Careers events targetting bias-related issues?

I’ve heard from several people who are interested in putting together careers events for undergraduates that specifically target bias-related issues. Obviously, one big worry about such things is now incredibly demoralising it is to learn (for example) about the effect of a female or non-white name on CV review. This isn’t necessarily a reason not to talk about this, but I think it’s a legitimate worry given the horrendous job market they’re all going into, and given the desire not to make things worse for those already facing considerable barriers. Equally obviously, it would be useful to tell students about ways of overcoming stereotype threat, and about power posing. Any other thoughts about things that would be good or bad to do? Any insights from running or attending such events?

Scandanavian Gendered Panel Campaign (“TackaNej”)

Even in Scandinavia, well known for its large female political representation, public debate is dominated by men. Business conferences with a 100 percent male speaker lineup are not rare. Some of these men are tired of debating only men, and are taking action to change it.

In Sweden and Norway, male speakers are now refusing to participate in conferences and panel discussions without female representation.

For more, go here.

Germany moves toward gender-neutral language

Now, with the federal justice ministry emphasising that all state bodies should stick to “gender-neutral” formulations in their paperwork, things are changing again. Increasingly, job ads use the feminine form as the root of a noun, so that even a male professor may be referred to as der Professorin. Lecturers are advised to address their students not as Studenten but Studierende (“those that study”), thus sidestepping the gender question altogether.

For more, go here.

(Thanks, Mr Jender!)

What is it like to do a PhD with disability & chronic illness?

bw2fa7xcqaad-qe[1]@zaranosaur‘s own experiences with having to juggle her chronic illness while trying to do a PhD led her to start a blog on just that: what it’s like to do a PhD with a disability & chronic illness with the accompanying twitter ID @PhDisabled. From the website:

The experiences of disabled PhD students are seldom heard in the world at large.  This is despite the fact that there are many out there whose doctoral efforts are inextricably shaped by their experience as PhD students with disability or chronic illness.

Our goal is to create a space for PhD students with disability or chronic illness to share their experiences.  It is only by sharing these experiences that we realise that we who walk this path are not alone.  It is only by sharing these experiences, by beginning to talk openly about them, that we can hope that things will one day improve.

We welcome submissions from all PhD students, past, present or otherwise, on all aspects of the experience at the intersection of academia, disability and chronic illness.

People are invited to share their stories and the response is overwhelming. Also check out the hashtag #AcademicAbleism.

What do cuts to legal aid mean?

The UK government has cut the annual legal aid budget by £320m, and plans to continue cutting it by £220m each year until 2018.

As anyone with two brain cells to rub together will realise, the cuts have affected the most vulnerable members of our society, who can not afford to pay for professional legal representation, and end up having to represent themselves in court, opposite trained barristers.

But what does this mean in concrete terms for the individuals who are affected?

Here’s one story.

Noela Claye is a rape survivor from Sierra Leone. The legal aid cuts made her experience of going to court much more traumatic. She had been denied expert legal representation and psychiatric evidence which would have recorded and corroborated her experiences, so she was forced to go through the details of the rape in front of the judge. She faced vigorous and at times cruel cross-examination and broke down frequently… Ms Claye won her case, but because the Home Office have appealed, she is going to have to go through it all again at another hearing and still without legal aid.

Ms Claye is being supported by Women Against Rape – a grassroots organization that provides support, legal advice and advocacy for all women and girls, and the All African Women’s Group.

There is still time to write to Theresa May to ask that she withdraw the Home Office’s appeal against Noela Claye. (The link leads to more information about Ms Claye’s case, including details about the rape.)

You can read more about cuts to legal aid and their effects here.

Some odd remarks on social constructivism about gender

Alice Dreger writes:

 People who think gender identities, gender roles, and sexual orientations are all socially constructed are the most naive biological determinists I’ve ever seen. They think all human brains are completely without structure when it comes to these things; we all have empty slates in our skulls at birth. No, we don’t! Really!

She also remarks:

There’s some pretty good evidence that across almost every (if not every) culture, there is some consistency in gender role expectations. Boys across cultures are expected to—and do—play with toys meant to represent weapons. Girls across cultures are expected to—and do—play with toys that represent cooking and parenting. This doesn’t mean all children meet these expectations (we know they don’t), it just means all cultures seem to share some basic gender expectations.

I’d be surprised if social constructivists all endorse Lockean tabula rasa theories of mind (at least when it comes to behaviors we interpret as gendered). And even if they did, you’d be hard pressed demonstrate the falsity of this by appealing to cross-cultural analogies between gender preferences for toys. So I’ll admit to finding this piece puzzling.

Athene Donald on Women in Science

with an excellent modest proposal:

So let me offer a new recommendation to add to that made by the MPs. I propose that every MBA course in the country should have an unconscious bias element included, and taking some relevant training should be an expectation of anyone involved in recruitment of any kind. I would also like to see it included as a topic in the school curriculum, a place to start a dialogue among children so that they can identify their own propensities to gender-stereotyping.