Submit a link Features Reviews Podcasts Video Forums More ▾

A snapshot of institutional lack of diversity in life sciences, by way of a promotional email

An anonymous Boing Boing reader says, "Here's an email that academic publishing company Elsevier is sending around to advertise to scientists. Notice anything about the pictures of scientists they chose?"

Read the rest

Men move more than women do inside an MRI machine

There's a new paper out suggesting that ladies' brains are different from mens' (in ways that support Western stereotypes of gender behavior, natch). It's pretty flawed and has been heavily critiqued, but one critique surprised me — turns out, there's evidence that men tend to move more than women do when you put them in an MRI machine, something that could throw off any attempt to compare MRI data between men and women. Maggie 17

1996 Electronic Dream Phone reviewed

At Rock Paper Shotgun, Cara Ellison reviews Milton Bradley's 1996 Electronic Dream Phone, a pink, plastic, teen-exploiting horror from the preironic era.

The idea is that you get three boys in your hand (eyooo!) and then you take turns to call them individually on the Phone, picking up extra boys as you discard the last ones. The boys on the phone give you a clue as to which boys do not fancy you. ... as I pick up the cards now as a fully grown adult, in the sort of tipsy glee that is necessary to even open the box, I glimpse that if I’d played it when I was younger I would have been made aware that girls are supposed to aim for relationships. What boys think of you feels more important than what you think of yourself.

Mom says hang up! Electronic Dream Phone is available at Amazon in both vintage and modern forms.

You Can Do It! Clean the kitchen, that is.

Heather spotted this remarkably sad ad from Swiffer, aping Westinghouse Electric's classic wartime poster, We Can Do It! Adds Jason: "I love the clear tribute to an important historical image done in such a way as to piss on its legacy."

The Damsel in Distress, game edition

Anita Sarkeesian tackles the "damsels in distress" trope as it appears–widely!–in video games. The inevitable sideshow: angry Internet men managed (briefly) to get YouTube to remove the video.

Disney gives Brave princess a body makeover

Gone are the wild tight curls, relaxed now into auburn waves. Her waist is cinched, her bust inflated: skinnier and sexier is the new Merida, star of Brave. And gone, in some of the new art, is that troublesome weapon: no fit thing for a Disney princess, after all. Fans and websites lamenting the changes, chief among them A Mighty Girl, have spearheaded a change.org petition seeking to convince Disney to change its mind.

The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model ... In an interview with Pixar Portal, "Brave" writer and co-director Brenda Chapman stated, "Because of marketing, little girls gravitate toward princess products, so my goal was to offer up a different kind of princess — a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to, so mothers wouldn't be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess. Instead they'd be like, ‘Yeah, you go girl!’”

There seems a deliciously vile bait-and-switch element to it all: design a character that will attract parents resistant to the traditional messaging, then recast it in same old mold once they've sold it to their daughters for you.

But you can see the problem in that Chapman quote, which is never really about the character. When "marketing" is the first principle of your art, even something opposing its dictates is doomed to gravitate around it in fast-decaying orbit.

Do readers judge female characters more harshly?

Oh yes, writes Maria Konnikova in The Atlantic: "Work by social psychologists like Susan Fiske and Mina Cikara has repeatedly demonstrated that women are perceived and evaluated on different criteria than men. ... ">Now, even fictional females are feeling the sting." Rob

Great dad dies (also, he was a scientist)

Handsome Dad of the Year (a former brunette) took out the garbage without fail, did the family shopping, and is remembered fondly by his step-daughters/first-cousins-once-removed. Also, outside the home, he discovered something called "relativity". Jennie Dusheck has a great follow up to a story that Xeni posted about earlier today. Maggie

Donglegate

The fight against ingrained sexism in tech culture is gruelling indeed; but what do you do when an off-color joke about "dongles" leads not only to internet drama, but everyone—including the claimed victim—getting fired? Ars Technica sums up "Donglegate". Adds Amanda Blum: everyone lost. Rob

Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day (UPDATE: called off)

UPDATE: Having made such a positive splash already, organizer Leigh Alexander decided to nix the day itself lest it get out of hand:

#Objectify has gotten much bigger than I expected. At first I was excited, but now I see the scale of the discussion and coverage is creating a number of valid risks -- and as a result, I'd like to call off the event. ...

The dialogue's been great, but the end result -- a day of circulating a hashtag on Twitter -- runs the risk of catching fire with people who miss the point. #Objectify is not about celebrating objectification or about making people feel uncomfortable, but I'm increasingly worried that point will be lost and that harm can be done.

The first annual Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day brings attention to the ways, subtle and otherwise, in which female journalists are objectified and trivialized. Here's organizer (and BB contributor) Leigh Alexander, writing in The New Statesman:

The purpose of the exercise isn’t to “get revenge” or to make anyone uncomfortable: simply to help highlight by example what a gendered compliment looks like, and to get people talking in a funny and lighthearted way about how these kinds of comments distract from meaningful dialogues and make writers online feel like their point of view is only as relevant as how attractive they are.

Roll Up For The First Annual Objectify A Man in Tech Day [newstatesman.com]

Slate's "The Vault" is a great, new history blog

Rebecca Onion is the curator at a new Slate blog that showcases nifty finds from America's historical archives. So far, she's got a photo of the be-loinclothed winner of a eugenics-inspired Better Baby Contest; a breakup letter written by Abraham Lincoln; and this specimen of 1950s-style STEM recruitment toys for girls.

