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VOD: Sexism on YouTube Deters Women from Hosting Tech and Science Vlogs

Having worked on The Chopra Well for over a year before joining the Intent Team I know first hand some of the ridiculous comments vloggers can get. They range anywhere from spam and complete nonsense to hate language and death threats. The anonymity of the internet allows people to spread their inner demons with reckless abandon, and while no vlogger is safe from these types of comments – women by far get the worst of it.

In this video, Brain Scoop host and noted YouTuber Emily Graslie addresses the sexist and harassing comments she has to dig through in her inboxes in every week. It’s more than insulting (because it’s the internet and we should just accept that’s the way it is, right? No.) It’s deterring other potential female vloggers from creating their own science, tech or math based channels. Emily explains that there are currently 13 male hosted STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) channels and seven of them have over 1 million subscribers. There are 4 women with STEM channels and none of them have over 200 thousand subscribers. Is that simply because guys are better at explaining and hosting STEM content? If you honestly believe that then we can tell you right now that this is not the blog for you.

The reason STEM channels and fields remain so heavily male dominated is because women are more easily deterred by the ludicrous comments they receive from viewers. There’s more pressure on women to not only deliver great content, but to look hot while doing so. And what does that say about us? That if a woman isn’t found physically attractive then the words coming out of her mouth aren’t important. God forbid she should make any small mistake in figures or say something that could be misconstrued as inaccurate because you can bet there will be a handful of trolls ready at their keyboards to demand she go back to the kitchen where she belongs. It’s 2013, everyone. Why are we still in this place?

The best point that Emily makes is that the commenters themselves aren’t the only problem. It is those that idly stand by and allow it to happen. It is both men and women that throw their hands up and say “That’s just the way it is,” that perpetuate this cycle of sexist, misogynistic nonsense. We have to do better. It’s not enough that you yourself don’t belittle women, STEM vloggers or otherwise, but we have to take a stand against those that do. We may not be able to cure the ignorance that catalyzes this behavior but if we all unite in the movement to say that it’s unacceptable we may be able to shame them back into the dark, secluded internet caves they came out of.

Thank you Emily for fighting the good fight and we wish you the best of luck in continuing your mission to provide stimulating and interesting science content for the masses via the interwebs. We stand with you. If you stand with Emily too let us know in the comments below. If your first instinct is to make a comment about how she needs cuter glasses then I request that you please step to the left – ain’t nobody got time for that.

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