Of course, I used to play a lot of D&D so I may not be the most normal female...but, come to think of it, my advisor, also female, also used to play a lot of D&D. Maybe science attracts abnormal females?

    My advisor's ideas of "fun activities" are (1) drinking beer (which sucks for me, because I don't drink), (2) eating, and (3) an occasional snorkeling trip when if we have down time around our fieldwork site.