Tag: women

Why are there so few women in tech? The truth behind the Google memo

An engineer at the company has suggested male domination of Silicon Valley is down to biological differences between the sexes. But the root causes are much more complicated

It is time to be open about the science of human nature. This was the assertion of software engineer James Damore to his colleagues at Google, in an internal memo that has since led to his sacking. Im simply stating, Damore wrote, that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we dont see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. He went on to imply that womens stronger interest in people and neuroticism might make them less naturally suited to being coders at Google.

The companys leadership viewed the matter differently, firing Damore and sparing his female colleagues the need to prove their biological aptitude for working with computers.

Sacking one errant employee doesnt alter an awkward fact, though. Only 20% of Google engineers are women a statistic that is matched roughly across big tech companies. So, does Damore have a point? Is there an underlying biological explanation for why so few women work at a company that prides itself on its progressive ideals and family-friendly ethos?

There are countless scientific studies that claim to identify differences between male and female cognitive aptitudes and, in the UK, far fewer girls choose to study computer science at GCSE level (20% of the total number of students), at degree level (16%) and beyond. There is something seductive about the idea that professional success springs from our innate abilities, rather than the degree to which society tips the odds in our favour.

After the contents of the memo became public, through a leak to tech site Gizmodo, the scientific argument for innate biological differences quickly found favour with some tech insiders, albeit those writing anonymously on sites such as Hacker News and the gossip app Blind.

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Students at the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow. Far more women study computing in India than in the UK. Photograph: Hindustan Times/Getty Images

On Blind which requires users to prove who they work for before posting one Google employee wrote: Can we go back to the time when Silicon Valley were [sic] about nerds and geeks, thats why I applied [to] Google and came to the US. I mean this industry used to be a safe place for people like us, why so fking complicated now. I used to dislike conservatives until I started working in tech, wrote another. Now I sympathise with them due to the hostility and groupthink, as well as the fact that they are the only ones standing up for classical liberal values.

While the biological hypothesis seems to appeal to some tech workers, the notion that Silicon Valleys gender gap can be explained away by such factors is questionable. Prof Dame Wendy Hall, a director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton, points to the wide variation in gender ratios in computing internationally, which she argues would not be seen if there were a universal biological difference in ability between the sexes. While only 16% of computer science undergraduates in the UK and a similar proportion in the US are female, the balance is different in India, Malaysia and Nigeria.

I walk into a classroom in India and its more than 50% girls, the same in Malaysia, says Hall. They are so passionate about coding, Lots of women love coding. There just arent these gender differences there.

In fact, in the west, female participation in computer science has plunged since the mid-80s, while female participation in medicine and other scientific fields has increased steadily.

Over the past decade, even with a number of initiatives being set up to boost girls participation in coding and computer science, the proportion of female computer science undergraduates has continued to fall 10 years ago, the proportion was 19% of the UK total.

Hall believes that the gender gap and the male computer geek stereotype can be dated back to the advent of the home computer in the early 80s, when the machines were marketed heavily as gaming systems for men. She suspects this might be more culpable for womens low participation than men having evolved a mindset better suited to writing lines of code.

Women were turned off computing in the 80s, she says. Computers were sold as toys for the boys. Somehow that cultural stigma has stuck in the west in a way that we cant get rid of and its just getting worse. The skills gap is going to get huge.

Jane Margolis, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, agrees. Margolis interviewed hundreds of computer science students in the 90s at Carnegie Mellon University, which had one of the top programmes in the country at the time.

Many of the women at Carnegie Mellon talked about computers being in [their brothers] bedroom and there were a lot of father-son internships around the computer that werent happening with the girls, she says. There was a cultural assumption that the norms of being in computer science were that you would do it 24/7, were obsessed with it, wanted nothing in your life but computers and that was very much associated with male adolescents, she added. It was very much based around a male norm. Females were made to think that, if they didnt dream in code and if it wasnt their full obsession, they didnt belong or were not capable of being in the field.

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Former Tinder vice-president Whitney Wolfe, who sued the company over atrocious misogyny in 2014. Photograph: Jeff Wilson for the Observer

Prof Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist at Aston University in Birmingham, has studied extensively cognitive differences between men and women. She says that, while Damore pointed to scientific evidence for men and women having different aptitudes and personality traits, he seemed to miss the point that, even if there were well-established sex differences at any level, theyre always very tiny. Certainly not enough to explain the gender ratios of Google programmers even if you didnt want to get into the nitty-gritty of arguing about the science.

