More Than Men: A Diversity Project
Earlier this month, the Women Thinking Free launched a new diversity project for the skeptical community. This new project is a little different from the campaigns we’ve seen in the past… usually we see women asking for more women, people of color asking for more people of color, yetis asking for more mythical creatures.
Instead of that usual model, the men of the WTF — a group of straight white men, some with beards — have chosen instead to take responsibility for making a more diverse community and create the More Than Men project.
MTM was inspired by a Good.is article last year titled Why White Men Should Refuse to Be on Panels of All White Men. We wondered why there aren’t more men leading the way to a more diverse skeptical community. We knew men were interested, passionate even, but rather than cheering on the underrepresented groups, why aren’t they jumping in and fighting just as hard as the rest of us?
[Wired magazine’s Spencer] Ackerman said it makes sense. “It’s within our power and it’s up to us to say, ‘Why don’t you include my colleague who works on something similar, who has possibly more to say because they’re not listened to as frequently,’” he says. “And if we don’t do it, there’s no incentive for people organizing these things to think more critically about why it is they’re not including these diverse voices.”
So they’re speaking up.
More Than Men is a social media project for men to stand up together to take an active role in diversity advocacy, educating people about what diversity outreach is and is not, and dispelling myths about what it means to actively pursue a more inclusive community. This is a chance for men to have a conversation about why diversity matters to them, and how they can benefit, and what they can do to help.
More Than Men is not about apologizing for being male but it is also not about claiming we know better than people what their experiences in the world are like. It is about admitting and embracing who you are, and using that to help build a better community.
And the best part is, that you don’t have to sit, read, comment in the comments and give them feedback. You can contribute. In fact, I’m asking you to contribute. And the guys are asking you to contribute. We’re asking you to take responsibility for creating a welcoming community for all people. Because everyone will benefit from it.
We’ve even made it easy for you to get involved. Are you a good writer? Write a guest post for us. Are you a terrible writer, but handsome as all get-out? Make a video for us… you can make a video even if you’re not handsome, in fact, making a video will automatically make you handsome. Are you still unsure about your handsomeness and you don’t like to write? You can create an audio segment for our podcast. If you have something to say and your thoughts can be conveyed in some way on the internet, we want to hear from you! Just email Sasha Pixlee, our head white dude, at sasha[at]womenthinkingfree[dotties]org. (Just be all “Hey Sasha! I’m a white guy! I have something to say!”)
In fact, even if you don’t fit the balding, bearded and bespectacled prerequisites* for being an MTM contributor, but have something to say about the project and want to contribute, you need to contact Sasha as well! (Just be all “Hey Sasha! I’m not a white guy! I have something to say!”) (*not really prerequisites)
So… are you ready for a better Skepticism?
Disclaimer: And, I know, I’m a lady and I run the women’s organization behind MTM, so how man-run is it? Full disclosure: not 100%… because I’m a lady and I run the women’s organization behind MTM, and the project was my idea. But I’ve put together a staff of men that I trust, and it’s their project. I stand behind it. I help lift heavy things and fix technical glitches… I squish the bugs and tell them all how nice they look every day. The guys are cool with having a woman boss, because they’re cool like that. But really, I’m pretty hands off on this one.
Does this apply to just the Skeptic community or can it apply to any? Because what happens in the Skeptic community is a mirror of what happens in most others. If it’s possible I’d like to actually address the general trends towards diminishing women’s roles that I’ve observed consistently across society.
Also, is it just white men who can participate? I assume by default WTF is including all men’s opinions :).
Very positive article Elyse.
Our target audience is definitely the skeptic/atheist/science/nerd cultures we’re a part of, but we speak generally more often than not.
And yes, we welcome contributions from everyone.
We are targeting the skeptical community because that’s our community, but you don’t need to be able to name 3 logical fallacies in order to read and/or participate in MTM.
And I probably need to make that second part clear, EVERYONE is welcome to participate in the project, but (ironically for a diversity project) we are focused on encouraging white men to get involved.
