Where My Ladies At?
December 6, 2013 3:57 AM   Subscribe

Recently Emily Graslie, of the fantastic natural history tumblr and youtube series TheBrainScoop, was asked a question about whether she had personally experienced sexism in her field. Her response is fucking amazing.
Inside is her goldmine of awesome female science educators online with channels that focus on Science Technology Engineering and Math. My work day is fucked.

Science (biology):
Anna Rothschild, Gross Science
Claire, Brilliant Botany
Sally Le Page, Shed Science
Julia Wilde, That's So Science
Dr. Bondar
Lindsay Doe, Sexplanations
Laci Green, Sex+
Annie Gaus, Pick your Poison
Vanessa Hill, BrainCraft
The Penguin Prof
Amoeba Sisters
Science (misc.):
Maddie Moate, Earth Unplugged
Elise Andrew, I F*cking Love Science
Rebecca Watson
Alex Dainis, Bite Sci-zed
Amy Shira Teitel
Joanne Manaster
Jessica King, FieldNotes
Meg Rosenburg, Tales from the History of Science
Ella, Sci-Files
Dr. Kiki, This Week in Science
Boonsri, Elemental
Eff Yeah Fluid Dynamics
Allison Jack, Agricultural Science
Katie McGill, The Physics Factor
Amanda Aizuss, iTalkApple
Emily Eifler, BlinkPopShift
Fran Blanche
Nixie Pixel
Jerri Ellsworth
Limor "Ladyada" Fried
Saramoira Shields, Mathematigal
Rebecca Thomas, Dead Bunny Guides
TheBrainScoop previously
posted by Blasdelb (35 comments total) 284 users marked this as a favorite
I liked this YouTube comment:

I have some degree of sexism & I didn't even realize it until I watched this.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:30 AM on December 6, 2013 [20 favorites]

My other favorite parts of TheBrainScoop are where she dissects a wolf; first getting the poor puppy, then skinning the wolf, then gutting it, and then discussing it - as well as her Ask Emily series that can be started here
posted by Blasdelb at 4:35 AM on December 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

Thank you for this. Marking stuff off to look at in detail over Christmas / New Year, and this collection is definitely one. Also, kudos to the quality and comprehensive tagging applied to this post.
posted by Wordshore at 4:35 AM on December 6, 2013

Terrific stuff. Thank you!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:50 AM on December 6, 2013

first getting the poor puppy,

Starting where she calls to say she's on her way to pick up the dead wolf that they're keeping in their freezer but accidentally calls LensCrafters.
posted by pracowity at 4:55 AM on December 6, 2013 [16 favorites]

Watching the wolf-skinning video.

....And I thought they smelled bad.... On the outside......
posted by kaibutsu at 4:57 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I got through the blood, broken bones and bloated gas-filled intestinal cavity but had to stop when she pulled the wolf penis out of its skin. Too soon.

She's fabulous, though - such a perfect scientist.
posted by mediareport at 4:57 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Starting where she calls to say she's on her way to pick up the dead wolf that they're keeping in their freezer but accidentally calls LensCrafters."

You truely haven't lived academically until you watch your undergrads try to call the local sewage treatment plant to ask when we could pick up a liter of "post-QC liquid fecal materiel" before being asked if they mean a "QB breakfast burrito".

Turns out they weren't calling the sewage treatment plant at all.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:14 AM on December 6, 2013 [34 favorites]

Ugh, those comments. I know a professor in a Math Department who gets the "it was just a joke" line from her colleagues all the time. It's like being a male math professor means you do not have to have a clue at all,
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:23 AM on December 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

Not that the Pokemon approach to diversity is the only thing that matters, but one thing that kind of depressed me assembling the post was the dramatic ethnic and racial homogeneity within the population Graslie put together. Even including men, I'm having a hard time thinking of youtube science that includes the faces of people of color.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:38 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

When the "Where My Ladies At?" video was first posted, for about a day or so all the YouTube comments were encouraging and relatively constructive. Then, as the video "went viral", the comments got nastier as non-subscribers wandered in and went out of their way to shit all over the place. It was sad to watch it turn.

