Breaking News: Eastern Division Meeting Dates Changed!

This has just come by email from the APA:

Eastern Division Meeting Survey Results
The Eastern Division Executive Committee has reviewed the results of the fall 2011 survey on meeting dates. In light of these results, the Committee has decided to change the dates of future Eastern Division meetings to early January: specifically, the end of the first full week in January (counting Monday as the first day of the week). These new meeting dates will take effect in the 2015/16 academic year.

The Executive Committee thanks all those who took part in the survey.

Stereotype threat research called into question

There is apparently a literature review forthcoming which argues that studies purporting to show female underperformance at maths due to stereotype threat are flawed. Unfortunately, the article is not yet out, and none of the articles I can find bothers to interview any defenders of stereotype threat theory for a response to the criticisms. In the absence of more information, I just don’t know how to assess claims that the studies are flawed. The more specific bits quoted don’t impress, though:

“We were surprised the researchers did not subject males to the same experimental manipulations as female participants,” Geary said.

“It is reasonable to think that men also would not do well if told ‘men normally do worse on this test’ right before they take the test. When we adjusted the findings based on this and other statistical factors, we found little to no significant stereotype theory effect.”

The studies I’ve seen don’t involve saying anything like this to women. It’s not needed, since women begin from the presumption that a test of maths ability will be one that women do worse on. There *are* studies which compare their performance in the absence of gender claims with their performance after having been told that men and women do *equally well* on this test. And their performance improves. I’d want to know whether studies like this one are also subject to criticism. (They may well be: perhaps there are statistical errors.)

Thanks, R.

Do let us know in comments if responses to this have come out, or if the full article is available.

Hot girls in wheelchairs

A new “reality” program about the lives of a group of young female wheelchair users will be debuting in April on the Sundance Channel (Huffpost has details here.) “Push Girls” (yes, really) aims to give viewers:

“an unscripted look into the lives of four gorgeous ladies who became disabled after enduring tragic car accidents or debilitating diseases”

and:

“an uncensored glimpse at what it means to be sexy, ambitious and living with paralysis”

For starters, I should say that it’s a good thing if there’s more mainstream awareness of the full, rich, non-tear-jerking lives led by so many disabled people. And insofar as programs like this work toward that goal, it’s likewise a good thing. So I’ll tune in with interest. But there’s so much not to like about the way this program is being pitched. My biggest pet peeves:

(1) Why do the women have to be young and conventionally hot? Surely the best way to overcome the stereotypes of disabled people as sexless or unattractive is to challenge our starting assumption of what sexy, attractive bodies can look like – not get together a bunch of women who look like models who happen to be sitting down. While it’s important to recognize that disabled people can be “hot” by conventional standards, there’s only so far that’s going to toward helping us appreciate non-standard bodies. Disabled bodies are never going to be “normal”. That’s part of their charm.

(2) Just for once, it would be nice to see a mainstream discussion of disability that isn’t laced with “tragic overcomer” rhetoric. Not strong, fearless people bravely facing the tragedy of disability. Not inspiring, motivational people showing us how to persevere against all odds. Just happy, flourishing people who as it happens are disabled.

It worked! The blackout, that is.

According to tne NYTimes at least:

WASHINGTON — When the powerful world of old media mobilized to win passage of an online antipiracy bill, it marshaled the reliable giants of K Street — the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Recording Industry Association of America and, of course, the motion picture lobby, with its new chairman, former Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat and an insider’s insider.

Yet on Wednesday this formidable old guard was forced to make way for the new as Web powerhouses backed by Internet activists rallied opposition to the legislation through Internet blackouts and cascading criticism, sending an unmistakable message to lawmakers grappling with new media issues: Don’t mess with the Internet.

As a result, the legislative battle over two once-obscure bills to combat the piracy of American movies, music, books and writing on the World Wide Web may prove to be a turning point for the way business is done in Washington. It represented a moment when the new economy rose up against the old.**

“I think it is an important moment in the Capitol,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and an important opponent of the antipiracy legislation. “Too often, legislation is about competing business interests. This is way beyond that. This is individual citizens rising up.”

Phone calls and e-mails poured in to Congressional offices against the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect I.P. Act in the Senate. One by one, prominent backers of the bills dropped off.

**one wishes!