To computational mechanics engineers: hire this man!

Unfortunately, the CHE article on an important case is not open-access, but here’s the basic claim being made on behalf of the openly gay Dr Albert Romkes against the University of Kansas:

the university produced a standard that didn’t officially exist, held Mr. Romkes to it, and then denied him tenure when he didn’t measure up.

And, according to the CHE, he’s burning his bridges and may now not be able to get an academic job.

It does sound as though he had a strong case. However, complete putsiders probably shouldn’t decide who is right here, so let’s just note that it could be a classic instance of the operation of implicit bias. One way it can operate is by raising the bar for members of targeted groups.

Let me also note that I don’t know anything about the case that what the CHE says. So my hiring recommendation is a bit of hyperbole. Still, I’m very bothered by the easy link the CHE makes between making a fuss and becoming unemployable. Should victims of discrimination creep away so that the official story is allowed to stand? Romkes thinks not:

He believes that the decision by his dean and department chair not to follow the recommendation for tenure that came from his school’s promotion-and-tenure committee and most of his departmental colleagues stems from his being openly gay. “To me, standing up for myself was a matter of principle.”…

Every year, assistant professors like Mr. Romkes are denied tenure. Some challenge the decision, sometimes in court. That step alone carries risks for scholars, who then might have to explain the litigious move to potential future employers.

Mr. Romkes took his fight even further, realizing it could jeopardize his academic career.

The alumni who put together the Web site took the site’s tagline, “Carefully Documenting the Case of Inappropriate Tenure Denial,” seriously. Just about anything anyone would want to read about Mr. Romkes’s tenure case is online.

The website is here. Let’s hope that some university will want to hire a courageous man, as he may well be.

International Feyerabend conference, 14 invited speakers, no women

Yep, an international conference on Feyerabend , speakers from the whole wide world, and all of them are men.    The growing list of gendered conferences is really starting to get me feeling bad.

If you are new to the Gendered Conference Campaign please take a look at this post that describes why we bring gendered conferences to your attention.  Especially important is the part about us focusing on the harmful effects of gendered conferences, rather than the intentions of the conference organizers.

Also, here is a link to FAQ‘s about the Gendered Conference Campaign.  It would be great if you took a look at them so that we don’t have to cover old ground in the comments.

Update:  As Matt Brown points out below, this conference generated the following post here in December:

Bernard Mboueyeu

Sad, sad news – Bernard Mboueyeu a journalist asylum-seeker from the Cameroon, has tried to commit suicide for the second time, rather than be deported, after his asylum application was turned down. Up until recently, Mboueyeu was living in Sheffield with his spouse and family. He is currently detained in Campsfield ‘immigration centre’. He fled his homeland after being tortured by President Paul Biya’s forces for reporting on students being attacked during the demos in 2006. He married charity worker, Sharon, in 2010. But the UK border agency has decreed that he must return to Cameroon and apply for a spouse visa there. He fears imprisonment, torture and death if returned. Minister David Blunkett has tried to help stop Bernard’s deportation. But Immigration Minister, Damien Green has refused to intervene.

There’s more from the Guardian here.

A short snippet of interview footage:

Comics for feminists

As I promised in the comments thread on this post, here is a post about comics*.

I think a lot of people who don’t read comics have the impression that they are mostly for boys – that they are all about superheroes, explosions, and women with giant tits, impossible waistlines, and no personality. And there certainly are comics that are like that. Plenty of them. But there are also rich, fascinating, multi-layered comics out there. And some of my favorite female characters in fiction are from comics like these. Below I mention some greatest hits, which I’ve loosely divided into comics which incorporate feminist ideas or themes explicitly, and comics which are more generally just about interesting women.

Comics with feminist themes:

Persepolis – This is writer and illustrator Marjane Satrapi’s memoir, recounting her childhood during and after the Islamic revolution in Iran. I read this from cover to cover in one sitting – couldn’t put it down.

Fun Home – Another memoir, this time from Alison Bechdel (of “the Bechdel test” and the wonderful Dykes to Watch Out For). This recounts her experience of growing up gay in a small town and her slow realization that her father is gay as well.

A Game of You, The Sandman – This is the comic that turned me into a comics fan. (Until I read this, I’d pretty much had the attitude I describe above.) It’s all about gender, identity, and sexuality. And it is awesome.

Comics with strong female characters:

Queen and Country – Edge of your seat spy action? Check. Political drama? Check. Strong female lead character? Check. I didn’t hold out much hope for these comics when they were pitched to me as “female James Bond”. But they’re great, and the lead character is complex, interesting, and never objectified.

Promethea – You can’t really “get” comics until you’ve read something by Alan Moore. He’s not always the most feminist-friendly writer in the world, but his work does amazing things with the medium. Promethea gets overly preachy (and if you ask me, kinda boring) in its later books, but its beginning is a great depiction of a strong female character and a unique representation of shared female power. Also, it’s worth reading just for JH Williams’ amazing art.

Fray – This may be my favorite thing that Joss Whedon has written. And that is saying a lot. A lot.

Batwoman – When you combine Greg Rucka and JH Williams, odds are you’re going to get a good comic. Rucka writes female characters well, and JH Williams draws women who are supposed to be kicking ass to look like they can kick ass (no tiny waist and oversized tits in sight). This run of Batwoman is notable for being the first mainstream (read: DC or Marvel) comic with a lesbian lead character.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Comments are open, comics fans!

* I’m using the term “comics” to incorporate what are sometimes called “graphic novels”. A graphic novel is really just a non-serialized comic.