Friday, December 29, 2017

The NYT's New Gender Commissar, Jessica Bennett

The inclination among many conservatives is to assume that the media is a monolithic liberal entity. This is largely based on their location (large coastal cities) and general political tendencies (Democratic, liberal), but a closer reading of the situation shows the denizens of those halls feel themselves less than 100% with the correct program. Particularly, the mid-December announcement that the New York Times had hired Jessica Bennett as its intersexual feminism commissar smells remarkably as though it had come from the same place as Jill Filipovic’s tenuous assertions that men like the now-disgraced Matt Lauer had somehow cost Hillary Clinton the election. That is, the belief appears to be that the media wasn’t in Hillary’s corner enough, and that somehow next time they’ll get it right. Keep digging guys, we’ll be on the sidelines with popcorn.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Crisis of Part-Time Physicians

Something that came up elsewhere, but for which I was unaware of the magnitude of the problem: according to one unsourced estimate, around 30% of female physicians work part time. A better 2011 estimate in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows 21% of the physician workforce is part-time, with that figure plateauing as of 2015, of which 44% of female physicians worked part-time. Where this starts to get scary is in a recent Association of American Medical Colleges announcement that a slight majority of new med students are female, 50.7% of the overall total. Given that women exit internships into practice in prime reproductive years and are thus more likely to want time off for family, it suggests an upcoming crisis in terms of overall physician hours available: not all physicians are willing to work the same number of hours.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Empty Postmodern Cant Of “Engineering Education”

It is possible, I suppose, for a graduate program to have less value than the one Donna Riley heads, yet it is hard to imagine. Engineering and Engineering Education are two different things, with different needs, and yet here she is, earning an “NSF CAREER award on implementing and assessing pedagogies of liberation in engineering classrooms.“ I have no idea what that might mean in practice, but as Campus Reform informs us, she has gone full-out for duckspeak in the academic peer-reviewed publications:
The leader of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education recently declared that academic “rigor” reinforces “white male heterosexual privilege.”

Donna Riley, who previously taught engineering at Smith College for 13 years, published an article in the most recent issue of the journal Engineering Education, arguing that academic rigor is a “dirty deed” that upholds “white male heterosexual privilege.”

“One of rigor’s purposes is, to put it bluntly, a thinly veiled assertion of white male (hetero)sexuality,” she writes, explaining that rigor “has a historical lineage of being about hardness, stiffness, and erectness; its sexual connotations—and links to masculinity in particular—are undeniable.”
Is “Engineering Education” now a sinkhole into which any idiot may fall? If Ms. Riley is any indicator, it seems like a sort of bug light for those who glean that engineering is somehow important to society, yet lack a certain felicity with numbers, analytical capacity, and rational habits of mind, her Chem E. degree from Princeton notwithstanding. Being so long ago, she seems to have either forgotten all of it, or held a grudge that they made her work so hard. The dean of Purdue’s engineering school, Mung Chiang, has an anodyne web page which makes no mention of her or her bogus accomplishments. The postmodern barbarians are at the gate, but they have not yet acquired the real keys to power.

Update: What a staggering bibliography she developed for her NSF CAREER award; one day I'm sure the Mech. E. department will gaze in wonder at "Power/Knowledge: Using Foucault to promote critical understandings of content and pedagogy in engineering thermodynamics", and the even more wonderfully named, ""You're All a bunch of fucking feminists": Addressing the perceived conflict between gender and professional identities using the Montreal Massacre". Presumably, "other ways of knowing" will involve unicorns or manticores, although I do not recommend flying aboard any aircraft designed using such a regimen.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mean Girls Who Code: Marlene Jaeckel's Blackballing

I have not seen anything else on this subject, so Marlene Jaeckel's account of her banishment from Google's Women Techmakers group must necessarily be tempered by the caveat that there are two sides (at least) to every story. Nonetheless, in the current environment it is all too believable, a tale of politics overtaking technical prowess, and individuals secretly banning her from Google-related groups. Alicia Carr, the central figure (as far as I can tell) on the other side of this exchange, blanched when Jaeckel refused to teach a gender-segregated coding class ("I need everybody and anybody to help my Women and I’m sorry there is a gender issues [sic] but right now it [sic] about my ladies"). Hostilities escalated after a September, 2016 incident in which Carr "became loud and disruptive during [an Atlanta iOS Developer's group] meeting". In January, 2017, "[w]ithin hours of signing up" as a mentor for RailsBridge and RailsGirls conference, "both organizations banned me from their groups and events" and "declined to provide me with a formal explanation and refused to explain why or how I had allegedly violated their codes of conduct".

Jaeckel supported James Damore after his firing in August, 2017, a move that drew further ire on the part of Carr and a new figure, Maggie Kane, also apparently purged her from further Google-focused programming groups and sessions (an Atlanta Google Women Techmakers’ event “Idea Jam Session”). Jaeckel has since hired an attorney to launch a cease-and-desist and anti-defamation suit, the merits of which (and likely success of) I cannot ascertain at this distance. The whole thing smells like eighth-grade mean girls posturing. I wish Jaeckel all the success in the world, though I'm not sure of the viability of such a campaign. And, if she wins, of what value is reacquiring the company of such bluestockings?

Update: Really amazing what a lightweight Carr is on her LinkedIn page. One lousy app and she's parading herself as a developer? Okay, great, whatever, and that video? What skills are you selling? Being able to be dressed "fine as hell"?

Update 13:12: It took her a year and a half to learn Objective C? Okay, I guess... A quick look at her blog reveals a disturbing absence of technical articles, and a lot of self-puffery and lifestyle chatter (look at me in my granddaughter's Tesla!). Ditto Maggie Kane's LinkedIn profile, which is long on things other than coding skills. Opposite the Polyglot Programming blog, which features wall-to-wall coverage of various tech articles. The people opposing Jaeckel are pretty clearly posers.