Ben Barres, My New Hero

So someone is finally using transness as the last tool in the feminist toolbox, and I’m pleased as punch. Ben Barres, a PhD in various types of biology at Stanford, has written a response to Larry Summer’s views on women in science and gotten it published in the journal Nature.

Barres is an FTM who is recounting some of the experiences he’s had as a female scientist, and more recently as a male scientist – just to demonstrate the difference to people who don’t seem to get it:

Once (at MIT), he was told that a boyfriend must have solved a hard math problem that he had answered and that had stumped most men in the class. After he began living as a man in 1997, Barres overheard another scientist say, “Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but his work is much better than his sister’s work.”

– but not only that, he’s actively working on getting female scientists more awards and grants:

Last year, Barres convinced the National Institutes of Health to change how it chooses talented young scientists to receive its Director’s Pioneer Award, worth $500,000 per year for five years. In 2004, the 64-person selection panel consisted of 60 men — all nine grants went to men. In 2005, the agency increased the number of women on the panel, and six of the 13 grants went to women. Barres said that he has now set his sights on challenging what he perceives as male bias in the lucrative Howard Hughes Investigator program, an elite scientific award that virtually guarantees long-term research funding.

Quite a few major papers have covered his editorial, and if anyone out there has a copy, I’d love to see the full text.

Thank you, Ben Barres!

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