Tag Archives: science

She was only appointed because she’s a linkspam (8th April, 2011)

  • Words and Offense: Of course slurs are still bad… Offense is just not the reason why. Systemic oppression, concept association and a phenomenon known as hostile tagging (where the phrase either tags a person as someone to be hostile to and exclude or tags an area as a hostile place to any oppressed people that come in) are the actual reasons why…
  • Duke Nukem Forever – Wallowing in sexism: In some games we find sexism buried within plot points or seen through the stereotyped portrayals of female characters. Duke Nukem Forever is not one of those games. There is no need to look deeply into gameplay or storyline to find issues. Duke Nukem Forever is simply a game that wallows in sexism.
  • Geeky enough for you?: What I’m curious about here is this: what does the word “geeky’ mean to you? How do you define it? Also, how do you define not-geeky? I’m interested!
  • Trigger warning. Power switch: social media gives victims new ways to fight back These days if a woman is abused or humiliated by men belonging to a macho institution, she needn’t cop it. She can shop her story and shine light on the injustice herself.
  • Women of Color in Tech: How Can We Encourage Them?: But Viva couldn’t get a job in the Valley—despite introductions that I gave her to leading venture capitalists… It raised a red flag in my mind.
  • Hanna Director Joe Wright Slams Sucker Punch‘s Girl Power: Wright… trac[ed] the “alarming” brand of sexually-exploitative girl power found in Sucker Punch back to the Spice Girls.
  • Can we declare victory for women in their participation in science? Not yet: Over the last half-century, efforts to recruit and encourage women to pursue careers in science have been very successful, but they have not been evenly distributed… In physics, though, [the] numbers have barely budged…
  • BGG (Black Girl Gamer)–LFG, PST!: It’s not just the standard girl gamer war, where there is incessant name calling, references to genitalia or even the normal male chauvinist crap. The battle is having to defend why we are even playing games, in the first place. Why would we be playing games, because black women don’t play games.

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

But he’s really a nice linkspam (24th February, 2011)

  • Ada Lovelace Day, the once a year blogswarm highlighting women in technology will be held on October 7 (unlike the previous two years when it was held in March).
  • More keynoters in the open source space: Runa Bhattacharjee and Lydia Pintscher are two of the three keynotes for conf.kde.in 2011.
  • My mom has a PhD in Math” – fighting back against gendered advertising.
  • @victoriajanssen tweets: “FIVE of the SIX Nebula nominations for novel were written by WOMEN!!!” as well as 4 women nominees for short story. (via @skud)
  • Top Secret Rosies is a documentary made last year about the computers of WWII, “when computers were human and women were underestimated.”
  • Hillary Rosner writes about learning that she really did like science after all.

One year I took an introductory genetics class (“genes for jocks”), just to confirm that science still sucked, and when I earned a C+ I retreated, satisfied, to the comfort of literature, politics, and cultural theory.

And then a strange thing happened. Several years into my journalism career, I became captivated by stories about the environment. I couldn’t read enough of them.

  • Cordelia Fine of “Delusions of Gender” fame writes about sexist speeches by former Harvard Presidents, and straw-feminists [trigger warning for discussion of essentialism].

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

Everyone gets a linkspam! (27th January, 2011)

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

More young scientists: 8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study

This one’s from last month, but it was sent to me after my last quick hit and I couldn’t resist the urge to share another story of young folk doing ground-breaking science work:

Figures from the paper "Blackawton bees" showing the pattern of coloured dishes and the test results

“We discovered that bumblebees can use a combination of colour and spatial relationships in deciding which colour of flower to forage from,” the students wrote in the paper’s abstract. “We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before.”

The paper itself is well worth reading. It’s written entirely in the kids’ voices, complete with sound effects (part of the Methods section is subtitled, “”the puzzle’…duh duh duuuhhh”) and figures drawn by hand in colored pencil.

One of the things that’s awesome about this article is the fact that they aren’t worrying about pushing the kids towards science as a career. I’ve often found it infuriating how school curricula is becoming increasingly career-oriented and there was much talk of streaming when I was in public school and not nearly enough time for learning things because they’re interesting. (I learned violin anyhow, but missed out on world history.)

