Monday, June 15, 2015
When it comes to gender equity, the technology ecosystem, which prides itself on being a meritocracy in so many other respects, is failing badly.
How else can we explain that women held 34% of software and computing jobs in 1990, but only 27% in 2011? Or that, according to the “Women Entrepreneurs 2014” report from Babson College, the “total number of women partners in venture capital firms declined significantly since 1999 from 10% to 6%.” Or that, as the Babson report also observed, in the three years from 2011 to 2013, “companies with no women on the executive team received almost 90% of the total investments in semiconductors, computers and peripherals/electronics and instrumentation, and media and entertainment.”
So, what is to be done? Five proposals, with the first one being:
- Push companies to publish data about gender diversity
Pushing companies to collect and publicize data on the proportion of women in tech and leadership capacities adds an element of public accountability, and provides an important frame of reference to assess progress. Understanding the state of gender (and other forms of) diversity on a company-specific basis can catalyze greater awareness of diversity in hiring and promotions. And, year-over-year comparisons provide a way to measure progress both within a single company and more broadly.
Who knew Ireland would the most progressive nation on earth with regard to LGBT issues?
This month Ireland may go from not legally recognizing transgender people to having one of the best trans identity laws in the world.
Two weeks ago, the nation made history when it became thefirst country in the world to approve gay marriage by a popular vote.
Ireland may once again make history by allowing transgender people over the age of 18 to self-declare their gender on legal documents solely based on their self-determination, and without any medical intervention. The legislation is scheduled to go to committee stage on June 17.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
The beleaguered British biologist Sir Tim Hunt has revealed that he was forced to resign from his post at University College London (UCL) without being given a chance to explain his controversial remarks about women in science. “I have been hung out to dry,” he told the Observer in an exclusive interview. “I have been stripped of all the things I was doing in science. I have no further influence.”
Hunt, who won the Nobel prize in 2001 for his work on cell biology, was the focus of widespread controversy last week after suggesting at a conference in Seoul that women in science were disruptive and prone to crying. He has since apologised for his remarks, which were supposed to be ironic and jocular, he said.
However, as a result of the furore, Hunt was told by UCL that he would have to resign his honorary post at the college. “At no point did they ask me for an explanation for what I said or to put it in context,” he told the Observer. “They just said I had to go. There has been an enormous rush to judgment in dealing with me.”
And for the discussion at the NYT, see here.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
To some people, the idea for an iPhone app designed to let students record video statements of agreement before engaging in sexual activity sounds like a bad joke. Or perhaps just a well-intended overuse of technology.
But Michael Lissack has come up with a set of such apps, and he defends them as a way to reset the conversation around sex on the campus. His creation, called We-Consent, is actually three apps — one that lets students document mutual consent to a sexual encounter by video-recording a conversation about it with the cellphone’s camera, and two "no" apps that record an individual watching a message on the phone that clearly states "no," so there is a record of that individual having received the message.
Mr. Lissack, who is executive director of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence, said the videos are encrypted and unhackable; they don’t save onto a user’s phone, but they are stored in an offline database. The only time the videos can be viewed is when there is a legal reason to disclose them, such as a court proceeding or university adjudication. Right now, the two "no" apps are available through the App Store on Apple's iTunes, but the yes app is accessible only on the apps’ website. Mr. Lissack said that Apple considered the yes app "icky."
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Badly educated men in rich countries have not adapted well to trade, technology or feminism.
KIMBERLEY, a receptionist in Tallulah, thinks the local men are lazy. “They don’t do nothin’,” she complains. This is not strictly true. Until recently, some of them organised dog fights in a disused school building.
Tallulah, in the Mississippi Delta, is picturesque but not prosperous. Many of the jobs it used to have are gone. Two prisons and a county jail provide work for a few guards but the men behind bars, obviously, do not have jobs. Nor do many of the young men who hang around on street corners, shooting dice and shooting the breeze. In Madison Parish, the local county, only 47% of men of prime working age (25-54) are working.
The men in Tallulah are typically not well educated: the local high school’s results are poor even by Louisiana’s standards. That would have mattered less, in the old days. A man without much book-learning could find steady work at the mill or in the fields. But the lumber mill has closed, and on nearby farms “jobs that used to take 100 men now take ten,” observes Jason McGuffie, a pastor. A strong pair of hands is no longer enough.
Tallulah may be an extreme example, but it is part of a story playing out across America and much of the rest of the rich world. In almost all societies a lot of men enjoy unwarranted advantages simply because of their sex. Much has been done over the past 50 years to put this injustice right; quite a bit still remains to be done.
