Friday, September 06, 2013

Weekend Reading: The Data and The Stories Edition

I've been accumulating some really good links on our progress (or lack thereof) towards a more fair society, and I think it is time to share them. I am sure that next week, I'll come across even more great links on these topics... but I guess I can start accumulating them for another post.

First up, the data. Terri Oda has some really great slides about how biology doesn't explain the low number of women in computer science. If you make the mistake of reading the comments, though, you will despair for us ever making progress on this topic. Consider yourself warned.

Wired magazine had a short article about maps put together by Dustin Cable showing the state of racial integration (or more accurately, the lack of it) in the US. Definitely go find your city or town on the full map- it is fascinating to see the data.

Now the stories, which I just noticed are all about women/sexism. I have come across some great posts and articles about race/racism lately, too. Rather than scramble around and try to gather those links tonight, I will devote a future links post to those.

Biochem Belle points out a problem with how we frame the discussion about women in academic science: the focus on the "leaky pipeline" is a bit insulting to women who leave to pursue other awesome careers.

GMP at Academic Jungle has a great description of how imposter syndrome feels. I definitely struggle with imposter syndrome from time to time. It is why I sometimes have to drop out of reading stories about women in science and/or computers and just focus on doing my own work and projects, because constantly feeling like I have to prove I belong makes me feel like I don't belong, but if I am able to complete something I think is cool, I can use that to shut up the doubting little voice in my head that tries to tell me I am working past my skill level or what not.

Bad Mom Good Mom emailed me this Atlantic article about women leaving finance, with the comment that similar things could be said about most technical fields. She's right. In general, in the current discussion around women in technology, I think there is too much focus on how women can fit into and succeed in a deeply dysfunctional culture and too little focus on how we can fix the culture.

To end on a bright note, though... here is a short story about how Carnegie Mellon University is working to change the culture.

And maybe the fact that some men in technology are fighting so hard to find a biological or other "benign" reason for the declining numbers of women in their field is that the efforts to change the culture are starting to gain traction. These men have found some success in the current culture and are afraid of what will happen to them if that culture changes. Maybe when they see that they can still be successful in a more inclusive, less "dude-bro" culture, they'll stop fighting so hard.

Or maybe they are just misogynistic jerks. It is hard to say.

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