Strudwick says the project has completely changed the way Blackawton Primary School approaches science education, and that the students have a much more positive view of science now than three years ago. The students’ scores on Britain’s national science exams are well above average, too.

Misha Lotto, now 10, says his view of science changed thanks to the bees.

“I thought science was just like math, really boring,” he said. “But now I see that it’s actually quite fun. When you’re curious, you can just make up your own experiment, so you can answer the question.”

Some of the students now want to be scientists when they grow up, but some still want to be soccer players and rock stars. That’s okay, Lotto says.

“If they don’t turn out to be scientists, that’s not a big deal,” he said. “The hope is that this kind of program doesn’t just create data and information and little scientists. Being uncomfortable with uncertainty, in fact being excited about not knowing — that’s really what we’re trying to foster through science.”

You can read the whole article on wired or check out their published paper in Biology Letters.

Quick Hit: New Brunswick girl youngest to discover a supernova

Having been part of a field naturalist club when I was in public school, I really love stories of amateur scientists with big impacts:

Ten-year-old Kathryn Gray had lots of fun over the winter holidays. She especially liked going to Nova Scotia to visit with family.

Then, after returning home to New Brunswick, she discovered a supernova about 240 million light years away.

You can read more about her discovery in the Globe and Mail.

The linkspam-industrial complex (15th December, 2010)

  • Call For Participation: Spectral Amoebas – A Blog Carnival about Asexuality and the Autism Spectrum: We are asexual bloggers on the autistic spectrum who want to explore the intersection between autistic and asexual identities. The basis of this project is to have a conversation about our unique experiences being autistic and asexual without looking for a cause.
  • Hillary Clinton Is Asked What Designers She Wears Moments After Making Point About Sexism: because it would be terrible if she forgot for a moment how important it is to be aesthetically pleasing!
  • “Where have all the men gone? Oh yeah, they’re still here – Men hold 84.3% of Fortune 500 board seats.” Catalyst releases a study examining “women’s representation in corporate governance at the largest companies in the United States.”
  • Women in Technology, Western Australia (WITWA) has launched techtrails, an initiative aimed at supplementing the technology sector with new talent. The program operates as a school incursion to raise awareness about program operates as a school incursion to raise awareness about technology careers. WITWA is looking for presenters, volunteers and sponsorship.
  • Women scientists must speak out: [Women's choices] still cannot explain the near-total absence of women pundits. Sexism must be responsible too. Having both the inclination and the time to do media work myself, I have certainly found myself dropped for programmes and replaced by less-qualified men… Given this bias, I understand why many women might prefer not to get involved.
  • Blag Hag: Feminists’ selective science phobia (warning, substantial “those man-haters make us Good Feminists look bad” vibe in the comments). Evolutionary psychology gets a lot of flack from both inside and outside science. And to be honest, a lot of it is well deserved criticism – too much of evolutionary psychology is arm chair philosophizing and overly optimistic adaptationism, rather than hard data. But I still assert that’s no reason to write off the field as a whole… Unless it doesn’t mesh with your philosophy, of course.
  • IGN’s 2010 Gamer Girl Gift Guide recommends gifts to please men: … make sure to buy the gamer girl in your life a present that actually benefits you instead of her. She’ll love that.
  • (Trigger warnings: fictional rapes.) Rape in MY Anti-Tolkien?: Anti-Tolkien, I think, should be about upsetting the cis-white-male ghetto. It should be about subverting, breaking, and rejecting tropes that make this ghetto such a comfy cesspool to wallow in… It really shouldn’t be about women getting sexually assaulted and liquid brown hitting everything in sight.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the geekfeminism tag on delicious 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 links are strong with this one (4th December, 2010)

