Everyday Sexism


I am part of a Facebook group that is focussed on science, humanism and atheism.

Someone put up a post about International Women and Girls in STEM Day. She gave her science field, and asked for the rest of us to share our expertise. Some of the replies (several duplicates):


Evolutionary Biology


IT Analyst

Medical doctor





Maths teacher

Engineering consultant

Forensic Scientist

Computer scientist


Physical Chemist

IT for a space-race competitor

Marine ecologist

Environmental chemist


Biophysical chemist


Many of these woman have multiple degrees. 63 women replied.

And one man.

“Very impressive, ladies.”

35 responses »

  1. That’s a difficult call. One could ask: was it necessary to add the tag ”ladies” at the end?
    Why did the bloke feel inclined to comment in the first place?

    I remember Kate (rough seas in the med) once getting upset on a post over the generic use of the word ”guys” in reference to a mixed group of people.She responded after a fashion: ” I am not a guy”

    Then again would the FB comment have been viewed in any sort of controversial light if it had been written by a woman?

    How would you feel to be addressed as ”ladies” by a woman?

    • In all the other 62 comments, not one woman used the word ladies.
      I had an older woman try to tell me off, in a pub of all places, for my language. Said it wasn’t ‘ladylike.’ I immediately said I wasn’t a lady.
      I’m the reverse of Kate (who can be prickly, but I like her anyway). If I’m the only woman in a room full of men, and the boss says ‘lads,’ addressing us all…I’d really rather not that he tips his head to me and says ‘and gal.’ I think of myself as part of the team, not an outsider needing special words in that situation.

      • Good to have self confidence and the flexibility to pick your battles. Not everything is important
        (But I get annoyed by women addressing other women as “ladies” as it sound snotty, bossy, demeaning, anachronistic, and stupid. But in the long term of 10+ years, It doesn’t really matter)

        • There are a lot of people battling to have their pronoun of choice applied to them, and while I don’t have a problem with that at all, it seems group names still need work. Is folks ok? People? Just ‘all’ maybe? I don’t think any of those are offensive.

          • It is such a problem. Regional differences also complicate things. I started using “people” years ago out of desperation of not finding any else. It’s a little weird.I hate hate “folks” as in this area/growing up it was used to demean/suggest you were ignorant/ backwoods/condescending. I still grit my teeth when hearing it. But that’s my problem not societies’
            Realistically I don’t take offense at umbrella nouns of address when used – especially when we are just trying to get work done. There are simply more important things to worry about. (and those who look to be offended, generally will find reason to be so?)

  2. We may be getting closer to recognizing that people are allowed to be people and all can achieve.
    Hmm, what noun of address? “Doctors”? – not all those who have expertise/considered experts in their field hold doctorate or MD degrees – we don’t want to leave anyone out or demean anyone who has worked hard to achieve simply because they don’t have certificate/papers.
    We’re in transition and era of change.
    “Ladies” is much better than girls/sisters/baby/sweetie/honey – depending on the age of the speaker, that used to be a term of respect. Maybe just safer to leave off the tag, but I’ll have to assume/pretend nothing ill was meant by it until proven otherwise.

    • After 62 people listing their sometimes multiple doctorates, Doctors would have been a better title than ladies. Especially in this group, I was disappointed to see someone use an outdated term for a group of women at all. I am also sure it wasn’t ill meant, but it is nonetheless demeaning.

      • If they were all doctorates, that would be fine. Having been around some very innovative people/entrepreneurs who did not go to college yet became far more successful/respected in their fields than most, I guess I became sensitive to how they were addressed and to make sure they weren’t slighted or left out. Cheers for the brilliant mavericks.
        “Ladies” is a bit archaic – depending on region and area once again. It brings to mind PTO parents’ meetings at schools and those who lunch.
        Eventually the term will disappear as those who grew up using it as a sign of respect die off.

  3. Excuse me, but why is ‘impressive’ an appropriate response? Can we not *take for granted* that women should be well qualified and occupied just as many important roles and niches in the education and employment ecosystems? Ladies is a bit condescending, but depending on his age, it could be just a courteous speech habit.

Thoughts? Gardening tips? Cocktail recipes? Don't just like and leave, please - I can talk for Ireland and would love to prove it!

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