The Culture of Harassing and Demeaning Women Scientists

Comments

1
Thank you for writing that.
2
I salute you.
4
So, you publicly made a false statement about Cliff Mass (who has stated repeatedly that global warming is real and should be taken seriously), and he demanded a retraction... and this is somehow similar to sexual assault?
5
Is that what she did, @4? “Many of us at the University of Washington do view his views as coming from a denialist or contrarian place."

She expressed her OPINION about his statements on ACC. She spoke for an undefined "many of us at UW", not "all of us" at UW, not the Admin., not his dept., etc.

Its not like she's alone in holding this opinion, and it's not like he hasn't been combative on the same topic on this very forum. Indeed, Cliff will probably be along shortly, unless the Admin. has told him to cut it out.
6
@4, There isn't enough evidence to determine if the statement was false.

@5, "Cliff will probably along shortly."

Are you sure? Last time I saw him he did the whole "You liberal bullies calling people racist are the reason we voted for Trump!" routine, and then took his ball and went home.
7
@4 WHERE is the false statement? What Mr Mass did to Ms Myhre was a clear case of harassment. The fact that you didn't see this is very concerning! Mr Mass has the right to voice his scientific opinions, and she has the right to voice hers. He DID NOT have the right to demand a retraction from her unless she was lying maliciously to defame his reputation. If he believed he had a case for slander, he was free to prove it in a court of law, NOT tried to pressure her through her bosses, nor intimidated her in person! Would he have been so free to behave similarly towards a male colleague?
9
@8: back for more, then?

go on, explain yourself. tell us more about your very original idea.
10
It is hard to see that Mass's finger shaking and empty threats to be gender based harassment.

Unless she knows of men who have said the same thing and not been pursued by email up the chain of command?

Thanks for doing all the science work on our behalf. And thanks for not letting that asshat dissuade you from your heartfelt work.
11
Just look at Dr Mass's feud with KUOW: it shows a pattern of long, public flameouts. It sounds like he acted the same way with Dr Myhre.

However, I don't think Myhre has made the case that this episode was based on gender discrimination. The narrative of the article is a little troubling too: "One time I had my life threatened by a man, and then later I had a conflict with a male scientist who is known to have an abrasive personality". To say that these experiences are just different flavors of the same phenomenon is a disservice to the #metoo effort.
12
And down the slippery slope we go...
13
"He stuck his finger in my face and threatened me: “If you don’t retract your public testimony, I will retract it for you.”

This is a total lie. I never said that and never stuck any fingers in anyone's face. Sarah Myhre choose to defame me and call me names in her testimony. I had never heard of her before that. Several folks emailed me after her testimony telling me that she was "throwing me under the bus." Her efforts to paint me as an extremist was both wrong an unnecessary...particularly as I not only am concerned about climate change, but was a major supported of the carbon tax initiative. Now instead of calling her on her unprofessional name calling in public, I asked her to have coffee with me. I asked her whether she could point out any technical errors in my published research, blogs, or public communication. She could not. Then she starting revving up on how I was aiding "deniers" by admitting uncertainty in climate projections and in interpreting current extreme events. She told me it was ok to exaggerate and deceive the public, to get them to do the right thing. Stunningly, she said she was willing to admit I was ok if I agreed to do an op-ed piece with her for the Seattle Times. I could not believe it. I believe Sarah Myhre is doing a substantial disservice to the effort to deal with climate change, reducing the chance of bipartisan action, and calling folks names she does not agree with.
14
Hey the blonde one is hogging the microscope!!!

#NordicExceptionalismIsRacism
15
@6: you owe me a beer or something.
16
I know He is a WITCH! A WITCH! All of them are WITCHES! YOU are a WITCH too and must be burned. WITCHES are everywhere.
17
I honestly don't know what to do with this, as a female person with advanced stem degrees and who recently left academia for tech.

It's not unusual for scientists to disagree. They do it all the time in peer reviewed publications. In my corner of the science world, there are 20 year running intellectual feuds that are basically just one big tennis match in publications. But the main differences in the way we are trained to disagree as scientists is that our discourse isn't personal. We don't attack each other in writing and malign personally each other because we have theoretical differences in peer-reviewed print. It's pointless, for one. Tasteless and a distraction, as well. The data will support it or not. That's the bottom line. To do otherwise is career suicide, which is a huge reason why we don't pile on each other personally in publication.