  • Valerie’s Conference anti-harassment policy is under discussion at LWN and Hacker News (‘ware: both sites well known for faily comments, although as of writing LWN is doing mostly OK). LWN’s article will be de-paywalled in a few days, before that, go via Valerie’s free link.
  • The Mistress of the Lash Wears Chains: I began to wonder just what drove the [game design] obsession with these matriarchies. I then realised that this was the flip side of “male fantasy’- which is “male nightmare.’
  • The Importance of Allies: Ever since I started working towards the goal of increasing the number of women participating in the free software community, I’ve had men say some variation of the following to me, I didn’t know it was this bad. Is there anything I can do? The answer is yes!
  • A series of questions in photographic form. This ongoing body of work explores the power dynamics inherent in the questions asked of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people.
  • Reinventing the Outreach Program Wheel: Why, oh why do I have to be hatin’ on the good works that SciCheer wants to do for the young girls of our nation?
  • Becoming Einstein’s cousin: profile on Cathy Foley, an international expert in superconductivity, the first woman to become president of the Australian Institute of Physics, and president of Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies.
  • Wake up, LOPSA members., or, Sexism in LOPSA, part 3
  • Women in Web Development: Do The Numbers Really Matter?: The failure isn’t the industry or its hiring practices. It’s in education, summer camps, parenting, and all the other places young girls could be coming into contact with coding, development and engineering but aren’t.
  • Gertrude Rothschild, Dies at 83: Important geek engineer who improved LED displays; defended her inventions against patent infringement. (In contradistinction to copyright infringement, which poorly serves IP interests in 3D objects and processes).
  • Finally, a quick thought from @heathermg: … the head of NASA Astrobiology AND the lead researcher who discovered this lifeform are both women.

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

Science is not the oppressor.

This post was originally published at Restructure! Some tense and time markers have been updated.

Some anti-oppressive thinkers distrust powerful institutions, and end up distrusting the scientific institution and even scientific knowledge itself. However, scientific knowledge and scientific practise are not inherently oppressive. The oppressions that appear to come from science actually come from the upper-class white male domination of scientific disciplines.

Science is not the enemy; the practise of science is a productive method for understanding ourselves and our world. When some scientific studies overgeneralize and/or neglect certain groups of people, the problem is bad science, not science.

One of the serious problems with the lack of diversity in the practise within certain knowledge domains is that some important aspects of reality are not even considered, leading the researchers to overgeneralize and draw incorrect conclusions. This problem comes from the fact that scientific practise is a social activity, subject to the biases and prejudices of the scientists. In contrast, the scientific methods of gathering empirical data to refute hypotheses, and using statistical methods to determine statistical significance, are perfectly sound.

It is illogical to assume without reason that the results of a given scientific study (especially one that you do not particularly like) must be false. There is no contradiction between truth and justice. Anti-oppressive thinkers should not be afraid of science.

Continue reading

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.

Women did not evolve against risk-taking and tech startups.

This is cross-posted at Restructure!

There is a common idea that women are underrepresented in tech startups because we are “nurturing and not risk-taking enough by nature”, an idea often proposed and upvoted in Hacker News discussions. Roy F. Baumeister, Professor of Psychology, also argues something similar in his defense of Lawrence Summers’ hypothesis that fewer women than men have high innate ability in science. Professor Baumeister argues that men evolved to take risks, and women evolved to play it safe, because we are allegedly descendants of risk-taking men and risk-averse women.

However, there are a few problems with this explanation of why women are underrepresented among tech entrepreneurs. One problem is that top venture capitalist John Doerr consciously and deliberately invests in tech startups run by white men over women and racial minorities, and even encourages other VCs to follow his lead. Even more, it is understood that this is “the way the venture-capital industry operates”. While other industries call this “stereotyping” or “profiling”, VCs call it “pattern recognition”. In other words, there is systemic discrimination in the tech industry based on gender, as well as race and age.

Another problem with the hypothesis of female risk-aversion is that outside of the tech industry, women have been launching new businesses at twice the rate of men for three decades:

The phenomenal growth of women-owned businesses has made headlines for three decades—women consistently have been launching new enterprises at twice the rate of men, and their growth rates of employment and revenue have outpaced the economy.

Continue reading