The dead hand of male domination is a problem for women, for society as a whole—and for men like those of Tallulah. Their ideas of the world and their place in it are shaped by old assumptions about the special role and status due to men in the workplace and in the family, but they live in circumstances where those assumptions no longer apply. And they lack the resources of training, of imagination and of opportunity to adapt to the new demands. As a result, they miss out on a lot, both in economic terms and in personal ones.
Manliness is generally a term connoting virtue, as in, "the police officer displayed great manliness when he rescued the child." Of late, we have stories of masculinity out of control.
There is the story of officer Eric Casebolt, whose angry and terrified demeanor found expression through assaults against teeangers in McKinney, Texas.
Then there is the heartbreaking story of Kalief Browder, a young black teenager who committed suicide this week after having been brutalized in Rikers Island Prison. He had spent three years there--without ever being convicted of a crime. While at Rikers, Kalief was assaulted by guards, kept in solitary confinement, and beaten by gangs. After being released from Rikers, he could no longer endure the traumatic memories.
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Our local political melodrama over the resignation of the Akron mayor after 28 years and his one-week interim replacement has made national news. The interim mayor resigned yesterday after admitting that he groped a city employee. He said that he inappropriately “turned a goodbye hug into a too-personal encounter” when a city employee he had known for 14 years was wishing him well in his new position as mayor. The employee, he reported, was “appropriately offended” and she filed a complaint with HR.
The question swirling around is whether the incident is legally actionable. Much of the press is calling it sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is “unwelcomed sexual advances” that either is 1) quid pro quo, sexual advances are required for employment or an employment benefit like salary or promotion, or a 2) hostile work environment. Courts have said the conduct generally must be either severe or pervasive. A one-time sexual touching, as opposed to one sexist joke or offensive comment, may sometimes be considered sufficiently severe. See James Concannon, Actionable Acts: "Severe" Conduct in Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment Cases. But not always. The City itself likely has no liability here, if, as reported, this is a one-time incident involving this offender. See Joanna Grossman, The First Bite is Free: Employer Liability for Sexual Harassment.
The Ohio criminal conduct also makes actionable “sexual imposition,” sexual contact defined as any touching with the “erogenous zone of another” for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification -- or “gross sexual imposition” if the sexual contact is by force. Ohio Rev. Code 2907.01, .05, .06. It requires that the offender know that the conduct is offensive to the other person, or is “reckless in that regard.”
It might also be a battery, a civil tort of intentional “unwanted contact.”
Before this year's new hires, women constituted 20.6% of Law Deans. See ABA Commission on Women, A Current Glance at Women in the Law
By my count, women constitute 11 of 24 (46%) of new deans this year.
Jennifer Bard (Texas Tech), Cincinnati
Kathleen Boozang (Seton Hall), Seton Hall
Lyn Entzeroth (Tulsa), Tulsa
Melanie Leslie (Cardozo), Cardozo
Jennifer Mnookin (UCLA), UCLA
Suzanne Reynolds (Wake Forest), Wake Forest
Laura Rosenbury (Wash U), Florida
Melanie Wilson (Kansas), Tennessee
Help keep the list current. Add others to comments below.
Erin Buzuvis (Western New England), Athletic Compensation for Women Too? Title IX Implications of Northwestern and O'Bannon, 41 Journal of College and Univ. Law 297 (2015)
Abstract:The NCAA has been relying on Title IX requirements to defend its polices prohibiting compensation for college athletics; it argues that paying athletes in revenue sports, coupled with the commensurate obligation under Title IX to pay female athletes, would be prohibitively expensive. As a response to the NCAA’s argument, the Author seeks to advance two positions: first, that Title IX would, as argued by the NCAA, require payment of female athletes using some measure of equality; and, second, that athletes are being exploited by the present system. Ultimately, the Author reframes the application of Title IX to athlete compensation by proposing two alternative outcomes: either college athletics departments could reform their programs by curtailing the ways in which they have become overly commercialized programs and thus avoid the application of antitrust and labor laws, or they could reform themselves by abandoning their connection to education and the subsidy that comes with it.
Monday, June 8, 2015
A growing number of children’s app makers are upping their efforts to ensure their products do a better job of reflecting the diversity of their young audiences.
And (regarding the picture above, of the robot):
As an example, he gave Toca Robot Lab, a robot-building app that was released in 2011: a “classically boy-skewing theme of building robots” that the auditor suggested played to those stereotypes with its colour scheme and art-style of “rusty old things that you might find in a garage, as opposed to everyday things you might find at home”.
