Female Scientist Fights Back Against Sexist Detractors

Museum chief curiosity correspondent Emily Graslie discusses sexist viewer comments

By Haley BeMiller
|  Thursday, Dec 5, 2013  |  Updated 11:31 AM EDT
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The Field Museum's Emily Graslie explains why she decided to respond to the sexist comments she's received on her science education YouTube series,

The Field Museum's Emily Graslie explains why she decided to respond to the sexist comments she's received on her science education YouTube series, "Brain Scoop."

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Emily Graslie is the resident scientist and "chief curiosity correspondent" at Chicago's Field Museum, but as a woman, she's a minority in her field.

Female scientists are few and far between, and according to Nature, those that do break the barrier aren't treated very well.

But the lack of women in her field is not what irks Graslie the most. It's YouTube commenters.

Graslie publishes videos for the museum on her YouTube channel "The Brain Scoop", and despite the intellectually stimulating content, some of her viewers tend to focus on other things. Like her clothes. And her body. You know, important science stuff.

However, Graslie decided she wasn't going to sit back and take it. During a recent video, Graslie had her director, Michael Aranda, read nasty viewer comments while she discussed sexism and the perils of being a female scientist. Many of these viewers obsessed over her appearance, with one saying she needs "sexier glasses." 

"I can't stop looking at her nose," the comment continued. "It looks so weird. It kind of makes her look like a nerdy pig."

Others, however, weren't afraid to get a little more personal.

"Thumbs up for the Skyrim reference," another viewer said. "It made me chortle."

Graslie also said this feedback makes her feel awkward when she hosts guests on her show because viewers assume there's a relationship between her and the guest. One viewer equated such an episode with "lesbian porn" and advocated for Graslie and her two guests to have a three-way. Classy, right?

Graslie said this Internet bullying needs to end and implored her viewers to show support for all content creators.

"We need to make sure we're making it possible for people of all genders to feel acknowledged for their contributions and not feel held back by something as arbitrary as their genetics or appearance," she said.

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