Rippons work suggests that, in many cases, the differences between male and female performance, if present, are very small, can disappear with training and are not consistent across cultures.

In one study, Rippon found that British men performed significantly better on a spatial rotation task than women. However, when the experiment was repeated with Chinese participants, there was no difference between the male and female participants. Other similar studies have found that gender differences in spatial rotation tasks disappeared when the researchers controlled for video game experience. Rippon points to another study, which showed that differences in personality traits between men and women varied wildly across countries, depending on the status of women in that society.

So, Damores suggestion that women are more prone to anxiety does not imply that this difference is a function of hormones or hardwiring of the brain. Plus, there is compelling evidence that unconscious biases have a powerful effect on what people expect themselves to be good at and how they perform. For instance, girls tend to score worse on a test if they are told their maths skills are being assessed than when they are told they are taking part in a study investigating how people solve problems.

Even assuming that there are fundamental differences between male and female cognition and personality, there is no clear, logical line between such findings in a laboratory setting and performance in the workplace.

Priya Guha, the UK lead of tech incubator RocketSpace and a former UK consul general in San Francisco, argues that, even by its own arguments, Damores memo missed the point. The description of an engineer as somebody who has their head down, focused on developing the next line of code, is the sort of engineer that wont be adding value, she says. We need engineers out there who are both very strong developers, but also people who understand the world around them and are comfortable interacting with society. So, by that description, women would be better engineers even by the stereotypes he proposes.

Unfortunately, many such multiskilled people are likely to be deterred by the perception of hostility engendered by claims like Damores. We have a historical challenge to encourage girls, let alone women, into careers such as engineering, which then creates an imbalance in the people who enter tech industries overall, says Guha. Tech has a particular problem in this area. Wherever there are instances of people creating a hostile environment, companies need to stamp that out quickly. His dismissal sends a really powerful message: the environment in these companies needs to be thought about to ensure that it improves day by day.

But Eileen Burbidge, a partner at venture capital firm Passion Capital, argues that tech does not have a significantly worse gender gap than other high-pressure industries such as finance or the media. I think it comes down to cultural norms and female representation in general, Burbidge says. It is what affects the rest of the business world: its around the same time that women start thinking about having families that they think about the opportunity cost of staying in a work environment, and if its not positive or they get negative influences its going to affect their decisions.

She argues that, in many ways, tech is better placed than most large industries to tackle its gender gaps. I dont think theres anything specific that needs to be done for technology: I think the tech sector is more introspective and likes to think of itself as more progressive, so remedies that work for other sectors will help here, too, she says.

In Stem [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] in particular, were seeing the tech industry trying to be more proactive about outreach. The industry is trying to have this discussion a lot companies dont always follow what they say, but they say it, at least.

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Computing is too important to be left to men … the late computer scientist Karen Sprck Jones. Photograph: Cambridge University

Peter Daly, an associate in the employment team at the law firm Bindmans, agrees with Burbidge. The clients Ive had from the tech world are pretty evenly split by gender, he says. But, because it encourages risk-taking, tech doesnt fit well with maternity and pregnancy, so that can be a source of a lot of friction. You see people in the industry who see pregnancy as a genuine problem. That, he says, is the main cause of gender-specific issues in technology at least, those that reach the stage of requiring a legal recourse.

Internal documents such as Damores are the soft end of the sort of hostile working environment female employees can face at overwhelmingly male tech firms. At the extreme end, as companies such as Uber and Tinder have learned, this environment can result in claims of sexual harassment and illegal discrimination.

At Uber, where 85% of technical employees are male, one engineer, Susan Fowler, wrote a tell-all blogpost that revealed a workplace where managers proposition female employees for sex and human resources does little to stop the issue. Tinder faced a similar scandal when former VP Whitney Wolfe sued the company over atrocious misogyny in 2014, entering into evidence abusive texts allegedly sent by Tinders chairman, Sean Rad.

Beyond the egregious cases, the wider culture of even the most diverse Silicon Valley firms can still end up being offputting to would-be employees: the campus-style culture, which encourages workers to be on site from dawn till dusk, renders it hard for any primary caregiver to be part of the team, while in some companies an antipathy for part-time work or on-site creches can also limit flexibility.

Addressing the gender gap isnt only an issue of perception. Companies with homogenous workforces make worse products and earn less money, argues Guha. We know large numbers of women are struggling to get funding. A female founder is 86% less likely to be funded than a man, she says. Thats crazy when we know the return on investment is higher; it is about 34% higher for companies with a gender diverse leadership. Its not about corporate social responsibility: a diverse range of thinking will bring better value for the company.

