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How can this even be a thing? Outraged

(37 Posts)
Twink Tue 02-Feb-16 09:01:54

As an engineer turned physics and maths teacher, I'm furious about this. I work really hard to encourage students with low self confidence to believe in themselves, then shit like this appears!

EBearhug Tue 02-Feb-16 09:04:01

I'm shocked, too. I can't see the site from the image (am on my phone), but I am tempted to complain.

PurpleDaisies Tue 02-Feb-16 09:04:04

I agree (as another physics and maths teacher). There was a thread yesterday...

honeysucklejasmine Tue 02-Feb-16 09:04:17

But, but... Numbers are super hard! And gross and icky. Definitely a boy thing.

(I'm a science teacher. This sort of attitude is the bane of my life.)

stumblymonkey Tue 02-Feb-16 09:06:23

I'm going to complain. Fuming that their product/marketing team can remotely think this is a suitable message....

FreshwaterSelkie Tue 02-Feb-16 09:09:18

Just horrid. It does seem like we're going backwards sometimes, doesn't it?

Twink Tue 02-Feb-16 09:17:16

Thanks for the link PurpleDaisies, I missed it yesterday (off sick & was feeling too rough to MN!)

BarbarianMum Tue 02-Feb-16 09:27:06

It worries me less that people make this shit (although I don't like it either) but that people actually think this way and buy it. I mean, you'd hope everyone would take one look and pass straight by in disgust.

I wonder what the boy's version would look like? "I'm too cool to write" maybe? My dc school is certainly convinced all boys hate English and reading.

thatstoast Tue 02-Feb-16 09:27:28

We had a David and Goliath poster in our uni digs. It said "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them". Silly gender stereotypes obviously aren't a new direction for the company.

MrNoseybonk Tue 02-Feb-16 09:31:08

If I can remember my schooldays, top of the class in maths and science was nearly always girls.

StitchesInTime Tue 02-Feb-16 09:39:25

We had a David and Goliath poster in our uni digs. It said "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them"

They do that as a phone sock too. There's another one you can buy that says "Boys are smelly".

Silly gender stereotypes all over the place is definitely something they seem to think acceptable.

Twink Tue 02-Feb-16 10:04:20

They've taken it off their website 😀

PurpleDaisies Tue 02-Feb-16 10:05:36


MagicalHamSandwich Tue 02-Feb-16 10:14:09


I'm not a physics or maths teacher but I am a software engineer. I and many other women in my firm and my field work really hard to try and convince women to get into STEM subjects. At my firm we've successfully lobbied the leadership in making a concerted effort to recruit more women and even to finance efforts to encourage girls much too young for our workforce into these subjects. This is really the last thing we need!

Can we Twitter bomb them into submission?

Oh, and just for the record: I look pretty fucking stunning despite being intellectually brilliant, thanks ever so much!

Pannn Tue 02-Feb-16 10:35:39

tweet @EE as I did and you will get a miserable reply about it being a parody. At which point you could tell them to fuck off massively. But tell them that's only a parody.

Twink Tue 02-Feb-16 13:40:34

They've now posted this on their FB site:

Thanks for your comments on this, we've been reading all of them.

We have decided to remove the phone sock from our online accessories range

The fact the response has been so passionate shows there is a real issue here, one that I believe the product is trying to address – but clearly not effectively.

This is tricky. There are two sides to consider. One, as you've presented here, sees this as a literal message to girls and women, especially blonde ones, that maths (and by extension, science, engineering, technology: STEM) isn't for them. At worst, this perpetuates the negative stereotype. This was absolutely not our intention, nor, I think, the intention of the product.

The other side is that this is a message taking aim at these exact stereotypes, and trying to challenge that thinking, which is how I feel it’s intended. It is how many of our customers interpret it.

There is a place for using parody to make a positive point. I was encouraged to read the response of one lady on Mumsnet talking about the phone sock, who said that she would've loved to walk into a boardroom with her phone in this and challenge stuffy thinking.

But we’ve listened to our customers who are offended by the product; many have not interpreted it in a positive way. And that is why we are removing it.

We will, however, look to continue our work to encourage women into STEM roles, and I look forward to doing what we can to continue to address this issue.

