Race Swap | On the Media podcast #31Accessibility note: audio only. “Mikki Kendall is a writer who deals with an extraordinary amount of trolling and vitriol online. Mikki is a black woman in real life, and she created an experiment to see how her online life would change if she were a white man.” (July 17)
The Increasingly Poor Economics of Penning Problematic Stories | Kameron Hurley: “It was in this moment that I realized the true economics of what’s going to drive the storytelling change. See, it used to be the only media you could consume was the racist, sexist, homophobic sort.… But these days? Well, there’s a LOT of media out there, a lot of entertainment, and there are, increasingly, more diverse stories and choices we can make.” (August 9)
What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson | Zeynep Tufekci at Medium: “Ferguson is about many things, starting first with race and policing in America… It’s a clear example why net neutrality is a human rights issue; a free speech issue; and an issue of the voiceless being heard, on their own terms. I saw this play out in multiple countries — my home country of Turkey included — but last night, it became even more heartbreakingly apparent in the United States as well.” (August 14)
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The Fields Medal is the highest award in the field of mathematics. Some people have called it the math equivalent of the Nobel Prize, though it’s not a perfect analogy since Fields medalists must be younger than 40 years old. Fifty people received the Fields Medal between 1936 and 2010 (the award is given every four years to between two and four mathematicians). All of them were men.
Today, Stanford math professor Maryam Mirzakhani (born in 1977) became the first woman, and the first person of Iranian descent, to win the Fields Medal. (It was also awarded to Artur Avila, Manjul Bhargava, and Martin Hairer.) Her work lies in the intersection of geometry, topology, and dynamical systems.
Mirzakhani likes to describe herself as slow. Unlike some mathematicians who solve problems with quicksilver brilliance, she gravitates toward deep problems that she can chew on for years. “Months or years later, you see very different aspects” of a problem, she said. There are problems she has been thinking about for more than a decade. “And still there’s not much I can do about them,” she said.
Mirzakhani doesn’t feel intimidated by mathematicians who knock down one problem after another. “I don’t get easily disappointed,” she said. “I’m quite confident, in some sense.”
Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, which is up for Best Novel, has been making a lot of shortlists this year, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Clarke awards. I’m also glad to see Sofia Samatar’s “Selkie Stories Are For Losers” up for the short story Hugo–it’s definitely worth a read if you haven’t seen it yet (Samatar is also in her second year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer).
And I’m excited that my fellow Writing On The Fast Track alum and all-around good guy Mike Underwood is up for Best Fancast for The Skiffy and Fanty Show. The team behind it includes several other wonderful people, including authors and diversity advocates Julia Rios and Stina Leicht.
If you’re interested in checking out these and the other wonderful & deserving works on this year’s ballot and voting for this year’s Hugo awards, supporting memberships to this year’s WorldCon are available for 40$US. In addition to voting rights, supporting Members get a copy of the Hugo Voter Packet, which contains digital editions of most of the works on the ballot. This works out to a pretty great bargain if you’re excited about even a few of the nominated works–plus you get to vote on this year’s Hugos.
You may notice that there are a few surprising names on this year’s ballot. Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day, a writer whose hate speech got him drummed out of the SFWA last year) and Larry Correia encouraged their fans to nominate a particular ‘slate’ that included several vocal conservatives. Some of their fans have since been heard crowing about how they’ve succeeded in making some kind of political point by getting these folks on the ballot.
It’s unfortunate that they’ve chosen to politicize the Hugo awards in this way. But I would remind folks that are thinking about buying a membership that the Hugo Awards use “Instant Runoff Voting,” a system which allows voters to rank the candidates in each category. The system allows people to rank “No Award” higher than any or all candidates on the ballot. Indeed, in 1987, that very thing happened in the novel category: No Award came in ahead of L. Ron Hubbard’s Black Genesis.
Since invoking Beale’s name tends to cause some of the cesspools of the internet to backflow into the tubes, this is your reminder that we have a strictly-enforced comment policy. So if you’re here from Beale’s fan club: run along. Your comment will go straight to moderation and no one will see it. There are plenty of places online where you can contribute to a net reduction in the worth and dignity of humanity. This is not one of them.
The James Tiptree, Jr. award is a yearly “prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender.” The award council has just announced that the winners, for work published in 2009, are:
Greer Gilman, Cloud and Ashes: Three Winterâ€™s Tales (Small Beer Press)
Fumi Yoshinaga, Ooku: The Inner Chambers, volumes 1 & 2 (VIZ Media)
Also check out the Honor List and Long List for other recent speculative fiction exploring gender. Stuff you can read online right now:
The Tiptree Award presentation is a highlight of WisCon, the feminist science fiction convention in May. Â Just in case I won’t see you there to hear you enthuse about scifi in person, leave recommendations in the comments!
Role Playing Girl Zine, a yearly publication about women in gaming, is seeking “submissions of essays by women gamers, designers, researchers and others interested in role playing games.” Cartoons also welcome. The 2010 theme: “International Update.”
Small tech firms specifically looking to recruit women include Quilted, a web and print design co-op based in Berkeley and Boston, and Germany’s Openismus, which wants to hire and mentor women and minorities (training them to develop open source software).
So, when I feel most like a â€˜womanâ€™ behind the counter, it is when I am confronted with an older generation. A generation that is used to transferring the technical duties to men, because of the misperception that men are more inclined to understand these technical doo-dads than women.
Kristina M. Johnson, Under Secretary for Energy, US Department of Energy. She’s led colleges and universities and won awards for her work in optics, and I get exhausted just looking at the summary of her resume.
Kathleen R. McKeown, a computer science professor at Columbia University. “Her research interests include text summarization, natural language generation, multi-media explanation, digital libraries, concept to speech generation and natural language interfaces.”