These articles are often not even discussing data supported disagreements, it kind of boils down to 'I don't like someone so let me couch my dislike of something around a interpersonal situation'. Whether or not what Myhre says what happened, there is a history of public attack here that makes this more complicated. And that's why I have trouble. I think its understandable that Mass would be angry at this history. I would be angry and frustrated, too. And Mass has done a mostly better job in not using his own blog as a platform to return fire. If it were me, I'm not sure I'd have the restraint. It doesn't mean it didn't happen, but it is complicated by a standing pattern of personal attacks. Women in science work a lot harder to be taken seriously but I'm not sure this article accomplishes what it set out to do. If you have a history of writing take down pieces on an a particular individual, it doesn't necessarily contribute to a situation where women will be taken more seriously in the sciences because this articles aside, alot of what has been writen has been light on science and heavy on petty. I want to believe her but I'm having problems getting past the history. YMMV.
18
@17 As a fellow female scientist, I second everything you juat said.
19
This piece is slimy AF. Mass clearly loves being the contrarian on climate change but he has never been a climate change denier. You publicly insulted him in front of the legislature, are unable to spell out any technical issues with his analyses, and then claim that his being mad at you is misogyny? Worse, you pair up Mass angrily pointing at you in a coffee shop (which he denies) with a horrifying assault you experienced as if the two were in some way comparable? Incredible. Science absolutely has a problem with misogyny but this is a personal feud veering into a witch hunt.
20
only a time or two ago cliff mass was on here saying it's cheaper to cool houses than to warm them. this is because he's a fuck up and/or liar. the comments here say it's a witch hunt against mass, as if you can't flip this to say these same indicate a witch hunt against myhre, and anyone who speaks up. two female scientists are even here pretending that making it personal, going to the boss/patron isn't integral to the history of science, to defend a man who is well known as a crank and fuck up. this too is normal. there is no mystic intellect realm seperate from the body, at least none recognized by science. so, i hope myhre figures out a better way to deal than make up and rage; while neuroticism is shown to extend life, hatred kills.
21
Folks...this is all about harassment. I have faced continuous name calling by Mudede and Myhre of the Stranger calling me everything from "dangerous", to insane, to being a white supremacist, to now being some kind of meteorological version of Harvey Weinstein. Both of them are unhappy about my take on climate change (big threat but most impacts in the future, too much hype of current weather) and instead of politely talking about the science, they both call me these names and attack me personally. They refuse to accept diversity of viewpoints. They both make up stuff that is simply not true. I think Sarah's note above is particularly egregious and unethical, using the current important societal issue of harassment of women as a tool to hurt someone with whom she has a difference on science. Joe McCarthy in 2017.

I read some of the comments with amazement. Truth matters folks. #20... I NEVER said it was cheaper to cool houses than warm them. NEVER. # 11. Remember the Stranger strongly SUPPORTED ME, when I stood up for the UW. Enough. All I ask is a bit of tolerance and a willingness to talk about the science, rather than calling names....cliff mass
22
Cliff, you need to ignore charlatans like Sarah Myhre. Everybody knows she's peddling bullshit. She's like Squealer in Animal Farm.
23
@17 point well made.
24
@21

“Warmer temperatures reduce the need for heating and thus global warming will reduce this more serious pollution. And warmer temperatures will make winters less threatening for the homeless living outside”

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/08/…

25
The worm has certainly turned when the Stranger now puts out hit jobs on climate scientists as a matter of course.
26
Drafting behind the national conversation concerning sexual harassment to gratuitously make false equivalencies between abuse and scientific/political disagreement says a lot more about the author than it does about Cliff Mass. I’ve been watching this back and forth for a while now, and by far the most common thread that comes through is the author’s poltical hackery. This kind of hit job would have been spiked by any self respecting editor...
27
I come back to this thread hours later, and still the blonde one is hogging the microscope!

Maybe she could let that other scientist help look for the last shred of Sarah Myhre's dignity #ScopeHogging
28
@24 thanks.

@21 as #24 shows, you didn't write "cheaper" that's just a direct implication of what you wrote. i stand corrected. of course you're wrong about warming slowing emissions, the opposite is true by multiples, but fortunately for you a hit-job at your person is in the works so your dumb anti-fact bullshit don't mean nothing, no siree. folks, let us celebrate how science vindicates.
29
all the words are here. harassment. witch hunt. hit job. what a time to be alive.

30
Cliff may well selectively harass women but it would hard to tell since, based on conversations I have had with some of his UW colleagues and his being thrown off KUOW (and his reaction to that) he seems to regularly and indiscriminately harass people - and then seems surprised when he is called out for that. .

But his abrasive personality and thin skin are unimportant compared his using his soapbox to minimize and trivialize the effects of global warming and climate change. He frequently discusses how climate change in the Pacific Northwest may not be that bad and could even be good as in this from his blog:

“Although it may not be politically correct to say this, might we find that 2070 weather has some positives, Like a longer hiking season? Less bugs in the mountains? More pleasant temperatures though most of the year? Lower winter heating bills? Less seasonal affective disorder? Less avalanche injuries?”

