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New Study Exposes Gender Bias In Tech Job Listings

Help Wanted

I wrote for Wired:

Only 11 percent of all engineers in the U.S. are women, according to Department of Labor. The situation is a bit better among computer programmers, but not much. Women account for only 26 percent of all American coders.

There are any number of reason for this, but we may have overlooked one. According to a paper recently published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there could be a subtle gender bias in the way companies word job listings in such fields as engineering and programming. Although the Civil Rights Act effectively bans companies from explicitly requesting workers of a particular gender, the language in these listings may discourage many women from applying.

The paper — which details a series of five studies conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo and Duke University — found that job listings for positions in engineering and other male-dominated professions used more masculine words, such as “leader,” “competitive” and “dominant.” Listings for jobs in female dominated professions — such as office administration and human resources — did not include such words.

A listing that seeks someone who can “analyze markets to determine appropriate selling prices,” the paper says, may attract more men than a list that seeks someone who can “understand markets to establish appropriate selling prices.” The difference may seem small, but according to the paper, it could be enough to tilt the balance. The paper found that the mere presence of “masculine words” in job listings made women less interested in applying — even if they thought they were qualified for the position.

Shanley Kane, a software product manager in the Bay Area, says these subtleties should not be overlooked. “It’s worth paying special attention to how the ‘masculine-themed’ words they tested for — competitive, dominate, leader — denote power inequalities,” she explains. “A leader has followers. A superior has an inferior.”

Full Story: Wired Enterprise: New Study Exposes Gender Bias In Tech Job Listings

On King City’s Portrayal Of Women

King City

And for all Brandon Graham seems like an intelligent guy who really thinks about the portrayal of women in comics he’s still made a book that’s male gazey as hell. An important quote from the interview:

“Yeah I think that’s the big problem. It’s like, ok dudes, we’ve tended to your boners since the dawn of time. Can someone else have a turn?”

And it’s ace that he’s noticed things shouldn’t mainly be aimed at straight males. It makes me feel a bit bad for being all “ooh look at the objectification” as he comes across as a definite Force For Good in interviews but, well, the women in this comic still are totally aimed at that straight, male audience, aren’t they?

It’s an extension of that whole aspect of illustration that you see constantly on yr Tumblrs and Deviantarts and in grafitti and on music posters and such: young, straight men like drawing ‘badass’ idealised women in the kind of clothing they find attractive on a person. It’s for the male gaze and it’s not really subversive or new. Yeah, the line between ‘sexy’ and ‘sexist’ is a fine one, but I think this comic steps over the line?

Full Story: The Slow Bullet: Brandon Graham’s King City: My Continuing Adventures in being No Fun

(via Graham himself, who tweeted: “Here’s a article criticizing (in a lot of valid ways) the ladies of King city. I do still stand by the soap opera joke… Warheads is in a lot of ways me trying to grow past some of what I did in KC. I’m still cool with that stuff it’s just not where Im at now” [1] [2])

Critique of The Invisibles

Philip Sandifer wrote a sharp critique of The Invisibles. Here’s a bit about the role of chaos magic in the book and how it, although as he notes it has been around since the 70s, rose to prominence in the 90s:

Chaos magic is magic for libertarians. It sprung up, unsurprisingly, in the late nineties because it was a flavor particularly suitable for the techno-libertarians who disproportionately dominated the early Internet. And it was, in hindsight, a complete and utter bust. It’s just another flavor of the Heinlein-style science fiction that animated Babylon 5 and space opera in general. It amounts to Robert Heinlein in fetish gear, which is mostly just redundant.

Full Story: TARDIS Eruditorum: Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 52 (The Invisibles)

I’m not sure if he’s referring to chaos magic or The Invisibles as “Robert Heinlein in fetish gear,” but either one seems appropriate. It hits on one of the paradox’s of Morrison’s work, which is that on the one hand he dismisses the idea of individuality as silly Western Thoughts, but simultaneously spouts individualist and libertarian rhetoric.

He adds in the comments:

I thought about dealing with Lord Fanny. But that involves getting into Grant Morrison’s frankly shameful engagement with transgender issues, and that’s really far afield. And just makes me angry. [...]

It’s not even that Fanny herself is bad. It’s that she fits into a larger and virulently transphobic context on Morrison’s part in which he casually deploys offensive slurs and appropriates trans experiences. It’s really astonishingly vile, and gets at the almost sociopathic narcissism that I find so infuriating about him. I think it’s very rare that Morrison manages an ounce of humanity in his work.

Sandifer wrote more on what was good and bad about The Invisibles in his piece on Lawrence Miles’ Dead Romance. He also wrote about Grant Morrison’s Doctor Who comics, which also touches on the rivalry between Morrison and Alan Moore.

All of this is part of Sandifer’s massive ongoing critique of Doctor Who, which he promises to follow in a few years with an in-depth look at the Morrison/Moore.

