If tech discussion was really about tech, it wouldn’t be sexist.

Cross-posted at Geek Feminism

There is sexism in tech culture. However, I continue to love tech, because I think of the sexism as a separate, unnecessary appendage to pure tech. I cannot think of sexism as intrinsic to or inevitable in tech, because then I would be either self-hating, or I would have to give up my love for technology. Maybe my personal ontology is compartmentalized thinking in order to survive as a woman in tech, but I think it’s also true.

Some people argue that for tech to “attract” women, the culture needs to be broadened to include humanistic aspects. However, this proposal may derive from the implicit sexist assumption that men really are better at tech, and women really are better at the humanities.

Actually, what I hate most about tech news sites is that when I go there for technology news, there are off-topic comments about love and relationships. It’s typically men discussing being single; having trouble with women; being Nice GuysTM; giving advice about what women really want; talking about how women have it easier; bragging about how even their grandmother/mother/wife can use technology X; and other sexist generalizations about women. In other words, the idea that pure tech scares away women, that tech culture is currently free of human influence, is a product of male privilege and the inability to recognize that the state of being male is not the state of being neutral.

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Discrimination against job applicants with non-white names continues.

Muslim ‘refused job because of his name’ accuses airline bosses of racism:

A Muslim airport worker has accused airline Cathay Pacific of racism after he was refused a job interview – only to be offered one when he applied two days later using a fake white British-sounding name.

Algerian-born Salim Zakhrouf applied to Cathay Pacific for a job as a passenger services officer at Heathrow Airport.

Mr Zakhrouf, 38, who has lived in Britain since 1991 and is a UK citizen, was told by email he had not been selected for interview.

But applying 48 hours later as ‘Ian Woodhouse’ with an identical CV and home address, he was invited for an interview by the same personnel officer who had first refused him.

via Resist racism, who points out, “For clarity:  My name is not the problem, as others have suggested.  Racism is the problem.”.


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The ethical corollary of “sex is a basic human need” is that rape is justified.

(Trigger Warning: This post discusses rapist logic and rape.)

Some men argue that when women “withhold sex” from men, we are depriving men of their basic needs:

A sense of entitlement? That’s what you want to call the basic human need for love, companionship, approval, and sex? […] And then you wonder why guys perceive hostility from women. Gee, I wonder.

— unapproved comment from a Geek Feminism post

If a woman declines to have sex with a man, is she violating the man’s human rights, his alleged “right to sex”, or is the man’s experience of being deprived of his rights actually evidence of his sense of “entitlement” over women’s bodies?

Physiological - breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion. Safety - security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property. Love/belonging - friendship, family, sexual intimacy. Esteem - self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others. Self-actualization - morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts. This visual representation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts “sex” at the bottom base of the pyramid (falling under the category “Physiological” needs, which are the most basic needs), but “sexual intimacy” is also at the third rung from the bottom, falling under the category of “Love/belonging” needs. “Security of body” is at the at the second rung from the bottom of the pyramid, falling under the category of “Safety” needs, which is above “Physiological” needs but below “Love/belonging” needs.

If the “right to be not raped” falls under “Safety” and “security of body”, then is the alleged “right” to obtain sex a more basic need than the “right to be not raped”? Or does “Safety”/”security of body”/the “right to be not raped” have higher priority than fulfilling everyone’s alleged “need” for sex?

Of course, if one assumes that sex is a more basic need than security of body, then the ethical corollary would be that rape is justified. If you accept “rape is wrong” as an axiom, then you should agree that a person’s security of body/the right to be not raped has a higher priority than a person’s “need” for sex.

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Affluent people should not give money-management advice without acknowledging class privilege.

In Why You Pay for Shit Twice in the Hood., Renina of New Model Minority writes:

How do people pay for shit twice in the hood. Poverty is lucrative. People who own businesses in the hood make money charging incredible prices for the day to day things needed to survive.

The first example that comes to mind is a New York times article where Barbara Ehrenreich talks about the “ghetto tax” and how being poor is expensive. She writes,

  • “Poor people are less likely to have bank accounts..”
  • .”..low-income car buyers…pay more for car loans than more affluent buyers.”
  • “Low-income drivers pay more for car insurance.”
  • “They are more likely to buy their furniture and appliances through pricey rent-to-own businesses.”
  • “They are less likely to have access to large supermarkets and hence to rely on the far more expensive…convenient stores.”

When you add that all up, you really get a sense of how when you live in the hood you pay more for services and products, just because you live in the hood.

The example of how poverty is expensive is Rafi and Dallas’ video Check Mate. Checkmate analyzes why people in the hood use check cashing places rather than banks, why there are arguably no banks in the hood and how check cashing spots,  pawn shops and gold chain shops operate to seperate the people who don’t have a lot of money from the little bit of bread that they do have.

