FTM’s Firsthand Experience of Bias

ben barres.jpgWomen in Science Face Biases: Yesterday’s Washington Post features a story about a neurobiologist who had a sex-change operation, switching from a female to a male (FTM = female to male). According to the story, after the scientist had his operation, he returned to work as a man and gave a talk. Another scientist, who did not know that his formerly female colleague was now a male, was overheard telling someone that he had done a great job and that his work much better than his sister’s work. Imagine! The only thing that had changed was the scientist’s gender. Here was a man doing the exact same work he had done before when he was a woman, only now he was getting more of his colleague’s respect and praise.

This makes us think about Deaf and hearing colleagues. It’s not hard to imagine that in the hearing world, hearing people get more respect than Deaf people for the same work. What about in the Deaf community? If a Deaf professional and a hearing professional do the exact same work or make the exact same suggestions, who gets more respect? What might happen if two copies of a book are submitted to the Gallaudet Press, one identified as written by a Deaf person, the other identified as written by a hearing person? Which book would be selected for publication?

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