Saturday, June 12, 2010

Articles about Women and the Workplace

One week away and I've collected so many articles about women in my inbox!

Women in Science
  • Gender stop-gaps - a Nature article about the under-representation of women in academic science and the measures being taken/advised to address it, including growing the applicant pool, providing a more family-friendly environment, and increasing mentoring. This article also cites organizational changes as important: for instance, a researcher noticed that in smaller biotech startups with flat organization structures, women were as likely as men to hold a patent, while at universities and larger companies men patented significantly more.
  • NCWIT Report Examines Women's Declining Participating in Tech - a blog post describing a report about the attrition of women in IT careers compared to the past and compared to the numbers of women who pursue tech-related fields in college. The report also describes barriers to participation and how to address them, recommending an "ecosystem of reform."
  • Daring to Discuss Women's Potential in Science - a New York Times article about a proposed law that would require the White House science adviser to oversee workshops promoting gender equity. In this piece Tierney raises the question of whether bias exists. This point is not the most relevant to raise, as the existence of differences does not invalidate the need for equity. Rather, learning about differences can educate us about how to provide equal opportunities and make progress in a way that allows people with different cultural backgrounds and strengths to contribute. This Jezebel post makes some good criticisms of the article.
More general
  • Dressed to Distract - New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd discusses the firing of Debrahlee Lorezana from Citigroup, for the reason that her looks and dress were "too distracting" for her male coworkers and supervisors. Dowd points out that while this is usually the other way around (beautiful people get what they want), women are often punished professionally for being too beautiful. Dowd writes, "A male friend once told me he was looking for an unattractive personal assistant so he wouldn’t be tempted. And when I was hiring a Grace Kelly blonde as a researcher a few years ago, a male colleague asked me not to because it would be 'too distracting' to him; two girlfriends cautioned me not to because it would be depressing... for me to work with someone so good looking."
  • In Sweden, the Men Can Have It All - a New York Times pieces about gender equity in Sweden, where women have equal rights at work and men have equal rights at home--85% of Swedish men take parental leave. This is part of the women around the world series.
  • A short history of "feminist" anti-feminists - a nice Slate piece about "the early sisters of Sarah Palin," women who claim to be feminists but organize in opposition to the feminist movement. And (yes!) the article cites Camille Paglia ("I'm not soft and silly like all the other women") as the "iconic leader" of a group of contemporary anti-feminists including Christina Hoff-Summers ("why can't a woman be more like a man?").


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