Anyway, Brain Scoop gets better with every video. My current faves are the videos where Emily and Anna carefully skin and dissect an anteater, while cracking-wise nonstop. It's one of the grossest videos, though.
posted by sixohsix at 5:53 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm flagging this as a "Fantastic Post" for the purposes of the 2013 MeFi Choice Awards!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:07 AM on December 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

Oh man that anteater video... I listened to the whole explanation they gave for why it was fine and intellectually I guess ok whatever but there is no way in ten million years I would touch that thing without gloves. WHY NOT WEAR GLOVES?! eeeeeeegh.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:09 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow, that really *is* great.

That's the clearest, most sensible discussion of that topic that I've seen in a long time.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:12 AM on December 6, 2013

Videos like the amazing fucking response are amazing and so great to show to smart, kind, dudes who would never say something like that themselves and so don't quite get the problem.*

I watched it with my partner, who shook his head and furrowed his brow at the comments which were read aloud. Then I paused it and sprinkled it with a little more "and this is what happens to women all the time" and a dash of "and if she scoffs she's a bitch and of she gets raped, it's her fault." I can get a little...inarticulate...about these things, so it worked well for me to just chime in to the things she's saying.

*Metafilter threads have been SO educational to my well-meaning, equality-loving self about certain issues and this video is almost like a bottled version of that re: sexism in the workplace. Personal. Palatable. Educational. With a stuffed raccoon.
posted by MsDaniB at 6:20 AM on December 6, 2013 [11 favorites]

Mod note: A couple of comments deleted. Let's not completely derail a very interesting post/thread with what should be a Metatalk issue. If you want to talk about presentation or style, do it there.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:21 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just watched the wolf-skinning video. Really cool and totally worth the time.

This is my first encounter with Graslie, but let me say that she's got certain characteristics that I tend to find admirable. Most prominently, there's no effort whatsoever to put on intellectual airs. She's obviously just happy as hell to be doing something cool and interesting, she knows her stuff, but she has no interest at all in impressing the viewer with her knowledge. You've gotta love (roughly) "Hey, look at this weird membrane here. I think it's the same as that other tissue. I think it's similar anyway." That's the sign of an admirable approach to inquiry, IMO--automatically making it about the inquiry, not the inquirer. Which (it's funny) is what makes the inquirer admirable.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:41 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Seriously, Graslie asks awesome questions in the videos, which can be a hell of a lot more important than having awesome answers.

Like how Niel DeGrasse Tyson was indeed pretty uninformed in this StarTalk, but his questions were amazing. He asks things like, are viruses also destroyed by heat in the cooking process like bacteria? which are the best kind of question to get from undergrads. It shows he is engaged with the subject matter, actively thinking for himself, forming hypotheses and testing them against the knowledge of someone who knows more, and incorporating his knowledge from other parts of science into the discussion. The answer is very basic to someone with a broad knowledge of microbiology, where viral capsids are remarkably delicate and only really well adapted to a relatively narrow temperature window, making human viruses very effectively dealt with by cooking. However, I've come to think that the expectation that NdGT confine himself to discussing in public the many things he is a global expert in, as well as I imagine his temptation to, is a really bad one. Where here in this interview we can learn from him learning in his clearly terrifyingly efficient way, as well as his passion, and I suppose almost especially his willingness to look ignorant, which is something so essential to the honest practice of science.

Good scientists are constantly excited about finding new ways to feel stupid - pushing themselves to the edge of knowledge where suddenly they know nothing and no one can help them, its cranks who are all about finding ways to feel smart - smarter than everyone else.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:04 AM on December 6, 2013 [18 favorites]

More grist for the mill, a blog, (Female) Science Professor
posted by lalochezia at 7:15 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

This woman is my hero! Thanks for posting.
posted by rcraniac at 7:17 AM on December 6, 2013

That post was such a wonderfully articulate and straightforward explanation of the problem. Thanks for posting this!
posted by onlyconnect at 7:27 AM on December 6, 2013

So people are saying what they think, and you don't like it. Welcome to the internet. BTW, just because someone says you'd look better in a different pair of glasses doesn't make them sexist. You are the one that put your face on youtube, you should be grateful that anyone bothers to comment/watch your videos. Many people are trying to make headway in social media and are all but ignored. Do you realize how much extra attention videos with women in them? Would you like to be completely ignored rather than get some comments you don't appreciate? Think about it.

