Category Archives: Uncategorized

Nobody has ever escaped from Linkspam 17 (03 November 2015)

  • Thought on Diversity Part 2. Why Diversity is Difficult. | Medium: “I left that meeting wondering how I could, in good conscience, continue to work in an organization where the Sr. VP of Engineering could see himself as a technology visionary and be so unaware of this blind spot in his understanding of diversity. Leadership keeps citing the pipeline when the data does not support it. They continue to churn out ethnic and racial minorities and women but still claim a commitment to diversity.”
  • Rise of the Bias Busters: How Unconscious Bias Became Silicon Valley’s Newest Target | Forbes: “The central contradiction of hidden bias training is that you can’t train something you can’t control. The classes suggest that you can become more objective just by learning about and thinking about your unconscious biases, but it’s not that easy. “Understanding implicit bias does not actually provide you the tools to do something about it,” said Greenwald, the University of Washington psychologist. He thinks there may be another reason driving companies to do trainings: publicity. “Perhaps the main value of this training to Google and Facebook is to put a desirable appearance on their personnel activities by indicating their (commendable) awareness of problems and implying that they’re doing something to effectively address the problems,” he wrote in an e-mail.”
  • Fake Cover Letters Expose Discrimination Against Disabled | New York Times: “Employers appear to discriminate against well-qualified job candidates who have a disability, researchers at Rutgers and Syracuse universities have concluded. The researchers, who sent résumés and cover letters on behalf of fictitious candidates for thousands of accounting jobs, found that employers expressed interest in candidates who disclosed a disability about 26 percent less frequently than in candidates who did not.”
  • Anonymous sexism in paleoanthropology | john hawks weblog: “There is absolutely nothing strange about the top candidates with archaeological experience being all women, because our students are mostly women. How could a senior scientist be oblivious to this reality? One reason is that some departments have such a history of sexism and harassment that other scientists advise women students to avoid them like the plague. Some scholars don’t have students who are women because they are driving women away.”
  • Why SXSW Cancelled a Panel on Digital Harassment | Autostraddle: “I asked Caroline if she and her panelists were going to accept the offer to be a part of SXSW’s Harassment Summit, and she said they were on the fence. I asked what would have to change about the offer to convince them to accept it, and she responded: “Talks of security, where and how our panel will participate, and Save Point being moved back to its regularly scheduled programming in SXSW. It’s a journalism panel, put it where people who are seeking digital journalism will find it.” I clarified. You mean SXSW wants to include Save Point in an anti-harassment lineup? To which Caroline simply replied, “Yeah.””
  • Part 1: Actually, Inside Out’s Gender Norms Are A Major Problem Turning Inside Out Upside Down | Satricalifragilistic: (Link from August) “The perception that father’s careers are central in families affects women’s professional advancement both on the family and work fronts — and Inside Out’s San Francisco setting in particular reinforces some ugly sexist patterns in the tech industry.”

Multi-Linkspam Marketing (30 October 2015)

UK cover for Sorcerer to the Crown

Book Club: “Sorcerer to the Crown”, postcolonial wish fulfillment, and impulsive women

The votes came in and we decided to read Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho. It’s a fast-moving period fantasy with a bunch of women and people of color, and it’s the first novel by this British-Malaysian author. Come for the dragons and stay for the social justice, or vice versa! You can read the first chapter for free online. Spoilers under the cut!

Continue reading

Eat, Pray, Linkspam (20 October 2015)

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

The Paradox of Meritocracy

We try to focus new material here at Geek Feminism, but I was just reading this study entitled “The Paradox of Meritocracy in Organizations” by Castilla and Bernard, and I think it’s worth highlighting despite being from 2010. (Warning: it is also based on a gender binary model; those of you who seeking more nuanced gender-based research may want to give this one a miss.)

To give you an idea of what’s in this study, here’s a screenshot of the one page that I think contains a lot of highlights:

Page 26 of the study "The Paradox of Meritocracy in Organizations"

Page 26 of the study “The Paradox of Meritocracy in Organizations”

For those who cannot see the image, there’s a few important things in there. I’ll list them here in reverse order vs what you see on that page as I think it tells a more clear story of the paper:

Two quotes that I’ve highlighted:

This article advanced research on this question by empirically testing, for the first time in the literature, whether certain management efforts to promote meritocracy in the workplace may have the causal effect of increasing ascriptive bias


Although these efforts by employers are aimed at improving equal opportunity and linking merit to employees’ careers, recent empirical studies have found that workplace disparities persist

There is also a graph which shows that with their “non-meritocratic condition” (a “control” situation where meritocracy and manager choice were not emphasized) bonuses were fairly similar for men and women but when meritocracy was emphasized in the organization, men received much higher bonuses on average.

