[Linux-aus] Special support for women

Jessica Smith jessica at itgrrl.com
Wed Oct 30 10:09:15 EST 2013


Here we go again...

On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 11:21 PM, David Newall <davidn at davidnewall.com>wrote:

(:-P   (tongue in cheek)

Your words belie your attempt to deny that you're being serious. Adding
"just kidding!" to the end of an insult doesn't negate the insult.
Similarly, adding "tongue in cheek" doesn't get you a free pass when
trotting out hoary old chestnuts about "meritocracy" and the idea that
affirmative action is about "gifting favours" to "incompetent women".
(Seriously? Wow.)

Systemic/systematic biases have been widely-researched and widely-reported.
Many of the studies, including meta-analyses of other studies, have sound
methodology and present findings that are difficult to dispute unless you
willfully disregard the evidence. Systemic biases in IT and other fields
are not just around the single characteristic of gender, but extend to
race, (dis)ability, sexuality, and religion (or lack thereof).

No-one who's actually researching this is actually suggesting that
"systemic bias" = "zOMG, teh menz are consciously trying to keep teh
laydeez out of the clubhouse!!11!!" - although quite a lot of people
dismissive of the idea that such biases exist are eager to pretend that's
the case. The thrust of the research is to uncover the ~unconscious~ biases
that act to barriers-to-entry to all those who don't fit the current
dominant paradigm. Recent studies specifically looking at biases in
relation to gender identified that both men ~and~ women exhibit these
biases when deciding who to hire, who to promote, etc. So no-one's
~actually~ saying that men are evil or bad or actively working against
being inclusive of women. No need for defensiveness here, we're just trying
to patch a broken system.

A handful of references as a starting point for those with a genuine
interest in coming up to speed on the research (don't worry David, I don't
expect you to read these or take them seriously):

 * Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students -
 * Gender Segregation in Elite Academic Science -
 * The Impact of Gender on the Review of the Curricula Vitae of Job
Applicants and Tenure Candidates: A National Empirical Study -
 * Questioning the merit of meritocracy -

Lots more research with similar findings to be found online with some quick

So why did I bother replying? Some say "don't feed the trolls" - but
silence is often assumed to imply assent, and I think it's important that
listmembers see that not everyone on-list shares the same opinion on such
topics. On this particular issue of course, female voices are often
dismissed, undervalued, or portrayed as having a "vested interest". (Like
preserving privilege ~isn't~ a vested interest...?) What does seem to work
is when other men speak up, since (some) men will only really listen to
those they perceive as their true peers. So hopefully that'll happen in
this case. Or not.  *shrug*


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