It’s quite reasonable to suggest that Taylor’s shirt wasn’t exactly the most professional choice of clothing for an interview, but I’ll let his employer reprimand him for that. It’s less reasonable to suggest that a shirt — a shirt — can drive women away from pursuing careers in science and technology… Taylor’s critics have also claimed that his clothing creates a toxic work environment for women. That may be true; again, I have no idea. But I’d wager it’s more toxic to suggest that women are so frail, of such feeble resolve, that they can be derailed from scientific careers by a printed T-shirt. […]
Whatever point Taylor’s critics are trying to make about workplace social climate is being overshadowed by how ridiculous the whole thing seems: man achieves remarkable scientific feat, social justice warriors complain about his T-shirt. The unintended consequence is that it reinforces all the negative stereotypes about privileged Western feminists; that they are humourless, hysterical and forever sweating the small stuff, with few “real” issues of equality left to worry about.
The outrage over Matt Taylor’s wardrobe will certainly change people’s actions; I assume most scientists will stick to a jacket and tie from now on. But will it change perceptions of feminists; this fury over Taylor’s error — ill-timed, and ill-delivered as it was? I’d say certainly not. Indeed, I suspect it will do just the opposite.
Oh, Western feminism. Find your way home again. There are some battles – real battles – for you to fight.