It's about Respect

I was at a research meeting this week where an older woman (not faculty) said she doesn't see why researchers interested in health should even have gender and identity in their health databases.

W: We are interested in biology, so there's only males and females. Why do we even need to list all the other genders? In all these health studies, you're either male or female.

Conversations like these often get tense.

There's usually an awkward silence. Senior academics often don't want to deal with it. Junior academics often aren't sure if saying something will incur the wrath of everyone else and jeopardise their future.

So I was quite surprised when two very senior profs, one a white woman and the other a white man, immediately said : RESPECT.

The older woman tried to argue again about it being irrelevant and both profs shut it down.

The man added: "It's about respect. People should be able to identify however they want even if for that particular study, you're interested in only people with a prostate."

When two grey-haired multi-million dollar grant holder white bigwigs say something, people listen. And people shut up. That's one way of using privilege.