As we move into a future in which algorithms have greater influence on our lives from communication to healthcare, transport to the law the gender balance in tech companies goes beyond what is fair for their employees. The result of male domination of tech has led to the development of, for example, voice recognition technologies that, trained and tested solely by men, struggle to understand female voices. It has resulted in virtual reality technologies that disproportionally impose motion sickness on women. At this early moment in its history, the tech industry is already littered with products that have gender bias effectively programmed into them.

The most objectionable point about that memo was the notion that there are biological differences that make women less capable, said Burbidge. Obviously, I have an issue with that and I think its fundamentally incorrect. The thing I cant answer is how, in 2017, do you stop people thinking that? I dont know how you change peoples minds.

As we go into the world of AI, when people are designing algorithms that help us live our lives, it will be very bad if thats all done by men, says Hall. Social care, looking after kids, so many aspects of our lives. We really need as many people as possible doing this. Its really important and its going to get more important.

Hall invokes her late mentor Karen Sprck Jones, a pioneering British computer scientist who campaigned hard to encourage more women into the field. As she used to say: Computing is too important to be left to men.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/08/why-are-there-so-few-women-in-tech-the-truth-behind-the-google-memo

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Malala Yousafzai: notes from my Girl Power trip to Nigeria

In a few months Ill be starting at university. If only more girls around the world had this opportunity

Three days ago, I returned from my second visit to Nigeria.

Nigeria is the richest country in Africa, but it has the highest number of out-of-school girls in the world. When I first visited the country in 2014, the government spent 9% of its budget on education. This year its only 6%. (The international benchmark for spending on education is 20% of the overall budget.)

When planning where I would travel on my Girl Power Trip this summer, I knew I needed to return to Nigeria and advocate again for the millions of girls fighting to go to school.

In some states, particularly in northern Nigeria, extremism terrorises communities and makes education impossible for many children, particularly girls.

During my trip, I travelled to Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram. In a camp for people displaced by terrorism, I met girls like 15-year-old Fatima, who have faced so much violence and fear in their young lives but are still determined to go to school.

Boko Haram abducted me and wanted to marry me, Fatima told me. I later managed to escape. I was not in school until I came to the camp here.

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Inadequate government spending, corruption and poverty keep girls from getting an education and pursuing their dreams. Photograph: Tess Thomas/Malala Fund

Leaders in this area, like Borno State governor Kashim Shettima, are working against extreme challenges to keep children in school. When we met, Shettima told me hes determined to rewrite history through education for children who suffer so much under Boko Haram.

In other regions of Nigeria, inadequate government spending, corruption and poverty keep girls from getting an education and pursuing their dreams.

Kehinde and Taiwo are 14-year-old twins living in Lagos. In the poor community where they live, there is no public school. When their mother contracted a serious illness and couldnt work, the family could no longer afford to pay $70 per term for their private tuition. Today, Kehinde and Taiwo work 12 hours a day grinding peppers. They earn $2 a day or less, and use the money to feed their family.

Taiwo loves mathematics and wants to be a banker. Kehinde says shed like to be a nurse and help sick people like her mother. But neither of these sisters or millions of Nigerian girls like them can achieve their dreams without education.

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I knew I needed to return to Nigeria and advocate again for the millions of girls fighting to go to school. Photograph: Tess Thomas/Malala Fund

Nigeria has the means to help these girls but the government hasnt prioritised education. Thats why I met with the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, and asked him to declare an education state of emergency in Nigeria. I urged him, the minister of education and other leaders to triple spending on education, make budgets transparent and encourage all states in Nigeria to pass the Childs Rights Act.

Osinbajo said leaders would meet again in the next two weeks to address the education crisis and he agrees Nigeria must invest significantly in education.

Malala Fund and I will keep monitoring Nigerias progress. I hope my next visit to the country can be a celebration of many more girls going to school, learning and preparing for a brighter future.

My ambitions are high, but so are those of Fatima, Kehinde, Taiwo and all the girls I meet on my travels. I will keep speaking out until all girls can go to school. My sisters and I are fighting for a world where all girls can learn and lead without fear. I hope you will join us.

Follow Guardian Students on Twitter: @GdnStudents.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jul/21/malala-yousafzai-girl-power-trip-nigeria-women-education

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Congress Passes Bill To Recruit More Women Into STEM Careers

Update: We mistakenly reported that the pro-STEM bills signed by Trump were Executive Orders. In fact, they were Congressional bills, and this has now been corrected.

