Recently Scientific American ran a blog post by John Horgan, which argued that science is sexist at its core. Horgan wrote:
Is science sexist? Of course it is, in two ways. First, women in science (including engineering, math, medicine) face discrimination, harassment and other forms of maltreatment from men. Second, male scientists portray females as males’ intellectual inferiors. These two forms of sexism are mutually reinforcing. That is, male scientists use science to justify their sexist attitudes toward and maltreatment of women. Then, when women fail to thrive, the men say, See? Women just aren’t our equals.
The first claim that Horgan makes is that science is sexist because women face discrimination, harassment and other forms of maltreatment. We do not deny that women face such challenges in STEM, as they do in many other professional environments and industries. However, the prevalence of sexual harassment in the scientific and technical industries is not nearly as high as it is service-sector and low-wage jobs, and we believe that it is premature to claim that sexual harassment has caused the uneven gender ratio in STEM. There is no clear evidence demonstrating a causal link between the two.