His focusing on climate change issues that might even be good for the leisure activities of the Puget Sound leisure class in the late 21st Century ignores what other parts of the world are anticipated to be facing at that time - and are facing now.

Having read his blog for a number of years I have come to believe Mass's main problem is an inability to engage in abstract thought. That may not be a problem for someone focusing on local weather conditions so he can tell his audience if they should plan on a wet bike ride to work tomorrow, but it clearly is a major impairment for someone who wants to assess and comment on long-term climate change impacts.

31
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32
Cliff Mass has a sweet schtick as a celebrity scientist. Some folks old enough to recall Dixy Lee Ray know you can ride that pony a long way in this state.
33
I believe Dr. Myhre. I've worked with her for several years. The claims Cliff Mass makes about Dr. Myhre's stance on how to effectively communicate climate change are totally inconsistent with what I know Dr. Myhre's actual stances to be based on our work together, including co-presenting on climate communication at a major Earth science conference.

Cliff Mass's reaction here is all too typical of out-of-touch, older male scientists in our field. I strongly urge him to calm down, step away from this conversation, and reflect on his own discomfort with a younger female researcher publicly disagreeing with his views. Further, I would urge him to consider how his own political biases affect how he chooses to communicate about climate change and the judgements he makes about other scientists' communication choices.
34
You sound like a gutless, virtue-signalling pussy trying to earn points with a colleague, Aaron. The guy has a right to defend himself, so long as the author conflates what he may or may not have done with a violent assault.
35
This article does not exist in a vacuum. Mass has previously used gendered and misogynistic language to try to discredit Myhre. Furthermore, I find it difficult to believe that Myhre is lying. The simplest explanation is he is trying to deny these accusations. I believe Myhre. Speaking this truth costs Myrhe both personally and professionally; one does not take on a tenured professor like Mass for sport.

Lastly, I did not get the impression Myhre was conflating rape with professional harrassment. She is merely describing the wide breadth of sexism that women in male dominated spaces experience. And just because an assault is not sexual in nature, does not mean it isn't equally damaging.
36
"Folks, put ENOUGH REFRIGERATORS outside in the Summer months and RUN THEM with their DOORS OPEN, and global warming won't be an ISSUE. In SCIENCE this is called DIVERSITY."
~from The Offset Effect, 2003 page 7, by Clifford "The Chill Man" Mass, Ph.D
37
"She told me it was ok to exaggerate and deceive the public"

That is completely normal for someone to say.

That is especially a very normal statement for a scientist.

That is totally something one would say to someone you have a conflict with.

Right.
38
> # 11. Remember the Stranger strongly SUPPORTED ME, when I stood up for the UW.

Way to make my point for me, Dr Mass. I wasn't saying you were in the wrong during the KUOW fiasco, I was pointing out that you don't shy away from public brawls. (Not saying that's good or bad, but it's clearly true).

Your pattern of behavior actually vindicates you in the case with Dr Myhre: You have a pretty solid pattern of public disputes with all kinds of people. You're an equal-opportunity crank. (Again, not necessarily a bad thing to be.) If you only ever squabbled with women, especially ones that work for you, that would indeed be troubling. That doesn't seem to be the case.
39
Cliff Mass continuously claim without serious evidence that natural variability is responsible for the modern amplitude and frequency of extreme weather events. He is as much a BS artist as the alarmists he keeps warning us about. Also note that negating the impact of climate change like Mass does has always been part of the deniers' arsenal of tricks.
40
Anyone who questions whether Cliff Mass is a climate change denialist should listen to this podcast in which he also denies ocean acidification. Mass is the living embodiment of abuse of the tenure system.

http://www.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/20…
41
Why isn't anyone here talking about atmospheric science?
42
Some have used the term 'virtue signaling' to describe Dr. Myhre's tactics here; it's not quite correct, but is close.

What you're seeing here is a power game, ¬ a call for a better culture in science. You are meant to believe that Dr. Mass is the oppressor villain. It's culturally attractive to frame it this way (he's an older successful white man, etc.). But really this is just normal scientific disagreement dressed up in identity politics language, a deeply rooted ideology that is infiltrating certain sciences. You need to stop it.