President Trump is infamous for his treatment of women, and we at IFLScience have made it no secret we find his administrations attitude towards science is one of near-total disdain. Thats why, when the Commander-in-Chief recently added his signature to two bills in the Oval Office bills designed to recruit more women into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs it came as quite a welcome surprise.

As per the first bill, HR 321, NASA must actively ramp up its attempts to recruit and encourage more young women into taking up STEM careers. NASA will also be required to report to Congressional committees with regards to how much progress it is making on this issue.

The second bill, HR 255, authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF), the source of nearly a quarter of all federally supported scientific research, to boost its recruitment efforts. Women graduating in STEM subjects will be aided in taking up STEM careers in the worlds of both academia and industry.

Although the fine details of the bills are somewhat lacking its not clear what encouraging means in practical terms its hard to disagree with the President signing off on these, which were given bipartisan support in Congress. However, things are not as benevolent as they seem.

During the signing ceremony at the Oval Office Trump said it was unfair that only 1 in 4 women with a degree in one of these fields ends up working in them.

This likely refers to the results of a US census back in 2012, which notes that just 25 percent of both men and women with a bachelor’s in a STEM subject find work in a STEM field, a problem linked to the lack of funding and career support for science in general. The figure for women alone was actually closer to 1 in 7 far worse than Trumps team have made out.

Just 1 in 7 women with STEM degrees go into STEM fields. US Census

This depressing statistic isnt just down to the well-documented recruiting bias against women in STEM fields it goes back to education, and how, from a very young age, most girls arent raised to think that they are just as able to become scientists as men are. Its not clear that the new Education Secretary, someone who has no experience working in schools whatsoever, has any plans to address this issue.

Mind you, its not ever been clear that Trump himself knows much about women in STEM. Back in 2016, when questioned on the subject, he dismissively said: there are a host of STEM programs already in existence.

And then, of course, theres the Trump administrations anti-science agenda. From a Cabinet stuffed with climate change deniers to enormous budget cuts to federal science research programs including a 24 percent cut to the beleaguered Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) budget these Congressional bills have cropped up at a strange time in the American political discourse.

Theres something decidedly paradoxical about encouraging women to take up STEM careers when it looks like there wont be many left by the time they graduate. Science needs funding, plain and simple, but every action taken by the resurgent Republican Party in 2017 amounts to nothing less than trampling on so much of Americas scientific legacy.

With this in mind, its worth pointing out that as the pro-STEM bills were signed, Trump also added his signature to one of his own Executive Orders, one that aims to review the way public waterways are protected from pollution under the EPAs Clean Water Rule.

This act essentially ensures over 110 million Americans have safe drinking water, and its backed by hard-and-fast science. This order seeks to weaken it just so fossil fuel companies can get away with a little more fracking and a little less regulation.

So yes, the signing of the STEM bills are a good thing but the wider picture confirms that Trump is far more of a threat to science than he is a friend to it.

[H/T: Chicago Tribune]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/president-trump-signs-executive-orders-to-help-women-take-up-stem-careers/

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The female gaze through 70 years of Magnum | Giles Tremlett

As Magnum celebrates its 70th anniversary, Giles Tremlett looks at the role women have played in the agencys story

In 1960, the Magnum photographer Eve Arnold spent a year following Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam movement around the United States. The white, female photographer and the leader of black Americas radical movement found they both understood the power of images. Malcolm X helped Arnold, though his followers were not always happy to see her and after one rally she found the back of her jersey riddled with holes left by the cigarettes people had been jabbing into her back. The result of Arnolds work was a series of pictures that included an iconic image with the sharp and handsome Malcolm X sitting in profile, his hat tilted forward and a ring on his finger bearing the star and crescent moon.

Arnold was a talented photographer from a legendary agency. Magnum was set up 70 years ago this year by a small group of photojournalists led by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and Chim Seymour. The agency was not just a leader in providing the definitive and often first images of mid-20th century history, it also recognised that women belonged to what Cartier-Bresson called its community of thought. By 1957, two of its 15 owner-members were women including Arnold and Inge Morath. Some of their pictures still lurk in our collective subconsciousness as categorical representations of certain people, places or moments in history. It would take the New York Times, by comparison, two more decades to hire its first female photographer.

For several decades, women were a small but core part of Magnums operation. Marilyn Silverstone, Susan Meiselas, Mary Ellen Mark and Martine Franck also joined. But between 1983 and 2009, only one Lise Sarfati was admitted as a full member, and she later resigned. It is only in the last dozen years that Magnum where nominee members take four or more years to make it full membership has begun to redress the imbalance.

