Losing my Linkspam

  • Twitter Engineer Dana McCallum Pled Guilty to Two Misdemeanors | Valleywag (October 7): [CW: rape] “At a hearing in San Francisco Superior Court this morning, Dana McCallum, a Twitter engineer and prominent women’s rights and LGBT activist, accepted a guilty plea for two misdemeanors related to the alleged rape of her wife. McCallum, who is a transgender woman, was initially charged with five felonies for the alleged incident, which occurred in January.”
  • How did Twitter become the hate speech wing of the free speech party? | KevinMarks.com (October 4): “Say something about feminism or race, or sea lions and you’d find yourself inundated by the same trite responses from multitudes. Complain about it, and they turn nasty, abusing you, calling in their friends to join in. Your phone becomes useless under the weight of notifications; you can’t see your friends support amongst the flood.Twitter has become the hate speech wing of the free speech party. The limited tools available – blocking, muting, going private – do not match well with these floods. Twitter’s abuse reporting form takes far longer than a tweet, and is explicitly ignored if friends try to help.”
  • Trouble at the Koolaid Point | Serious Pony (October 7): [CW: sexual harassment] “There is only one reliably useful weapon for the trolls to stop the danger you pose and/or to get max lulz: discredit you.
  • graydon2 | on false equivalences (October 7): “I want to write to my fellow straight white able-bodied rich men (SWARMs?) of the tech industry, and perhaps of the broader internet. There are a lot of us! A disproportionate number, in fact. I will get to proportionality in a bit. I want to discuss oppression because of a reaction a lot of my fellow SWARMs seem to have to many recent displays of sexism, homophobia, racism, classism, that sort of thing. This is the reaction of stating false equivalences (and their close relative: false balance). I want my fellow SWARMs to learn not to do that. Just that. I want you, if you can get through reading this, to reflect on false equivalences you’ve heard, maybe some you’ve uttered yourself — hey, we all do it sometimes — and make a promise to get better about it. Don’t even promise me. Promise yourself, on the basis of trying to be a decent and reasonable person: make yourself a promise to not emit false equivalences anymore.”
  • @skullmandible on marginalized fiction (with tweets) | pizza_blood | Storify (October 3): A series of embedded tweets discuss how having a label for a medium, such as “gamer” or “literature” leads to a homogeneity in what is accepted as “canon” which rejects everything that isn’t canon as trash: “the self-selected arbiters of the medium classify as “trash” (typically) genre work and films/literature/games by women and POC”
  • The First Female Gamers | Medium (October 5): A history of women gamers: “Something unprecedented about Dungeons & Dragons rendered it more popular with women than prior titles marketed to “gamers.” Was it that it was a personal game, a fantasy game, a game that deemphasized competition? Whatever the reason, it converted many women into gamers at a critical juncture in history: the dawn of personal computer gaming.”
  • Lennart Poettering: The Open Source community is a sick place to be in | Google+ (October 6): [CW: verbal abuse, harassment, death threats] Kernel developer Lennart Poettering writes about the abuse he’s received as a result of his open-source participation: “The Linux community is dominated by western, white, straight, males in their 30s and 40s these days. I perfectly fit in that pattern, and the rubbish they pour over me is awful. I can only imagine that it is much worse for members of minorities, or people from different cultural backgrounds, in particular ones where losing face is a major issue.”
  • #WeNeedDiverseMedia for reasons….part 96464864 of a never ending list | hoodfeminism (October 6): “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stop having “The first Black/first POC to do X in media” because it wasn’t so hard for creators of color to get access to major platforms? Wouldn’t it be great if the demographics of people in power in publishing houses, Hollywood, and major cable networks reflected the populations they claim to represent? No one’s going to hand us seats at those proverbial tables though, so we create our own tables, and clearly when we do, we have to be aware that for some people we need a reason to exist, and we can’t afford to worry about what those people, all we can do is focus on the work in front of us.”
  • Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries | The Digital Reader (October 6): “Adobe is gathering data on the ebooks that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order. All of this data, including the title, publisher, and other metadata for the book is being sent to Adobe’s server in clear text.”

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, Delicious 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.

