Open-Access Harassment: Science, Technology And Women

Georgina Voss | The Guardian | October 24, 2013

The working cultures and structures of science and technology may be different, but they both feed sexist myths of meritocracy

These are not happy times for gender equality in science and technology. The past two months alone have offered up the truly grim “Titstare” app (no less awful for being a joke) and the Scientific American blogging network sexual harassment accusations. One minute we're reading a Storify documenting the #ripplesofdoubt that women in science experience as a result of institutional sexism; the next, we're looking at an invitation for a 'Hackers and Hookers' Halloween party.

Many aspects of science and technology have long been male-dominated. Numerous projects have been set up to encourage more women to study science and engineering and learn to code, understand barriers and image problems, and recognise institutions which demonstrate commitment to this cause. 

Science and technology is not a homogenous entity though. As well as huge differences between the physical and biological sciences, the private sector tech industry operates under different paradigms to academic science in terms of funding, knowledge landscapes, geographies, labour practices and attitudes towards openness and public engagement. These distinctions contributing to notable differences in the way that sexism and harassment are publicized and discussed.