Quickies: Women Leaving Engineering, Fergusen, and a Star Trek Writer’s Response to a Homophobe

  • Many Women Leave Engineering, Blame The Work Culture – “From the aerospace sector to Silicon Valley, engineering has a retention problem: Close to 40 percent of women with engineering degrees either leave the profession or never enter the field.”
  • A Tenacious Explorer of Abstract Surfaces – Read this profile about Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the Fields Medal, considered to be the highest medal in mathematics. From Amy.
  • The Difference Between Ferguson and #Ferguson – “After a white police officer shot an unarmed, black 18-year-old, people condemned a suburb of St. Louis. But this kind of tragedy could have happened anywhere in America.”
  • Hockey fans drive petition to ‘Ban The Stripper’ at Blackhawks home games – “But some hockey fans will point to a different, and perhaps more off-putting tune: David Rose’s ‘The Stripper’, one of those pieces of instrumental music you’ve heard time and time again, likely without ever knowing what it was called, like Sweet Georgia Brown, Spanish Flea, or Entry of the Gladiators. The song, which is aptly named, since it’s intended to invoke the music to which old-timey burlesque artists strip, has been known to play when an attractive woman is ‘randomly’ selected for the Blackhawks’ popular second intermission game of ‘shoot the puck’.” From 9bar.
  • Star Trek Writer’s Defense of Diversity in Sci-Fi Is Damn Near Perfect – “When a reader wrote in to say that a recent plotline in David Mack’s Star Trek books — one where a Vulcan had an affair with a Klingon spy, and they both happened to be women — meant that they wouldn’t be reading his books anymore, they didn’t expect a response. But they got one. Oh boy, did they get one.”

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. Didn’t Scotus recently decide that racism in America is a solved problem? Such learned folks couldn’t have been wrong about that, could they?


  2. Gee, if the Blackhawks actually take heed of their fans requests to stop being sexists in the name of tradition, maybe they can be persuaded to drop the cultural appropriation.

    Shit, who am I kidding?

  3. What is happening in Ferguson is happening elsewhere all the time, we are just not being given the news. I would say that it was inevitable, that it’s what happens when the country is told to be afraid and the police are heavily armed and ready to fight against nonexistent terrorists, when half the country sees heavily armed “sovereign citizens” (how’s that for an oxymoron) who refuse to acknowledge the authority of the federal government as patriots but see unarmed child refugees fleeing violence as threats, and where trampling on the first amendment right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances is easy because most Americans don’t even realize those rights exist, but I wouldn’t want to be seen as some sort or conspiracy crank.

    As Commander William Adama said on Battlestar Gallactica, “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

    There is actually a law that prevents the military being used by a country as the police against its citizens, it’s called posse comitatus and violation of said law used to be considered a BFG, in fact the suspension of posse comitatus during the civil war is seen by many as a huge black mark on Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. But any more that law is becoming moot because law enforcement, flush with anti-terrorism money, is becoming militarized at an alarming rate. Did you see some of the hardware that was rolled out on short notice in Ferguson? What in the hell does a city of 21,000 people need with any riot capability much less one that looks like the National Guard? And if you think I am exaggerating for effect just keep this in mind, Fenway Park has a capacity of just over 47,000 people. Well holy shit, that’s almost twice as big as Ferguson, we better get Fenway it’s own riot police pronto.

    Fuck me! Sorry about the rant but this has been a long time coming and it’s not going to end well, there are people drumming up the idea that the federal government is illegitimate and things like the Cliven Bundy standoff and recent citizen border patrol overreaches are giving these domestic terrorists the idea that they can get away with this shit. If we don’t crack down on these motherfuckers, these terrorists (there just isn’t a better word), we are looking at another revolution egged on by the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, and the rich will sit back, stroke their Persian cats and laugh as the unwashed masses do their dirty work.

    I could use a laugh, I miss Robin Williams already.

    1. Damn it. OK, before anyone corrects me I got a really big fact wrong here.

      Abraham Lincoln suspended habeus corpus during the civil war not posse comitatus, in fact PC was implemented as a result of the civil war as a way to end the occupation of the south by federal troops after during reconstruction. That doesn’t change any of my points, breaking PC laws is a BFG but it wasn’t what Lincoln did.

    2. @mrmisconception Great rant! Fully agree.
      Interesting to see what real soldiers think about the military gear and tactics used at Ferguson

      My old man was a young Lieutenant in the Occupation forces in Germany soon after WW2. In an immobilised armoured car surrounded by a rioting crowd of angry Germans, he held them off with a piece of wood. To produce a gun would have inflamed the situation. The occupation of the factory proceeded without any fatality.

  4. On women leaving engineering:

    Has anyone ever seen a study on why and how many male engineers leave? I can’t for the life of me find anything. Certainly some number of both men and women will leave, or never begin, for every reason in the study. Without a some basis for comparison I’m left only with stereotypes to interpret how much of the problem is gendered.

  5. Nitpick: There aren’t that many “medals” in Mathematics. The Fields Medal was once considered the highest prize in Mathematics, often described as the “mathematics nobel prize”, but that is somewhat misleading since there are eligibility conditions on the Fields Medal (recipient must be younger than 40 on January 1st of the year the medal is awarded). Moreover, there is now the Abel Prize, which is considered to be a better parallel to the Nobel. Still, “highest medal in mathematics” just sounds wrong to me (a mathematician).

    1. Just to be clear: it’s an awesome, impressive achievement! The Fields Medal is absolutely one of the top prizes in Mathematics (and one could make a good case for it being the top prize). It’s just weird to refer to it as “highest medal in mathematics”.

  6. I know of an engineering department that lost both its female faculty and both its non-Christian faculty. 2-3 of them (more than one but not all of them) cited harassment as the reason for leaving. Two of them had major grant funding. The person who told me about this said one of the first comments from a remaining faculty member was “I never saw any harassment.” This happened over the course of two years.

    [the following part is highly sarcastic and never actually happened]

    As a result, the department head commissioned a full investigation to find out exactly what happened to take steps to make it less likely to happen again.

      1. I don’t understand your question. I talked about something that bothered me at one of my previous university employers. When 4 different people left one of the engineering departments for the same reason, the department head and faculty should have at least looked into it.

        1. I thought the implication was that the remaining person, who saw nothing, was somehow implicit. My response was as a person saying harassing things wondering why everyone was leaving. I apologize if I misread the comment.

  7. re leaving engineering – other than the ‘old boy attitude’ the examples of leaving are more or less the same for men that leave engineering. Especially the lack of promotion prospects, the engineering world is a very flat workforce structure, you basically got ‘team leader’ then a huge leap into management.

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