These people are tricksters. The stated goal is dismantling things. Patriarchies, structures, science, modern value systems, whatever. They don't believe in logic, dialogue, or debate (these are patriarchal constructs in their interpretation). All interpretations boil down to your group identity- there is no individual so the only interpretation of a disagreement or a finger point is sexism and villainy. Letting people speak and disagree is not part of the ethos.
43
In many ways, Sarah Myhre is an anti-feminist and a poor model for young women. She sees herself as inferior and is fixated on being a victim. She has a scientific disagreement with Cliff Mass, but instead of debating the science or science policy, she retreats into victimhood. She tries to cast aspersions on him with zero evidence of any ill intent. Not a good model for young women scientists. Her first paragraph is graphic and disturbing, dressing herself up to attract men, only to scorn them. Why would the Stranger publish such things?
44
Amid the overarching concern of how humans will recognize and address global climate change, this back-and-forth with Myhre and Mass is a depressing distraction. Mass's track record of denialism and censorship is clear to anyone who has read (or tried to post opposing opinions to) his blog. While I agree with Myhre's views on the importance of addressing the realities of climate change and calling out deniers, her approach here is anti-intellectual and agenda-driven. As a scientist and "influential" person she should be sharing with readers of the Stranger that 2017 will likely end up being the second warmest year on record globally and that October 2017 was the 394th consecutive month with global temperatures above the 20th century average. Instead she wants the readers to know she considers Mass a narcissist.

Both Mass and Myhre display the suite of characteristics shared by many academics in being insecure, socially inept and arrogant. Their inability to ignore or rise above their egos and this petty personal squabbling - and instead focus on the important issue at hand - does nothing to enhance their reputations or that of their employer, the UW.
45
This woman is mentally unstable. Like...she is a bona fide lunatic.

Quick questions--why does The Stanger let this buffoon write for them and how long until they get hit with a libel lawsuit.
46
When Cliff Mass responded to the fact that Dr. Mhyre ,“chose to defame me and call me names in her testimony”, I had to see what nasty names.
(On January 23rd of this year. Scientists were invited to testify on HB1144) First of all, I was surprised why Cliff Mass’s name would even come up at all but I guess Rep. Shelly Short is a Cliff Mass weather fan so her follow up question was influenced by him. Each climate scientist testified. During the follow up, Rep. Shelly Short asked a few questions.
Rep. Short: “Cliff Mass talks about the fact that recent weather events are really more in line with the Pacific Decadian Oscillation (PDO) and things like that and while we may be experiencing climate it might be in different things later on...”

Two Scientists choose to answer her question and one was Dr. Myhre. This is what she said: “Cliff Mass is a well known meteorologist in the Pacific Northwest. Many of us at the UW do view his views as an outlier. Part of being in science is that you get to dissent and that dissent can sometimes be at the far margins of the scientific consensus. So Cliff Mass’s views are commonly viewed in my community as being of a dissenting or contrarian voice (another scientist that was testifying interrupts and adds, “even in his own department”)
Myhre goes on: “I would also say that the kind of climate variability that we are seeing in The Pacific Northwest is in part due to what we would call high frequency climate variability- the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and El Niño . It is true that climate warming is not monotonic - we would not, even in scenarios where GHG’s are continuing to increase global temperatures -we would not expect global temperatures to rise and break records every year because there is internal variability inside the system. What we see is a very clear trend line of global warming that is overprinting on top of the internal variability that comes with El Niño and PDO.

Rep. Short then asks: “ If you are trying to reach consensus on science. How do you continue to challenge yourself as a scientific discipline internally and to use scientific method to make sure your hypothesis is moving in a direction that you expect it to.”

Myhre responds: “Science is a really self correcting mechanism. Part of our job is to always be critical of the viewpoints that we are sitting in and try to evaluate.”

Myhre continues: “I would like to make an analogous statement. No matter how high Cliff Mass can jump, the laws of gravity still impact how high he can go regardless of his statements and the same thing is true for what we know about how greenhouse gas (GHG) absorbs radiative energy from the sun. There is basic physics that we have known for almost 200 years that informs the science behind climate change and much of that physics is no longer up for debate in my community, even when we’re on the bleeding edges of our fields.

Since Mass noted that he had never heard of Dr. Myhre until after the testimony and that his followers told Mass that Myhre had thrown him under the bus, it would seem that Dr. Myhre was just giving testimony. If they did not know each other, they had no axe to grind. It seems that Mass is ultra sensitive because I did not hear Myhre defaming or name calling. Why did Short even mention Mass in her question? It seems Mass must have been whispering Pacific Decadal Oscillation in her ear....
47
Cliff Mass is a well-known asshat and egotist.. I'm glad someone is again exposing him.
48
There is a difference between scientific discussion and harassment. Based on the quoted testimony, Dr. Myhre offered a description of scientific disagreement, and pointed out that Dr. Mass’s scientific beliefs were largely not consistent with the current consensus.

