greensword: (ada)
[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.’”

Date: 2009-03-24 10:04 pm (UTC)
ext_4030: Branch of holly with its binomial name, Ilex aquifolium (science : motherfuckers!)
From: [identity profile]
Very interesting choice. I'd not heard of Mahzarin Banaji, though I've taken a few of the IAT demos. When I took the gender-science one I had a stronger association between women and science than men and science.

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.


Date: 2009-03-26 05:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I actually had the male-science association, which made me sad. Although I was pleased that I didn't have any homophobic bias.

I mean, the tests aren't supposed to have any predictive value for an individual so really I don't put much personal stock in them, but I think they're a fantastic research tool - and a great use of tehchnology.

Date: 2009-03-25 03:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I finished Blink, I dont know if you were still interested in reading it but if you like I'd let you borrow it.

Date: 2009-03-26 05:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
One day I will have time to read it, and on that day, I will ask to borrow it. :)

BTW I think it's cool you've started coming to game nights. You are a welcome addition.


Date: 2009-03-25 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I came over from Shakesville's post about Ada Lovelace Day. Thanks for introducing me to this amazing woman. I love the implicit bias tests, and the "warnings" are a hoot!

Also, my daughter is going to major in psychology (and minor in biology), and I was encouraged by reading this.

Quercki M. Singer

Re: Thanks!

Date: 2009-03-26 05:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're welcome!

Date: 2009-03-25 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

This is really belated. Are you in Boston? When'd you move here? This is totally silly and out of nowhere, but I found a comment you left on one of my old entries, and I thought I'd see where you are. =) And you happen to be here! Hope you're enjoying things. =)

Date: 2009-03-26 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hi! Boy, it's been ages. I moved to Boston about 6 or 7 months ago... refresh my memory, are you in Boston for school or is it home base for you and you actually go to school somewhere else or are you even still in school at all?

How have you been? I'll give you the last four years of my life in a paragraph if you give me yours. :)
Edited Date: 2009-03-26 02:35 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-03-26 04:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sure thing! Boston is definitely home base, and I'm in my third year of school in Chicago right now. Life has been pretty good. I think I kind of got out of fandom right before I went to college, and then just never looked back, but I've still been blogging. I've also been studying abroad in Austria, spending the summer in China, and jumping in and out of relationships since a long-distance one ended terribly. Haha, I think this is the life in a nutshell thing. At school, I'm studying sociology, and currently, the big thing in my life is swing dancing. =) We've been lovers for a few years now, and you know, I'm ready to take it to the next level. =)

How about you? You've been here for a while, it sounds like. Working? Having fun?

Date: 2009-03-26 05:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, I went to college in western mass, so I'm definitely no stranger to Boston, but I've only been living here since September. I spent the year right after graduating in California before getting homesick and moving here. Right now my life is pretty fantastic - working my dream job in a psychology lab at Harvard, living with my best friends, and I've just started dating this really nice fella so yeah, I would say I'm having fun.

Sociology, eh? Good choice. Harvard houses the psych and soc departments in the same building so I feel a special kinship.

P.S. I am friending you or re-friending you or whatever you call it.

Date: 2009-03-26 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, man. That's pretty exciting - I'm glad you're doing your dream job here, and dating a guy to boot! I'm actually also working in a psychology lab, with toddlers and spatial memory and whatnot. It's only a part-time gig, and definitely not my major but super-fun.

Ditto, although my journal has changed drastically. Haha.

Date: 2009-03-26 04:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A developmental lab! We've got one of those downstairs and it's so brightly colored and full of lizards. I always want to stop what I'm doing and go play. :)

Date: 2009-03-26 04:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes! Though it's a tiny operation. We have toys that they play with a lot, and I get to give them stickers and stuffed animals when they're done. It makes me happier than any other job I've had, because I mean, I get to play with kids. Muwahaha.


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