Carl Sagan on why his science organization should stop excluding women (1981)

If membership is restricted to men, the loss will be ours:

Early-1981, following IBM’s withdrawal of support due to the organisation’s continued exclusion of women within its ranks, renowned astronomer Carl Sagan sent the following impassioned letter to each and every fellow member of The Explorers Club — an international society dedicated to scientific exploration since its inception in 1904 — and argued beautifully for a change of policy.

Later that year, The Explorers Club welcomed its first female members.

Carl Sagan’s letter:

Dear Fellow Member of The Explorers Club:
Thank you for the opportunity to write to you about the admission of women to The Explorers Club. The human zest for exploration and discovery is the hallmark of our species and one of the secrets of our success. It is a tradition that goes back much further than the 76 proud years in which The Explorers Club has been in existence. When our organization was formed in 1905, men were preventing women from voting and from pursuing many occupations for which they are clearly suited. In the popular mind, exploration was not what women did. Even so, women had played a significant but unheralded role in the history of exploration — in Africa in the Nineteenth Century, for example. Similarly, Lewis and Clark were covered with glory, but Sacajewea, who guided them every inch of the way, was strangely forgotten. All institutions reflect the prejudices and conventions of their times, and when it was founded The Explorers Club necessarily reflected the attitudes of 1905.
Traditions are important. They provide continuity with our past. But it is up to us to decide which traditions are essential to The Explorers Club and which are accidents of the epoch in which it was institutionalized. Times have changed since 1905. It is very clear that a foolish rigidity can destroy otherwise worthwhile institutions; they are then replaced by other organizations more in tune with the times. IBM’s recent withdrawal of corporate support for The Explorers Club because of our “exclusionary policy toward women” should be pondered carefully by every member. Many other former supporters may follow suit.
Today women are making extraordinary contributions in areas of fundamental interest to our organization. There are several women astronauts. The earliest footprints — 3.6 million years old — made by a member of the human family have been found in a volcanic ash flow in Tanzania by Mary Leakey. Trailblazing studies of the behavior of primates in the wild have been performed by dozens of young women, each spending years with a different primate species. Jane Goodall’s studies of the chimpanzee are the best known of the investigations which illuminate human origins. The undersea depth record is held by Sylvia Earle. The solar wind was first measured in situ by Marcia Neugebauer, using the Mariner 2 spacecraft. The first active volcanos beyond the Earth were discovered on the Jovian moon Io by Linda Morabito, using the Voyager 1 spacecraft. These examples of modern exploration and discovery could be multiplied a hundredfold. They are of true historical significance. If membership in The Explorers Club is restricted to men, the loss will be ours; we will only be depriving ourselves.
The supposed parallelism between our situation and those of other organizations seems to me strained. The Bohemian Club is a resort; The Explorers Club is not. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are for children. Their membership derives almost exclusively from adolescent and pre-adolescent youngsters, who have not yet fully accomodated to the opposite sex. But we presumably are adults, with a special responsibility for interacting with all humans on this planet.
I do not believe that the primary function of our organization is to promote male bonding or to serve as a social club — although there is certain room for both. I believe that the fundamental dedication of the club is that stated on the masthead of every issue of The Explorers Club Newsletter: “To the conquest of the unknown and the advancement of knowledge.” If this is our purpose, then admission should be open to all qualified members of the human species.
Cordially,

(Signed)

Carl Sagan

If you value sexual consent, then you should accept rejection.

gauche writes:

Swiftly and graciously accepting rejection is a cornerstone of radical consent. It hurts, but if you really believe in sexual autonomy, you just have to suck it up — without pleading or wheedling or demanding answers. You need a reason to be with someone, not to reject them.

Link: On rejection by gauche


Related post:

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Does pr0n make men think that women like having sex with jerks?