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Iconic image: Nation of Islams Malcolm X photographed by Eve Arnold in 1962 during his visit to businesses owned by black Muslims in Chicago. Photograph: Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos

Arnold and Morath joined during the 1950s around the time early members, such as Capa, Seymour and Werner Bischof died. All had followed Capas rule that if your pictures arent good enough, youre not close enough and were killed, respectively, after stepping on a landmine in Indochina, being machine-gunned in Suez and driving off an Andean mountain road. Their deaths were a sign of the dedication Magnum expected of its members who considered themselves a hybrid of photojournalist and artist. They still do. That makes the agency notoriously anarchic. Magnums biographer Russell Miller describes meetings marked by tantrums and slammed doors. Magnum isnt a democracy, its anarchy, he says. A former employee was even more candid. Its like the inmates taking over the asylum, he said. Its mob rule.

Morath was a Magnum editor before starting to take her own photos in 1951. She became, among other things, a photographer of Hollywood stars and even saved the life of the Second World War hero, the actor Audie Murphy, after he injured himself during one of director John Hustons duck shoots. Morath pulled his boat back to shore by swimming in front of it and using her bra strap as a tow rope. In one of her best-known images, an off-guard Marilyn Monroe raises her eyes to Moraths camera, warmth shining through the glamour during a break in the filming of The Misfits.

Both Morath and Arnold befriended Monroe, and their photographs of her reveal their ability to build intimacy and trust. She doted on the pictures Inge Morath had taken of her, sensing real affection, Monroes then husband, playwright Arthur Miller, later recalled. Marilyn liked her at once, appreciating her considerate kindness and the absence remarkable in a photographer of aggression. Morath went on to marry Miller after he separated from Monroe. Their daughter, Rebecca Miller, is the film director and partner of Daniel Day-Lewis.

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Heads up: Katayoun Khosrowyar, Irans national under-14 football team coach, practices her skills in Tehran, shot by Newsha Tavakolian, 2015. Photograph: Newsha Tavakolian/Magnum Photos

Much has changed since the glory days. Internet and digital phone cameras are bringing more radical change but, as a new generation of women builds a presence at Magnum, some things remain the same. People often dont see beyond you as a person with a camera; they dont think of you as a professional and they let their guard down, says Olivia Arthur, an Oxford mathematics graduate who was an early recruit to the new wave of Magnum women.

Arthurs Jeddah Diary series, an intimate portrait of young women in Saudi Arabia, is a prime example of this unsought advantage. Her pictures speak of secret partying, alcohol, lesbians and hook-ups. Its an extreme example. But I had so much access to a world that couldnt even have been seen by a man, she explains. Arthur provides not just photographs but also text. She finds a festive atmosphere among women in a theme park, for example, where the only photograph she can publish is of an empty fairground ride. The lesbian crowd is at the bowling alley, hanging out, flirting, kissing, Arthur writes. Walking around with a girl dressed like a man, security approaches. Im getting complaints, she says. Women are afraid, they think there is a man here Cant you be more feminine? Some of Arthurs pictures were tantalisingly held below a bright light and photographed again to hide the subjects face. I had access to something that couldnt all be shared.

The industry is very male dominated, but when you make your work, personally I think its easier to be a woman, says Susan Meiselas, who joined in 1976 and links the generation of Arnold and Morath with the newcomers. Her entry into Magnum was an example of just how willing members are to take apparently risky bets on new talent, despite the famously rigorous selection process which now sees aspirants present three different portfolios over four years. Meiselas had made her name taking pictures of itinerant strippers in New England fairgrounds. These hung on the walls of the Whitney Museum in New York, but she had little experience of photojournalism. When in 1978 she set out for Nicaragua a country in open rebellion against strongman Anastasio Somoza she did not even know how many rolls of replacement film she could request (she asked for 10 and Magnum sent 100). Her enthusiasm was such that experienced hands soon warned she was taking the get close philosophy too literally. She turned into a much-praised conflict photographer. Her Molotov Man picture of a beret-clad Sandinista fighter with Mick Jagger looks captured both the bravado and, for some, the romance of battling US-backed regimes in central America during the 1980s.

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Sleepy princess: a young girl yawns during the annual Fiesta de las Cruces (Festival of the Crosses) in Abern, captured by Cristina Garcia Rodero, Spain, 1993. Photograph: Cristina Garcia Rodero/Magnum Photos

There has always been a tension at Magnum between art and reportage. Even stronger has been the tension between art and money. For years the agency struggled to make a decent profit. In 2010 Magnum sold much of its New York archive of press prints to billionaire Michael Dell who then gifted them to the University of Texas with an insurance value reported at more than $100m. The market is now pushing photographers towards the art side of the balance. Photographers like Arnold were given months to carry out magazine commissions, while todays Magnum members are more likely to be given days. As a result much of the agencys best photography is to be found in limited-edition books.

