Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!

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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

and

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 | Mahalo.ne.Trash (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 codementor.io. 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.

Intersectional Types: a new mailing list for programming languages researchers and research-curious

This is a guest post by Chris Martens, a programming languages researcher who recently got her Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University; she research-blogs at lambdamaphone.blogspot.com.

STEM academia falls behind the broader “women in tech” movements in several respects, most notably in the sense that we don’t have many spaces (i.e. backchannels) to discuss, organize, and seek advice in situations that are unique to academia, while still arising from the usual structural oppression systems. In recent years, the Lambda Ladies group for women in functional programming has been a great example of a group that serves this purpose for participation in industry and open source, which opened my eyes to what academia has been sorely missing.

Meanwhile, from where I stand within programming languages (PL) research, I am seeing more and more women showing up (though usually white, cis women), more trans people coming out, other queer people speaking up, and people of color (who sometimes inhabit several of those identities) struggling for a voice. While each of these groups and intersections faces their own challenges to integrating with a largely white/cishet/male academic community, I believe the time is ripe for us to organize and talk to each other about those challenges, to build a space of our own for social as well as research discussions.

As a starting point for our field, I started a mailing list back in May of this year, called Intersectional Types.

Currently, the mailing list traffic is very light (averaging less than one message per day), and thread topics have been things like approaching organizers of conferences about diversity issues, calls for participation and service on committees, dependently-typed programming, and favorite female role models.

In general, the list has the following purpose, as summarized at the above link:

In some ways, this list should be considered just another research list, such as the TYPES forum. This space can be used for research questions, literature guidance, starting collaborative efforts, introductions and updates to current research projects, open-ended philosophical questions about grand research visions, links to blog posts/papers, announcement of CFPs and job postings, announcements of achievements and breakthroughs.

In addition, this list is a response to a problem: that PL research communities have a really hard time attracting, retaining, and especially *valuing* people who are marginalized in society. This problem is in no way unique to PL, but the purpose of this list is to bring together folks with similar enough research interests that we can provide each other support that’s meaningful within the context of our specific field.

Some specific examples of activity we encourage, but don’t see on traditional research fora, are: requests for career mentorship and advice (especially along an academic career track); requests for feedback on papers and blog posts; giving (remote) practice talks; organizing local meetups and events; posting about mentorship programs, fellowships, summer schools, and other opportunities; venting about the ways our environments are unwelcoming and dysfunctional; and discussing how we ourselves can create more welcoming and supportive environments when we are in positions of leadership.

Other details, such as who’s welcome to join, moderator contact information, and the code of conduct, can be found on the list description page. In particular, we encourage new members who have some degree of experience with PL as a topic (e.g. a course or self-instruction) but may not work formally within the academic system, whether that’s a “not yet” situation or a “probably never” situation, especially if structural oppression systems influence that situation.

Finally, I want to add a call to other academic feminists to consider searching for and starting explicitly political backchannels like this one within your field. There may be more people out there who are like you, frustrated in the ways you are frustrated, or merely different in the ways that you are different. The first step toward change is often feeling less alone in wanting it.