Tag Archives: academia

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

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.

Double Major

I’m back in school, as some folks have probably already gathered from my microblogging. I’m finishing up a double major in Computer Science and Equity Studies at the University of Toronto, and if all goes according to plan I’ll be graduating in May 2011.

While this may sound like a strange combination, it makes perfect sense to me – I’m interested in equity issues within the STEM fields, especially computer science.

It turns out the combination of fields come in handy in unexpected ways some times. After proofreading a paper I wrote for a Women and Gender Studies class for me my friend Valerie suggested that some quantitative data might be useful in supporting one of my assertions. In my paper I argued that while early feminist scholarship on sexual harassment failed at intersectionality, more recent scholarship has embraced it. To support this, I wanted to compare the number of citations for Catherine MacKinnon’s Sexual harassment of working women: a case of sex discrimination to Kimberle Crenshaw’s Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. These are both profoundly influential works, but I wanted to quantify how their relative influence on scholarly work.

So I did what any self-respecting CS student would do – I wrote a script to scrape Google Scholar for citation numbers over time and made a graph comparing the two :)

For your edification, here’s scholargraph.pl:

# (c) 2010 Leigh Honeywell
# Licensed under the Simplified BSD License, reuse as you will!

use strict;
use LWP::Simple;
use LWP;

# set up LWP user agent and cookies; pretend to be Firefox 4 just to be cheeky
my $lua = LWP::UserAgent->new(
    keep_alive => 1,
    timeout    => 180,
    agent =>
"Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:2.0b7pre) Gecko/20100921 Firefox/4.0b7pre"
);

# edit in your citation numbers from google scholar and the appropriate
# date ranges for what you're trying to do
my $crenshaw = getCites( "10759548619514288444", "1977", "2010" );
my $mackinnon = getCites( "2195253368518808933", "1977", "2010" );

sub getCites {
   (my $cite, my $startyear, my $endyear) = @_;

    for my $year ($startyear .. $endyear) {

        #construct the query URL using the above data
        my $post =
          $lua->get( "http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites="
              . $cite
              . "&as_ylo="
              . $year
              . "&as_yhi="
              . $year );

        # scrape the returned page for the number of results
        if ( $post->content =~ m#of (?:about )?(d*)</b># ) {
            print $cite. "," . $year . "," . $1 . "n";
        }
        elsif ( $post->content =~ m#did not match any articles# ) {
            print $cite. "," . $year . ",no resultsn";
        }
        else {
            # some kinda error happened, most likely google caught me!
            print $cite. "," . $year . "errorn";
        }
    # don't kill google's servers
    sleep(5);
    }
return 0;
}

Oh and if you’re curious, Crenshaw’s paper was cited far more than MacKinnon’s, pretty much as soon as it was published. Intersectionality FTW!

And as these things always go, of course I spend the evening working on this only to find that there’s a Perl module as well.

From comments: hacking the patriarchy

The last linkspam has a comments thread about the difficulties geeky women can have exploring, explaining, attacking or changing sexist patterns in geekdom due to not having ready access to feminist or anti-oppression ideas and language.

Restructure!:

Whenever I read about tech conference incidents which involve using the sexual objectification of women to teach technology to men, I find that the bloggers who protest have a lot of difficulty expressing themselves and articulating why it’s wrong. They often complain about the “sex†or “half-naked womenâ€, and the terms “sexual objectification†or “dehumanization†are not in their vocabulary. Commenters then accuse them of being prudish and against sex, and the point is lost.

I think the problem is that many women in tech are not versed in feminist vocabulary…

Skud:

That is in fact one of the main reasons (in terms of personal motivation) why I set up the GF wiki — because I wanted to improve my feminist vocab and wanted somewhere to record and share what I learnt ;) Learning feminism 101 concepts etc has been really important to me these last couple of years. I find it almost funny when people assume that I have a degree in women’s studies or something. Nope, I just read and take notes and practice.

Skud again:

I think part of it is also disciplinary — that geek women are less likely to have taken the sort of studies at university that would give them the tools to think about this stuff… I’m not just talking about women’s studies, but also things like media studies, sociology, etc — most of which have pretty low prestige in geek circles.

This seems front page worthy! What tools has feminism given you, when did you pick them up and where are you putting them to use in geek feminism? Did geek intellectual hierarchies stand in your way at some point?

Pink sparkly linkspam (November 16th, 2009)

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. Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

My second shift

I just read this post by seperis, i miss ship wars like so much, and I had to stop, blink, say “YEAH!” out loud, then IM it to yatima and Sumana.

I want to say this–I don’t know where I am getting the time to do this. I just don’t. This is worse than a twenty-four credit hour semester, because it never fucking ends, it’s every semester and I don’t even get to graduate and no one gives me a class schedule, it just shows up suddenly and I’m in for a sixteen week course where I have to guess at the reading material and sometimes, I’m not even sure what I’m studying. There are many things I’ve learned in fandom that I appreciate, but I have to draw a line somewhere, and I have no idea where, because on top of spending time researching things that are actually important to me as a human being, and writing, and enjoying fannish meta, and chatting with friends, and I don’t know, actually interacting with my source text, I have to figure out now if some researchers are using my people as fodder for a exploitative book.

I checked my timesheet–apparently I am creating hours from air for this, because the day is still twenty-four hours long, but my fannish life is taking thirty-six all on its own, and I still haven’t finished reading History of the Jewish State or found my copy of What If for creative writing, and there’s a small but growing pile of books at the foot of my bed that I have yet to get to and I’m two hundred behind on my flist. I mean, this isn’t bad time management here; my time management is a damn miracle. It is creating time from a vortex of not-time.

She’s talking about SurveyFail, but for me it’s been geek feminism (small g, small f). Ever since OSCON (or a bit before) I’ve had this enormous, amorphous thing eating my life. I get emails. People point me at articles. People ask me to opine on all kinds of stuff. And it’s important, so I try to find time to do it, and to do it thoughtfully and with understanding.

But god DAMN it, my life’s work so far has been ones and zeroes. I never studied gender theory, or sociology, or politics, or any of that. I’m playing catch-up. The only way I’m staying even remotely ahead of the game is to wikify anything I learn so I don’t have to look it up twice.

That LWN thread with Bruce Perens? That ate a day of my life. A whole day. I talked to some of the other women involved afterwards, and I’m not the only one. Between the anger and frustration, the difficulty of following the damn thread without a comments RSS feed, and having to express ourselves clearly and provide supporting documentation (over and over and over again), we lost perhaps hundreds of woman-hours that could otherwise have been spent, oh, I dunno, WRITING SOME DAMN SOFTWARE.

This? This is my second shift.