MonthMarch 2013

New Study Exposes Gender Bias In Tech Job Listings

Help Wanted

I wrote for Wired:

Only 11 percent of all engineers in the U.S. are women, according to Department of Labor. The situation is a bit better among computer programmers, but not much. Women account for only 26 percent of all American coders.

There are any number of reason for this, but we may have overlooked one. According to a paper recently published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there could be a subtle gender bias in the way companies word job listings in such fields as engineering and programming. Although the Civil Rights Act effectively bans companies from explicitly requesting workers of a particular gender, the language in these listings may discourage many women from applying.

The paper — which details a series of five studies conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo and Duke University — found that job listings for positions in engineering and other male-dominated professions used more masculine words, such as “leader,” “competitive” and “dominant.” Listings for jobs in female dominated professions — such as office administration and human resources — did not include such words.

A listing that seeks someone who can “analyze markets to determine appropriate selling prices,” the paper says, may attract more men than a list that seeks someone who can “understand markets to establish appropriate selling prices.” The difference may seem small, but according to the paper, it could be enough to tilt the balance. The paper found that the mere presence of “masculine words” in job listings made women less interested in applying — even if they thought they were qualified for the position.

Shanley Kane, a software product manager in the Bay Area, says these subtleties should not be overlooked. “It’s worth paying special attention to how the ‘masculine-themed’ words they tested for — competitive, dominate, leader — denote power inequalities,” she explains. “A leader has followers. A superior has an inferior.”

Full Story: Wired Enterprise: New Study Exposes Gender Bias In Tech Job Listings

No, Life Has Still Not Been Found in a Meteorite

wickramasinghe_meteorite.jpg.CROP.original-original

Phil Plait writes:

I read the paper, and really it’s more of the same as from the first paper. In some ways, it’s even shakier; they provide lots of technical data that gives their work a veneer of credibility, but when you look a bit deeper you find they didn’t do a lot of critically necessary tests to establish the veracity of their claims. All the technical stuff obfuscates the fact that they missed the boat in some very basic ways.

In a nutshell, they don’t establish the samples they examined were actually meteorites. They don’t establish they were from the claimed meteor event over Sri Lanka in December 2012. And perhaps most telling, they don’t eliminate the possibility of contamination; that is, diatoms got into the samples because those rocks were sitting on the Earth where diatoms are everywhere.

There’s more, too, including some unusual methods if you’re trying to establish a paradigm-overthrowing claim: They don’t consult with outside experts (including those in the fields of meteorites and diatoms), they don’t get independent confirmation from an outside lab, and they published in a journal that is, um, somewhat outside the mainstream of science.

Full Story: Bad Astronomy: No, Life Has Still Not Been Found in a Meteorite

This isn’t the first time these guys have made this sort of claim. The new paper is here if you want to have a look.

Poverty On The Rise In Silicon Valley

sacremento-tent-city

A rising tide does not lift all boats:

The Silicon Valley is adding jobs faster than it has in more than a decade as the tech industry roars back. Stocks are soaring and fortunes are once again on the rise.

But a bleaker record is also being set this year: Food stamp participation just hit a 10-year high, homelessness rose 20 percent in two years, and the average income for Hispanics, who make up one in four Silicon Valley residents, fell to a new low of about $19,000 a year— capping a steady 14 percent drop over the past five years, according to the annual Silicon Valley Index released by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, representing businesses, and the philanthropic Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Simply put, while the ultra-rich are getting even richer, record numbers of Silicon Valley residents are slipping into poverty.

Full Story: Huffington Post: Silicon Valley Poverty Is Often Ignored By The Tech Hub’s Elite

Meanwhile: Biggest Risk Factor for Depression: Low Income

Photo: a Sacramento tent city, by ThinkingStiff

Two Thoughts On The State Of Freelance Journalism

Journalist Nate Thayer kicked things off by published an e-mail exchange between him and an The Atlantic editor in which he was asked to rewrite an article he had written elsewhere for free. The editor also wrote that she could only pay $100 for original pieces.

Alexis Madrigal, of The Atlantic, responded pointing out that this was a new editor.

Andrew Sulivan points out the damage this does to The Atlantic‘s brand following the recent Church of Scientology sponsored content fiasco.

