Female Professors Wear Beards to Protest Sexism in Science

UC Berkeley Bearded Lady
Lexi Marsh/YouTube

Female professors including some from UC Berkeley are wearing fake beards to protest what they call sexism and discrimination in the sciences. One professor says the project has brought out the “sisterhood” in academia.

According to a report by Campus Reform, a group of female professors including several from UC Berkeley are wearing beards to protest the alleged lack of female representation in “male-dominated” fields in academia.

The professors created a documentary detailing their experience fighting for “equality” in academia. The documentary, which is called “The Bearded Lady Project: Challenging the Face of Science,” has premiered at various universities around the country.

The Bearded Lady Project was co-founded by UW paleontologist Ellen Currano, film director and producer Lexi Jamieson Marsh, and fine art photographer Kelsey Vance. It started as a joke between Currano and Marsh, two women trying to succeed in male-dominated fields. Some days, both women agreed, professional life would just be so much easier with facial hair. Paleontology in particular has long celebrated large, grizzled or bearded men going out in the field, facing the elements, having a large pickax, and moving boulders. Upon further reflection, the joke turned serious, and The Bearded Lady Project was born.

UC Berkeley Paleontologist Leslea Hlusko said that the “Bearded Lady Project” has united female professors around the country.

“The real genius of The Bearded Lady Project, to me at least, is that it brought out this sisterhood within my profession that I’d never really appreciated before,” Hlusko said in a short comment. “I am often the only woman in the field, or one of just two, maybe three. Always a very significant minority. In those situations, I have learned to play down my gender, attempt to be as androgynous as possible. I am definitely not one of the guys, and I quickly learned the different set of rules by which I need to play.”

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