The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), founded in 1976 as CSICOP by Paul Kurtz, was one of the very first and is the longest-running formal skeptics organization. Like most of those in charge in the ’70s, its leaders and heroes were older white men. Many charge that the organization and its official journal, Skeptical Inquirer (SI), hasn’t changed much since then when it comes to giving voice to women in the skeptics movement. PZ Myers described it well a couple months ago:
Unlike many—I might even guess the majority—of those who work in the skeptical movement, I got here not through my love of science but through my love for the English language. I started out at the Center for Inquiry in May of 2006 as an intern in CFI’s Editorial Department. This placement was a bit of a fluke itself. On the shuttle ride from Lego Land to North Campus one day, one of my classmates at UB asked me what I was planning on doing with my BA once I graduated. I immediately broke out into song. Once the muppets dispersed, I told her that I really liked the idea of getting into editing but that I had no idea how to get my foot in the door. She then began to regale me of the wonder that was her internship the previous summer at a magazine that writes about UFOs, ghosts, etc. If she mentioned the skeptical bent, I missed it completely. When I e-mailed the member of the editorial department who handled the internship, I was under the impression that the magazine was PRO-paranormal! (I really wish I still had a copy of that e-mail. All I remember for sure is that I mentioned Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM Radio Show. Lucky for me, even that faux pas didn’t keep me from getting the gig.)
I don’t know if you skeptical peeps have noticed, but there are not very many female skeptics kicking around the skeptics movement. Actually, I just lied. There are quite a few female skeptics out there; it’s just that few (well, let’s face it, none) of them get as much attention as their male counterparts. Okay, I lied twice in that first sentence—I know full well that many of you out there have indeed noticed this inequity. I honestly find this dearth of estrogen in the movement a bit baffling and, well, really annoying. There are some amazing women in the skeptics community—Eugenie Scott, Harriet Hall, and Karen Stollznow immediately come to mind to name a few—but none of them gets the recognition of a James Randi, Phil Plait, Steven Novella, Adam Savage, Richard Wiseman, Joe Nickell, et alia ad nauseum. When most people think of skepticism they immediately think of an aging bald white guy♠. Hell, that is the first image that comes to my mind when I think of skepticism, and I’m the one lamenting the lack of female influence in the movement in this very post!