Cookie of the week: Jake Boxer and Github

We’ve been critical of Github on this blog before. And the problems we talked about before — specifically, sexual harassment and structurelessness — haven’t necessarily been resolved.

Nonetheless, I want to recognize an individual engineer at Github for our occasional “cookie of the week” feature, Jake Boxer.

Harassers who are part of the ongoing Gamergate coordinated harassment campaign created a repository on Github to coordinate their harassment efforts, and when @nexxylove reported this, Jake responded promptly by removing the repository.

I’m giving a little piece of the cookie to Jake’s employer, as well. Jake did not feel that he had to consult their legal team or wait a week for a response, or start a lengthy internal discussion about whether the repository was appropriate. He did not show any fear that if he removed the repository promptly, he would be criticized for supposedly targeting a group to marginalize their free speech. I can infer from this that Github, whatever its flaws (and there are many), is a company that will support an employee acting to stop the abuse of their resources for a purpose that doesn’t further the interests of the company.

Jake recognized that he would be able to do what he did while facing relatively few consequences, and in light of that, chose to use his privileged position for good:

Have a cookie, Jake!

Edited to add, November 10, 2014: It has come to my attention that Github doesn’t deserve even the qualified praise that I gave them in this article, as per a comment on my blog from Joe Wreschnig, who summarizes the chain of events as “[Github's] reporting process is an ineffective black hole and they were aware their service was being used to facilitate abuse for a full month before a single employee bothered to do anything.” Jake Boxer gets all the credit for this one.

Allons-y, a linkspam! (7 October 2014)

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, Delicious 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.

Guest post: Great design as activism: Real talk from “Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism” sticker designer Amelia Greenhall

This is a guest post from The Ada Initiative. It originally appeared on the Ada Initiative blog.

The evolution of the f-word sticker design

Once you see it, you won't forget it: the dynamic and attention-getting Not afraid to say the F-word: FEMINISM sticker by Amelia Greenhall. This sticker is the Ada Initiative's thank-you gift for its 2014 fundraising drive (only available till October 8, 2014, so donate now!).

Smiling womanAmelia works at the intersection of design, user experience, and data visualization. She's the Executive Director and co-founder of Double Union, a non-profit feminist community workshop, and co-founded the publication Model View Culture. She spends her time reading, writing, biking, climbing, and working on interesting things. We asked Amelia to tell us more about her amazing sticker design.

How did you come up with the idea for the sticker?

Feminism as a "dirty word" is a concept that’s funny because it strikes at the truth of the matter: a lot of people and organizations ARE afraid to say it. The Ada Initiative was one of the first woman-focused tech organizations to actually say the word "feminism." Their work has profoundly changed tech culture, and part of it comes from opening up the ability to identify publicly as a feminist in tech. They’ve brought many of us who aren’t afraid to say "the F-word" together – and given us a way to do something about the problem, by funding the Ada Initiative's work.

The sticker sure is eye-catching! It feels like it has many levels to it, despite being all black and white. How did you achieve that?

From the beginning, I knew I would work with hand lettering for this design because I wanted to create an organic form that stands out against the mass of vectorized, illustrator'd shapes on a laptop. I wanted the fundraiser sticker to be a refreshing visual break from tech culture’s dominant (current) forms, to echo how TAI represents changing tech culture to me.

Ink bottles and brushes

I started by drawing potential layouts in my sketchbook until I found a rough shape that took advantage of the die cut. Then I used brushes and india ink to letter the phrases “Not afraid to” “F-word” in many different ways, and scanned those in at a super high DPI to capture all the little details in the brushstrokes.

Many different handwritten versions of the words "F-word: Feminism" and similar words

Using Photoshop and my Wacom tablet, I moved parts of the scans around until I found a combination of lettering that was playful and eye catching, and easy to read at the size I wanted to print the sticker.

Photoshop screenshot showing level adjustment

The sticker does have many levels! Working from scans of hand lettering let me use Photoshop tools like “Invert” and “Levels” to bring out the natural variations in the ink painted on paper. I wanted to hit a charcoal tint in the background and bring out the rich variations of ink in the letters.