I’d say “jinx”, but I’m a skeptic.
Not sure how I feel about that whole “especially targeting white men” since I’m mixed race. Sexism still occurs in minority communities I hope you know.
The idea is that the ones who are the most privileged are the ones who have the most power to change. Not that white men are the only ones causing the problem.
But it’s also not just about sexism, it’s also about racism and ableism and creating a generally more diverse community.
//The idea is that the ones who are the most privileged are the ones who have the most power to change.//
Well, being a mixed race guy (half-white,half-asian/indian… my mother was mixed race herself) and people have a hard time knowing “what I am” so I’m not sure if I fall into this category or not. I know everyone is welcome to participate, but I’m not sure if I’m one of the people “who has the most power to change”.
//But it’s also not just about sexism, it’s also about racism//
Yeah, I think the way this was presented missed that point.
But despite the perhaps insensitive presentation of this, I agree, despite our whiteness or not, we should fight for more diversity and I will try to participate with some very pertinent things I’ve noticed about how sexism manifests across different groups universally.
This is awesome. I love and respect the perversity of focusing a diversity effort on white men. I am nearly completely qualified except I’m not bald. Yet.
I think if a few leading lights followed this policy a lot of good could be done. “I’ll be happy to join your panel, for free, if you do this first…”
It is something that everyone can do, point out that non-diverse panels are non-diverse.
Yeah but apparently, I’m only half as effective at pointing it out or doing anything about it.
I mean I know that’s not what they meant, but it’s what it kinda comes off as.
It’s not a matter of the rules we created. It’s a matter of the rules that already exist. I don’t know if you’re half as effective at pointing it out.
The project is about getting people involved who aren’t personally affected by things like racism and sexism to speak out on behalf of those who are. And getting involved and doing something to affect change.
Also, if you think we’re doing it wrong, please contact Sasha. You are invited to write about what you think is wrong.
Apologies if somehow we came off as saying you’re a less effective communicator, because that is not the intent AT ALL.
The point is privilege. I’m white and male, you are mixed race and male. Society gives me more privilege than you and that is wrong. We’re aiming to subvert privilege and bring awareness of privilege to people who have it. Straight, white, able-bodied men have an easier time ignoring a lot more than someone who hasn’t hit the privilege bingo so hard. We are targeting them harder for that reason. They (we) have more investment in the status quo than almost anyone.
Your voice, including any criticism of how we say things in attempting to get our message across, is very important and we want to hear it and share it.
I hope things are a little more clear now, and I apologize for the initial lack of clarity. I’m at work so only have a moment, but I’d love an email so I can hear more from you about how we can improve our wording to make this a more successful project.
I look forward to reading what he has to say in more detail. What a fantastic project!
Note: I’m mixed race and female, and didn’t get the read he did, but I can understand how it might come off that way.
This is really great, diversity helps everyone. Imagine where we would be in science if we hadn’t limited science (to a large extent) to white men. How many more Newtons, Maxwells etc etc etc etc would we have had if we had not exclude 90% of the planet. Brilliant.
Double plus great!
I never get asked to participate on panels, but if I did I’d decline unless there was a diverse panel. This is a great idea!
Reason Rally – 16/7 Men/WomenNECSS 17/3
a lovely skeptic lady just posted those stats on her twitter feed. Now she did say that Reason Rally had more “minorities” (not sure how she defined that). But it seems very sad for both events to me. I am all for “minorities” but who defines them? Women while not a statistical minority are indeed under represented at both these events and it’s very sad. How to change that?
I think and hope that the NECSS speaker list is preliminary and will get a lot better. Last year (according to the web site speaker list, but there may have been some last minute additions or substitutions), it was 18/9. Still a long way to go, though.
BTW, I was looking at the hotels. The cheap one is $199/night for a single. Yikes! Occupy NECSS, anyone? I’ve got a tent, sleeping bag and camp stove. We could set up in the lobby… As a rich old white guy, I can afford this, but how can anyone of average means who doesn’t live withing commuting distance of NYC do it?
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