MIT — Massachusetts Institute of Technology — is a top-tier university focusing on STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The woman who claims Star Trek posters can be sexist is the chief librarian at MIT. Throughout her blog, (which you can read in its entirety here), the usual lib buzzwords are thrown around — “mansplaining,” whitesplaining,” “white privilege,” ad nauseam. But, while she thinks she is preaching “tolerance” and “inclusivity,” she sounds like a fascist.
….One thing men can do, and white people can do in mixed race interactions, is stop mansplaining, and stop whitesplaining. Just stop.
Stop doing it in person, and stop doing it online. What I mean is simply this — if you have some power and privilege in a situation (and if you are white and/or a dude, chances are you do have some privilege; if you are a white dude, you definitely have power and privilege), then for the love of baby unicorns please refrain from giving your unsolicited advice and opinions to others. Practice some restraint. Just try to sit on your hands for a minute and entertain the idea that maybe you don’t have to jump in….
Just like all politics is local, all culture is local.
Or at least, lots of the visible manifestations of culture are local. There is research that shows that workplaces that are plastered with stereotypically “tech or nerd guy” cultural images – think Star Trek – have negative impact on women’s likelihood of pursuing tech work and of staying in tech work in general or in that particular work environment. Replace the Star Trek posters with travel posters, don’t name your projects or your printers or your domains after only male figures from Greek mythology, and just generally avoid geek references and inside nerd jokes. Those kinds of things reinforces the stereotypes about who does tech; and that stereotype is the male nerd stereotype.
I also want to urge you all to pay attention to the kinds of informal socializing you do at work and in those liminal spaces that are work/social – if all the guys go to lunch together and not the women; then maybe stop doing that. And if the guys go to lunch and talk about women, then really, really, really stop doing that.
If there’s a core group of guys who go out for beers after work just because you’re all friends, that’s kind of OK; but if you also talk about work and make decisions then it is definitely not OK.
Be more aware. Be accountable to each other for being inclusive. And if you keep inviting people and they keep saying no, don’t keep inviting them and expecting them to suddenly say yes, and don’t shrug it off and say you tried; try something else instead. Try asking whether there is something else more folks would want to do. Consider that there might be a better time for informal team building that would work for everyone. And if the idea of giving up your beer time with your buddies seems like a bridge too far … then at least admit that might mean that you value your all-dude happy hour more than you value an inclusive work culture….