Tag Archives: scholars

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.

Dogs And Cats Linkspamming Together (16 Aug 2013)

  • Resource-building: Anti-Oppressive Collective Witchy Woo | Not Your Ex/Rotic: “There have been various discussions on multiple Facebook groups about a lack of resources on magick, witchcraft, and woo that weren’t plagued with problems – transmisogyny, racism, cultural appropriation, and so on. Some people have expressed interest in putting together a resource, such as a zine or a website, that will provide the witchy woo needs we asked for. Here’s a Facebook group to hash out ideas, post your writings, and put things together! Feel free to invite people with similar goals and resources here.”
  • The Feminism of Hayao Miyazaki and Spirited Away | bitchmedia: “the flowing narrative structure of Miyazaki’s films allow for a lot of flexibility in the roles played by heroes and villains. Most of the time, the hero or heroine’s journey does not center on the need to violently defeat an ultimate villain. […] Miyazaki’s ladies in general demonstrate more strength and complex personalities than American heroines (especially princesses) tend to. Characters Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa both actively fight to defend their homes, using both weapons and kindness.”
  • Women and Men Both Ask for Flex Time at Work. Guess Who Gets It? | Slate: “Two professional workers, one male and one female, and two hourly employees, one male and one female, walk into an office. All four want to ask their boss for a flexible schedule, either to advance their job- or career-related skills or to attend to family responsibilities. Both women expect the boss to approve their request, while the men think they’re unlikely to get approval. All four ask, and their managers award flexible schedules to both men but neither women. This scenario is true-to-life, according to a new study published in the Journal of Social Issues. Bosses favor men over women when employees request flextime.”
  • Everyone Should Want to Be A Hufflepuff, Or, Stop the Hogwarts House-Hate | Tor.Com : “While Slytherin and Hufflepuff both have their share of intensely dedicated fans, it’s no secret that among the general Potter-reading population, most would prefer to be a Gryffindor or a Ravenclaw. Why? Do people prefer lions and ravens? Red and blue? Or is it something a little less obvious… perhaps something to do with the attributes awarded to each house, and the values we place on them as a culture?”
  • Why Do We Have More Female Scholars, But Few Public Intellectuals? | bitchmedia: “The academics listed in the opening graf (Dr. Brittney Cooper, Joan Morgan, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, Dr. Tanisha Ford, Dr. Treva Lindsey and Dr. Kaila Story) exchange ideas freely through blogs and social media platforms, but are we undervaluing the importance of their intellect by culturally offering their male counterparts larger platforms and opportunities?”
  • Go Back in Time with GE and See Some of the Awesome Ladies Responsible for Today’s Tech | The Mary Sue: “This is Katharine Burr Blodgett, the first woman to get a PhD in physics from Cambridge in addition to being the first woman scientist to join the GE Research Laboratory. She’s known widely as the inventor of “invisible glass.” “But most glass is invisible anyway,” I hear you say. “It’s glass.” Well you can back that assumption right up, because KBB here figured out how to make glass mostly non-reflective and therefore, yes, nearly invisible.”
  • [Trigger warning: discussion of sexual assault]  Five ways that “staying safe” costs women | Salon: “All of this is why going to the bathroom together isn’t just a fun girly thing that women do. The reality is that moving in packs, taking more time, spending more money, seeming less adventurous, isn’t a luxury. It’s a tax.”
  • History of Feminism: “60 seconds with…” | History of Feminism Network: “60 seconds worth of informal introduction to our favourite historians of feminism and feminist historians. New interviews will be added regularly; do get in touch if you have a suggestion or want to be interviewed!”
  • Mark Millar and Todd McFarlane: Ladies, Comics Aren’t For You | Observation Deck: “we saw McFarlane, Len Wein and Conway on the panel promoting PBS’ documentary “Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle,” in which McFarlane and Conway enjoyed stroking each others’ egos by arguing that creators don’t really have control over how comics portray women, because, history. Since all of this debate is understandably pressing on my ladybrain, I find it easier to bullet point this pile of self-indulgence. So let’s take a look at why, exactly, comics just aren’t for women, and their portrayal in comics just doesn’t matter.”

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on pinboard.in 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.