But perhaps more importantly we cannot ignore the sexism that is so rampant in the scientific community as this piece by Dr. Myhre so graphically illustrates. The entertainment, political, and business communities are being forced to take a hard look at the way they treat women and respond to allegations of misconduct. The scientific community must also engage in a similar exercise in self-examination. Harassment, abuse, and assault are far too much the norm, and women experience these with greater frequency than men. These behaviors can span a spectrum from unwanted comments, to threats, to physical assault. Such experiences are damaging and lead many women to leave the sciences. Even when not sexual in nature verbal or physical assault is traumatic leading women to feel unsafe in scientific spaces. Further, it is not unusual for such behavior to escalate or become sexual in nature.
49
It is an irony that in this case the aggressor claims to the victim, while the victim is called the aggressor.

I am glad that Abby Brockway provided part of Sarah Myhre’s testimony…let me explain why is was so problematic and wrong. Representative Short was asking something about the PDO (the Pacific Decadal Oscillation), an important controller of NW weather and interdecadal climate. Now instead of listening to the question carefully and responding to Rep. Short’s actual points, Sarah Myhre simply went on the attack, terming me a contrarian and out of step with the community. Not only was this unprofessional and ad hominem, but wrong. The importance of the PDO is well accepted in the community. Furthermore, Dr. Myhre seemed unaware that there is actually little trend in NW climate variables such as temperature and snowpack.

Now remember that I never even heard of Dr. Myhre before. As far as I knew, she had never published or done research on NW climate and weather. Anyway, I invited her to have coffee with me and to talk it over. Then I learned what was going on. I asked her whether I had made any scientific errors in any of my papers, blogs, or public presentations. She could not name one. She told me she really didn’t know much about NW regional climate, climate dynamics, and the relevant topics. But she was upset that by being frank about CURRENT NW weather trends and weather extremes (that most have little to do with climate change), that I was aiding the deniers. (Note: that I believe that greenhouse warming will produce serious impacts during this century). She told me that exaggerating greenhouse gas impacts was fine…. something I note was also told to me by her colleague at the Stranger, Charles Mudede. She demanded that I do an op-ed piece with her on climate if she were to pull back on her criticisms of me. I told her that I could not agree to that and her session ended. I NEVER stuck a finger in her face and told her I would “retract” her testimony for her (which doesn’t make any sense).

Subsequently, Charles Mudede did a number of hit pieces on me in the Stranger (e.g., Cliff Mass is a Very Dangerous Weatherperson), with the same angle as Sarah’s—that terrible climate change is happening now and to doubt that means one is aiding deniers. Finally, I had a debate with him, where his nonsense and lack of understanding of climate became apparent (he called himself a green Mussolini at the end).

The Stranger then decided they needed a new hit person, so they brought on Sarah Myhre and she did not disappoint, writing regular hit pieces—ad hominem stuff that generally had little basis in truth (e.g., “Cliff Mass blames liberals for lack of progress on climate change”). (I AM A LIBERAL! ) These were aggressive, destructive attacks, not scientific discourse. The last one was perhaps the worse, where she describes her predatory behavior (e.g., BURN THEM ALL DOWN. I rage silently in my lipstick and heels, dressing as powerfully and sexually I can–as if to say, “try it on me motherfuckers”. I rage-walk from the bus to day care to work to the grocery store and I stare down every man on the street, silently shaming him with my eyes. It is a game I play through these rage-soaked days.)

She accuses me of some kind of harassment—it appears that this includes having a different opinion about climate change.

Now folks…think about it. There is a person who initiates the public attacks and calls names in a public forum at another scientist. A person who continues the attacks in a half-dozen or articles in a leading local publication. That person is a victim of harassment? And the person (me) being attacked is the aggressor?

Finally, Sarah Myhre claims that there is a power differential between us, which she claims supports her status of victimhood. There IS a power differential and one might easily conclude she has that power. She was voted one of the top 26 most influential people in Seattle in Seattle Magazine, something she notes repeatedly. I am not in this highly influential circle. She can write critical articles saying whatever she likes in one of Seattle’s main media outlets (The Stranger). I have no such powerful communication tool (yes, I have a blog, whose readership is a fraction of that of the Stranger). She claims that my faculty position gives me some kind of power over her, but she does not work for me nor is she even in the same department. I have no influence or power over her academic activities. I clearly have no power to stop her attacks.

I believe that the tendency of some to attack and demean others with a different viewpoint is highly destructive. It would be far better than rather than calling names; we simply debated the science and its implications. I hope these hit pieces in the Stranger will end…. this publication is only degrading itself by continuing.