For some, this is a return to their roots. Cristina Garca Rodero, a Spanish member, had been taking photographs for decades before joining in 2005. Her first project had been an epic journey taking pictures of Spanish fiestas which took 15 years to complete and became a book. When we meet in Madrid she has just returned from India, and is considering setting out for Brazil to photograph Easter rituals. Her festival obsession means she now also travels to the Nevada desert for Burning Man, to Berlins Love Parade and to other erotic festivals. I guess I probably look at those in a different way to a male photographer, she says.

The degree of ambition and amount of work – required to be a Magnum photographer has been one of the blocks to women. Men do not always have the same impediments. I remember war photographers who were back in the field a few days after a child had been born, said Meiselas, who recalls at least one talented female nominee leaving Magnum because it did not fit with her family life. Arthur, who I catch in jet-lagged mode in London between trips to India and New York, shares her life and small daughter with a fellow photographer. Hes very supportive, and we are able to juggle, she says.

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A simple smile: Marilyn Monroe during a break in filming The Misfits, New York, 1960. Later Arthur Miller revealed how much she liked the Inge Morath shot. Photograph: The Inge Morath Foundation/Magnum Photos

Magnum photographers have, in terms of nationality, always been a diverse group. So what happened to women during that 26-year lull? Meiselas believes that, in part, the agencys history of incorporating women mirrors that of society and feminism with women photographers joining during the militant 70s and the bold early 21st century, but not during the low days of the late 20th century. Three of the nine photographers now going through the process of acquiring membership are women and Magnums foundation gives an annual Inge Morath Award to young female photographers wanting to complete a long-term project. One of the current Magnum nominees, Newsha Tavakolian, is the subject of a picture by another of the agencys photographers, her fellow Iranian Abbas. It shows her at work in a press pack among a bunch of short-sleeved, bare-headed cameramen. Tavakolian is the only one obliged to cover her head and arms. It is a reminder that in some places women struggle just to become professional photographers, making the idea of joining Magnum an almost impossible dream.

Magnums 70th anniversary is being celebrated throughout 2017 (magnumphotos.com/magnum-photos-70; #MagnumPhotos70). To order a copy of the anniversary book, Magnum Manifesto (Thames & Hudson, 45) for 38.25, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/apr/30/the-female-gaze-through-70-years-of-magnum

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Stephen Hawking Teaches Piers Morgan A Valuable Lesson In Gender Equality

Stephen Hawking may be a distinguished professor of mathematics, but he just schooled Piers Morgan on gender equality.

During an interview with the legendary British scientist on Monday, Morgan posited that the U.K.s roster of high-profile women in politics points to scientific evidence of gender equality.

But Hawkings response suggested the controversial TV host was overlooking a more important factor in the fight for womens empowerment.

It is not scientific proof of gender equality that is required, but general acceptance that women are at least the equals of men or better, Hawking told Morgan on Good Morning Britain.

If we factor in high-power women in Europe as well, such as [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel, it seems we are witnessing a seismic shift for women to accede to high-level positions in politics and society, he added. I welcome these signs of womens liberation. But there may still be a gap between those women achieving high public status and those in the private sector.

Morgan has faced harsh criticism in recent months for his vitriolic comments about women.He frequently engages in Twitter tirades against what he calls the feminazis and the creeping global emasculation of [his] gender. In January, he railed against the historic Womens March on Washington, deeming the event absurd and attacking its participants as rabid feminists.

Hawking offered a stark contrast to the controversial TV hosts views. When Morgan asked Hawking if he is a feminist, his response was resolute.

Yes, Hawking said. I have always supported womens rights.

I moved the admission of women to my college, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, he added. The results were wholly good.

Watch the full interview below:

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stephen-hawking-piers-morgans-gender-equality_us_58cfc7afe4b0ec9d29dd537b?mm&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

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Congress Passes Bill To Recruit More Women Into STEM Careers

Update: We mistakenly reported that the pro-STEM bills signed by Trump were Executive Orders. In fact, they were Congressional bills, and this has now been corrected.

President Trump is infamous for his treatment of women, and we at IFLScience have made it no secret we find his administrations attitude towards science is one of near-total disdain. Thats why, when the Commander-in-Chief recently added his signature to two bills in the Oval Office bills designed to recruit more women into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs it came as quite a welcome surprise.

