22 thoughts on “An area where we don’t want more women

  1. Resorting to violence is always wrong but I do feel that it highlights many of the problems faced by female academics in the hard sciences.

  2. And only two days before the anniversary of the NIU shooting in 2008 and awfully close to the third of VT.

    This is going to be a rough weekend on a whole lot of people.

  3. “I do feel that it highlights many of the problems faced by female academics in the hard sciences.”

    Ummm … and how does it do that, exactly? Because a woman being denied tenure is automatically an injustice? How was Amy Bishop treated so unfairly that this was an understandable outcome? We know almost nothing of the details.

    Seriously, is it really appropriate to make this story a platform for one’s pet issues yet?

  4. Murder is defined as wrongful killing. The question is which acts of violence constitute murder and which acts of violence are justified. In this case, the violence does not seem justified.

  5. I saw an NBC report just now that said that back in 1986 Bishop shot her brother to death with a shotgun.

  6. That’s what I was getting at, Amos. “Violence” also includes anything from a verbal assault to a shovel upside the head. But I’m not going to nitpick about somebody’s choice of grammar now that we have an anti-feminist in our midst.

    Maybe “ABI Soapboxing” is one of the d**ks that wanted to shut Dr. Bishop up so everybody but her could profit from her invention?

  7. Uh, no, Xena. “Anti-feminist?” I have nothing to say here about gender issues in academia in particular. I call BS because it’s tiresome to see people take stories like this, based on virtually no info, and mold them to fit their personal narrative regardless of whether it fits. The same thing happened with Columbine, when everyone decided it was clearly evidence of the evils of (bullying/violent video games/insert your own axe to grind here).

    Unless you know those involved by more than the media coverage, at this point you don’t know exactly what went on, why Amy Bishop didn’t get tenure, and what may have really motivated her. And until you do, it’s absurd and rather inappropriate to pretend you do.

  8. Annoyed: I keep seeing stories in the media that say this illustrates the pressure-cooker atmosphere of biotech endeavors. Making assumptions does not mean one is turning a story into a platform.

    What more do we know about what’s going on? Well, she’s Harvard trained, has more funding than at least some others at UA Huntsville, which is no where near Harvard’s league. She and her husband have started up what promises to be a very innovative biotech operation – something, by the way, universities like UA generally love faculty to do. But she’s not getting tenure. High quality woman scientist fails at Podunk U.** The story line so far is just too familiar. Of course, there are other ways to fill in the gap; perhaps she has a long history of mental instability. Perhaps there’s something fradulent about her Harvard degree. But I think she may well have been through a process that would strain one’s mental reserves, and in fact statistically I think that’s much the more likely scenario. Women getting tenure in the sciences is a typical problem area.

    **Let me be clear here: I don’t personally know how UA gets assessed, but my resident science adviser tells me that it ranks about there.

  9. Let me add: that she’s been through a taxing process and statistically it’s a problem area for women does not mean she isn’t independently unbalanced. Before I wrote the comment above, I had seen the NY Times article about her earlier shooting her brother, which hardly looks good for a purely feminist interpretation. My point is that the initial likelihood is on the original commentor’s side.

  10. I don’t see any contradiction between the fact that she was discriminated against, that she is the victim of the system, of the way things are and that she is an incredibly unbalanced person and that what she did has no ethical justification. Unfortunately, not all victims of the system are heroic, noble figures (Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, etc.). Being oppressed tends to fuck people up and make them resentful
    (read Nietzsche) and violent.

  11. ABISoap… If what people are doing on this site is so absurd& inappropriate, then why are you on it? Call the cops… or go find something more useful to do with your own pointing finger.

    Amos, I will SO second that opressed and fucked up and violent statement. I’m half wishing ABIS wasn’t such a spineless internet dork. I’d love to hit something right now.

  12. amos, I totally agree that there is no incompatibility. That’s not the problem I was looking at. Rather, the problem arises when one tries to make an inference to the likely cause. If you are arguing that X is a likely cause, and it is pointed out that Y is also a possible cause and in fact in this case Y held, then your argument for X is weakened. Not destroyed, as you in effect point out, but weakened.

  13. Thanks for that, Rob. It looks like “overreaction to descrimination” isn’t even a straw to grasp at anymore. “The silicone chip inside her head has switched to overload…” (Bob Geldoff) doesn’t quite work in this case either.

    How does somebody with the long list of attributes required to become a Harvard educated tenure track science prof just decide to commit a massacre?

  14. Seriously, try not to laugh when you read the heading and the first comment of this page. There is clear evidence, beyond doubt, of the pressure men feel because of widespread discrimination against them. Why are most of these types of crime undertaken by men? Because of the prejudice they feel in the classroom, the workplace and society in general. Why, oh why won’t you sleep with us!??

  15. crites, you have independent evidence of the discrimination against men? Because there is tons of independent evidence of the discrimination against women in sciences and engineering. The National Science Foundation regard such discriminnation as serious enough a problem to be pouring hundreds of millions into ameliorating it.

    So the inference is not as you seem to suppose.

  16. There’s a pretty good write up on Amy Bishop’s story in the London Review of Books:


    “If Bishop had a sense of impunity, it’s no wonder. She was white, well-connected and well-off. She’d long been coddled by the law, and until Huntsville there seemed to be nothing she couldn’t get away with.”

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