How important are design and memorable images to feminist activism?

So incredibly crucial! One of the things we’re doing with our feminist activism is building our own community and design and memorable images are a huge part in building a movement. We need a visual language to talk about it with, to identify with and gather round. Imagery of high heels and business suits alone won’t cut it. To represent all of us working to improve tech culture – we need things that speak our own language, have tech snark, incorporate our memes. We need propaganda! Especially physical objects like stickers, buttons, totes, and posters – to act as signposts. Things that say “this is us, this is what we stand for!”

Will you be putting this sticker on something you own?

Yes! I’m primarily a printmaker, which means I design so many things that get printed in multiples that I couldn’t possibly keep everything around or my apartment would fill up! But this is a sticker that easily makes the cut.

Here’s how it looks on my laptop!

Silver laptop with f-word sticker on it

What I appreciate about stickers like this one is that they’re so great for signaling affinity. I know that if I see another “F-word” sticker across the room at a coffeeshop or conference, that person is someone who’s also trying to make tech better – someone I may want to go talk to! I also like that this sticker starts conversations – it’s definitely something that catches the eye.

I am a huge fan of the Ada Initiative’s work changing tech culture, so I love when people ask about the sticker – I get a chance to introduce someone to conference anti-harassment policies or ally skills workshops!

Do you say the f-word? F-F-FEMINISM! Donate $128 or more (or $10 a month) to the Ada Initiative before October 8 and receive the F-word sticker as a thank you gift for supporting our work for women in open technology and culture!

Donate now

Much Ado About Linkspam (5 October 2014)

The latest on Gamergate [Trigger warning: Links following contain discussion of harassment]:

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, Delicious 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.

