Can someone get Clara B. Jones an "American Voices" panel in The Onion?

Feb 19 2013 Published by under [Education&Careers]

Regular readers of The Onion will likely be familiar with their "American Voices" segment, in which average people weigh in on topical issues. Read through a couple and you'll begin to get a sense of what the subscribers to the ECOLOG-L list get treated to semi-regularly.

Some of you may remember Clara B Jones from her previous public comments (summarized here). If you don't feel like clicking through, Dr. Jones has previously suggested women freeze their eggs to facilitate reproduction once reaching senior promotion levels and revealed that she gave up custody of her offspring to pursue her career in science.

Seems like a good platform from which to dispense career wisdom to women in science, no?

Well, she seems to think so. In her typical randomly numbered ramblings this week, Dr. Jones comments on the circulation of two blog posts to the ECOLOG list, on the topic being or becoming a grad student in ecology. Random point number 7 in her tirade is:

i am somewhat exercised by your post because, IMO, too many young, especially, female, applicants don't bring much to the table that others don't already know or that cannot be readily duplicated or that is mostly generalist-oriented.

Ladies! Why are you such bad grad school candidates? Why can't you bring something interesting to the table? Have you even frozen any eggs yet? WTF?

In typical fashion, Clara couches a semi-valid point (the need to bring a skill set) in a giant hot mess of sexist commentary (women are disproportionately bad at all things in her eyes). As we found out the last time I mentioned this on the blog, many people think it's totally fine for her to make these comments without anyone making a big deal of it. To that, I have and continue to say "bullshit". If those same comments came from a man, many would be offended. That fact that they come from a woman shouldn't change the reaction to the same 1950s style undermining.

Public sexism in any community is bad for the long term, regardless of the source of that ignorant opinion. Clara B. Jones has repeatedly demonstrated her unsuitability to comment on any issue facing women in science today, particularly as it relates to families. I suggest the community views every email from her with the following mental image:

14 responses so far

  • aaaa says:

    She seems like a crackpot to me. Not a harmless crackpot, but still a crackpot. The Onion would be a good place for her.

  • pseudforthisone says:

    This individual has a habit of going after high-profile women as well. Crackpot is putting it lightly. I'm glad to see you showing your intolerance of sexism, PLS.

  • Susan says:

    (I'm unfamiliar with ecolog-l but familiar with teh interwebz): Why do we accept the premise that Clara is female?

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Follow the links in the email associated with the link above. She is not hiding or using a pseud.

  • Mac says:

    Thank you! Her comments make me crazy but I don't want to keep it going by responding on ecolog - I think it just encourages her but it is painful to have to scroll through the ridiculous, nasty comments she makes. It's wearing to have that sexism prominent on one of the main news sources for eeb folks.

  • Simon Goring says:

    I read that ECOLOG thread after I saw it mentioned on twitter. It's ridiculous, it's mind boggling really.

    First off, the points made by Clara are completely ridiculous; second, the people who replied somehow were able to gloss over the blatant sexism to respond to other assorted points without making an effort to point out how over the top the first post was; and, finally, you had (exclusively) male posters suggest we not talk about it lest we "feed the trolls".

    I really wish I could like ECOLOG for what it is supposed to be, but this is what it has become. There are other ways of finding out who's advertising for jobs!

  • Thank you for this post, PLS. Simon above notes the multiple troubling aspects of this exchange, not the least of which is the fact that those saying "ignore the trolls" aren't realizing that to ignore is itself a privilege. It's also not effective at creating an environment that isn't hostile to women.

    My question is: what's next? Do we create a new space, and control who has access? Do we improve moderation? Or do we make sure that every time this happens, the pile-up is so immediate, thorough and effective that it ultimately sends the opposite message: that Ecolog-l is a place that's hostile to sexism, not women? I think the latter, but we aren't there yet.

  • Waldorf says:

    At least we're funny, MuppetlikeSubstance!

  • VeryIrked says:

    Thank you!!!! I'm so glad to know that others find her posts Onion material. It usually takes me about a day to calm down after I read them. Except that they make me so angry I re-read them to make sure I actually read what I thought I read, and re-set the cycle. Unfortunately, I can't bring myself to reply on the list because any reply seems to end up just feeding the trolls, and I hate feeding trolls (even though I agree that ignoring them is a luxury)..

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Waldorf, y'all can crack yourselves up all you want.

  • anotherpostdoc says:

    Let's not forget the bushmeat sampling request. That was an entertaining discussion:

  • [...] bad mothers. ProfLikeSubstance has a nice overview of that discussion on his blog and, as he points out in in a post yesterday, Jones was behind many of the sexist comments then, too. Back then, I [...]

  • [...] lieu of coming to expect a daily (monthly?) dose of wackaloon, I decided to write this little blog post to add my voice to those that find initiatives like the [...]

  • […] Oy. More on dealing with sexism on the ecolog-l listserv. […]

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