According to wikihow, brains and beauty do not go hand in hand.

I stumbled across this pearl of wisdom the other day: “how to be and dress like a nerd when you are a girl” where the author elaborated on how to let “everyone know you are a true thinker”. There were a few useful tips on how to look smarter:

  • go easy on the makeup
  • wash your hair because “being nerdy does not mean being unhygienic”
  • wear pig tails with a thick scrunchy
  • wear taped glasses with horn rims
  • wear simple patterns (brown is particularly recommended)
  • do not wear anything so coordinated that you must have spent hours putting it together

The first question that strikes me, is what if I follow these rules and wear a brown t-shirt and brown trousers – what then? Will I be so coordinated I lose my mental faculties, or will this loss be mitigated by my brown clothing?

Basically, according to this article, there is an inverse linear relationship between female intellectual capacity and fashion sense. Bayes forbid a woman be both smart and beautiful!

imagesssWikihow is obviously not to be taken too seriously, but it does hit a nerve. Though the number of women joining the scientific ranks is ever increasing, most tenure track positions are still held by men. Furthermore, women are much more likely to drop out of science and to have their manuscripts rejected. This deepens the divide between men and women: women have fewer publications and are therefore less employable and more likely to have smaller wages.

Journals such as Conservation Biology are introducing the double blind review process, so that papers can be assessed in an unbiased manner. More journals need to come on board, but most importantly, we all need to make a conscious effort not to discriminate.

Particularly in ecology, there is a general feeling that you must look like you can rough it in the field. True ecologists must be baptised in the faecal matter of their study species to be taken seriously. Dresses and poo do not mix. Wearing a dress and makeup at an ecology conference generally means you will be taken less seriously, even by other women.

I hate that if I close my eyes and imagine a mad scientist – I will see a man. If I close my eyes and imagine a computer engineer – I will see a man. If I close my eyes and imagine an adventurer – I will see a man. What I need, is to start seeing a woman, and why not myself?

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