Never get involved in a land war in linkspam

  • The Toast’s Recipe for Bootstrapping a Profitable Media Business | Fast Company (October 1): “Feminist commentary wrapped in jokes is Ortberg’s signature style, and what draws over a million unique visitors (per Quantcast) to The Toast each month. Only a little over a year old, the site was profitable just after three months. And, as Ortberg and her cofounder Nicole Cliffe (formerly of The Hairpin) like to point out, unlike so many of the high-profile media startups today–Vox, 538, First Look–they succeeded without any financial commitment from men.”
  • Women Who Conquered the Comic Book World | Ms. blog (September 29): “Robbins knows something about the glass ceiling for women cartoonists because she first hit it herself in the early 1970s, when she tried to join the male-dominated “underground comix” movement based in San Francisco. After the men cartoonists shut her out, Robbins joined forces with other women cartoonists to create their own women’s-lib comic books. She went on to become a well-respected mainstream comic artist and writer, as well as a feminist comics critic who’s written myriad nonfiction books on the subject of great women cartoonists and the powerful female characters they created.”
  • Why I choose to speak at a tech event which had booth babes | Matter Chatter (September 29): “I’m pretty sure Netguide didn’t do their market research which shows that 45% to 48% of gamers are female and at a predominately gaming conference, they were pushing away half of the attendees.  As a female gamer, and a female engineer myself I can tell you that bikini clad girls will not entice me into your booth.  However, the bigger question to ask is what sort of message was this sending to our daughters about their value and to our sons about respecting females?”
  • Apple’s Health App: Where’s the Power? | The Society Pages (September 30): “Apple doesn’t hate people with eating disorders. They probably weren’t thinking about people with eating disorders at all. That’s the problem.”
  • Y Combinator and the Negative Externalities of Hacker News | Danilo Campos (September 29): “I renew my calls to Sam Altman and Y Combinator’s leadership to expound a Code of Conduct for Hacker News. These issues persist, in part, because the organization has yet to draw a line in the cultural sand. It is the height of hypocrisy to claim that sexism and discrimination are problems while leaving unchecked one of the most obvious sites of infection for those ills in our industry.”
  • LoG: Little Women in Gaming | The Lonely D12 (September 26): “During game club at school last week, I had 3 freshmen girls pick up the Shadowrun: Tool Kit and asked me how to play. I told them all about the world and different characters I had played and they said it sounded amazing. They stared at the rule books and were just overwhelmed. These young ladies want to play an RPG but have no means to do it on their own. Which is why getting these girls involved in gaming early, and getting boys to accept women at the table as the norm is so very important.”
  • Male Allies and GHC | Accidentally in Code (October 1): “There’s a lot of discussion about women in tech, and there’s this constant refrain of “what about the men” and I am tired of hearing it. It’s not about the men. It’s about women, and other minorities (who have it far worse). The fact that (some) men have made this, like everything, about them is illustrative of the problem.”
  • Sam Pepper sexual harassment row: How YouTube teen fan girls found their voice | The Telegraph (September 30): “Since Peppergate, young female YouTubers have sought to expose the seedy, misogyinistic underbelly of the vlogging. A number of girls have uploaded their own videos to youtube. There have been extensive allegations of sexual harassment, assault, coercion and rape, with high profile, adult male youtubers accused of soliciting sexual images from underage girls. This flurry of testimonials has sent shock waves through the community.”
  • Man receives 4.5 months of jail time for Twitter rape threats | Ars Technica (September 29): “Nunn began his Twitter attacks around July 29, 2013, five days after the Bank of England announced that the Austen campaign was successful. “Hi, it took Twitter 30 minutes to ban me before. I’m here again to tell you that I’ll rape you tomorrow at 6pm” is one of a handful of tweets Nunn directed at Creasy. The message did indeed originate after the suspension of another of his accounts from which he was tweeting threats.”
  • Spyware executive arrested, allegedly marketed mobile app for “stalkers” | Ars Technica (September 29): “Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it’s a crime,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell saidin a statement. “Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim’s personal life—all without the victim’s knowledge.”
  • Learning to Love Criticism | The New York Times (September 27): “The study speaks to the impossible tightrope women must walk to do their jobs competently and to make tough decisions while simultaneously coming across as nice to everyone, all the time. But the findings also point to something else: If a woman wants to do substantive work of any kind, she’s going to be criticized — with comments not just about her work but also about herself. She must develop a way of experiencing criticism that allows her to persevere in the face of it.”
  • People hate me, I must be doing something right | Mathbabe (September 30): (in reference to a quote from the above article) “This is so true! I re-re-learned this recently (again) when I started podcasting on Slate and the iTunes reviews of the show included attacks on me personally. For example: ‘Felix is great but Cathy is just annoying… and is not very interesting on anything’ as well as ‘The only problem seems to be Cathy O’Neill who doesn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation…’”

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, Delicious 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.

OPW and Growstuff: Frances Hocutt on open and welcoming open source communities

Two weeks ago, I interviewed Geek Feminism founder Alex Skud Bayley about Geek Feminism, programming, and the Growstuff Indiegogo campaign. As a followup, I’m interviewing Frances Hocutt, who will work on Growstuff’s API if the fundraiser reaches its target.

Frances Hocutt looks at a flask in a laboratory

Frances Hocutt

Frances is the founding president of the Seattle Attic Community Workshop, Seattle’s first feminist hackerspace/makerspace. She prefers elegance in her science and effectiveness in her art and is happiest when drawing on as many disciplines as she can. Her current passion is creating tools that make it easy for people to do what they need to, and teaching people to use them. She is a fan of well-designed APIs, open data, and open and welcoming open source communities.

Frances is entering technology as a career changer, from a scientific career. She’s recently finished a Outreach Program for Women (OPW) internship, and she spoke to me about OPW, Growstuff, mentoring and friendly open source communities.

What did your OPW project go? What attracted you to Mediawiki as your OPW project?

This summer I wrote standards for, reviewed, evaluated, and improved client libraries for the MediaWiki web API. When I started, API:Client Code had a list of dozens of API client libraries and was only sorted by programming language. There was little information about whether these libraries worked, what their capabilities were, and whether they were maintained. I wrote evaluations for the Java, Perl, Python, and Ruby libraries, and now anyone who wants to write an API client can make an informed choice about which library will work best for their project.

I am generally interested in open knowledge, open data, and copyleft, and I admire the Wikimedia Foundation’s successes with the various Wikipedias. When Sumana Harihareswara asked me if I might be interested in interning on this project for the Wikimedia Foundation I jumped at the chance. I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and supportive I found the Mediawiki development community. I had a good experience technically, professionally, and personally, and I learned a lot.

