Small victories in the molecular biology lab
A few years ago, during a masters course in molecular genetics, there was a male PhD student in our lab who was full of helpful explanations of why everything myself and another female MSc student did was slightly wrong. From our experimental technique to our makeup application - he had plenty of suggestions for how we should correct ourselves. Did you know that red lipstick makes you look like you are desperate for attention? Or that you should really only ask questions of more senior scientists if you’ve researched them beforehand, to stop you from looking silly? He never seemed to need do this himself, though, or need to correct the male undergrads that were also in the lab. Probably because they were already so naturally good at science! Most of the other people in the lab were not like that, so for the most part we were able to ignore him and get on with our own work. His many corrections were still a subtle reminder every day that there were people who assumed we were less capable and intelligent than our male peers by default.
The one time I managed to get back at him was when we were at a lab meeting with our supervisors, and someone was absent because they were running a western blot (a fairly basic protein analysis technique). The mansplainer had a pretty fantastic joke about this:
“Knowing him, it’s probably turned into a spaghetti western by now!”
There was some polite laughter, but none from me. Noting this he turned to me and said “Did you not get that? God! You really should know what a western blot is by this stage, don’t you think?”
I said “I know what a western blot is. I just don’t think you’re very good at being funny.”
His supervisor snorted with laughter, and he went bright red and didn’t say anything for the rest of the meeting.