A recent conference on primatology was closed to men.
According to the 28Sep90 issue of Science, the conference, "Women Scientists Look at Evolution: Female Biology and Life History," was held in August at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Science writer Jennie Dusheck reports:
"Two of the main organizers of the conference, Adirienne Zihlman (USCS) and Mary Ellen Morbeck (U Ariz)... insist female scientists speak more freely on such topics when males aren't around. What is more, they add, women scientists think differently about those topics thean men do - possibly even understanding them better because they are women."
Duscheck then quotes several male and female primatoligists who were "appalled" or otherwise objected to the exclusion.
"Zihlman and Morbeeck, both physical anthropologists, say they didn't set out to exclude men when they began putting the conference together. But when they first drew up a list of potential participants, it just happened to consist entirely of women. The next step was simply deciding not to add any token males to give some semblance of balance.
"Having arrived by accident at an all-female conference, the organizers rationalized the exclusion of men...
"Zihlman and Morbeck also say that male posturing and filbustering slow conferences down. Without them, they say, exceptional progress was made. Glows Morbeck `At the end of the first day, we were where we'd be after 3 days of other conferences. At the endo of 2.5 days, we were miles ahead.'"
The article raises the possibility that not only were men excluded, but that their research was also excluded. Some of the particpants claim that "Research done by women on females... is qualitatively different from research done by men. Silvana Tarli (U of Pisa, Italy) is an example of those who hold that point of view: `It was necsessary that the particpants be all female since [the conference] had to do with female life history strategies. Males cannot find out what is important in female reproduction. They've never experienced it. How can they judge, value, or lable things they have never experienced themselves?'"
Primatology is not a field closed to women. 35% of the members of the American Society of Primatologists are women, and women's participation in the field began in the 1920s.
Not covered in the article:
How was the conference funded?
How many participants were there in the conference?
Was this conference an official function of the American Society of Primatologists? Will a proceeding be published?
Are there any applicable laws prohibiting such discrimination?
Sputtering with amazement,