What attracts you to Growstuff and its API as your next project, technically?

Growstuff open data campaign logo

I really like creating usable tools and interfaces, and when that comes with the chance to play around with APIs and structured data, that’s gravy.

My favorite tech projects value developer experience and generally usable interfaces (whether for UIs or APIs). Growstuff’s current API makes it hard to retrieve some fairly basic data (given a location, when was a crop planted?), so I’m really looking forward to the chance to have input into designing a better one.

I also enjoy writing particularly clear and careful code, which I’ll be doing with my API example scripts so that anyone can pick them up, include them in their website or app, and easily modify them for whatever their intended purpose is.

What attracts you to Growstuff as your next development community?

The development community is the main reason I’m so excited about working on Growstuff. Growstuff is one of a handful of majority-female open source projects, and I definitely feel more comfortable when I don’t have the pressure to represent all women that sometimes comes when women are a small minority. Growstuff has great documentation for new developers, a friendly IRC channel, and an agile development process where pair programming is the norm. It’s obvious that Skud has fostered a collaborative and friendly open source community, and I’m looking forward to working in it.

What can the technical community learn from OPW and Growstuff about mentoring and supporting people coming to tech from diverse backgrounds and oppressed groups?

As I’ve come into tech, I’ve gotten the most benefit from environments where interpersonal connections can flourish and where learning is easy and ignorance of a topic is seen as an opportunity for growth. I credit much of the smoothness of my internship to being able to work with my mentor towards the shared goal of helping me succeed.

Some particularly useful approaches and skills were:

  • explicit explanations of open source community norms (i.e. how IRC works, whom and how to ask for help, ways that various criticisms might be better received, where a little praise would smooth the way)
  • constant encouragement to put myself out there in the MediaWiki development community and ask for help when needed
  • willingness to share her experiences as a woman in technology and honesty about challenges she had and hadn’t faced
  • willingness to have hard conversations about complicity and what we’re supporting with our technical work
  • willingness to engage with a feminist criticism of the field and orginazation, without falling back on “that’s just how it is and you need to get over it”
  • introducing me to other people like me and encouraging me to make and nurture those connections
  • telling me about career paths that my specific skills might be useful in
  • making me aware of opportunities, over and over, and encouraging me to take them
  • inviting metacognition and feedback on what management approaches were working for me and which weren’t.

Gatherings like AdaCamp have also helped me find people at various stages in their careers who were willing to openly discuss challenges and strategies. I’ve been building a rich network of technical women of whom I can ask anything from “how does consulting work” to “how much were you paid in that position” to “how in the world do I set up this Java dev environment?!” It’s amazing.

I’m looking forward to more of the same at Growstuff. Growstuff’s pairing-heavy style encourages those connections, and Growstuff’s development resources focus on making knowledge accessible and not assuming previous experience. I’ve admired Skud’s work for years and I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with her myself.

How are you finding the fundraising process for Growstuff? How can people best support it?

Frustrating, in a word. The crowdfunding campaign I ran last year only ran for ten days, so I’m adjusting to the longer and slower pace of this one. Like many women, I often feel awkward promoting myself and my projects — even when I would be happy to hear a friend tell me about a similar project she was working on! I try to reframe it as sharing interesting information. Sometimes that works for me, but sometimes I still feel weird.

That said: if you want to support Growstuff (and I hope you do), back our campaign! Tell any of your friends who are into sustainability, gardening, shared local knowledge, or open data why Growstuff is exciting and encourage them to donate! If you garden, sign up for an account and connect with other gardeners in your area! We’re trying to make it as an ethical and ad-free open source project and every bit helps. And if there’s anything you want to do with our data, let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

Bring Out Your Linkspam (30 September 2014)

