What’s wrong with making hot scientist lists?
The July AWIS newsletter highlights a list posted online of the 11 Hottest Female Professors in the Country (no link provided because I don’t want to encourage anyone to go there). The list is particularly maddening because it’s being provided by a website called HerCampus: A Collegeiette’s Guide to Life, that is supposed to be geared towards women. The list picked 11 highly successful female professors and, rather than highlighting their academic accomplishments and favorable student reviews, making inappropriate comments about their looks, in one case citing a professor’s “exotic look”. Reassuringly, the post has not received any positive comments from female readers.
If you’re unsure of why this list is offensive, take a look at this post from a popular atheist blogger. He posted a list of sexy scientists that caused a huge online backlash and then wrote this apology with a well-reasoned explanation of why his list was morally wrong. He writes “My Sexy Scientists post was wrong because it harmed women and contributed to a culture of harming women.” I think he does ignore another kind of harm his post caused, which is to contribute to a culture that disregards women’s accomplishments in favor of their physical attributes.
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