Paul Carr outlined some of the reasons that journalists need to get paid and called on publishers to reject advertising in favor of permeable pay walls and ad-free print editions.

A couple things that occur to me that I haven’t seen elsewhere:

1. There may be a certain amount of rosy retrospection going on here. I don’t doubt that it’s harder now for journalists, freelance or otherwise. But I’m not sure there’s any golden age to go back to. I’m too young to have any real perspective on this. But I do remember hearing an interview with Seymour Hersh on Democracy Now (though I can’t find the transcript for this episode) talking about how he actually had a hard time finding someone to publish his story on the My Lai Massacre. If I recall correctly, he’d already written the story. He wasn’t looking for someone to finance the story, just to pay him and publish it. Eventually the Dispatch News Service published it, a few newspapers picked it up and, as they say, is history. But I take it the Dispatch wasn’t exactly his first choice of publishers for the story that went on to earn him a Pulitzer.

2. Among the various reasons that journalists need to get paid — most of which are covered by Carr above — is the reason that we pay congress people so well. That is, you want them to be financially independent enough that they don’t need outside streams of income. Journalists shouldn’t have to choose between making rent or taking a side gig that might introduce a conflict of interest. No, a $60k a year salary sure as hell doesn’t guarantee that a journo won’t be temped by the opportunity to make some compromising money on the side. I’m sure Malcolm Gladwell has handsome salary at the New Yorker and that doesn’t stop him from earning big money giving talks to big corporations.

But if you can’t make rent or put food on the table, then you’ve got to find money somewhere. It could just be a good honest day job or moonlighting gig. But with every white paper for a political organization, every guest blog post for a tech startup and every corporate consulting gig makes you just a that much less independent of faction.

Eddie Campbell Tells All About His Collaboration With Alan Moore

From Hell Companion

Guess I missed this:

The “From Hell Companion” is “an astonishing selection of Alan Moore’s original scripts and sketches for the landmark graphic novel, with copious annotations, commentary, and illustrations by Eddie Campbell. Here for the first time are a set of pages, including some of Moore’s greatest writing, which have never been seen by anyone except his collaborator. Joining them are Campbell’s first-hand accounts of the project’s decade-long development, complete with photos, anecdotes, disagreements, and wry confessions. Arranged in narrative order, these perspectives form a fascinating mosaic, an opportunity to read ‘From Hell’ with fresh eyes, and a tour inside the minds of two giants of their field.”

Full Story: Cleveland Plain Dealer: Top Shelf Comics announces Alan Moore’s return to ‘From Hell’

You can buy it on Amazon.

Also: Three More Short Films From Alan Moore And Mitch Jenkins

It Will All Hurt

Panels from It Will All Hurt by  Farel Dalrymple

It Will All Hurt is a rad sci-fi/fantasy adventure webcomic by Farel Dalrymple, known for his work on Pop Gun War, Omega The Unknown and Prophet. It’s coming to print but you can read it online for free.

Punk Rock Is Bullshit

At first I wondered how this article could possibly be relevant to anyone but a youngster still discovering punk for the first time. But, although there are bits I disagree with and the snarky tone is of reminiscent of exactly what the writer is preaching against, I think it’s worth a read because of how the ideology of punk has influenced other stuff. Anarchism, activist culture, the industrial scene, indie rock and, to a certain extent, the occulture and psychonaut communties. It can be seen as the roots of modern hipsterism. Arguably, it started earlier, with the beats, or with Dada, or with something else. But that’s a conversation for another day.

John Roderick writes:

What I’m talking about is “punk rock” as a political stance, punk rock as a social movement, punk rock as a fashion trend, punk rock as a personal lifestyle brand, and punk rock as a lens of critical appraisal. The shadow of punk rock has eclipsed countless new dawns under its fundamental negativity and its lazy equation of rejection with action.