In short, the study shows that emphasizing meritocracy appears to increase a tendency to reward men, rather than actually rewarding contributors based on merit. Pretty awkward. Emphasizing manager choice, strangely, resulted in advantaging women over men (possibly due to over-correction?), which is awkward in a different way. But either way, it seems like talking in terms of meritocracy probably makes the choices less meritocratic, and that’s a serious problem if you were hoping that meritocracy would eventually solve your diversity issues.

There’s actually a lot of interesting stuff in there, but I’d like to encourage folk to read the paper themselves. The paper is open access and can be found here (click on the links to download the pdf to get the whole thing). Please feel free to discuss or highlight out other parts of it you found interesting!

If I had a million linkspams (13 October 2015)

  • Effective Learning Strategies for Programmers | Allison Kaptur (10 Oct): “In early September I gave a keynote at Kiwi PyCon in New Zealand on effective learning for programmers. There were two pieces to the talk: one about mindset, and one about particular strategies we can use. [Growth mindset or a fixed mindset; confidence and imposter syndrome]”
  • Interview: Web Developer Ashton Levier on Girl Develop It and Being a Woman in STEM | The Mary Sue (9 Oct): “Originally from Louisiana, Ashton Levier is a teacher turned web developer in Salt Lake City, Utah. Introduced to coding through Girl Develop It, Ashton then enrolled in Bloc’s online coding bootcamp. [This] is her Q and A on how she did it, and her thoughts on diversity in tech.”
  • Burning Out, Bowing Out, and How Bridges Sometimes Burn | Camille E. Acey (22 Sept): “I have been honored to join so very many clubs that invited me to be a member, and, furthermore, when I felt a new club needed to be created, I was ever at the ready to start/co-found it. From feminist book clubs to food cooperatives, I have been an eager member or initiator for all manner of activity groups. […] I am definitely in a reluctant bow out/quitting cycle (in order to make time for work, family, marriage, and socializing/sanity restoring self-care) and so I wanted to share some thoughts about it that might be useful to you.”
  • Inspiring and supporting tech’s next great engineers | Makinde Adeagbo at Medium (8 Oct): “/dev/color is a non-profit organization that provides Black engineers with the connections and skills needed to start and stay in the industry, and advance into leadership roles. Founded by some of the top software engineers in Silicon Valley, we’re a community for software engineers, by software engineers. We work with members throughout their careers, from college to industry, through mentorship, training and events.”
  • What makes a good community? | The Geekess (6 Oct): “There’s been a lot of discussion in my comment sections (and on LWN) about what makes a good community, along with suggestions of welcoming open source communities to check out. Your hearts are in the right place, but I’ve never found an open source community that doesn’t need improvement. The thing is, reaching the goal of a diverse community is a step-by-step process. There are no shortcuts. Each step has to be complete before the next level of cultural change is effective. It’s also worth noting that each step along the way benefits all community members, not just diverse contributors.”
  • What To Do If Your Workplace Is Too White | Stephanie Foo at transom (10 Aug): “There’s a question I’ve heard a lot lately. Program directors and hosts approach me at radio events more and more often (it’s not hard to spot me — I’m often one of the only People of Color [POC] in the room) and ask, “How do I reach a more diverse audience? And how do I hire more people of color?””
  • [warning for discussion of sexual harassment] Famous Berkeley Astronomer Violated Sexual Harassment Policies Over Many Years | Buzzfeed (10 Oct): “One of the world’s leading astronomers has become embroiled in an increasingly public controversy over sexual harassment. After a six-month investigation, Geoff Marcy — a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been mentioned as a potential Nobel laureate — was found to have violated campus sexual harassment policies between 2001 and 2010. Four women alleged that Marcy repeatedly engaged in inappropriate physical behavior with students. […] After another undergraduate came forward with a complaint a year later, Murray-Clay, along with three other female graduate students and postdocs, tried to register an official complaint at the university level. But there, too, they were told they could not do so on someone else’s behalf.”
  • [warning for discussion of sexual harassment] The Long Con | (9 Oct): “Something that people rarely think of as a con game is sexual harassment, but after listening to the lived experiences of women who have been sexually harassed and/or assaulted, I feel the analogy is apt.”
  • [warning for discussion of sexual and racial harassment] The Cool Girl Trap: Or, Why Sexism in Tech Isn’t Going Away. | Kennedy Garza at Medium (6 Oct): “This status is only granted to girls who are cool on her male colleague’s terms — the second she steps outside the bounding box of that status, she is ostracized, or at the very least, looked at differently forever. It’s why sexism and other negative behaviors are so common in the industry. Speaking up about these things, once you’ve already been established as a ‘Cool Girl,’ can at minimum make you a social pariah and at worst, impact your career.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

We Are The Linkspam Gems

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Donate and register now to vote in OTW and SF3 elections

If you care about the parent nonprofit organizations of Archive of Our Own and WisCon, you might want to vote in their upcoming elections, and registration deadlines are coming up fast – in one case, today.

