Friday, March 27, 2015

Diversity, the Intro Textbook we Need, and Privilege

A few weeks ago, I posted about Professionalization, and how it affected medicine, law, and engineering.

While I wrote about the move to replace midwives with doctors, sometimes at cost of childbed fevers, I didn't get into how that affected my family directly.

I am told that when my grandmother was born, nurses had to do exactly what the doctor said, no more and no less. The doctor forgot to tell the nurses to change my great-grandmother's absorbent material. She died when my grandmother was just one week old.

It was clearly the doctor's error, and the doctor apologized. My great-grandfather accepted the apology, took his youngest daughter, and went home to raise his 12 children alone. There was no lawsuit.

Women in STEM are naturally following the court case of Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins. As the article points out, combating second-generation bias has proved difficult. There's a specific term for this type of problem, where the solution is NOT intuitive, but the term is slipping my mind right now.

In the time between drafting and posting this post, Model View Culture released an article that ties this together even better:
Possibilities and Limitations of Discrimination Lawsuits in Tech

My thoughts continue below the cut.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Science, History, and Systems of Systems

In Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (The Foundation Trilogy), a scientist develops a way to predict the fall of a galactic empire, and the steps that would be necessary to maintain some level of civilization. He establishes the Foundation in order to carry out his plan, with a series of timed holographic recordings to ensure that things stay on course.

In real life, the discipline that attempts to map out possible futures is called Future Studies, and one place to study it is the University of Houston. The program migrated from the University of Houston-Clear Lake to the main campus in the mid-2000s (~2005-2006).

One of the textbooks that was required for World Futures was Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems. Years later, when I studied Systems of Systems through Purdue University, many of the concepts matched what I had been taught in the Future Studies classes, and particularly in Panarchy.

One of the issues with complex systems-of-systems, is that the future result is dependent upon the current state of the system.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Diversity in Corporate Leadership

McKinsey & Company has been publishing a "Women Matter" series, exploring the benefits that gender diversity bring to the workplace.

One of McKinsey's recommendations, is to educate men on the corporate challenges that women face. More than 50% of men surveyed were unaware that women have more difficulties than men. Of those who are unaware of the additional barriers women face, 2/3rds believe that diversity measures are unfair to men. [source]

Therefore, among McKinsey's recommendations for improving gender diversity in business is to educate all employees, from the very top to the brand newest hire, on the importance of gender diversity to a successful business. [source]
(more below the cut)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Capitalism, Misogyny, Business and Negotiation.

On Monday, this Tweet passed by:

The article it links discussed how "maximize profit" has become the goal of businesses over the past 35 years.

In fact, it reminded me of this Consulting Adult Article, "Misogyny and the Valley," particularly her description of the events at Ruckus:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Walking the Middle Path

Last Friday, I hinted at the ways that resources designed and intended to help women, often get co-opted to promote the standard "femininity, make-up, and fashion" wares that women are supposed to like.

I also hinted at the tightrope that women in STEM walk, between focusing on their male-dominated work, and conforming to the feminine ideals.

I asked the question: What costs more?  Playing the game in order to continue a conventional career? Or being authentic?

Authenticity, which may require a more unconventional path?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Update on Science and Fashion, aka: Why can't we have nice things?

The latest news about Lego reminded me of this article about “Unclaimed Treasures of Science”: Even during the Cold War, these women brought feminism to STEM, although one must keep in mind that many of these STEM women would not have claimed the term "feminist."
"Women argued over the need to convince skeptical onlookers that a person could be both feminine-looking and interested in STEM. For the Society of Women Engineers” in particular, Puaca writes, “projecting a positive image of women engineers required accepting, on the surface at least, dominant notions of femininity.” Some members made sure to wear dresses, heels, and lipstick for presentations, reassuring people that professionalism and the standard beauty code of Cold War womanhood were not mutually exclusive."" [Unclaimed Treasures of Science]
I keep writing about Kimberle Crenshaw's Intersectionality. I wrote during Wedding Week about GLBT issues, but because I am neither a lesbian nor transgender, it hasn't been a frequent topic on my blog.

One of the concepts that the GLBT community in particular brings to intersectional feminism, is that gender is a spectrum, and the gender binary is a social construct.  If gender is a spectrum, then that means femininity and masculinity each have a range of behaviors that can overlap, in a range from Femme to Butch and anywhere in-between.

In a perfect world, should a person wear whatever they want?

There's a discussion on LinkedIn, pondering whether Sheryl Sandberg would wear a hoodie, like her boss Mark Zuckerberg.

The Seattle Times even published "Guest: The most common question from young women engineers? What to wear."

Quite frankly, if we could FIND more STEM-related fashion like May Britt Moser's lovely Neuron dress that she wore to accept her Nobel prize, these decisions might be easier. But over and over again, we find that the cool STEM / geeky things are coded as masculine.

It's a good question, because in truth, there are geek women who would prefer to wear the t-shirt or hoodie.

It's enough that the Geek Feminism Blog has had a series of posts under "Ask a Geek Feminist" about the subject:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

MOOCs and Planning my Year

I received my C++ Developer certificate in the mail yesterday, from the classes I had been taking through UAH.

I also made a video this month for YouTube, demonstrating my Lego Mindstorms bumpbot. I've received feedback that I plan to incorporate into a re-do. I'm considering a series of these videos, with Mindstorms robots, then Arduino projects, and then Raspberry Pi, as STEM outreach.

I went back to Codecademy and finished up their Python training. The discussion board listed several MOOCs that we could take to continue that work, so next I went over to Coursera and EdX. I found a number of programming and tech-related courses to sign up for and brush up on skills.

Since most of the MOOCs didn't start right away, I've moved on to Java on Codecademy. I figure if I do one segment per day of Codecademy, and one section of the MOOCs, I should be able to get the work done.