  • The Trans-Everything CEO | New York Magazine: [CW: This piece doesn’t follow GLAAD’s media recommendations for coverage of transgender issues; there’s a lot of problematic stuff in this otherwise positive profile of a woman doing some fascinating and geeky things.] “But the highest-paid female CEO in America is not nearly as well known. She is Martine Rothblatt, the 59-year-old founder of United Therapeutics—a publicly traded, Silver Spring, Maryland–based pharmaceutical company—who made a previous fortune as a founder of Sirius radio, a field she entered as an attorney specializing in the law of space.”
  • Growing fantasy-game universe collides with entrenched boys’ club mentality | The Washington Post: “Longmore’s success, and the recent success of other female players, set off something of a crash course in diversity training for Magic players. It had to. The game isn’t just some extra-obscure corner of the offbeat nerd community anymore: It’s a $200 million-a-year industry with a fan base of 20 million and a growing pool of elite players who make their living from tournament prizes (which top out at about $40,000).”
  • The Business Case for Diversity in the Tech Industry | NYTimes.com: “The issue here was one of ignorance — the engineers and designers who created the YouTube app were all right-handed, and none had considered that some people may pick up their phones differently. It’s a small example, but a telling one. If Google’s designers couldn’t anticipate the needs of left-handed people with an all-right-handed product team, how could they anticipate the needs of women with a staff composed overwhelmingly of men?”
  • Facebook’s real name policy is a drag, and not just for the performers it outs | Comment is free | theguardian.com: “People will find a way to undermine identities they don’t approve of, and there will always be ways to write them off as insufficiently authoritative, ‘made up’ or ‘fake’. It’s not about bad behavior, or even about official sign-off. It’s just about making yourself the arbiter of someone else’s self.”
  • Why women don’t name names: Kirsten Gillibrand, Daniel Inouye and women’s calculus for survival | Salon.com: [CW: Sexual harassment] “And not all of them wear the typical mask of a villain. Some are progressives, even self-identified feminists. Men who don’t vote to strip women of control over their own bodies but who still feel entitlement to those bodies. So this is the face of harassment. The faces of the men you know, and the faces of the men you respect. How do we create space to talk about that? Maybe this is the larger conversation Gillibrand wanted to have when she chose not to name names.”
  • ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’: Notes for the Peanut Gallery | satifice: “From what I understand, there are some people — in the apparent interest of seeming ‘reasonable’ and ‘neutral’ — who are insisting that in the Team Harpy legal case that our plaintiff should be considered ‘innocent until proven guilty’. There are a few things wrong with this framing.”
  • Recent Events Involving Brian Leiter | For Those Who Need To Know: [CW: Harassment, abuse.] “What follows recounts the basic facts about these episodes and provides links to relevant information. There have been several other such episodes over the last decade or so, some of which involved not philosophers but lawyers. But we do not have the energy to catalogue all of them, and we are not sure what purpose it would serve. What follows, we hope, is sufficiently illuminating.”
  • Why I’m not really here for Emma Watson’s feminism speech at the UN: “Here, she seems to suggest that the reason men aren’t involved in the fight for gender equality is that women simply haven’t invited them and, in fact, have been unwelcoming. Women haven’t given men a formal invitation, so they haven’t joined in. It’s not because, you know, men benefit HUGELY (socially, economically, politically, etc. infinity) from gender inequality and therefore have much less incentive to support its dismantling. It’s not because of the prevalence of misogyny the entire world over. It’s just that no one’s asked. OMG, why didn’t any of us think to ask?! This is an absurd thing to suggest. Women have been trying to get men to care about oppression of women since…always. Men have never been overwhelmingly interested in fighting that fight, because it requires them giving up power and all evidence suggests that’s not their super-fave thing. Share a link about gender equality? Sure! Count me in! Give up real power in real ways? Nope, not really.”
  • Building a Better Breast Pump | The Atlantic: “At the close of a hackathon held at the Massachusetts institute of Technology this weekend, tables were littered with the standard fare: empty coffee cups, LEDs, joysticks, and transistor parts. There were also scraps of fabric decorated with elephants, foam models of women’s breasts and flanges. Lots of flanges.”
  • Monstrous Women in Dragon Age: Desire Demons and Broodmothers | Gaming As Women: “In this essay, I’d like to talk about a very specific feature of Dragon Age: Origins:  the female monsters. Throughout the game, the player encounters humanoid enemies (such as bandits or soldiers) that are both male and female, with no significant differences between the two sexes.  The monstrous enemies in the game, on the other hand, follow a different course.”
  • ​Tentacle Alien Sex Card Game Isn’t As Perverted as You’d Think | Kotaku: [CW: Consensual sexual content, NSFW!] “It’s easier and safer to negotiate sexual practices (whether represented in cards or with your actual body) if you talk, obviously—but when we play games, we are often looking for more danger, surprise, and challenge. Which is great! We can explore stuff in the safety of games that I wouldn’t recommend doing during actual sex, obviously! The silent games had a variety of communication styles — most people were “communicating” (so to speak) just by looking each other in the eye, but there were several games where people were touching each other, or making dirty or suggestive gestures, etc. That’s all mentioned in the rules. It’s pretty much up to players to negotiate how to play.”
  • My free software will respect users or it will be bullshit | Matthew Garrett: “The four freedoms are only meaningful if they result in real-world benefits to the entire population, not a privileged minority. If your approach to releasing free software is merely to ensure that it has an approved license and throw it over the wall, you’re doing it wrong. We need to design software from the ground up in such a way that those freedoms provide immediate and real benefits to our users. Anything else is a failure.”
  • Four Interactions That Could Have Gone Better | Bridget Kromhout: “If you’re wondering why women don’t attend the conferences, unconferences, meetups, or hackathons you enjoy, or why you don’t seem to make meaningful professional connections with the ones who are there, maybe they’ve been having these conversations often enough that they’re tired of it, and would rather spend their time doing anything else at all.”