The Organization for Transformative Works registration deadline is the end of today, October 6, 2015. (To become a voting member, you must have donated at least USD$10 within the last year.) I believe the deadline is “11:59pm in your timezone” or “11:59pm Eastern Time in the US” since I just donated here in New York City and my receipt is dated October 6th around 8:40pm. Edited 1:52am UTC to add: The deadline is 2am UTC, or, in about 8 minutes.

Voting in the upcoming election for OTW’s Board takes place November 6-November 9. OTW supports the journal Transformative Works and Cultures, the Archive of Our Own fanwork archive, legal advocacy, the Fanlore wiki, and related activities. Here’s an unofficial roundup of how and why to vote, from an unofficial Tumblr following the election.

The Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction, or SF3, is the nonprofit parent org for the annual feminist scifi convention WisCon (which is nearly 40 years old). SF3’s annual meeting is scheduled for Sunday, October 18, 2015, at 11:30am (US Central time; link to time converter). Members can attend in person or via phone. The annual meeting includes an election to fill open officer positions and votes on proposed bylaw revisions and grant requests. To vote at the annual meeting, you must be an SF3 member by the time the meeting starts. SF3 offers three annual membership tiers, ranging from USD$9 to USD$24.

For both organizations, if you will not be able to cast your votes during the voting period, you can designate a proxy to vote on your behalf (SF3, OTW).

Apologies for being pretty late in signal-boosting this.

I’ve donated and registered to become a member of both organizations, and will be interested in learning more so I can be an informed voter!

Linkspam Transport Protocol (6 October 2015)


  • Closing a door | The Geekess (5 Oct): “I am no longer a part of the Linux kernel community. [..] The focus on technical excellence, in combination with overloaded maintainers, and people with different cultural and social norms, means that Linux kernel maintainers are often blunt, rude, or brutal to get their job done. […] I would prefer the communication style within the Linux kernel community to be more respectful. I would prefer that maintainers find healthier ways to communicate when they are frustrated. I would prefer that the Linux kernel have more maintainers so that they wouldn’t have to be terse or blunt. Sadly, the behavioral changes I would like to see in the Linux kernel community are unlikely to happen any time soon.”
  • Survey of Meeting Experience 2015 | S*Marts Consulting, LLC: “This survey of participants at meetings and conferences is being conducted by S*Marts Consulting, LLC. It is designed to solicit input on the experiences of gender-based or sexual harassment at those events. Our interest is in gathering data to inform meeting producers on the scope of the problem, and identify some of the main contributory factors to a positive or negative environment, both to encourage improvement and to identify future areas for research.”
  • [warning for discussion of harassment, abuse, and alcoholism] Enough is enough: Dark Horses Scott Allies assaulting behavior | Graphic Policy (1 Oct): “He is not alone in his inappropriate behavior nor is Dark Horse alone in being a publisher that opts to turn a blind eye towards problematic behavior by its employees. If Allie had made a one-time mistake this year at SDCC, it would be easy to feel bad for him. Routine behavior like this, however, is not acceptable. It exists in our industry because for too long we’ve treated these harassers and boundary-crossers as missing stairs — warning other people in whispers. If there’s only one lesson that comics pros learn from this situation, hopefully it is that our industry cannot continue to ignore it when people act this way.”
  • Codementor | geekchick77 (1 Oct): “Early this year, I created a profile on I wasn’t sure if I would actually get paid, but I figured I had nothing to lose! I had plenty of time, as I was searching for a job, and I like helping people. […] It can be a challenge to get started on a reputation-based site like codementor, and I wasn’t getting many responses yet, so I started altering my strategy. [Here’s] what I suggest, based on my experience.”
  • Some sexist tropes in The Martian | Sara Haider at Medium (5 Oct): “This isn’t a critique of the book, The Martian by Andy Weir. These are ‘tropes’, as I’ll call them, because we see them in STEM all the time. That’s why I can even call them tropes… they are so damned predictable. These tropes exemplify small or even tiny everyday actions that subtly shape perceptions and behaviors, and with repetition and time, they form biases. […] If you read this book and these tropes flew by you, ask yourself why. I’d like to challenge you to recognize it. Think about what it does to people who face it all the time.”
  • Women in Comics: Some Horror For Halloween | The Hub (2 Oct): “If you are a fan of scary stories or are simply looking for something to read on Halloween, this list will help you find the perfect horror story!”
  • Writing Better Trans Characters | Cheryl Morgan at Strange Horizons (28 Sept): “Quite simply, the most important thing cis people can do for the trans community right now is to accept us as fully human; not as something to be gawped at and whispered over, not as a clever metaphor with which to discuss gender, but as ordinary people just like you. For cis writers, that means putting us in their stories. I reject the idea that trans characters should only be written by trans people because cis folk are bound to get it wrong. While there are some really fine trans writers, there simply aren’t enough of us in the world to do what is needed. We have to be part of all fiction, not just fiction that we write ourselves.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.