What started out as teenage piss-taking at baby-boomer onanism quickly morphed into a humorless doctrine characterized by acute self-consciousness and boring conformism. We internalized its laundry list of pseudo-values—anti-establishmentarianism, anti-capitalism, libertarianism, anti-intellectualism, and self-abnegation disguised as humility—until we became merciless captors of our own lightheartedness, prisoners in a Panopticon who no longer needed a fence. After almost four decades of gorging on punk fashion, music, art, and attitude, we still grant it permanent “outsider” status. Its tired tropes and worn-out clichés are still celebrated as edgy and anti-authoritarian, above reproach and beyond criticism. Punk-rock culture is the ultimate slow-acting venom, dulling our expectations by narrowing the aperture of “cool” and neutering our taste by sneering at new flavors until every expression of actual individualism is corralled and expunged in favor of group-think conformity. […]

The truth is, if there really was an Illuminati bent on controlling the world through a secret government, they couldn’t have done a better job of defanging the youth movement than by introducing the self-negating, life-consuming, ignorance-propagating, lethargy-celebrating, divisive and controlling, fashion-based ideology of punk rock into the mainstream. It was basically the crack epidemic of rock culture.

Full Story: Seattle Times: Punk Rock Is Bullshit

(via Joshua Ellis)

It might be worth comparing punk with the hacker ethos, which for the most part embraced making money and building useful tools, but whose impact on the world is also debatable.

Read This Nebula Nominated Sci-Fi Noir Story

Art by Rick Berry

I love this story by Strange Horizons editor Brit Mandelo. Apparently I’m not alone — it’s nominated for a Nebula for best novelette (stories longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella).

“You’re the doctor?”

The newcomer’s voice was a melodious, rough-edged alto, like the women who smoked tobacco in old movies. It took Molly a moment to reconcile that voice with the thick, broad body. She saw the faintest hint of breasts under the tan shirt where she hadn’t noticed them before.

“Yes,” she said, stepping around her desk. She passed the examining table and storage shelves in three strides. Her tank top slid wetly against her skin as she stuck her hand out in offering. “You are?”

The woman paused, then took Molly’s hand. Her fingers were hot to the touch, red with sunburn. She must not have worn gloves. “Jada.”

Molly frowned. “What do you need?”

“Right to the point,” she said. She tugged her hand away and in one smooth yank pulled her shirt over her head. Then she stood straight, shoulders back. Molly flinched but forced herself to look. Jada was heavily muscled, dense as a tree trunk and probably just as hard, but that wasn’t what was breathtaking. It was the scars.

“You recognize these?” the woman asked.

Designs snaked over her torso, down into the temp-reg pants, up to her neck. The left side of her rib cage was a silvery mass of letters and symbols, all jumbled; there was a stylized sun around her navel with waving lines of light. A crane, its legs hidden by the waistband of her pants, spread its wings over her right side and torso. There were smaller signs hidden around the larger; three simple slashes crossed the space between her collarbones. Her skin was as readable as a novel, her flesh a malleable masterpiece made with knives. Some of the scars were still pink, and a spiral design on her left breast was an angry, fresh red.

Murder scars, Molly thought. Syndicate badge. The sheer number of them made her throat constrict. She took a step backward, as if one step would make any difference to a skilled killer.

Full Story: Tor.com: The Finite Canvas by Brit Mandelo

Portland’s Synchronofile Is Now Largest Archive Of Buckminster Fuller’s Work

synchronofile

Trevor Blake’s Buckminister Fuller archive, synchronofile, is now the largest in the world. This is a private archive, though, for better or worse so you’ll need to make an appointment if you want to visit:

In March 2013, Joe Moore of the Buckminster Fuller Virtual Institute donated his collection of Fuller papers to the synchronofile. Combined with the papers already owned by Trevor Blake, the synchronofile is now measured in tons of literature by and about R. Buckminster Fuller. An archive is rightly measured for its content as much as its volume, but access to this amount of material is significant.

Full Story: synchronofile: How Much Does Your Archive Weigh?

Cypherpunk Rising: WikiLeaks, Encryption, And The Coming Surveillance Dystopia

Cypherpunks

R.U. Sirius wrote:

If, in 1995, some cypherpunks had published a book about the upcoming “postmodern surveillance dystopia,” most commentators would have shrugged it off as just a wee bit paranoid and ushered them into the Philip K. Dick Reading Room. Now, it is more likely that people will shrug and say, “that ship has already sailed.”

Full Story: The Verge: Cypherpunk rising: WikiLeaks, encryption, and the coming surveillance dystopia

© 2021 Technoccult

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