Tribal Socialization


I have no idea what the boundaries for this tribe are, but still the cultural structures around 40 seconds of activity caught on a school yard tape are hardly arcane or even foreign.  The specific setting, though, is Australia,

The original tape:

The interview with the bullied child:

The interview with the bully, who is 12 years old:

Conservative US politicians: NOT Jokes for April first

Two stand out on CNN’s collection of April 1st  Fools political news:

1.  Bush does not want the US to leave the war in Afghanistan too soon in case the women there suffer more: 

“My concern of course is that the United States gets weary of being in Afghanistan and says ‘It’s not worth it, let’s leave’ and Laura and I believe that if that were to happen, women would suffer again,” he told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. “And we don’t believe that’s in the interest of the United States or the world to create a safe haven for terrorists and stand by and watch women’s rights be abused.”

And then there’s his view of the US’s position in the world:

“Isolationism will end up subjecting certain people to horrors that I don’t see how our country can live with that kind of decision,” the former president also said.

2.  Santorum asserts that the problems of the social security system are largely due to abortion:

“The Social Security system in my opinion is a flawed design, period. But having said that, the design would work a lot better if we had stable demographic trends,” Santorum said. “A third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion.” …

“We have seven children so we’re doing our part to fund the Social Security system,” Santorum said. “I want children to be living in America and contributing. America’s greatest resource is our people and we’re denying America what it needs, which is more Americans.”

Mind you, if you have young people living in the US and not living in the US, your problems may be worse than those of social security.

Feminism’s responsible for gap between rich and poor?

There’s a lively debate on facebook over whether this article on David Willetts’s views is an April Fool’s Day joke. (Quite the statement on the state of political discourse, I think.)

Feminism has set back the cause of social mobility by decades, a senior minister has claimed.
Universities Minister David Willetts said feminist policies had inadvertently halted the improvement in the life chances of working-class men and widened the gap between rich and poor.
He said feminism was the ‘single biggest factor’ in the decline in social mobility since the 1960s, adding: ‘Feminism has trumped egalitarianism.’

Those pesky colleagues interested in equality and such….

How do new faculty learn to cope with the difficult types acting out at department meetings? So asks a columnist for the Chron of Higher Ed. But the list has at least one unwelcome entry. See below.

A new faculty member joins your department. Your task, as an experienced and sensitive long-term faculty member is to help this person navigate the murky waters of your department’s meetings. How do you mentor this person in the “art of meetings” in your school?

How to you help your new colleague handle

The committee member who never stops talking but rarely has anything useful to add to conversations…
The committee member who cries in meetings if her opinions are in the least way challenged…
The committee member who remembers that, “we tried that 30 years ago, and [new initiative] didn’t work”…
The committee member who cannot see any limitations on initiatives…
The committee member who cannot see anything but limitations on initiatives…
The committee member who overtly (or covertly) reminds everyone how she/he is smarter/more accomplished than others in the room…
The committee member who has been in the department a short time and who continually compares the current university to her/his graduate institution, “When I was at XYZ University, we did it this way”…
*** The committee member who sees potential for discriminatory behavior (gender, sexual orientation, class, race, religion [and others]) in department decisions…
The committee member who is a bully …
And there are many, many others …

One response, by John D Foubert, registers a concern many here will sympathize with:

For the committee member who sees potential for discriminatory behavior (gender, sexual orientation, class, race, religion [and others]) in department decisions, please put that person on a fast track to leadership in the department and school. We have far too few leaders in higher education who care about such issues of discrimination when it happens to faculty. As a faculty member who experienced what I believe to be sexual harassment, I wish there were more people in power who saw the potential for such behavior in my organization and moreover, I wish there were more leaders in higher education in general and in my organization in particular willing to do something about it.
The worry about the list is that it reflects how in general academia views issues about equity, particularly gender equity; that is, as boring and tedious interruptions and/or special pleading covertly on one’s own behalf.  That is not to say someone who is interested in advocating for equity can’t be boring, but the chances are, at least from what I’ve seen, that with equity issues too many members of some dominant groups have a very low tolerance for issues about others.

Bias against breastfeeding mothers

Drawing from the objectification literature, three experiments tested the hypothesis that breastfeeding mothers are the victims of bias. In Study 1, participants rated a woman who had breastfed as incompetent. Study 2 replicated these effects and determined that the bias was specific to conditions that sexualized the breast. In Study 3, participants interacted with a confederate in which attention was drawn to her as a mother, as a mother who breastfeeds, as a woman with sexualized breasts, or in a neutral condition. Results showed the breastfeeding confederate was rated significantly less competent in general, in math and work specifically, and was less likely to be hired compared to all other conditions, except for the sexualized breast condition. Importantly, the breastfeeding mother emphasis and the sexualized breast emphasis resulted in equally negative evaluations. Results suggest that although breastfeeding may be economical and healthy, the social cost is potentially great.

