Does my linkspam look big in this? (14th November, 2010)

2010 November 13
  • Recommendation letters could cost women jobs, promotions: Turns out women and men get different types of recommendation letters. “Female candidates were described in more communal (social or emotive) terms and male candidates in more agentic (active or assertive) terms.” Guess what? Academia didn’t seem to value communal contributions very much.
  • [TW for social media privacy issues] If you remember a few months back when Google launched Buzz, some people were wronged. There is a class action underway for those people.
  • “I’m a woman in tech and I’m struggling.” Writes Mediamum.
  • Cindy had something important to say to Wired magazine, so she wrote them a letter.
  • Alice Bell asks: Does my brain look big in this?
  • While we’re talking about science, have you seen the awesome video by the Science Cheerleaders? GOOOOO SCIENCE!
  • Vaginal Terror Flasks ahoy! How would the TSA respond to a menstrual cup?

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention (twitter uses can use #geekfeminism). Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

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21 Responses leave one →
  1. the15th permalink
    November 14, 2010

    Academia didn’t seem to value communal contributions very much.

    In a way, they shouldn’t — to be a great academic, you really have to be in the top 0.[however many 0's]1 percent for independence, intelligence and creativity (probably not aggressiveness and dominance, though), but being in the top 25 percent for characteristics like empathy and teamwork should be more than sufficient. I think that it would be unfortunate if the lesson taken from this is that highly valuing “agentic” characteristics, rather than failing to recognize and celebrate such characteristics in women, is the gender discrimination taking place here.

    • Dorothea Salo permalink
      November 14, 2010

      In at least some disciplines, this is becoming less true. The single-genius paradigm is giving way to collaborative endeavors as the necessary resources (both material and human) for innovation outstrip the capacity of any single person or laboratory, no matter how gifted.

      Granted, the reward system is a long way from catching up to this reality… which in my field (scholarly communication) is playing itself out in all kinds of warped and fascinating ways.

      • takingitoutside permalink
        November 14, 2010

        The humanities are still star-oriented all the way. It’s very rare to do even a two-author paper (I can’t think of any in my field at all), though more common to have two or sometimes three people co-edit a volume. Our professors (or at least, my professors) seem to be looking out for us though – there’s a growing emphasis on non-academic skills like speaking to non-specialists briefly without over-simplifying to the point of inaccuracy (i.e. talking to journalists), submitting to journals in multiple fields (to get your name out to a wider audience) and so on.

        Now, as far as whether that works… I’ll have to get back to you in five years.

      • the15th permalink
        November 14, 2010

        Definitely, I agree that the “great man” model of discovery is no longer how most innovation occurs, but do you have to be a great collaborator, or just a good collaborator with great ideas, to be successful in the new style of collaborative research? (You definitely don’t need to be dominant and aggressive, though, and it sounds like those attributes are being seriously overvalued.)

        • the15th permalink
          November 14, 2010

          Oops…that was supposed to be a reply to Dorothea Salo.

        • Dorothea Salo permalink
          November 15, 2010

          Good question. I’m not sure we entirely know the answers yet. :)

      • Mackenzie permalink
        November 15, 2010

        “Erdős Numbers” is the phrase that popped into my head for your comment. So it’s been going for at least…eh…70 years?

        • Mary permalink
          November 15, 2010

          Wikipedia dates the term’s coinage to around 1969.

          Erdős’s collaboration style remains very unusual as best I understand (and it’s probably destined to stay rare, thankfully in some ways since it involved travelling all over the world and getting mathematicians’ wives — who were sometimes mathematicians themselves — to take care of his hygiene chores for him). In many fields, scientists regularly publish articles with long lists of collaborators, but the typical case is that all those people work in the same laboratory, or one is a recent PhD graduate with the other their supervisor, etc. The humanities may have something to learn from science in this regard, possibly, but science is not exactly the utopia of free cross-institutional collaboration itself.

        • Shauna permalink
          November 16, 2010

          In many fields, scientists regularly publish articles with long lists of collaborators, but the typical case is that all those people work in the same laboratory, or one is a recent PhD graduate with the other their supervisor, etc.

          That wasn’t my experience. In a two year tenure as a research assistant to a PI, I helped with three different major collaborations – two with completely different institutions, one within the same university but within the department. But my experience may well have been exceptional. Still, I got the impression that collaborations were a good way to get your name on a paper (or, more generously/accurately, to get substantively involved with new research) without having to foot 100% of the money, time and effort.

  2. Kaonashi permalink
    November 14, 2010

    Could someone please explain this cheerleading thing to me? I’m not american and I think I’m missing some cultural aspect of this. Isn’t this form of cheerleading sexist? I don’t understand why such intelligent and educated women do it, and why it’s considered something to be linked here, but since it is linked I’m guessing there’s more to it.

    • Restructure! permalink
      November 14, 2010

      To me, scientist cheerleaders are breaking the stereotype that feminine women are stupid. The stereotype that feminine women are stupid, but masculine women are intelligent is still sexist, because it suggests that women become smart by being more man-like. I don’t think that cheerleading is inherently sexist or stupid, just as body-building isn’t inherently stupid, either.

  3. gminks permalink
    November 14, 2010

    is mediamum telling all of us to man up? Using the same marginalizing language that oppresses us to make her point really just makes me sad…..

    • Restructure! permalink
      November 14, 2010

      She use phrases like “whining”, “little girl temper tantrums”, and “pity parties”, which makes her sound like a typical political conservative ranting against [women/racial minorities/gay people] who are trying to discuss [sexism/racism/homophobia].

    • Dorothea Salo permalink
      November 15, 2010

      What irks me about this line of argument is how it tends to marginalize those of us who HAVE experienced problems traceable to sexism.

      What? I’m supposed to pretend it didn’t happen? I’m supposed to not talk about it? What?

      • gminks permalink
        November 15, 2010

        I was thinking the same thing. And am probably going to write a post about it soon.

    • Meg permalink
      November 15, 2010

      I’m tired of people telling me to stop complaining about or trying to change men’s behavior, when I see it as the biggest problem facing gender equality in computer science (and actually, facing programming as a whole. Agile is all about changing men’s behavior ;-)) Women could be perfect, and it wouldn’t solve the problem.

  4. Runa permalink
    November 15, 2010

    You may have seen this already, but I figured I’d post it here anyways: Fast Company plans to put a woman on the cover sometime in 2011, and they are looking for nominations – http://www.fastcompany.com/1702394/help-us-find-the-most-influential-women-in-tech.

  5. Jen permalink
    November 20, 2010

    A nice article on “The lost women of science”: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/nov/21/royal-society-lost-women-scientists

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