As I understand it, most pr0n depicts men sexually humiliating women, being abusive, or at least being jerky towards the women they are having sex with. Many heterosexual men who are heavy Internet users also believe that women prefer jerks over nice men. Does heterosexual men’s pr0n consumption contribute to their belief that women like having sex with jerks?

As I understand it, heterosexual men who are regular pr0n consumers see multiple fictional examples of women having sex with jerky men, and emotional images and concepts experienced while achieving orgasm are more memorable than others. People also tend not to remember the original sources of “information” when forming stereotypes. Many men claim to have seen multiple examples of attractive women ending up with jerks, but do these examples originate from pr0n?

Furthermore, is premise of the Seduction Community to have real-life interactions with attractive strangers unfold in the way that pr0n scenarios do?

I am not a pr0n consumer, so I do not know if my perception of pr0n is accurate. However, if you are familiar with pr0n, please discuss the viability of this hypothesis in the comments.

Option to ban a specific troll from the comments (Updated)

Update: The poll closed early at fred’s request. fred is now banned.


In order to improve the quality of the comment section, yet uphold the ideals of free speech and democracy, readers of the blog Restructure! can vote on whether commenter ‘fred’ should be banned. I will honour the results of the vote. (If the motion to ban fred does not pass, I can put it to vote again sometime in the future.) fred may appeal the ban by submitting a persuasive essay on whether or not minorities are at a disadvantage within a democracy.

Here is a sample comment by fred:

At first, I wasn’t sure whether you were black. But after reading that last comment it’s obvious. Its devoid of reason and logic. […]

The poll closes in a week.

Some thoughts on voting by Spider Jerusalem of Transmetropolitan are below the fold (trigger warning for a description of sexual assault with a weapon). Vote first, then, if you choose to, read the comic.

Read the rest of this entry »

Québec wants to make niqabi women illegal.

The creeping racism and eroding of civil liberties of Arizona makes me worry about the Quebec Provincial Bill 94 to exclude niqabi women from social services, employment, health, and education.

If you are Canadian and if you are not, you can take action against Bill 94. If you are emailing or writing to a government official, you can make use of the Non/No Bill 94 Coalition Statement.

Update: There is a Sample No Bill 94 Letter to Premiere Jean Charest

Where in Asia should they build an xkcd school?

A portion of the profits from xkcd: volume 0 will be donated to three literacy projects in Asia: building a School Room (pre-school); building a Reading Room (library); and funding a Local Language Publishing Program. The charity Room to Read is now polling the public to decide where in Asia these three projects should take place.

The School Room (pre-school) will be built in Sri Lanka, but the four regions to decide between are: Nuwara Eliya, Moneragala District, Mannar District, and Matale District.

The Reading Room will be built in either Laos, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, or Nepal.

The Local Language Publishing Program will in either Laos, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, or Cambodia.

How do you decide which locations to vote for? Are you connected to any of these regions?

The deadline is May 17th, 2010 at noon EST. Vote here: How Should We Donate $53,000 of xkcd Book Profits?

In Malaysia, computers are unmasculine.

Ruth Schechter (Clayman Institute) writes:

The answer [to the cause of the gender gap in technology] may lie in Malaysia, where women make up between 50 and 60 percent of the computer industry’s employees and many hold mid- and upper-level management positions. The country’s burgeoning technology industry has brought about dramatic changes to women’s roles in society, changing traditional perceptions of class, ethnicity and gender.

[…]

The author of “Masculinity, Power and Technology: A Malaysian Ethnography,” Mellstrom has been conducting a long-term survey of female students in preparation for a new book on Malaysian women in the computer industry. In contrast to the U.S., in Malaysia jobs in technology are seen as appropriate for women: Men do not perceive indoor work as masculine and much of society stigmatizes women who work outdoors as lower class. Computing and programming are seen as “women-friendly” professions, with opportunities opening up since men are not interested in competing for these types of jobs. “It’s a woman’s world in that respect,” said Mellstrom.

Link: Malaysian women redefine gender roles in technology

(Via geekfeminism Delicious tag)