Lila Ibrahim, who went from a design engineer on the Pentium to general manager of the Emerging Markets Platform Group at Intel. She leads “research, definition, development and marketing of technology platforms specifically designed for education.”
If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if youâ€™re a delicious user, tag them â€œgeekfeminismâ€ to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).
Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on del.icio.us (yes, I know they don’t care about the old-school URL anymore but I miss it).
The Anita Borg institute is one of my favourite organisations out there for women in the tech field. Among their many activities, they have an annual award for Women of Vision, who have made a significant contribution to technology as innovators, leaders, or in creating social impact.
Last year’s award winners were Yuqing Gao, Senior Manager, IBM Research, IBM, for Innovation; Jan Cuny, Program Director, National Science Foundation, for Social Impact; and Mitchell Baker, Chairperson, Mozilla, for Leadership.
Nominations for the 2010 award have been extended til December 18th. If you know a woman who’s made a significant contribution to technology this year, visit the Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision website and nominate her!
The Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision 2010 awards, honouring “women making significant contributions in the areas of Innovation, Social Impact and Leadership” are taking nominations until December 11.
the f word looked at salaries of men and women in science, engineering and technology on October 30, Equal Pay Day.
Australian video game review TV show Good Game replaced host Jeremy Ray with Stephanie Bendixsen and Ray alleged that his gender was the primary reason. Sarah Stokely had a look at the PR issues involved.
If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if youâ€™re a delicious user, tag them â€œgeekfeminismâ€ to bring them to our attention. Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.
I was hoping to get round to doing this last week, but things exploded. Luckily, Peggy over at the Women in Science blog has written up a great post about Lin He and Beth Shapiro, two women scientists who received the $500,000, no-strings-attached grant this year:
Lin He’s research involves a class of small ribonucleic acid, or RNA, that are not transcribed into protein like messenger RNA. Instead, these microRNAs or miRNAs bind to messenger RNA to regulate the amount of protein produced. This entirely new level of dosage regulation in mammals was not realized until 2000, even though miRNAs were first discovered in 1993. Now, miRNAs have been shown to be involved in many aspects of development and diseases, He said.
Beth Shapiro is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Pennsylvania State University. She is “an evolutionary biologist who integrates molecular phylogenetics with advanced computational biostatistics to reconstruct the influences on population dynamics in a wide variety of organisms.” She is using the methods she and her colleagues developed to study the population history of recently extinct (like the dodo) or currently threatened species to assess the effects of environmental change on polar bear populations, an approach that will help in shaping conservation efforts. She also has been studying the evolution of RNA viruses in individual patients, an approach that may help in understanding the development of virulence in human pathogens.
Penny’s post also includes video and further links.
Emma Jane Hogbin is an open source nerd, crafty advocate and small town champion. She blogs at emmajane.net; this HOWTO was originally posted there.
This week I started an award at my former high school for a senior female student that has demonstrated creative use of technology. She doesn’t need to have the best marks, she doesn’t need to have sustained performance. She just needs to have shown a sliver of inspiration and interest in technology to be rewarded and encouraged. In the game of Alice’s Restaurant and World Domination, you have to start by doing one thing different. Here’s the FAQ on why I did it and how you can start your own award too.
Why a high school award?
Every November at West Hill Secodary School there’s an award ceremony. Kids who win awards get to stand up in front of their entire school and be recognized for something they’ve accomplished. The whole school claps. The award winner then gets a line on their resume that says they’ve won an award. It doesn’t matter how much money the award is, you still get to say that you’re an award winning student and that can be the difference between getting accepted into the program you want, and just being another faceless application.
Creative use of tech? Huh? What’s up with that?
This isn’t an award for being a nerd or being a jock. It’s an award for two words that hardly ever go together in high school: creativity and technology. That means an entire school full of students are going to be exposed to the idea of creative and technology going together. It comes with a small sum of money, which means some of the students will work towards achieving this award.
Why a senior student?
This is an award that students can work towards over the course of their four years in high school. Student projects in the junior grades (ought to be about) mastering specific techniques and tools, by their senior years students should have the skills they need to start expressing themselves with the tools they’ve learned. Of course there are some truly exceptional young technologists (Drupal has a 13 year old core developer who’s already been around for two or three years), but these geniuses are probably winning other awards too.
Why a female student?
Because I want to encourage girls to use technology in ways that interest them.
I am still working with West Hill to roll out the award, but it was remarkably easy to get the process started. Here’s how you too can start an award to encourage girls to stay engaged with technology.
Phone up your alma mater (your old high school).
Ask to speak with the guidance department. These folks know everything. Tell them you’re an alumni and that you want to sponsor an award. You will be redirected to the right department from here.
When you redirected to the right department, start over. Explain that you want to sponsor an award.
Choose your own criteria, but don’t be too specific. If you are too specific will be too difficult to match your award to a student (and they may not be able to actually give the award out). The school should work with you to come up with the exact language for the award criteria and the name of the award. Have some ideas before you phone.
Make the amount of the award up to the value of one billable hour of your time. The award is not about the amount of money, it’s about (1) promoting technology (2) giving a student a line on their resume. It’s also about being sustainable. You want to make sure you can afford to give this award every year. In some cases you may be asked to set up a fund for an ongoing award. If you have the funds, go ahead and do that. If not, ask if you can sponsor a one-time award. In my case they didn’t ask for anything more than this year’s award. They will send me a form letter next year to remind me to send another cheque.
Write a cheque to the appropriate school division. (Mine is made out to the school board.) You should be issued a tax receipt for your donation. Ask them about this if they don’t mention it.
And that’s it! One billable hour of your money (and a stamp and envelope for the cheque). 20 minutes of your time. And you have made a female student an award winning technologist. Now get out there and do it!