Many of our readers and friends are scientists and experts in their fields. Would that stop mansplainers from talking down to them? We asked if they had any stories of being mansplained to, and they did not disappoint. Here are a few of our favorites. If you have stories you'd like to contribute, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM me on Twitter (@d_samorodnitsky). Anonymity guaranteed. All the below respondents asked to remain anonymous. These quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.
A wild kilogram expert appears
"Once I was going to a popular radio show to talk about a new science story. Someone came to escort me up to the studio and I apologized that, on our walk, I would have to watch a press conference so I could give an update from it on the air. The guy escorting me then proceeded to explain the topic of the press conference to me — the very topic I was on my way to explain on the radio show."
(Ed: "What were you going to talk on the radio about?" I asked.
"The new definition of the kilogram!")
I got it thanks
"I spent a sabbatical semester in Sweden (which I had believed to be the center of gender equality — it's not). Here the general assumption was that I was a young, foreign grad student, not a professor. I could only get things done by convincing a higher-ranking man about what I wanted to have done, and have him state that this was his idea, then it would happen.
"The worst situation was an IT guy who was trying to explain to me how video conferencing worked. I interrupted him to say that I did research in this area, so yes, I knew. He kept at it, so I pulled up my home page to show him a) This is me b) I am a professor and c) I do research on technology-based distance education. Oh, he said. And then he apologized. But I had to convince every man personally that I knew what I was talking about."
The cannabis avengers
"PhD candidate studying cannabis and psychosis here. I once told a man what I was researching and he proceeded to explain to me how cannabis can cure cancer. Also had plenty of men online explain to me that there are absolutely no negative effects of cannabis and I quote, "you know nothing of science."
"Who were these people?" Other scientists?" I asked.
"No. Organized stoners. The cannabis community can be hostile."
"Okay, can I quote you by name or do you want to remain anonymous?
"Better stay anonymous, thanks. Don't trust the cannabis avengers not to return."
There's a reason it's not called an Amateurs degree
"The one that pops to mind most quickly is when I started my PhD. I came in with a Masters and one of my new labmates started explaining shit about my study species to me. He had been a PhD student six months longer than me, with no Masters. I was a super expert, and we were in equal footing but he completely disregarded the degree I had earned in that topic that he didn't have."
Do you even know why you hired me
"I’m a chemist and I’ve lost count of times I’ve been mansplained to, but I think my favorite was the manager I had who explained to me what desomorphine was. I did my thesis on desomorphine, krokodil (the street synthesized version), and its derivatives. It was in my interview. I commonly spoke about it. “It’s basically codeine if codeine were crack,” I was told, with utter confidence.
"In some ways he wasn’t wrong, just drastically oversimplifying in a very patronising way. Codeine is used to make desomorphine in the street synthesis, so that’s not terrible. And desomorphine in street form (krokodil) is terrifically addictive with a very short lifespan — the high doesn’t last long. Cocaine is similar in that respect. The issue is that it’s nothing close in structure to cocaine, and in the job we were doing (LC-MS/MS detection in human bio fluids) it would have been pointless to look for it anywhere near cocaine on the data readouts.
"So basically, he did the equivalent of telling a marine biologist who wrote a paper on humpback whales, 'A whale is like a really big fish.' Technically not wrong, but very oversimplified, patronizing, and unhelpful."