Tag Archives: Feminism

Any Publicity is Good Publicity?

If you wonder why Twitter seems to have no interest in protecting individual users from harassment, maybe you need to think about how the companies that pay for the annoying “promoted” tweets think about harassment negative online behavior (UPDATE: It has been pointed out that McCaffrey doesn’t address harassment per se or what may differentiate this from “hating on”). For example, here is HBO director of development Kathleen McCaffrey on the Nerdist Writer’s Panel having an honest discussion* how their social media and marketing teams think about Internet “haters” with host Ben Blacker:

McCAffrey: The thing about Girls which is kind of amazing is the haters. And it makes our social media team very happy because they just put one thing out and people come out of everywhere and just start to hate on it. And, so, it is very loud and very strange…just so many people hate it…

Now, bear in mind that the hating on it she refers to will invariably include negativity directed not just at HBO and the show, but at the individuals involved in creating the show:

McCaffrey: but on social media – on Twitter and everywhere – Lena is very polarizing and people love to hate on her. It still surprises me…

Blacker: But, but that’s, that’s good for you, because it’s a loud conversation and it means that the people who do love her will probably come out to defend her.

McCaffrey: Yes. It becomes this weird fight that she’s kind of even not really a part of, like the people around her just yelling about her. It’s very strange and fascinating.

*McCaffrey expresses disappointment with the continuing negative reaction, while acknowledging the utility of the reaction for marketing.

Cinema Veritas

On the Pop My Culture podcast, actor Josh McDermitt described his first audition scene for the role of Eugene on The Walking Dead.

…I was taking to a girl. We were both backstage about to give this big presentation in front of, like, the world’s top scientists about some, you know, medical breakthrough we just had; and I’m backstage talking with her and I’m, like, berating her and, like, telling her how stupid she is, and then, and then, I try to sleep with her…

The scene, although fiction, rings very true, because this scene happens – not always in such a confined time frame, with those particular details, or with that intensity – but the aggression, denigration, and sexual objectification of women in science is ever present.

The focus of the description is on how the abuse of the female character illustrates flaws in the male character, because the description of the scene exists to illustrate the process of auditioning for a specific character. In real life, however, should we be more concerned with the character of the jerk or the life experience of those who have such behavior directed at them? As Janet Stemwedel notes in her column in Forbes on Tim Hunt’s controversial comments:

What if, when asked to say a few words to the Korean women scientists and the science journalists at the luncheon, he had recognized the audience he was speaking to was likely to have had quite different experiences in science than he had?

Biological Determinism is False

Disproving sex-based biological determinism in one graph from No Ceilings, with more data on the phenomenon at their website.

Source: No Ceilings

Source: No Ceilings

HT: @Bailiuchan

The Missing, Female History of STEM

Chief Technology Officer of the United States Megan Smith discusses the problems of erasing women from the history of science and technology with Charlie Rose. It is not that the historical role models for young women don’t exist. It is that we actively expunge them from our narratives.
As Rose suggests with a question, it is hard to imagine how this practice actually benefits anyone – other than an intellectually lazy adherence to our standard, male-centric narrative.

HT: Caroline Siede at BoingBoing.

Marketing is ready for STEM Women of Color

Barbie dolls are not real people. The pictures of actors and models in magazines are barely real people (thanks to Photoshop). The actress in this car commercial is not a real scientist.

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It does, however, show anyone watching commercials during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament a stylish woman of color driving a nice car and doing complex-looking mathematics* in her head.

It shows someone who is not white, not male, not bearded, not with crazy hair, not with disheveled clothes, not with sub-par social skills doing complex-looking mathematics* in her head.

As we increasingly recognize that recruiting and retaining a diverse STEM workforce requires presenting individuals in that field with whom they can identify, we have a car company showing us that. This actress may not be a real scientist, but my four-year-old daughter won’t know that her concepts of who can be a scientist will have been expanded positively by a commercial while Daddy watched Duke play basketball on TV.

*I do not have the gift for going “oh, that is X equation” on sight. So, I will leave it up to you, dear readers, to evaluate the actual complexity and accuracy of the mathematical imagery.