News from down under: the TRUE skeptical women side with the guys!

Something funny happened in my and Stephanie’s trackbacks today. On Adelaide Atheists’ Meetup group, one of their male members wrote up a post asking women to endorse the Skeptic Women petition. The thread was titled, “I wish to promote the statement below issued by a group of women atheists/(true) skeptics and ask women to consider supporting their position.”

Let’s ignore the “no true skeptic” for a brief moment here, and the fact that the two women replying both strongly disagreed — and that the poster and two other guys argued with them, explaining to them why they’re wrong.

Stop laughing.
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Jailbreak the Patriarchy

Here’s an interesting app for a number of browsers that lets you, with the click of a button, swap all the pronouns and gendered words (save for slurs, for some reason) in order to get a different perspective on the thing you’re reading. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition to see how male and female politicians are described in general discourse, for instance.

And take any arbitrary story about sexism, and you’ll end up with something that would get MRAs’ blood boiling:

Yesterday, a man by the name of Gabrielle Toledano – evidently a human resources manager for EA games – wrote a rather confusing and deeply problematic op-ed for Forbes outlining why, in his estimation, sexism isn’t responsible for the dearth of men in gaming. To quote his opening remarks:

It’s easy to blame women for not creating an attractive work environment – but I think that’s a cop-out. If we want more men to work in games, we have to recognize that the problem isn’t sexism.

…The issue I have is that the video game industry is being painted as more sexist than other female-dominated workforces. I know sexism exists, but the issue isn’t just in video games. And it’s not what’s holding us back.

Nonetheless, there are still too few men working in my company, so it’s clear there is an issue to fix. Rather than blame the majority just because they are the majority, I believe the solution starts with us – men.

Which is, frankly, one of the most flippant, useless and blithely ignorant summaries of the problem I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter.

Completely changes your perspective on things, doesn’t it?
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How to get more women in STEM? Stop telling them they don’t belong

Sometimes it takes someone saying something so gobsmackingly obvious that it makes people ashamed they didn’t realize it before, to clue people in that there might actually be a problem, and how to address it. This post, I truly hope, is one of those times.

Sometimes, men talk about the gender disparity in tech communities as if there’s some big mystery. I have to conclude that these guys haven’t talked to women who currently work in computer science academia and the tech industry, or who did and then left. As someone who was perceived as a girl or woman doing computer science for 12 years, my solution to the lack of women in tech is:

Stop telling women that they aren’t welcome and don’t belong.

Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, you’d think. But read on to see what counts as telling them they don’t belong. A tip — it’s not just making the blatantly sexist comment, like Prof. Doaitse Swierstra’s saying that more women in Haskell’s programming school would make the program “more attractive”.

When I watched the video, what I heard after Prof. Swierstra’s comment about attractiveness was laughter. No one called him out; the discussion moved on. I might be wrong here, but the laughter didn’t sound like the nervous laughter of people who have recognized that they’ve just heard something terrible, but don’t know quite what to do about it, either (though I’m sure that was the reaction of some attendees). It sounded like the laughter of people who were amused by something funny.

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The Disadvantages of Being a Man

Before I start on this post, nothing I say here is intended to be a slight on people fighting for equality from the perspective of other genders or sexes. I intend this as an acknowledgement of the many ways that men are disadvantaged by the same societal mores that disadvantage women in other, additionally serious (and in many instances more serious) ways. I am a feminist as well as an egalitarian, and I approach these issues with those ideals as my starting point. This is in no way an attempt at drawing a false equivalency between the issues the various genders and sexes encounter.

The patriarchal society we find ourselves in today is a significantly eroded one, where the patriarchy finds itself under attack from almost every angle, but it remains a patriarchy still. Thanks to the monumental efforts of the feminist and civil rights movements, not to mention the recent secular pushback against religious authoritarianism and its adherents’ less than progressive ideals about women’s role in society, what was once a society that prided itself on its white male hegemony is now a more pluralistic one, though far from egalitarian. This patriarchy still exists, and societal pressure for men and women to conform to specific gender roles still has the very inertial effect on forestalling progressive change.

And while these gender roles have many powerful side-effects with regards to women and their sexual self-determination, men are not wholly insulated from the splash damage. In fact, I strongly believe that these gender roles are largely responsible for all of the gender related issues that all sexes and genders experience today.
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