Today I read this post, and the lines at the end really struck a chord:
"As one of the only female graduate students, I was very involved in a recent job search in which the only fly outs were women. After the final job talk I was stopped in the hall and asked by a group of male faculty members what my thoughts on the candidates were. I said that I thought they all seemed equally qualified, but that candidate X was particularly friendly, approachable, and outgoing while also setting an excellent example of professionalism for the female grad studens. One senior male faculty member interrupted me midsentence with: 'Well they’re all women, so what more do you want?' This was the same faculty member who told me in my first year that I had only been accepted to the PhD program because they 'went out of their way to accept more women' that year. None of the other faculty members reproached him, they all just wandered away into their offices."Two things about this are problematic. First, someone from a majority group telling someone from a minority group that the only reason they achieved (or can achieve) something was because they are a minority. Statements like this are extraordinarily hurtful because in addition to implying the minority person is not capable of quality, competitive work, it also says very clearly: I do not accept you, and you are not a part of my club.
But double ouch is this: the other faculty members did nothing. This makes me sadder than I can say. Are these faculty members so risk and conflict-averse that they don't stand up to such malarky? When my cousin-in-law made racist jokes at a New Year's Eve party last year, I immediately splashed water in her face. It's like when the cat scratches the couch and you spray them with the water bottle. Conditioning 101.
For the menfolk and other majority folks out there who want to help: if you truly want to make your workplace hospitable for women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc, you have to help socialize the people who didn't get the memo. Pick those fights - take some risks to help out someone else. This is what it takes to help change things.