See also: Invisible Sexuality: Lord Fanny and the Gender Question

What Do You Know, Feminism Really DOES Work

Pamela Haag writes about a paper published last fall in the American Political Science Review about ending or reducing domestic violence against women globally:

Out of this herculean research effort, Weldon and Htun conclude that the “mobilization of feminist movements is more important for change than the wealth of nations, left-wing political parties, or the number of women politicians” in a country, according to the APSR press release.

The authors found that these vibrant and autonomous feminist movements were the first to articulate the issue of violence against women, mobilize political will against it, and catalyze government action. Other organizations, even those with progressive leanings, tended to sideline issues perceived as being only relevant to women. [...]

This is heartening news. There’s a tendency to feel hopeless in the face of the Big Trends and the analyses of the violence and degradation against women as collateral damage of what feel like almost insurmountable “larger problems” and social pathology. For example we sometimes think of violence against women as mostly a by-product of economic development and educational opportunities, or lack thereof.

Conversely, there’s a consoling tendency to think that once these economic conditions improve, violence against women will diminish naturally, as a happy consequence of other social changes.

This research concludes that the work of individuals in civil society not only makes a difference, but makes the difference in comparison to other potential but more indirect levers of social change, such as having left-leaning parties or more national wealth. Write Weldon and Htun, the “effects of autonomous organizing are more important in our analysis than women’s…representation inside the legislature or the impact of political parties. Nor do economic factors such as national wealth trump the societal causes of policy making. Although these intra-legislative and economic factors have received a great deal of attention…they are inadequate to explain the significant changes in policies on violence against women. Civil society holds the key here.”

Full Story: Big Think: What Do You Know, Feminism Really DOES Work

Women Speak Out More During Consensus Driven Decision Making

Science Daily reports:

Scholars at Brigham Young University and Princeton examined whether women speak less than men when a group collaborates to solve a problem. In most groups that they studied, the time that women spoke was significantly less than their proportional representation — amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke. [...]

There is an exception to this rule of gender participation, however. The time inequality disappeared when researchers instructed participants to decide by a unanimous vote instead of majority rule.

Results showed that the consensus-building approach was particularly empowering for women who were outnumbered by men in their group. Study co-author Tali Mendelberg of Princeton says these findings apply to many different settings.

Full Story: Science Daily: Women Speak Less When They’re Outnumbered

In Science, Men Are Assumed Competent Until Proven Otherwise. Women Are Assumed Incompetent Until Proven Otherwise

The Wall Street Journal on how men and women are treated differently in science. To sum it up: men are assumed to be competent until proven otherwise. Women are assumed to be incompetent until proven otherwise. Sharon Begley writes:

Ben Barres had just finished giving a seminar at the prestigious Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research 10 years ago, describing to scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and other top institutions his discoveries about nerve cells called glia. As the applause died down, a friend later told him, one scientist turned to another and remarked what a great seminar it had been, adding, “Ben Barres’s work is much better than his sister’s.”

There was only one problem. Prof. Barres, then as now a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University, doesn’t have a sister in science. The Barbara Barres the man remembered was Ben.

Prof. Barres is transgendered, having completed the treatments that made him fully male 10 years ago. The Whitehead talk was his first as a man, so the research he was presenting was done as Barbara.

Full Story: Wall Street Journal He, Once a She, Offers Own View On Science Spat

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge Interviewed by Technoccult Part 2: Pandrogeny

Part two of my conversation with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. Part one is here.

Klint Finley: Can we talk about Pandrogeny?

Sure.

You already touched on male aggression earlier, but just for any of our readers that — I’m already pretty familiar with the project — but for anyone who isn’t maybe you could talk a little bit about the original intentions.

It’s funny as time goes by and you get older it gets harder and harder to answer things because you see all these links and all these parallel pieces of information, and parallel things that have happened in the past that have led to these points. And you can also start to see potentially where they may be going. So it gets harder and harder to answer things lately. But, in a way, it all goes on from what we were just saying with TOPI: we were really focusing on behavior and breaking that.

And then we came into the USA in exile and we met Lady Jaye in New York. And the very first day we were together she dressed me in her clothes, put make-up on me, decorated my dreadlocks with Tibetan trinkets — which she didn’t even know I knew anything about. And it was just very crucial for us to immediately go into mirroring each other. And the initial impetus came from insanely powerful love.

We usually explain by saying: people will say, “I wish I could just eat you up.” Well, we really wanted to eat each other up. We were really frustrated that we were in two bodies. We wanted to literally be able to just get hold of each other, crush ourselves together and then be just one consciousness in one body or just one entity in any form.

