We all know of the resume studies that expose racism or sexism in hiring by changing only the names on resumes and noting the different responses relative to perceived race or gender. Well, Yolanda Spivey (aka Bianca White) gave it a try on her own. Readers will not be surprised by the result.
A fight for LGBT rights in Lincoln, Nebraska June 8, 2012
Reader DL draws our attention to an ongoing conflict over LGBT rights in Lincoln, Nebraska (state capital, population 250 000+). It all started when the city council passed a “fairness ordinance” granting gay and transgender people anti-discrimination protection in employment, housing and public accommodation. 21 states and some 140 cities in the US already have legislation like this on the books, so you might think that that would be the end of the story.
However, local law allows for a vote on any new ordinance if sufficient petitioners demand it quickly enough, and an impressively well-organised reactionary campaign managed to garner the 10 000 signatures required within the 15 days allowed. Due to the complexities of the laws governing petitions and votes on them, the city mayor has responded by recommending that the legislation be repealed, and the protections instead be put to the vote as an amendment to the city charter (he remains himself very much committed to the idea of somehow ensuring anti-discrimination rights are guaranteed for his LGBT citizens). This vote is likely to be in November.
The issue has naturally occasioned much local debate, including some cheeringly moderate contributions and some, err, less well-reasoned and not so moderate arguments. But the vote is also likely to attract national attention.The petition drive was led by two organisations: the Nebraska Family Council and Family First. The latter is affiliated to Focus on the Family, a national evangelical campaigning group founded by the worryingly irrational James Dobson. No doubt FotF and other such organisations will be making their muscular financial presence felt in the run-up to the charter vote. The national press is also starting to pick up on the story, with the Huffington Post columnist Clay Farris claiming (perhaps a touch hyperbolically) that Lincoln can become the “Gettysburg of gay rights”. If he’s to be proved right, there may have to be some sort of counter-balance to the pressure that FotF can bring to bear on the voters of Lincoln; though, like their mayor, I’m hopeful that the vast majority of the city’s citizens are fair-minded enough to resist bigoted influences and vote the right way. One to keep an eye on.
Walmart Case: Women don’t have enough in common June 28, 2011
A quick update on the Walmart case that ednainthesea discussed here. The US supreme court has decided that one and a half million women cannot bring a class-action suit against Walmart, in which they were to argue that the corporation’s record on the promotion and pay of women belies institutional sex discrimination. The justices agreed unanimously that the suit failed to meet a particular technical requirement. More interestingly, a 5-4 majority ruled that the women do not have enough in common to bring a class action suit; according to Justice Scalia, the necessary common element is “entirely absent”.
You can read the full opinion here (direct link to .pdf). Part II of the court’s opinion (pp. 8-20) explains the reasoning behind the no-common-element decision. The appended dissenting opinion, written by Justice Ginsburg, takes issue with this part of the opinion (post, pp. 1-11).
Whatever the niceties of the legal arguments, it seems clear that the decision has greatly diminished the chances that large class-action suits could be used to address systemic discrimination.
Lost women of science November 21, 2010
A fascinating article:
Yet my re-examination of the Royal Society archives during this 350th birthday year has thrown new and unexpected light on the lost women of science. I have tracked down a series of letters, documents and rare publications that begin to fit together to suggest a very different network of support and understanding between the sexes. It emerges that women had a far more fruitful, if sometimes conflicted, relationship with the Royal Society than has previously been supposed.
I was a little worried when I read the following– afraid the author would go on to say that women had special insights because of their relational thinking, or care, or something like that:
Indeed, the Royal Society archives suggest something so fundamental that it may require a subtle revision of the standard history of science in Britain. This is the previously unsuspected degree to which women were a catalyst in the early discussion of the social role of science. More even than their male colleagues, they had a gift for imagining the human impact of scientific discovery, both exploring and questioning it.
But then he linked it instead to their exclusion from the Royal Society– a very interesting example for standpoint theorists:
Precisely by being excluded from the fellowship of the society, they saw the life of science in a wider world. They raised questions about its duties and its moral responsibilities, its promise and its menace, in ways we can appreciate far more fully today.
Pay Disparities and Sex/Gender Transitions October 15, 2008
A recent study has found that:
women who become men (known as FTMs) do significantly better than men who become women (MTFs). MTFs in the study earned, on average, 32% less after they transitioned from male to female, even after the authors controlled for factors like education levels. FTMs earned an average of 1.5% more.
The study’s authors and the Time Magazine article reporting this take this to show the extent of discrimination in the workplace– of the most traditional sort (paying someone less money for the same work just because of their sex/gender). It’s a very interesting study, but I’d also like to know what those with greater knowledge than mine about trans issues make of it.
(Thanks to the FEAST mailing list for this one!)