Quickies

Quickies: Kids and feminism, LEGO lady scientists, and Balrog

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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9 Comments

  1. Wow, Atlassian’s response to one of its developers’ sexist presentation is really impressive. That’s what a corporate apology should look like: no excuses, just taking responsibility and communicating what will be done to improve. The tech industry desperately needs more people like them.

    It’s noteworthy that Atlassian is in more or less the same business as GitHub, which was recently in the news (here too, I think) for having a hostile, sexist work environment. I’m a GitHub user, but this is making me seriously consider switching to Atlassian’s BitBucket service — they seem like a company run by people whose values better match mine. If I weren’t already somewhat entrenched at GitHub (my colleagues know to look for my code there), I’d switch today.

  2. His name Doklovic, stuck out at me. It was probably something scripted, because he doesn’t have a girlfriend. He used to live in Minnesota (where I am) with his wife and daughter(s) who attended the same daycare as my son. Given how staunch a feminist his wife is, it really, REALLY surprised me when I found out he was the engineer that was doing the presentation.

    I probably won’t be following up with her, as I’m sure it’s embarrassing.

    1. It strikes me as the kind of joke that, were it made in a more intimate and informal setting, by someone who is well known by everyone present to be a staunch feminist, could be fine. My friends and I love making offensive jokes where the source of the humor is in the tension between the values we’re presenting and the values we know each other to hold. Essentially, we adopt the character of “the kind of jackass who actually believes this terrible thing I’m saying,” and that character is the actual butt of the joke.

      The thing is, context matters. If I try to make the same jokes among people who don’t know me well, then I’m not going to manage to effectively communicate to my audience that I’m adopting a character, and I’m just saying terrible things. Maybe that’s what was going on here. If we take Atlassian’s statement at face value, “I know the slide does not reflect his values,” then between this and what you know about his wife’s feminism, it’s entirely possible this guy is actually a perfectly good feminist who failed to consider the context of his talk, and how his jokes would actually reinforce norms that make the tech industry more hostile to women.

      If that’s what happened here, then I think it’s an important cautionary tale for male feminists: we don’t get the benefit of the doubt. Nor should we. Being firmly committed to feminist values is great, but the nature of male privilege means it’s all too easy to be totally unaware of how comments or jokes which may seem innocuous will be quite understandably read as hostile by non-men in the context of our sexist culture. The burden is on us, then, to be extra vigilant of how our words or actions might be perceived, and when we screw up, to own the mistake and learn from it.

  3. The kids’ take on feminism was … interesting. I think the sample size is way to small to draw any conclusions. The nerdy, Dunning-Kruger denialist part of my brain wants to fix it by getting a lot more samples and assessing them in a blinded way. (The evaluators wouldn’t know the age or gender of the children. or geography, social class, whether the parental unit(s) identified as feminist, cultural or ethnic background, etc.) The answers could be scaled from a negative (extremely hostile, like the MRA kid) through naive (most of the responses) to the few kids who had a deep understanding of the issues. Maybe Jamie and the WTF people who did the vaccine survey would have the right expertize to do this?

    The comment from the professor who taught a college course in gender studies, who made a similar survey of her students as one of the first assignments, was simply sad.

    The comments in the story about the very bad analogy used to describe a software product (at least, those at the top which I read before giving up) were almost entirely variations on “What about teh Menz?”

    I was at two different computer stores today and both were demoing 3D printers… I wonder if it would violate all kinds of copyright, trademark, patents or other IP laws for people to exchange description files for any sort of Lego characters you could imagine. Not just women astronomers and paleontologists, but heavy equipment operators, pilots, bankers, plumbers. presidents, and bloggers. For just $2000, you can make any Lego part anyone could dream of.

    I want a picture of a baby Balrogodile in the Quickies tomorrow, please?

    BTW, from misreading the first paragraph, I thought the article was saying crocodiles were dinosaurs, which isn’t true. However, while googling this, I discovered an interesting article about the relationship between dinosaurs and crocodiles, complete with a link to a real-life crocoduck!

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