Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Barbara Barres and Ben A. Barres

This is old news, but better late than never.

Ben Barres had just finished giving a seminar at the prestigious Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research 10 years ago, describing to scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and other top institutions his discoveries about nerve cells called glia. As the applause died down, a friend later told him, one scientist turned to another and remarked what a great seminar it had been, adding, "Ben Barres's work is much better than his sister's."
The punchline to this story is that Ben Barres doesn't have a scientist sister.
Prof. Barres is transgendered, having completed the treatments that made him fully male 10 years ago. The Whitehead talk was his first as a man, so the research he was presenting was done as Barbara.
Barres has unique insight into how men and women are treated differently by the scientific community.

Read the articles:
Wall Street Journal "He, Once a She, Offers Own View on Science Spat"
New York Times "Dismissing 'Sexist Opinions' About Women's Place in Science"
Nature "Does Gender Matter?" (subscription only)