What's interesting about this chemistry set is that you can't really say it's more or less sexist than the types of science kits you see marketed heavily to girls today. Sure, it's in a pink box and heavily insinuates that the best job a woman can hope for in science is as somebody's assistant. But, on the other hand, it's apparently the exact same chemistry set sold to boys, just with different packaging. Whereas today, pink-colored science kits trend heavily toward "girl" things, like teaching you how to make your own scented soaps — but at least you're in charge of the soap-making lab.

Progress!

The set, which is preserved in the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s collection of chemistry sets, is a product of post-WWII anxiety over the nation’s lack of what was called “scientific manpower.” Having seen what a difference science made in the war (the bomb, radar, penicillin), and realizing that the amount of work to be done in labs and industrial R&D was limitless, Americans worried that insufficient numbers of young people wanted to be scientists. Some called for young women to be included in recruitment efforts. Women had been largely shut out of scientific careers up until that point. But they had a major point in their favor: They were undraftable. If girls got the right training, future wartime labs could be staffed by women, who were naturally bound to the homefront.

But all science jobs are not alike, and women didn’t get the plum ones. Historian John Rudolph, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has written about postwar efforts to upgrade the science curriculum. He found that girls were recruited to science careers after the war, but only for jobs that were to the side of the main show: lab technician, science teacher.

Read the rest at The Vault

It's not okay to threaten to rape people you don't like: Why I stand with Rebecca Watson

Every now and then, I am reminded of how lucky I am. I'm lucky that none of my readers has ever responded to a comment I made, which they didn't like, by calling me ugly. I'm lucky that they've never called me a cunt or a whore. I'm lucky that they've never threatened to rape me and then called me a humorless bitch when I pointed out how messed up that was. In general, the worst comments I've ever had directed to me, here, were from people accusing me of being a paid shill for Big Conspiracy, which is just funny.

But that shouldn't be luck, guys. My experience should not represent a minority experience among the female science bloggers I know. (And it is.) I shouldn't have to feel like thanking you, the BoingBoing readers, for being kind enough to not treat me like shit just because I'm a lady person.

Treating people with respect should not be a controversial position. It should not be a mindblowingly crazy idea to point out the fact that women are quite often treated as objects and, thus, have to deal with a lot more potentially threatening situations than men do. It shouldn't be offensive to say, hey, because of that fact, it's generally not a good idea to follow a woman you've never spoken to into an elevator late at night and ask her to come to your hotel room. Chances are good that you will make her feel threatened, rather than complimented.

And, even if you disagree, it's still totally not okay to threaten to rape people you disagree with. Seriously. Other than the specific bit about rape, we should have all learned this in preschool. And the fact that so many of the people engaging in this behavior claim to be rational thinkers and members of a community I strongly identify with ... well, that just makes me want to vomit. I honestly don't know what else to say.

Read Rebecca Watson's full article, Sexism in the Skeptic Community

Court sets accused rapist free, arguing severely disabled woman who can't talk could still refuse sex

Your daily dose of rage: the state Supreme Court in Connecticut has decided to let a rapist go free in a case involving a severely disabled woman with limited mobility who cannot talk. Why? Because there was no evidence she could not communicate her refusal to have sex with the defendant." She cerebral palsy, cannot verbally communicate, and "is so physically restricted that she is able to make motions only with her right index finger."

Read the rest

NYT-“MEN invented the internet”

What a steaming turd of an opening line in David Streitfeld's otherwise serviceable New York Times piece about the Ellen Pao/Kleiner Perkins sexual harassment lawsuit, and gender discrimination in Silicon Valley.

Here's the opening graf (bold-ing, mine):

MEN invented the Internet. And not just any men. Men with pocket protectors. Men who idolized Mr. Spock and cried when Steve Jobs died. Nerds. Geeks. Give them their due. Without men, we would never know what our friends were doing five minutes ago.

You guys, ladies suck at technology and the New York Times is ON IT.

Radia "Mother of the Internet" Perlman and the ghosts of RADM Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace and every woman who worked in technology for the past 150 years frown upon you, sir. Women may have been invisible, but the work we did laid the groundwork for more visible advancements now credited to more famous men.

"Men are credited with inventing the internet." There. Fixed it for you.

Read the rest

Moderator at Dell event in Denmark, on what men should say to women: "Shut up, Bitch!" (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Dell has issued an apology.


Christiane Vejlø writes about attending a Dell corporate event in Denmark which was hosted by Mads Christensen, a "lifestyle speaker" who sounds like Copenhagen's answer to Rush Limbaugh: a troll known for doing routines about how women don't belong in the workplace (and worse).

From Vejlø's account of the evening:

“The IT business is one of the last frontiers that manages to keep women out. The quota of women to men in your business is sound and healthy” he says.

“What are you actually doing here?” he adds to the few women who are actually present in the room.

Dell’s moderator continues talking about his two Rolex watches and he then presents the next speaker from Intel. After the break Mads Christensen shares with us his whole “show” about the bitchy women who want to steal the power in politics, boards and the home.

“Science” he calls it and mentions that all the great inventions come from men. “We can thank women for the rolling pin,” he adds.

And then the moderator of the day finishes of by asking all (men) in the room to promise him that they will go home and say, “shut up bitch!”.

Here's his website. I do understand that some argue that schtick is self-parody in the vein of Stephen Colbert, but hey, this guy is no Stephen Colbert. And showcasing that sort of comedy material at a corporate event is a strange choice for Dell to make—unless they're in the business of alienating customers.

Dell has since apologized:

A related analysis is here.

(thanks, Nadya Lev and Mike Monteiro; photo via elektronista.dk)