As per the first bill, HR 321, NASA must actively ramp up its attempts to recruit and encourage more young women into taking up STEM careers. NASA will also be required to report to Congressional committees with regards to how much progress it is making on this issue.

The second bill, HR 255, authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF), the source of nearly a quarter of all federally supported scientific research, to boost its recruitment efforts. Women graduating in STEM subjects will be aided in taking up STEM careers in the worlds of both academia and industry.

Although the fine details of the bills are somewhat lacking its not clear what encouraging means in practical terms its hard to disagree with the President signing off on these, which were given bipartisan support in Congress. However, things are not as benevolent as they seem.

During the signing ceremony at the Oval Office Trump said it was unfair that only 1 in 4 women with a degree in one of these fields ends up working in them.

This likely refers to the results of a US census back in 2012, which notes that just 25 percent of both men and women with a bachelor’s in a STEM subject find work in a STEM field, a problem linked to the lack of funding and career support for science in general. The figure for women alone was actually closer to 1 in 7 far worse than Trumps team have made out.

Just 1 in 7 women with STEM degrees go into STEM fields. US Census

This depressing statistic isnt just down to the well-documented recruiting bias against women in STEM fields it goes back to education, and how, from a very young age, most girls arent raised to think that they are just as able to become scientists as men are. Its not clear that the new Education Secretary, someone who has no experience working in schools whatsoever, has any plans to address this issue.

Mind you, its not ever been clear that Trump himself knows much about women in STEM. Back in 2016, when questioned on the subject, he dismissively said: there are a host of STEM programs already in existence.

And then, of course, theres the Trump administrations anti-science agenda. From a Cabinet stuffed with climate change deniers to enormous budget cuts to federal science research programs including a 24 percent cut to the beleaguered Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) budget these Congressional bills have cropped up at a strange time in the American political discourse.

Theres something decidedly paradoxical about encouraging women to take up STEM careers when it looks like there wont be many left by the time they graduate. Science needs funding, plain and simple, but every action taken by the resurgent Republican Party in 2017 amounts to nothing less than trampling on so much of Americas scientific legacy.

With this in mind, its worth pointing out that as the pro-STEM bills were signed, Trump also added his signature to one of his own Executive Orders, one that aims to review the way public waterways are protected from pollution under the EPAs Clean Water Rule.

This act essentially ensures over 110 million Americans have safe drinking water, and its backed by hard-and-fast science. This order seeks to weaken it just so fossil fuel companies can get away with a little more fracking and a little less regulation.

So yes, the signing of the STEM bills are a good thing but the wider picture confirms that Trump is far more of a threat to science than he is a friend to it.

[H/T: Chicago Tribune]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/president-trump-signs-executive-orders-to-help-women-take-up-stem-careers/

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By Age 6 Girls Are More Likely To Think “Genius” And “Brilliance” Are Male Traits, Not Female

In a heartbreaking new study, scientists have discovered that gender stereotypes can start affecting children from as young assix, the age when girls start thinking of traits like intelligence, brilliance, and genius, as distinctly male.

Its no secret that there is an imbalance of women and men working in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In fact, in the US, where this study was conducted, only 30 percent of people employed in STEM positions are women.

Hoping to find out why this is, researchers from New York University, University of Illinois, and Princeton decided to investigate several possible factors, including whether societal gender stereotypes such as associating intellectual talent with males affected girls choices from a young age.

Their study found that girls as young as six believed that exceptional talent was a boys trait, and their male counterparts are more likely to exhibit “brilliance”. Its also the age they began steering themselves away from activities aimed at the really, really smart, choosing ones aimed at children who try really, really hard instead.

“Not only do we see thatgirlsjust starting out in school are absorbing some of society’s stereotyped notions of brilliance, but these younggirlsare also choosing activities based on these stereotypes, said senior author Andrei Cimpian from NYU in a statement. This is heartbreaking.”

The study looked at 400 children, half of whom were girls, between the ages of five and seven years old to evaluate their opinions and attitudes towards the notions of intelligence and ability.

Our society tends to associate brilliance with men more than with women, and this notion pushes women away from jobs that are perceived to require brilliance, said co-author Lin Bian. We wanted to know whether young children also endorse these stereotypes.

Using the phrase really, really smart as a childs way of understanding the adult concept of brilliance, they carried out several tests to probe the influence of gender stereotypes.