For more, go here.

(Thanks, L!)

Supreme Court Class-Action Discrimination Case?

The US Supreme Court seems to be divided over Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, No. 10-277, which, at this stage, is a case about whether or not the women employed by Wal-Mart can mount a class-action sex discrimination suit against Wal-Mart.  You can read about it here, here, and here.

There are a number of reasons why readers might find this case interesting.  First, the court is currently trying to decide if the women employed by Wal-Mart have enough in common to make up a class.  This is something that feminist metaphysicians have difficulty agreeing on, and the arguments before the court seem to reflect the relevant complexities.

Second, these arguments might just be a vehicle for new discrimination legislation that takes the latest evidence from the sociology and psychology of discrimination into account.  One of the main witnesses for the plaintiff is University of Illinois at Chicago sociologist William Bielby, who works on something called social framework analysis.  Bielby says he gathers “scientific evidence about gender bias, stereotypes and the structure and dynamics of gender inequality in organizations.”  Readers interested in our unfolding understanding of discrimination, including things like implicit bias and stereotype threat, should definitely watch this case.

Finally, I find it interesting that a case like this has made it to the highest courts.  There really does seem to be a genuine debate going on between justices, and this pleases me.  What are they saying?

Justice Kennedy and Justice Scalia think the plaintiff’s argument (that Wal-Mart allows its store managers too much discretion in hiring and promotion decisions, thus leaving the door open for gender discrimination) is internally inconsistent.  They think that either Wal-Mart corporate policy is discriminatory or that individuals within the corporate structure are discriminatory, but that the plaintiff cannot “whipsaw” and have it both ways.  (The plaintiff’s lawyer, Mr. Joseph Sellers, is trying to argue that hiring and promoting decisions are not made “in a vacuum”, and that gender stereotypes affect managerial decisions.  This is interesting because neither the corporate structure nor the individual managers are responsible for the stereotypes, but the company is responsible for treating its employees fairly.  Hence the new kind of discrimination suit…)

Justices Breyer and Ginsburg are concerned with the practical consequences of the suit.  Breyer asks if central management ought to have noted the company’s gender pay gap statistics and stepped in to remove some of managers’ discretion.  This, I’m sure you’ll agree, is a very interesting question.  Especially considering Justice Ginsburg’s thought that companies are responsible for the fair treatment of their employees, and Justice Kagan’s thought that excessive managerial discretion may violate civil rights law.

Most of the Justices seem interested/concerned about the possible effects that this suit might have on American business as a whole.  After all, the women employees of Wal-Mart are suing for backpay owed after years of being passed over for promotions and being paid less than their male colleagues for comparable jobs.  If the court certifies this case as a class-action, will all businesses be vulnerable to similar suits?

“So, you have the company that is absolutely typical of the entire American work force,” Justice Alito said. “Then you would say every single company is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act?”

“That could very well be the case,” Mr. Sellers, lawyer for the plaintiff, said.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

(arguments are paraphrased and quotations sourced from New York Times links above)

Yale: Sexual Harassment Policy Lawsuit

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced yesterday it will open an investigation to review Yale’s policies for dealing with sexual harassment and sexual assault. The investigation comes in response to a Title IX complaint filed against the University on Tues., Mar. 15. The complaint, a confidential suit between the 16 complainants and OCR , signed by both men and women who are current undergraduates and recent graduates of the University, alleges that Yale’s failure to properly address incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault has resulted in a “hostile environment.” In the words of complainant Hannah Zeavin, BK ’12, this campus climate “precludes women from having the same equal opportunity to the Yale education as their male counterparts.”

For more, go here.

(Thanks, H!)

What are you doing about what it’s like?

A new blog is open for business, What We’re Doing About What It’s Like. From the About page:

This blog is a sister-blog to What is it Like to Be a Woman in Philosophy?. It’s devoted exclusively to discussions– anonymous or not– of what individuals and institutions are doing in response to problems for women in philosophy. These problems may be ones raised on What is it Like, they may be the sort of thing the Gendered Conference Campaign is calling attention to, or they may be something else entirely.

This is not a place to raise concerns about whether there are any problems for women in philosophy at all. There are plenty of other blogs that welcome such discussions, but we don’t. This is a place for people who agree that there’s a problem to have productive discussions about what can be done. The blog will, accordingly, be heavily moderated with this in mind.

It’ll start publishing stories in the week of 11 April. Go tell us what you’re doing!