MagicalHamSandwich Tue 02-Feb-16 14:08:33

Sorry, guys (I'm assuming you're guys) but ironic sexism is still sexism. And if you have to point out that something's a parody you may have just fallen victim to Poe's Law. Which is never a good thing because it suggests that there is a loud enough to be heard drop dead serious crowd out there who actually argues for real what you apparently think of as a joke.

In all seriousness: I could probably get away with walking into a meeting with said phone sock. But only with people I've worked closely with and only because my office nick name is 'the brain'. Try this with any new client and I would immediately be pigeonholed as the pretty but dumb one. (Actually that will usually happen anyway and last until I intellectually overpower them at the earliest opportunity for this precise reason.) Irony is a brilliant thing - but only if it's recognized as such.

DrSeussRevived Tue 02-Feb-16 18:34:08

"We will, however, look to continue our work to encourage women into STEM roles"

Blimey, it's unusual for the award for self serving bullshit to be given out so early in the year, but step forward 2016's winner!

PalmerViolet Tue 02-Feb-16 18:58:38

Um, ok.

That statement broke my bullshitometer.

GreenTomatoJam Tue 02-Feb-16 19:16:47


I just shocked DS1's teacher when I told her I'm a programmer (Rather more than that actually, but when asked that's what comes out of my mouth first) - because her husband is a programmer and he says he's never actually worked with a woman!

I thought back, and he's right - in 15 years I've only ever worked with one other female developer. I've interviewed one other, and I've worked with 1 female sysadmin, 2 female head of supports, 1 female tester (and one trans funnily enough), and 1 female tech support (who got sick of the harassment when on her hands and knees under a desk fixing things and defected to HR).

I think it's all crazy, but then my mum is a maths wiz who did Pure maths at Uni (and would have got a first if she wasn't trying to look after 4 young kids and commuting an hour each way to do her degree!). I score very even on those unconscious subject bias test thingies - and I assume that's why.

You can joke about it and be ironic once it stops being a thing. It's still a thing.

StealthPolarBear Tue 02-Feb-16 19:19:29

I've worked with female programmers. Both in private and public sector. That said now I think back on private sector job there was only one other.

GreenTomatoJam Tue 02-Feb-16 20:28:23

I've only ever been private sector (public sector wouldn't touch me with a barge pole - for a few reasons) - spread all around the world too.

Actually, I'm probably not speaking the truth - I'm pretty sure that some of the people on my outsourced Indian teams were women now that I think about it. Still, I've very rarely shared an office (even enormous open plan) with another female tech.

Where do we all go? At Primary the top 3 in maths were girls, at Secondary, A-level maths was 50% female (not so physics.. was hounded out of that by the head of physics, to my shame now I'm older because the only other girl stuck it out and didn't have a good experience on her own). Then my CS related degree was 6 women to about 50 men (most of our classes were shared so it's hard to know exactly), and my career has been entirely male dominated until my current company where in a recent C-level meeting 50% of the people were women, and all had kids we shared responsibility for (except for one woman)

MagicalHamSandwich Tue 02-Feb-16 20:28:45

Proud to say my team of programmers (in a corporate setting) consists of 50% women exactly.

Somewhat less grounds for pride is that this didn't simply happen but is the result of me being in charge of staffing them and both actively pushing for it and asking for more CVs of women when I get an opening.

There's one of them that I would like to eventually take over the team lead position. The current team lead is a man. He's not bad but nowhere near brilliant. She'd wipe the floor with him if given a chance. Not happening for the time being because ... politics. I'll get my chance to place her eventually.

GreenTomatoJam Tue 02-Feb-16 20:55:08

That's Awesome Ham.

I too (directly caused by reading MN FWR I might add) was responsible for the first two actual hires at my startup - one woman, and one man. I totally believe in hiring a woman if they're there, seeking them out if not, and luckily, all my co-founders believe in flexible working for parents which helps a great deal.

I can also say, that knowing the salaries we're all on, they are all comparable, and no-one is earning less because they are female.

Now we just need to get this out to the rest of startup culture.

Micah Tue 02-Feb-16 21:00:24

if it wasnt true, then it would be a parody.

But the sad fact is a significant majority do buy into the boys= maths and science, girls = art and being pretty.

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