In Spending, Priorities, and Class Divides, s.e. smith of this ain’t livin’ writes:

Financial planning seems like a quaint luxury to a lot of people because, functionally, it is. It should not be, but it is, and refusing to talk about this fact means that conversations about money, concentration of wealth, fighting your way to get ahead in this culture, end up fundamentally skirting over a pretty critical issue. If you start a financial planning discussion with the ground assumption that everyone has money to spare and can trim the budget to make more, you’re pretty much telling a big chunk of your readership to just not even bother.

In Are You Better Off Buying $200 Shoes?, Gwen Sharp of Sociological Images writes:

Further, advice such as that given here present this as simply a matter of being economically smart, rather than as a class issue: unless you’re looking for the type of trendy shoes that you’ll only want to wear briefly anyway, you shouldn’t waste your time at H&M.  Similarly, in grad school I was once told I was “dumb” to rent rather than buy a house, in a town where they cost $150,000+. In both cases, the opportunities provided by economic advantage are perceived as economic common sense, obvious choices for anyone who is smart and has decent taste. Combined with the invisibility of people who can’t afford to spend that much money, accepting these class assumptions allows us to gaze disdainfully at people in “cheap” shoes, confident that they, too, are simply “cheap.”

From Microaggressions:

  • Upper-class activist:: Why don’t you have a cell phone? That’s ridiculous!
  • Me:: I come from a poor family.
  • Upper-class activist:: I guess some people just choose to spend their resources differently.
  • Me:: No, I can’t afford one.
  • Upper-class activist:: You just don’t spend your money well enough.

Myths about Girls, Math, and Science

Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science (LiveScience 2007):

Myth 1: From the time they start school, most girls are less interested in science than boys are.

Reality: In elementary school about as many girls as boys have positive attitudes toward science. A recent study of fourth graders showed that 66 percent of girls and 68 percent of boys reported liking science. But something else starts happening in elementary school. By second grade, when students (both boys and girls) are asked to draw a scientist, most portray a white male in a lab coat. Any woman scientist they draw looks severe and not very happy. The persistence of the stereotypes start to turn girls off, and by eighth grade, boys are twice as interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers as girls are. The female attrition continues throughout high school, college and even the work force. Women with STEM higher education degrees are twice as likely to leave a scientific or engineering job as men with comparable STEM degrees.

[…]

Myth 3: Science and math teachers are no longer biased toward their male students.

Reality: In fact, biases are persistent, and teachers often interact more with boys than with girls in science and math. A teacher will often help a boy do an experiment by explaining how to do it, while when a girl asks for assistance the teacher will often simply do the experiment, leaving the girl to watch rather than do. Research shows that when teachers are deliberate about taking steps to involve the female students, everyone winds up benefiting. This may mean making sure everyone in the class is called on over the course of a particular lesson, or asking a question and waiting 10 seconds before calling on anyone. Good math and science teachers also recognize that when instruction is inquiry-based and hands-on, and students engage in problem solving as cooperative teams, both boys and girls are motivated to pursue STEM activities, education and careers.


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Can you spot the female geek?

''... developing new Drupal modules and building complex websites!'' There is a double-arrow pointing to a white man flexing his bicep and a white woman wearing a bikini and holding a whip. The double-arrow says, ''A PERFECT GAME FOR GEEKS TO CONNECT WITH NON-GEEKS''I have been a geek for most of my life. However, my geek identity is rarely recognized in meatspace interactions, probably because I am female. You would expect that people’s assumptions about the science, math, and tech abilities of girls and women would be challenged upon encountering female geeks in real life, but I have found that being a female geek actually reinforces sexist convictions that girls and women do not really belong in science, math, and tech.

I remember when I won some physics award in high school, a male rival complained bitterly in the library that the physics award he felt he should have won ended up going to “some girl”. He actually said that, emphasizing the word girl, as if my very gender invalidates my right to win a physics award. He complained loudly on purpose so that I would overhear the barb. I was shocked that people could say such blatantly sexist things in [current year], in which sexism was no longer supposed to exist, especially among my youthful generation. Instead of challenging gender stereotypes, my physics geekery apparently reinforced this guy’s perception that male rights are being eroded by uppity females who get awards we don’t really deserve. If he remembers me at all, he probably won’t remember me as the geeky girl in the library, but as some bitch from high school.

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White women are stereotyped differently from Black and Asian women.

Abagond describes the Three Bears Effect:

The Three Bears Effect is the name given by Aiyo at the blog Black British Girl for how whites stereotype blacks and Asians as opposites while putting themselves in the middle as “just right” – like in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.

For example, black men are stereotyped as having big penises but not much intelligence while Asian men are the other way round, leaving white men in the middle as “just right”.

It works so well in America that in most cases you can tell what the Asian stereotype will be by taking the opposite of the black one:

  • If blacks are cool, then Asians are nerdy.
  • If black women are disagreeable, overbearing and loud, then Asian women are sweet, submissive and quiet.
  • If blacks are lazy, then Asians are hard working.
  • If blacks have a lower IQ than whites, then Asians have a higher one.
  • If blacks have a higher poverty rate than whites, then Asians have a lower one.
  • If blacks have less education than whites, then Asians have more.
  • If black women are “mannish”, then Asian women are “ultra-feminine”.

Etc.

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