In one example the children were read a story about a really, really smart protagonist that was not revealed to be male or female. Afterwards they were then asked to select the most likely protagonist from among pictures of men and women. At age five, most of the children picked their own gender, proving they viewed their own gender positively, however the sixand seven-year olds mostly picked the male.

Another experiment had the children express their preference for two games they played, one described as for children who are really, really smart and the other for children who try really, really hard. Their findings showed that both genders were interested in the hard game but the sixand seven-year old girls shied away from the smart one.

Already by this young age girls are discounting the evidence that is in front of their eyes and basing their ideas about who is really, really smart on other things, said Cimpian.

Overall, their study highlights how even young children can absorb and be influenced by gender stereotypes that still exist in today’s society, such as that of brilliance or giftedness being more common in men, and this is having a detrimental effect on girls futures.

Because these ideas are present at such an early age, they have so much time to affect the educational trajectories of boys and girls, Cimpian explained.

The authors concluded in their paper, published in the journal Science, that women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance (such as physics and philosophy) because societys gender stereotypes harbored from a young age are likely to discourage womens pursuit of many prestigious careers.

The present results suggest a sobering conclusion: many children assimilate the idea that brilliance is a male quality at a young age,” the study states. “This stereotype begins to shape children’s interests as soon as it is acquired and is thus likely to narrow the range of careers they will one day contemplate.”

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/by-age-6-girls-are-more-likely-to-think-genius-and-brilliance-are-male-traits-not-female/

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People Across The U.S. Are Raising Money For Girls To See ‘Hidden Figures’

Hidden Figures, the hit film that tells the story of three black women who helped NASA send a man into orbit, has been praised for putting women of color in the spotlight.

Thats why people across the country teens, teachers and community leaders are raising money through GoFundMe to ensure young girls can see the movie.

One of those people is Taylor Richardson, a 13-year-old aspiring astronaut from Florida, who wants to send 100 girls to see Hidden Figures at a theater in Jacksonville, Florida. She also wants to raise money on GoFundMe for the girls to have snacks and get a copy of the Hidden Figures book.

Richardson first saw the movie at a screening at the White House and has since seen it three more times. She said the film was amazing.

Taylor Richardson
Taylor Richardson, a 13-year-old from Florida, wants to raise money for 100 girls to see “Hidden Figures” and get a copy of the book that inspired the movie.

I cried, I laughed, I got angry and then got determined to not let others impressions of me because of the color of my skin impact how my life will be, she told The Huffington Post. These black women did something I never knew about, and its not in any history books that Ive studied thus far.

As of Friday, Richardson has raised $2,540 of her $2,600 goal. She found the girls she plans to take to see the film from organizations that have impacted her life like the YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, See The Girl and Journey Into Womanhood. She wants them to go home after the movie feeling as inspired as she did.

This movie instills that us girls can dream big and make it even when odds are against us, she said. Most importantly I want girls to know that, like boys, they too can excel in STEM with hard work.

Several teachers across the country have also started GoFundMe campaigns to help send their students to see the influential film. After reaching his goal of $1,000, Peter Modlin will be taking girls in second, third, fourth and fifth grade who attend the Baltimore elementary school where he teaches. Modlin told HuffPost he hopes the students learn to dream big after watching the movie.

I want the girls to see this movie in hopes that a lightbulb might go off, he said. A lightbulb that signifies a belief in the opportunity to do or be anything they want to be, if they work hard to achieve that goal.

Peter Modlin
Second-grade language teacher Peter Modlin is excited to take students to see the film after reaching his $1,000 goal.

Like Richardson and Modlin, Phyllis Marshall raised money on GoFundMe so local girls could see Hidden Figures, and has since taken them to see it.

On Jan. 7, she took 50 girls from Roberts Family Development Center in Sacramento, California, to the theater.Shes worked with the center, which is in a low-income community and provides after-school care, for years.Through GoFundMe she raised more than her $1,500 goal, which provided transportation, snacks and tickets to the movie. Marshall said they loved it.

Phyllis Marshall
Phyllis Marshall took 50 girls from the Roberts Family Development Center, with whom she’s worked for years, to see the movie. She said “they loved it.”

Marshall was glad to be able to show the girls that women can succeed in science, technology and mathematics. She was especially thrilled to show them that women of color and their success deserve a place on the big screen.

I certainly hope as many young girls get to see that movie as possible.

Other teachers and community leaders are raising money for kids to see Hidden Figures, too.Check out their campaigns below.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/people-across-the-us-are-raising-money-for-girls-to-see-hidden-figures_us_5877d3aae4b0c42cb17597de?

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