If you want to change somebody's propensities, make sure you don't inadvertently reward the behaviour you want to discourage. Yelling at your child in public is counter-productive regardless of how bad or anti-social her behaviour is. In the first place, this does not teach her how to behave. Secondly, she is likely to get the sympathy and solidarity of all around her, and thus to be encouraged in the very behaviour you would (perhaps rightly) like to discourage.
In his recent post, Eric advocates “shunning” as a mechanism to discourage “sexist norms in philosophy.” And he cites an NPR article in support of his position. The article attributes the wide acceptance of bicycle helmets in certain US cities to social approval. It doesn’t much matter why people wear helmets in New York City, it says—to avoid raised eyebrows or serious injury. What’s important is that they wear them. And they do so because to do otherwise would be to be frowned on.
Now, the NPR article says nothing whatsoever about shunning. And if shunning is anything like social exclusion, then one can see why. Social sanctions can backfire if they are perceived to be unfair or overly harsh. It’s one thing to snicker when people organize all-male conferences. Avoiding a mild sanction (like a snicker) is a reward for doing the right thing. That reward, or even better an explicit reward such as open appreciation, reinforces good behaviour.
It’s a different thing altogether to shun or advocate shunning people who offend against the gendered conference norm. Onlookers simply show disapproval of the shunning, and this comes across to the “offender” as solidarity. Thus, they are encouraged in the very behaviour you want to change.