Continue reading

On Misogyny in Industrial Music

And speaking of deflecting criticism through irony, Nadya Lev has written a long, thoughtful piece on misogyny in industrial music:

The “cinematic reference” argument seems to be a common tactic in deflecting criticism. Thomas Rainer has used the filmic term “sexploitation” to describe Nachtmahr, and Throat Full of Glass music video director, Chad Michael Ward, wrote to Coilhouse stating that “the video, conceived by both the band and myself, is a send-up of 1970s grindhouse/exploitation films, where men were thugs and women were whores; in other words caricatures, not entirely unlike the noir films of the 1930s that I also love dearly.” In reality, the “it’s an homage to grindhouse” defense is so common that it’s becoming a cliche. Here’s the thing: when Tarantino revived the grindhouse genre, it was with clever, self-aware, satirical, intelligent scripts that actually told new stories that were relevant to our time. The Bride is one of the most celebrated bad-ass film icons out there. Similarly, today’s burlesque movement revives the noir glamour of the 30s with a DIY, feminist sensibility. Contrasted to that, what collective story does the combination of these industrial music videos tell?

Full Story: On Misogyny in Industrial Music

Here’s the comment I left:

“If satire isn’t interpreted as satire, but as a sincere expression of belief, doesn’t mean that the artist has to condescend to explain it and hold the listener’s hand.”

The question of the artist’s responsibility for people not getting a piece of work is a sticky one. People completely missing the point of satire has been a thing for a long, long time. The movie Joe [1] comes to mind, but it was hardly the first.

Similarly, to what degree can an artist be criticized for utterly failing at satire? If Combachrist has been at this for as long as he has, and no one gets the joke, is that a failure as an artist on his part? (joblowcritic’s point about Laichach is particularly relevant here).

There has been a rash of movies over the past few years that claim to be satire or criticism of media violence, violence against women, etc. but simply devolve into being an embodiment of what they intended to satirize — to such a degree that it’s questionable whether the film makers ever really intended to do satire or whether that was all just a cover (Sucker Punch for example).

Combachrist and Nachtmahr have fallen into the same realm. Is this stuff *really* earnest parody, or cover for the opportunity to do whatever they want without criticism? Did it start out as parody, but at some point start feeling a bit too comfortable?

One big difference between these guys and Laibach is that, to the best of my knowledge, Laibach never used their aesthetics of fascism schtick as an excuse to, say, make a video about torturing Jews or beating women or whatever. That’s the problem I have with films like Sucker Punch, Crank and that whole family of neo-grindhouse films as well. There just isn’t a big enough difference between the real thing and the satire.

[1] http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3013/

Being An Atheist Is A Hassle, But Being A Lady Atheist Can Be The Pits

Vice interviews “Boobquake” founder Jennifer McCreight:

Is it fair to say that, on the whole, atheists aren’t that crazy about feminism?

I think, for some people, atheism is the one minority identity they have. They’re not gay, they’re not black, they live in the United States, and a lot of them are middle-class or higher. Being an “atheist” is the one thing that they take on as their cause, and they think it’s the most important because it’s the only one that affects them. It puts their priorities out of order a little bit. Once you’ve figured out God doesn’t exist, that’s great! But there are other irrational things you might believe in, like sexism.

Full Story: Vice: ATHEISM?-?SEXISM?=?ATHEISM?+

See also: How I Unwittingly Infiltrated The Boys Club And Why It’s Time For a New Wave Of Atheism:

I don’t feel safe as a woman in this community – and I feel less safe than I do as a woman in science, or a woman in gaming, or hell, as a woman walking down the fucking sidewalk. People shat themselves with rage at the suggestion that cons should have anti-sexual harassment policies. DJ Grothe, president of JREF, blamed those evil feminist bloggers for TAM’s female attendance problem instead of trying to fix what’s scaring women away (and then blocked me on Twitter and unfriended me on Facebook for good measure). A 15 year old girl posted a photo of herself holding a Carl Sagan book to r/atheism and got a flood of rape jokes in return. The Amazing Atheist purposefully tried to trigger a rape survivor. Paula Kirby decided we’re all feminazis and femistasis. I’ve become used to being called a cunt or having people threaten to contact my employers because a feminist can’t be a good scientist. Rebecca Watson is still receiving constant rape and death threats a year after she said “Guys, don’t do that.” And mentioning her name is a Beetlejuice-like trigger for a new torrent of hate mail.

Previously: How An Anti-Feminist Screed Ended Up In a Physics Journal

Ada Lovelace Day vs. Marie Curie Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a dedicated to celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and math and encouraging more women and girls to become get involved in those areas.

But John Graham Cumming writes:

Every year when Ada Lovelace Day comes along I find myself disappointed that Lovelace has been chosen as the symbolic ‘woman in science’ because her contribution is minimal, the claims about her are overblown and there’s a much better role model who really contributed a lot: Marie Curie.

Full Story: John Graham Cumming: Marie Curie Day

Interesting thoughts though I hope this doesn’t lead to a pointless rivalry — the important thing is to encourage is to get more people involved in STEM, not to fight about which women were more important.

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