Un-Skepchick: Being a role model for female skeptics

I’d like to share a recent message I was so very grateful to receive. It came from a mother whose daughters were the ones who were treated coldly by who they thought were role models, Rebecca Watson and her clique of Skepchick mean girls.

I am a 45 year old woman with two daughters, age 19 and 22. I just want to say thank you for being a role model and voice of reason. Many years back we attended TAM (the year of the surprise wedding) and my girls were excited to meet Rebecca. She and all the other Skepchicks totally blew my girls off. They felt like there was a huge click just like in high school. I told Rebecca later via email and was told it was our fault. Fortunately Harriet Hall talked with them as well as Barbra Drescher and they have continued to admire and friend them. We then heard you speak at a later TAM. THANK YOU! A young woman with such grace and presence. I just want to let you know that even though you may not even know, you are having a huge impact on young women and the voice of reason in skepticism.

It disappoints me to hear from people who attend skeptic or atheist conferences and have a negative experience with Skepchicks, but it no longer surprises me. I receive private messages and emails from women who were enthused to meet Skepchicks like Rebecca Watson, Amy Roth, Elyse Anders, only to find that they were ignored, brushed off, made to feel unwelcome or actually being spoke to in a rude or malicious manner. They write to me to express support in my critiques of Skepchick, and how they have a negative impact on women in skepticism.

My view has always been that the best way to be a good role model for women in secularism is to simply be a hardworking individual in your field. You don’t have to hit young girls over the head with the fact that you’re female. This is why I treasure skeptics like Barbara Drescher, Sharon Hill, Dr. Hall, Eugenie Scott, Carol Tavris, Eve Seibert, and many other talented contributors to the skeptic movement, who rarely focus on talking about women issues. They make great role models—to both men and women—because they do great work and are admired for it, regardless of their gender.

It makes it even more confusing that Skepchicks—skeptics who want to focus on promoting women in skepticism and ensure our community is welcoming to women—would so often be the very ones who make women feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.

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