Women, science, and sex

The SJWs in science are setting up their favorite damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenario for male scientists. If you don’t bring young women along with you on your trips, you’re a damnable sexist. And if you do, you’re a sexual predator.

On a cold evening last March, as researchers descended upon St. Louis, Missouri, for the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), a dramatic scene unfolded at the rooftop bar of the St. Louis Hilton at the Ballpark, the conference hotel. From here, attendees had spectacular views of the city, including Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch, but many were riveted by an animated discussion at one table.

Loudly, and apparently without caring who heard her, a research assistant at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City charged that her boss—noted paleoanthropologist Brian Richmond, the museum’s curator of human origins—had “sexually assaulted” her in his hotel room after a meeting the previous September in Florence, Italy. (She requested that her name not appear in this story to protect her privacy.) Over the next several days, as the 1700 conference attendees presented and discussed the latest research, word of the allegations raced through the meeting.

Richmond, who was also at the meeting, has vigorously denied the accusations in a statement to Science and in email responses. (He declined to be interviewed in person or by telephone.) The encounter in the hotel room, he wrote, was “consensual and reciprocal,” adding that “I never sexually assaulted anyone.”

Although the most recent high-profile cases of sexual harassment in science have arisen in astronomy and biology, many researchers say paleoanthropology also has been rife with sexual misconduct for decades. Fieldwork, often in remote places, can throw senior male faculty and young female students together in situations where the rules about appropriate behavior can be stretched to the breaking point. Senior women report years of unwanted sexual attention in the field, at meetings, and on campus. A widely cited anonymous survey of anthropologists and other field scientists, called the SAFE study and published in July 2014 in PLOS ONE, reported that 64% of the 666 respondents had experienced some sort of sexual harassment, from comments to physical contact, while doing fieldwork.

Even a few years ago, the research assistant might not even have aired her complaint, as few women—or men—felt emboldened to speak out about harassment. Of the 139 respondents in the SAFE study who said they experienced unwanted physical contact, only 37 had reported it. Those who remained silent may have feared retaliation. Senior paleoanthropologists control access to field sites and fossils, write letters of recommendation, and might end up as reviewers on papers or grant proposals. “The potential for [senior scientists] to make a phone call and kill a career-making paper feels very real,” says Leslea Hlusko, a paleontologist at the University of California (UC), Berkeley.

It will be interesting to learn if the female scientists entering the field will be sufficient to make up for the male scientists they drive from it. The history of social justice convergence indicates that not only will they fail to make up for it, but that all actual scientific activity will cease once a critical mass is reached.

It’s rather remarkable that the Richmond situation is being portrayed as him sexually assaulting her when she was in his hotel room. I suspect that the charge of sexual assault are nothing more than her trying to cover for the fact that she was more or less cheating on her husband. They were out drinking with their colleagues, all of whom would have known that she went back to his room with him.

Remember, it’s much better to be deemed a sexist than a sexual assailant. Don’t mentor women in person, don’t go out of your way to help them, don’t befriend them (particularly if you find them attractive), and don’t go out to dinner with them alone. If you can’t avoid it due to work, insist on lunch. Definitely don’t go out for drinks or to a club. Don’t hug or kiss them, and don’t let them touch you except to shake your hand. Don’t ever give the SJWs an opening to take you down.

The SJWs would love nothing better than to try to do to me what they’ve done to everyone from Jian Gomeshi to James Frenkel. They can’t, because I never give them even the slightest molehill out of which to make a mountain.