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, Delicious 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.

Damn the Man, Save the Linkspam! (28 September 2014)

  • You don’t know what you don’t know: How our unconscious minds undermine the workplace | Official Google Blog (September 25): Google runs research and analytics to try and combat unconscious bias that excludes minorities. “we need to help people identify and understand their biases so that they can start to combat them. So we developed a workshop, Unconscious Bias @ Work, in which more than 26,000 Googlers have taken part. And it’s made an impact: Participants were significantly more aware, had greater understanding, and were more motivated to overcome bias.”
  • Building a better and more diverse community | Blog – Hacker School (September 25): “The short: We now have need-based living expense grants for black and non-white Latino/a and Hispanic people, as well as people from many other groups traditionally underrepresented in programming. Etsy, Juniper, Perka, Stripe, Betaworks, and Fog Creek have partnered with us to fund the grants, and help make the demographics of Hacker School better reflect those of the US. Hacker School remains free for everyone.”
  • Science Has A Thomas Jefferson Problem… | Isis the Scientist… (September 19): “A large portion of the attacks against scientists are perpetrated by someone the victim knew, but many women in general know their attackers. So, at the crux of the stunning and shocking and eye opening is something that I find more insidious – it is the belief that science is somehow different than society at large.”
  • Read The Nasty Comments Women In Science Deal With Daily | The Huffington Post (September 25): [CW: Sexist and harassing language] “Curious to learn more about sexism in science, HuffPost Science reached out to women on the secret-sharing app Whisper. We asked whether anyone had ever said or done anything to discourage their interest in science–and, as you can see below, we were flooded with responses.”
  • Book Challenges Suppress Diversity | Diversity in YA (September 18): “It’s clear to me that books that fall outside the white, straight, abled mainstream are challenged more often than books that do not destabilize the status quo.”
  • Technology Isn’t Designed to Fit Women | Motherboard (September 12): “In some cases, making devices smaller necessarily requires waiting for further technological advancements; just think of how smartphones shrunk through the years as the tech was refined (before phablets took them in the other direction). But especially when it comes to devices that are implanted in the body, this has a disproportionate impact on people of smaller stature—which means women are more likely to be left behind.”
  • Building a Better Breast Pump | The Atlantic (September 25): “Until women have better support for breast-feeding, whether that manifests as paid maternity leave, safe and convenient places for pumping, or better access to lactation specialists, breast pumps aren’t likely to go the way of the Fitbit.”
  • Hope-less at Hope X | missbananabiker.com (September 18): “What Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras made possible, a couple of knuckleheads made impossible. The courage that Snowden has shown, the determination Poitras has shown, the persistence Greenwald has displayed — all these things made it possible for a woman who mostly doesn’t leave the house to … well, leave the house. I thought, for the first time in years, maybe this is a fight I should be fighting alongside the others.”
  • Goodbye, Ello: Privacy, Safety, and Why Ello Makes Me More Vulnerable to My Abusers and Harassers | Not Your Ex/Rotic (September 23): “Because the people I most want to avoid know my aliases. They are friends with people I know on Ello. They might already be on Ello (I’d be surprised if they weren’t) and are totally open to following me, reading me, tagging me, commenting on my posts. Hell, they can even find me through our mutual friends – any mutual activity pops up on their Friends feed.And, by the way Ello is currently set up, there is nothing I can do about it.”
  • The Victim, The Comforter, The Guy’s Girl… | Matter | Medium (September 23): “I’ve come to notice more and more how working within the particular masculine sexism of the tech industry has nudged the way I present myself, just a little. I’ve noticed how, very slowly, I’ve started to acquiesce into playing roles that get assigned to me. I’ve noticed how I disappear behind these masks.”
  • Apple Promised an Expansive Health App So Why Can’t I Track Menstruation? | The Verge (September 25): “Apple’s HealthKit can help you keep track of your blood alcohol content. If you’re still growing, it’ll track your height. And if you have an inhaler, it’ll help you track how often you use it. You can even use it to input your sodium intake, because “with Health, you can monitor all of your metrics that you’re most interested in,” said Apple Software executive Craig Federighi back in June. And yet, of all the crazy stuff you can do with the Health app, Apple somehow managed to omit a woman’s menstrual cycle.”
  • Why can’t you track periods in Apple’s Health app? | ntlk’s blog (September 26): “So why isn’t cycle tracking present in the Health app? I don’t know, but the only valid reason I can think of is that it didn’t occur to anyone to include it.”