--posted by a Great American Hero
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:59 AM on December 6, 2013 [8 favorites]

Thanks Pracowity, your description of the Lenscrafters call pushed me over the edge to watch that wolf series. Now I'm cracking up at "So long as we don't attempt to ingest any feces from this wolf we should be fine" (~1:00 of the skinning video).

Her description of the mechanics of sexist comments pushing women out of science channels is awesomely straightforward.
posted by daveliepmann at 8:29 AM on December 6, 2013

From the wolf acquisition video,
Emily Graslie: "...and, um, disembowel it, and then store the various parts in the herbarian freezer, which is hilarious, because botanists don't really take kindly to, uh, animal remains in their plant remains freezer."
I have a chip on my shoulder
posted by Blasdelb at 8:42 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love the part where she has the guy read the on-line comments. Her whole attitude and facial expression convey so well "Do we really have to go through this? Yes, based on what you've done it seems like we really do have to go through all of this. *sigh* Here it is, here we are going through this."
posted by benito.strauss at 10:06 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

These issues are, of course, nothing new to anyone who has been paying attention. The quality of the response is indeed great, however. Which leads me to ask...how have I not heard of this person before!?

Emily Graslie is an absolute treasure. She has a great expressive voice and a cadence that is just right. Too often I get turned off material like this because I find the presenters just don't have what it takes to narrate their shows. While this seems superficial, I think this is essential for a this type of medium because it really determines how much information you can convey in a given amount of time. On top of this, the content itself is fantastic; she's informative and consistently hilarious with highly communicable enthusiasm for what she does. This is a great little example of what I'm talking about. There is maybe 90 seconds of actual material in this video once the intro and credits are cut out, and yet it covers a lot of ground with plenty of room for humor along the way.

Is she my new favorite populizer of science? She just might be.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:20 PM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

I cannot believe I've never seen this show, as it is right up my alley. I will be watching every spare chance I get and spreading the good word amongst my friends. Marvelous!

Thanks you thank you.
posted by blurker at 2:36 PM on December 6, 2013

When I first saw Emily Graslie and didn't know her name (I'd got sent a link where I didn't quite pay attention when she introduced herself), I thought she was John Green's sister. They have a very similar cadence and bearing when they speak.

I'm glad she addressed this issue, and I look forward to watching these other links over the holidays!
posted by droplet at 2:58 PM on December 6, 2013

"Do you realize how much extra attention videos with women in them?"

i am sexist because reasons
posted by klangklangston at 12:57 AM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do you realize how much extra attention videos with women in them?

Do you realize how much extra meaning sentences with verbs in them? The scientists have it bad, but the writing instructors don't feel much better....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:24 AM on December 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

When I first saw Emily Graslie and didn't know her name (I'd got sent a link where I didn't quite pay attention when she introduced herself), I thought she was John Green's sister.

That's kind of funny, because my daughter just pointed out that the Hank Green involved in the Brain Scoop videos is John Green's brother, and they do Vlogbrothers together, which is where Brain Scoop got it's start.
posted by chococat at 11:04 AM on December 7, 2013

Here's the vlogbrothers video where Emily first appears, giving Hank Green a tour of a zoological museum. She was blogging about zoology at the time but it was the vlogbrothers appearance that led to the video series. Makes sense to mistake her for a long lost Green sister not just because of that but also because she and Hank resemble each other.
posted by lampoil at 5:38 AM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Green brothers have never been so great at fact checking their stuff for how popular they are, generally not so terrible, but not so great. Recently, however, Hank Green made a video where he gets suckered in by transparent cranks, communicates fundamental misunderstandings of a field he clearly knows nothing about, and expounds on his own idiosyncratic nomenclature for no reason. Those guys are great educators, but not experts in anything they talk about, and I guess don't get support from people who are because it does show.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:13 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Graslie is so much cooler.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:21 PM on December 8, 2013

To be fair, Hank Green also retracted that video, and apologised for messing up. The copy linked above is on someone else's channel.
posted by ceiriog at 4:39 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

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