Equality & Diversity
One of my favourite Radio 4 programmes is Inside Science. The latest episode includes an item on women in science:
"There's a look at the ongoing representation of women in science following on from a recent report examining the Royal Society's 2014 university research fellows of which only 2 out of 43 were women. The Society's President Sir Paul Nurse discusses how the imbalance in this and in science more generally should be addressed."
Oh, that looks interesting. Thanks TP!
This article is doing the rounds at the moment so it's probable that everyone here's seen it but I thought it was worth linking to as it may be useful in the future.
Explaining consent with the perfect metaphor.
I thought I might pimp a blog I've been reading for a while now. It's The Sociological Cinema is a blog that uses media (primarily films but also things like music videos) to teach sociology. It looks a lot at subtle racism and sexism in media and the way that it is shaped by, and shapes society. It's well worth a look.
A really interesting article from an author on the lack of older female characters in fiction.
Oooh, thanks for that link, Fishnut. I studied film a very long time ago, so this is right up my street.
Not directly related to anything in particular but I found this to be an interesting article: The science of protecting people’s feelings: why we pretend all opinions are equal.
An article on invisible politics, or how we don't recognise that the status quo is a political position until an alternative is created.
A friend recommended this site which I think should be of interest to a lot of people here. It's called Persephone Books and specialises in mid-20th century female authors. It looks awesome!
That was a really great article, Fishnut. Wish we'd had something like this previously!
I felt the same way, eniphaest! If I were able to go back in time the 'discussion' would have gone very different if I were able to use what I know now. But at least we can build up resources here so that next time we are faced with something similar we'll have the responses at our fingertips!
Is it time to stop reading books by white men?
A really interesting article on how the books we read are often by white men and as such present a particular point of view. The reasons given for diversifying reading materials are well articulated:
There are benefits to selective reading aside from soothing the sense of horror most fair-minded people feel when we realize that we are perpetuating inequality. First of all, we ensure that a more diverse swath of authors benefit from increased sales numbers. In a world where people are reading more but there also are far more books being published overall, a purchase is both a direct way to profit authors and a vote in favor of future success for them. On a related note, it tells publishers that there is financially viable interest in a wider selection of authors, so new authors who aren’t white and/or male are more likely to be given a chance to succeed in a system already biased against them.Secondly, it increases the likelihood that we will continue to support diverse authors even after the actively discriminatory period is over. As Bailey Poland observes regarding her Diversity Reading Challenge:
I found authors I might have passed over before, because I was much more likely to skim the shelves and grab the first thing I could remember hearing about; given the state of publishing reviews, odds are that book would have been by a white man.
Last, but not least, reading a broader range of writers expands the worldview of us readers. Though all white male authors hardly share a universal perspective, it is true that people who aren’t white and/or male often have concerns and viewpoints that are underrepresented in literature.
The quote, in particular, grabbed me. I too often read books (mostly non-fiction) based on book reviews and the fact is that most of those reviews are by white men about books by white men. It's yet another hidden bias preventing minority voices from being heard. Now I'm aware I'm going to do my best to counter it.
Is this similar to the problem @Headdesk referenced with the teacher giving the talk - those who aren't white, male or straight are only assumed to be writing for others like them. Whereas white straight male is the default and assumed to be of interest to everyone?
I do like the idea of the challenge though.
I made an effort a while back to ensure that my reading was 50:50, and ended up reading some interesting stuff that I would otherwise have missed because of it. Right now, though, I'm trying to read the books I already have, and annoyingly, most of those are by white males. Though even more annoyingly, almost all of them are stuck in boxes as we currently have no suitable bookshelves. Bah.
I'm trying to go through my backlog of books too and they have a distinctive white male bias. But I'm going to make much more effort to broaden my choices once I've got through it.
I thought this was an interesting article. While it's not saying anything new, this part stuck out as being a really nice explanation of the problems with getting women into STEM.
"STEM education and work are still treated as fields that girls might, if they are vocal enough and determined enough and exceptionally gifted, be permitted to share with males. They are treated as masculine pursuits, and females who succeed in them are expected to succeed on a very limited and very male set of terms."
It's written in response to this,
"Case in point: Cate Burlington’s appalling, hilarious recent “Things My Male Tech Colleagues Have Actually Said to Me, Annotated” –many of which are riffs on her final example, “You’re a girl, but you’re not, like, a girl-girl, y’know?”
This is one of the biggest things to counter, I think. It's a bias I think many of us have. I realised I prided myself on being a tomboy growing up and my interest in science was probably an extension of that. I can't imagine being a 'typical' girl who's interested in fashion and pop culture and the like and feeling that STEM would be for me. Yet in the same way that excluding women and minorities means that dogmas are often never challenged (I'm reminded of a blog post I wrote about this very thing after it was revealed that there was a distinct bias in the biological study of genitalia towards male reproductive parts) excluding the full diversity of women surely means that other biases are not being challenged and other research areas are not being explored.
I've been meaning to publicise this podcast for a while but something that was said on it made me finally do so. It's called 'abnormally funny people' and it's a podcast by disabled people, mostly comedians but sometimes people in other arts (generally acting). There's been 10 episodes so far and while the format has changed slightly in that time, it's been consistently interesting and informative. One of the things that's been really noticeable to me is how, by only having the audio, it's generally impossible to tell that a person is disabled. There's occasions when the hosts will say to the guests, 'oh, just explain to the listeners what disability you have' because unless they have a speech impediment, it's impossible to know. It really highlights how disability is in the eye of the beholder, to a large extent. The comment that made me finally post here is related to that - one of the guests in this week's show, Gareth Berliner, said that he has an impediment, society makes is a disability.
It isn't directly related to women in STEM (not everything has to be!) but I do find it an enjoyable listen and would recommend giving it a chance if you're into podcasts.
A good article from the Sydney Morning Herald on the penalties women face from having children - how even when they have high-powered jobs they're still expected to take on the bulk of the childcare burden. It's not anything new, although it's good to see this sort of article getting published more and more. One thing is did mention which isn't something I'd really thought of before, is how this affects women's pensions and long-term financial security. It also mentioned how having children is, conversely, a boon for fathers as they earn more if they have children. Yet,
"Men who want time out to co-parent are met with raised eyebrows. "The situation traps men as much as it traps women," says [psychologist Frances Feenstra, from the Melbourne consultancy People Measures, who has championed women in the workplace]. . . "No one has the perfect solution," says Marian Baird [from the University of Sydney Business School]. "But if men take the same sort of family leave as women, we will see a change. We have to make men as 'unreliable' as women."
A nice article, directed towards straight white men, about how being supportive towards minorities may mean they're made to feel uncomfortable once in a while and that's just the way things go.
"As always it must be said: If you, a white dude, are tired of hearing about racism, imagine being the target of it. If you’re bored to tears by sexism, imagine constantly having your gender be undermined in a myriad of ways by all sorts of mediums and people. . . .And yet, it seems, so many dudes – who think not being a sexist or racist creep is sufficient moral action – want those of us targeting these issues to tone it down, stop making it an issue, just enjoy the medium, or whatever. So many just want it all to go away so they can go back to their games, their TV shows, their books."
I've got one on a similar theme, privilege doesn't mean easy
Privilege means that, because of your membership in a non-marginalized group, there are things you don’t have to deal with. And because you don’t have to deal with them, you don’t have to think about them, and may not be aware of them.
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