Google demonstrates how to use your platform and reach judiciously and subversively

Google is ubiquitous. Everyone everywhere uses Google at some point. And right now, at least in the US and probably Canada, the Google Doodle — the logo Google uses on its main search page and on the top left of every search result page — is sticking it to Russia over the anti-gay human rights violations happening there presently.

Google Doodle, Feb 6, 2014.

Google Doodle, Feb 6, 2014.

A rainbow of silhouetted athletes form the logo, and beneath the search box, this quote:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” –Olympic Charter

This is not just subversive, it’s downright defiant. The message is clear: the discrimination that Putin and his government have entrenched in his country, the discrimination that anti-gay right-wingers are cheering in America, is a betrayal of everything the Olympics was intended to stand for. Humanity’s colors are at its most vibrant when it is not suppressed by bigotry and intolerance of difference, especially over something so fundamentally human as who you happen to love.

Google has not always entirely lived up to its mission statement of “Don’t Be Evil”. But on this issue, at least, the pendulum is obviously swinging far in the morally righteous direction. Thanks, Google, for siding with the angels this time.

Google offers travel grants for female computer developers

Google has done something decidedly not-evil (despite recent major missteps), and put together a travel grants program for several computer science conferences aimed at encouraging women entering fields under the T umbrella in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

As part of Google’s ongoing commitment to encourage women to excel in computing and technology, we are pleased to offer Women in Tech Conference and Travel Grants for female computer scientists.

To encourage attendance at technical conferences, we are offering the winners:

  • Free registration for the conference
  • Up to 1000 EUR towards travel and accommodation costs (to be paid after the conference)

To be eligible for a conference grant, the candidate must:

  • Be a female working in or studying Computer Science, Computer Engineering or a technical field related to the conference subject
  • Have a strong academic background with demonstrated leadership ability
  • Attend the core day(s) of the main conference

How To Apply

To apply, by the indicated deadline, please submit this form by the indicated deadline.
You may apply for multiple conferences.

Eligible Conferences 2013 (ongoing, more conferences will be added throughout the year)

Winners and claim process

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by email, approximately 3-4 weeks prior to the event. If you are selected, you will receive additional information on how to register for the conference and how to receive your travel grant.

For any questions, please reach out to europe-events@google.com.

This is how you fix the gender disparity between men and women in technology: you help women who might otherwise not be able to travel or who might think these conferences are not for them because of a lack of women representation in the field, get to the conferences to begin with. This puts those women in a position to be seen, so other women know that it’s not a gender-specific job. And they get a chance to talk with people inside the industry, too — which encourages them to recognize women programmers when they see them.

Lower the barriers that have developed naturally that keep women from being seen at such conferences and drives the lack of women interested in the field — when you don’t see anyone shaped like you in a field, you come to believe it’s not for you. It’s why Surly Amy was, until the JREF president made it clear by his actions that feminists were unwelcome at TAM, offering travel grants to women to attend — to improve gender ratios and give these women a chance to discover that the movement was indeed for them. (A shame how that all turned out, by the by.)

FtBCONscience: the seven panels I’m facilitating

Here’s a convenient list of the seven panels I’ve got set up as On-Air Events on Google+. All times are GMT -5 (Central).

FtBConscience banner

FtBCON: Atheism Is Not Enough
Sat, Jul 20, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
As proven by the deep rifts that exist within movement atheism, a common acknowledgement that there is no god is often not enough ground on which to build a coherent, lasting community. Social justice movements often encounter tipping points where they either take into account the natural allies that are other movements, or they fail. This panel will discuss how movement atheism should not be the end-point of a journey into social justice, but the beginning.

FtBCON: Atheism, Science and Art
Sat, Jul 20, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Artists within the secular, scientific and skeptical communities online discuss using their art to popularize their preferred field. Hosted by Amy Roth and Glendon Mellow.

FtBCON: Skepticism and the DSM
Sat, Jul 20, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Multiple personalities? Personality disorders? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) contains a list of all recognized mental illnesses. How valid is it? Kate will look at the best and worst mental health diagnoses and talk about what makes for useful skepticism when it comes to mental health.

FtBCON: Video Games, Religion and Morality
Sat, Jul 20, 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Religion and morality systems in video games are often grossly oversimplified, to the point where choices are entirely binary and you’re often forced, as a gamer, to do things that you might otherwise find appalling, like working in service of a god or gods. How are these heady topics handled in the slowly-maturing video game industry? Who’s already doing this stuff right? How can these topics’ treatment be improved?

FtBCON: Female Protagonists in Video Games
Sun, Jul 21, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Women make up 45% of the gamer population, a number that’s climbing rapidly toward parity. And yet, female protagonists in games are few and far between — and when games are exclusively fronted by female characters, they get far less marketing budget than their equivalent male-led titles. Why? What can be done about this?

FtBCON: Atheism and Grief
Sun, Jul 21, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Moderated by Rebecca Hensler, founder of Grief Beyond Belief. Featuring Freethought Blogger Greta Christina, Blue-Collar Atheist Hank Fox and Black Skeptics LA’s Nicome Taylor. “I’ll keep you in my prayers,” “Everything happens for a reason.” We’ve heard all the cliches. But what happens when we grieve free of myths and mysticism? How do atheists take care of themselves and of each other in times of profound sorrow? Grief Beyond Belief’s Rebecca Hensler moderates a discussion with panelists Greta Christina, Hank Fox and Nicome Taylor about their personal experiences of grief without God and how the freethought community can help provide rational comfort in times of tragedy and loss.

FtBCON: Where are the Asian Faces of Freethought?
Sun, Jul 21, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
John Xu the new Director of CFI Canada made this observation: “I have often remarked how little interest people of my ethnicity have for secularist and freethought issues. My theory is that this is because they are the product of very complicated and difficult social, political, and intellectual turmoils of the 20th Century. Most Chinese people I know are brought up with a single-minded concern about generating wealth and a general apathy about philosophical matters. This is likely because their parents lived through such hard times.” Although East Asians are the largest group of irreligious adherants in the world, the prominent faces of irreligion are white men like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. The panelists will discuss and dissect assumptions and stereotypes about East and South Asians and their puzzling absence in representative numbers in the freethought and secular microcosm.

The Full Schedule for the convention is available at Lanyrd.com. All panels will be held via Google+ Hangout On-Air Events. Visit the official conference page for more details!

An unidirectional “conversation” with an MRA on Google+

Wanted to throw this on the blog for a few days now, but it’s been… busy. Over at Google+, it seems the only people who engage with my linking back to various websites are the MRAs and antifeminists who probably make up the majority of the early-adopters of the technology.

I had posted a link to Chris Clarke’s thoughts on the latest skeptical sexism imbroglio, and the only answers I got were from one guy who was entirely disinterested in engaging with the points I attempted to make in a pithy, I-don’t-have-time-for-fisking-this kind of way.

Seriously, it’s a hell of a gish gallop. You should see it.
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