Toca Boca redesigned the game’s visuals and added in more of the latter kind of objects. “It opened it up and made it much more inclusive than it was from the beginning,” said Jeffery, who cited his company’s Toca Hair Salon range of apps as much more successful in bucking gender stereotypes.
Do women and men have different brains?
Back when Lawrence H. Summers was president of Harvard and suggested that they did, the reaction was swift and merciless. Pundits branded him sexist. Faculty members deemed him a troglodyte. Alumni withheld donations.
But when Bruce Jenner said much the same thing in an April interview with Diane Sawyer, he was lionized for his bravery, even for his progressivism.
“My brain is much more female than it is male,” he told her, explaining how he knew that he was transgender.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
This week a bipartisan group of four senators introduced a bill, dubbed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. It borrows language from the Americans With Disabilities Act and seeks to strengthen and clarify the “reasonable accommodations” that employers must make for pregnant employees.
The bill in and of itself it significant. But it's also significant in another sense -- in that it marks a clear and public turn away from decades of feminist thinking about the absolute interchangeability of male and female workers.
Advocates say the bill is built around a series of modern and pragmatic ideas that will directly aid the estimated 250,000 women each year who ask their employers for reasonable pregnancy-related work accommodations connected to their pregnancies -- we’re talking bathroom breaks, time for doctor’s appointments, restrictions on lifting and/or a nearby water bottle to remain hydrated – and see those requests denied. (That quarter-million women each year figure, by the way, comes from a 2014 survey conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families.) What’s worse, at least some of these women instead wind up losing their jobs and the health insurance benefits that come with them.
The new issue of the Hastings Women's Law Journal, summer 2015.
Holistic Pregnancy: Rejecting the Theory of the Adversarial Mother by Rona Kaufman Kitchen
Medicaid as Coverture by Thomas E. Simmons
Mitigating the Employer's Exposure to Third-Party Claims of a Hostile Work Environment by John A. Pearce II and Ilya A. Lipin
Friday, June 5, 2015
The tech world deservedly catches some flack for its lack of gender diversity.
As lopsided as those numbers are, they pale in comparison to the gender breakdown at the finals of this year’s DARPA Robotics Challenge, which takes place Friday and Saturday in Pomona, Calif. Eleven of the 24 teams competing are made up completely of men. Of the 444 individuals on the teams, only 23 are women. An alarming 94.8 percent of the participants are men.
Staff Sgt. Loeri Harrison could receive the paperwork any day now, forms certifying that after an exemplary eight-year Army career, she is no longer fit for duty and must leave Fort Bragg because she is transgender.
Early this year, Senior Airman Logan Ireland feared he might face a similar fate when he disclosed to his commanders during a recent deployment in Afghanistan that he transitioned from female to male. Yet, his supervisors have been supportive, allowing him to wear male uniforms and adhere to male grooming standards even though Air Force records continue to label him as female.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter should take on what they refused to do. The current policies leave transgender troops vulnerable to discrimination that the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describe as a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Medical and military experts who have studied the policies have concluded that there is no rationale for disqualifying transgender troops from serving on medical grounds.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Akron Law Review's, Women in the Law Symposium exploring a variety of issues at the intersection of women and the law. And featuring an article by my co-editor, John Kang.
An Introduction to the Women in the Law Symposium
Tracy A. Thomas
-- Page 891
Professional Women Silenced by Men-Made Norms
Maritza I. Reyes
-- Page 897
Gender Differences in Dispute Resolution Practice: Report on the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Practice Snapshot Survey
Gina Viola Brown and Andrea Kupfer Schneider
-- Page 975
Women in Litigation Literature: The Exoneration of Mayella Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird
Julia L. Ernst
-- Page 1019
The Soldier and the Imbecile: How Holmes's Manliness Fated Carrier Buck
-- Page 1056
Ill-conceived Laws and Exploitative State: Toward Decriminalizing Prostitution in India
Yugank Goyal and Padanabha Ramanujam
-- Page 1072
Study Finds Military's Handling of Sexual Assault Cases Slowed by Traditional Gender Role Beliefs and Conservatism
Two articles from Eric R. Carpenter (FIU)
The study: Evidence of the Military's Sexual Assault Blind Spot, 4 Va. J. Crim. Law (forthcoming).
Abstract:In response to the American military's perceived inability to handle sexual assault cases, many members of Congress have lost confidence in those who run the military justice system. Critics say that those who run the military justice system are sexist and perceive sexual assault cases differently than the public does.