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, Delicious 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.

Quick hit: “I’ll fight them as an engineer”

Thanks to a backchannel comment earlier, I had the thought that Peggy Seeger wrote a way better version of Lean In back in 1970, when Sheryl Sandberg was a baby. For those who didn’t spend their teen years listening to seventies folk music when all their peers were listening to rock and/or roll, here’s her song “I’m Gonna Be an Engineer”, with a bonus animation by Ken Wong:

Excerpt:

Oh, but now the times are harder and me Jimmy’s got the sack;
I went down to Vicker’s, they were glad to have me back.
But I’m a third-class citizen, my wages tell me that
But I’m a first-class engineer!

The boss he says “We pay you as a lady,
You only got the job because I can’t afford a man,
With you I keep the profits high as may be,
You’re just a cheaper pair of hands.”

Well, I listened to my mother and I joined a typing pool
Listened to my lover and I put him through his school
If I listen to the boss, I’m just a bloody fool
And an underpaid engineer
I been a sucker ever since I was a baby
As a daughter, as a mother, as a lover, as a dear
But I’ll fight them as a woman, not a lady
I’ll fight them as an engineer!

44 years later, Australian businessperson Evan Thornley — who was six years old when Seeger wrote “I’m Gonna Be an Engineer” — presented a slide at a startup conference that said: “Women: like men, only cheaper.”

The same week, Ashe Dryden wrote:

In a world where a business’s bottom-line comes before anything else, industries profit from the unequal treatment of their employees. Marginalized people often have to go above and beyond the work being done by their more privileged coworkers to receive the same recognition. The problem is readily apparent for women of color, who make between 10 and 53% less than their white male counterparts. The situation is such that compensating people equally is seen as a radical act. In maintaining an undervalued workforce, businesses create even more profit.

(Emphasis author’s.)

Thanks to Maco for reminding me both that the song exists and of how timely it is almost half a century later. There’s some good news, though: Peggy Seeger is alive and well, and still performing and releasing music. She turns 80 years old next year and according to her Twitter bio, she’s openly bi and poly. (Footnote: happy Bisexual Awareness Week! Yes, we get a whole week now.)