Emily Graslie: Recently, I received a question for an "Ask Emily" episode along the lines of whether or not I had personally experienced sexism in my field and I kind of shrugged it off because the Field Museum is very supportive of women in science.
We even have a Women in Science group here at the Field Museum made of both men and women and members of the community where we come together and figure out ways we can best promote the work of female researchers in this male dominated field.
The more I thought about it though, along with another question of is there any part of my job that I don't look forward to, I would have to say it would be the frustratingly negative and sexist comments that I have to sift through in my various in boxes on a daily basis.
Now, don't get me wrong, the overwhelming majority of comments I receive are positive and encouraging, but there are still a lot of nastiness that I have to deal with on a daily basis in trying to make these positive encouraging videos. This is especially obvious when I happen to host an episode or co-host with another person on somebody else's channel for an audience that isn't as familiar with me or my work or Soo Raccoon.
It made me wonder, is there anyone else going through this? Who are the other women who have STEM channels, those that primarily focus on Science, Technology, Engineering or Math? I spend an embarrassingly long amount of time just trying to think of a handful of these people.
What I found out is that while there are at least 13 STEM channels hosted by men with more than 400,000 subscribers and seven of those 13, which have topped a million, there are only four channels hosted by women that even have more than 160,000. None of us have more than a million.
When I asked my twitter followers to name their favorite STEM women, they said, "There are others beside you and Vai Heart [SP] Hmmm. Must research." And, "You and Vai Heart [SP] are both awesome, though, sadly, you're the only two I know."
This isn't an us versus them and it's not a numbers game. I'm just trying to make the point that there are significantly and noticeably less women making science and technology themed educational channels on YouTube. I'm also not saying that the men that I looked at don't deserve the numbers that they have because I do think that their content is good and it should be celebrated but what is preventing women from reaching the same number of people?
I feel like in general, women don't have enough time to do these things because of the pressure that every episode has to be flawless in execution. This could be a deterrent for both men and women, but I feel like women are going to give up more easily because of comments like this.
Male Commenter: I'd still totally do her.
Emily Graslie: We have a fear of the feedback from our subscribers and commenter because we're afraid that our audience is more focused on our appearance than on the quality of our content. Even more than that, we're not convinced that the content has to be good or factual because we're not convinced that people are watching for the content in the first place.
Michael Aranda: Finally, I've saw her body. Oh my God. How can a woman be hotter than Emily? If you ever need a safe place to stay while you study the Patagonia in Argentina, please, feel free to get in touch with me. I will sponsor your whole journey just to stare at you.
Emily Graslie: There's a fear of the awkwardness that comes with being on screen with anybody else because some assume that there must be some sort of personal relationship happening, which makes work with that person, later on, awkward and on top of that, it makes me feel awkward having somebody on my show because I'm afraid they're going to see those kind of comments.
Michael Aranda: This is the weirdest lesbian porn I've ever seen. For the first seven minutes, I thought how Emily and Hank should totally hook up, then the animal wonders girl came out, I though they should totally have a threesome.
Emily Graslie: That brings on self-criticism, like I'm not intelligent or funny or engaging enough on my own.
Michael Aranda: She just needs some sexier glasses. I can't stop looking at her nose. It looks so weird. It kinda makes her look like a nerdy pig.
Emily Graslie: There's a pressure to be the whole package. Not only do you have to be intelligent and articulate, but you also have to be attractive.
Michael Aranda: Emily, even though the clothes you're wearing kind of disguise it, you look like you might be pretty hot under them. Perhaps you should consider wearing slightly racier clothing. Besides, obviously, pleasing to straight males and gay females, it might boost your self esteem. She is really cute but as if she made herself unattractive on purpose. She could easily keep us focused by changing her clothes. I would really like to see her again with the new looks.
Emily Graslie: The lack of acknowledgement from others around you towards these negative comments, being like "Ah, it's just YouTube," "Oh, they're just anonymous comments, don't listen to them." But when they're so personal...
Michael Aranda: I don't know what kind of people get offended or insulted by compliments. Maybe he should have said that she's ugly and should go die.
Emily Graslie: And then there's just blatant general sexism.
Michael Aranda: You'd think this was a man's job, not two beautiful ladies. Thumbs up for the Skyrim references, it made me total. I assume that was written by Michael. That was not written by me.
Emily Graslie: I've heard from male colleagues that while they certainly don't support sexism and they think it's awful, they feel as though they have nothing to contribute to the conversation but it starts with acknowledgement from both men and women that these are serious issues that need to be discussed. We can't idly sit by and tolerate internet bullying in any form because that's what this is and this is internet bullying.
Help us make it widely known that this kind of apathetic attitude is detrimental and unacceptable. We need to make sure we're making it possible for people of all genders to feel acknowledge for their contributions and not feel held back by something as arbitrary as their genetics or appearance.
But how to we encourage more women to be content creators. It starts by supporting our fellow creators, recognize we're all going to undergo a learning curve in the beginning and to not to let it end there because of unnecessary pressure or negativity.
In the end, we stay committed to a mission of making quality educational content in order to provide for more women role models to fill these spaces, and ladies, it gets better.
Emily Graslie: It still has brains on it.There may be small errors in this transcript.