This article is the first to empirically test that assertion. Further, this is the first study to focus on the military population that matters – those who actually run the military justice system.
This study finds that this narrow military population endorses two constructs that are associated with the acceptance of inaccurate rape schemas – traditional gender role beliefs and conservatism – to a much higher degree than the general population. Regression models based on these findings predict that in a test rape case, 54% of the general public would find the man guilty while only 41% of this narrow military population would.
This suggests that at the macro-level, those who run the military justice system may be honestly committed to resourcing the fight against sexual assault and to finding a solution to the problem. But at the micro-level, when looking at a particular case, they have an unconscious cognitive process that interferes with their ability to accurately solve it.
The appendices for this paper are available at the following URL: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2598210
Soraya Chemaly and Mary Anne Franks, Supreme Court May Have Made Online Abuse Easier, TIme
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a man who posted violent messages about his estranged wife on Facebook. The case, Elonis v. United States, garnered widespread interest and media coverage because it seemed to pose a question that the court had not considered before: whether “free speech” means something different online.
But the court skirted the First Amendment issue, choosing instead to decide the case on statutory grounds. The court ruled that a conviction for violating the federal threat statute cannot stand if it is based only the finding that a “reasonable person” would have foreseen that the statements would be perceived as threatening. Instead, the speaker’s subjective intent in making the statements has to be taken into consideration.
The court’s narrow decision provides little guidance to courts struggling with the issues raised by threatening speech—online or offline—and raises troubling issues for victims of threats, especially in the context of domestic violence.
After Elonis’s wife sought a protective order from him, he posted messages including, “There’s one way to love ya, but a thousand ways to kill ya,” “I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess,” and “Fold up your protective order and put in your pocket. Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?” Elonis also described a school shooting and a fantasy about killing a female FBI agent. He was indicted on five counts of interstate communication of illegal threats and sentenced to 44 months in jail.
While the court did not go so far as to hold that a true threat turns on what the speaker intended to accomplish, the ruling suggests that the determination of what constitutes threatening speech rests with the speaker and not his audience. Looking to a speaker’s subjective intent might allow domestic abusers to create plausible defenses for themselves by claiming that they never really “meant” their threats as threats. Elonis explicitly characterized his speech as rap lyrics, saying that he was emulating rap artist Eminem, whose violently misogynistic lyrics include fantasies about killing his ex-wife and raping singer Iggy Azalea. He also suggested that the statements were a kind of therapy for him, a way of blowing off steam. These explanations seem intended to strip his words of context and provide a plausible defense.
But context is key. Elonis was not a famous rapper doling out violent misogyny for the entertainment of a cheering crowd, or patient struggling with emotional upheaval in a private session with a therapist. He was a man seemingly angered by a woman’s decision to leave him. The context was highly suggestive of a domestic violence scenario, which all too often include psychological terrorism as well as physical violence.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
When embattled Fifa president Sepp Blatter resigned on Tuesday – shortly after 14 prominent Fifa officials were indicted on bribery and kickback charges, and days before the Women’s World Cup – he said that as-yet unnamed reforms will be crucial going forward. But viewers planning to tune into the women’s competition, which starts on Saturday in Vancouver, should note another blight on the organization: gender discrimination extreme enough to violate the law in almost every country where Fifa tournaments are played pervades the organization.
Blatter’s public conduct has long been unapologetically sexist. In 2004, he suggested that female players should wear “tighter shorts” to make the game more appealing to male viewers. And Blatter, the self-styled “godfather” of women’s soccer, failed to even recognize Alex Morgan at the Fifa World Player of the Year event in 2012, where she was honored as one of the world’s top three players.
Celebrities, along with President Obama, are praising Caitlin Jenner for coming out as transgender person. But not everyone in the transgender community is praising her.
“Jenner’s a rich white bitch – she can pay for everything she needs. But I think she now needs to put some of that money back into the transgender community as she has taken a lot. All these years we have been abused and battered, yet she has used none of her power to help the community and bring about change.”
Thus spoke Janetta Johnson. She continued:
Janetta Johnson, a black trans woman who works with TGI Justice, an advocacy group for transgender prisoners and their families, said that the lack of recognition on Jenner’s part of the hard work that had gone into trying to end confusion over gender pronouns was regrettable. “For her to come out as a trans woman and say ‘Oh, please keep calling me “he”’ – I think she may have set us back.”
Johnson said she now wanted to see Jenner give back to the trans community some of what she had taken.