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[personal profile] greensword
Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Entrepreneurs, innovators, sysadmins, programmers, designers, games developers, hardware experts, tech journalists, tech consultants. The list of tech-related careers is endless.

All you need to do is sign the pledge, pick your tech heroine and then publish your blog post any time on Tuesday 24th March 2009 (Ada Lovelace Day). It doesn’t matter how new or old your blog is, what gender you are, what language you blog in, or what you normally blog about - everyone is invited.


This may be a slight stretch, but I'm going to pick as my 'tech' heroine Mahzarin Banaji. Although she's primarily a psychologist (and more of a social psychologist than a neuroscientist), she's well known for developing the Implicit Association Test, which you can take here. The IAT is a way of measuring people's unconscious biases by asking them to sort people into categories and measuring small but consistent differences in error rates and reaction times. For instance, it takes me a little bit longer to sort non-white faces into the category "American" then into the category "foreign". The IAT has been used to probe a number of different prejudices - including the tendency of people to not see women as scientists and technologists. At a time when public disavowal of prejudice is the norm, yet discrimination seems to keep on keeping on, I think her work is especially relevant.

Since she works and teaches in my department, I've had the pleasure of hearing her speak several times. She is unabashed in her support for women in science:

[Banaji's] implicit association experiments have shown that even female scientists can unconsciously associate men with terms like “astronomy” and “chemistry” and women with “music” and “history.”

Knowing this prejudice well, Banaji says she always goes out of her way to support aspiring female students in science.

“For younger women whose identity as women in science is not fully formed, I need to keep an eye out,” Banaji says. “If somebody like that comes along and asks, ‘I wanna give up mathematics for social studies,’ [I would suggest to her] ‘well, hold on, maybe you should go. But maybe you shouldn’t.’”
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