Ok, so this is kind of a disjointed post, but we’ve been sitting on several things related to science/technology and gender. I kept waiting to put them up because I wanted to have some useful commentary that went beyond “this might have something to do with why women often feel uncomfortable in the tech/gaming/etc. world” or “oh, ick!” But that meant I’ve never gotten around to publishing them. And so you’re now getting a random post with a series of things people submitted. Enjoy!

Will M. told us about Brain Makeover, a video on the Science Cheerleader site of James Trefil (physics prof at George Mason University) in which Philadelphia 76ers cheerleaders read scientific facts to increase viewers’ “scientific literacy” by making science more appealing (found at the Chronicle of Higher Ed):

As Mary S. pointed out, GQ recently had a “Rock Stars of Science” feature (sponsored by Geoffrey Beene) in which the only female included is Sheryl Crow:

rock stars of science

After seeing this, Isis the Scientist says, “I did a Creative Commons search for images using the search term “scientist” and downloaded the first pictures of male and female scientists I found”:

boy and girl scientists

Sigh. Another example of men as “real” scientists/geeks/techies while women are just posing as them is the reaction to a video recently put together by the Society for Geek Advancement. It’s called “I Am a Geek!” meant to increase geek pride:

NOTE: Commenter Kirrily of Geek Feminism caught something I didn’t in the video:

I’m noticing the breakdown of things mentioned by men and women in that geek pride video:

Men: Python, CSS, Javascript

Women: Twitter, Wii, iPhone

All the women are positioned as users of technology, and only the men are builders of it.

There was quite a bit of controversy within geek circles about the number of celebrities in the video being represented as geeks. Wil Wheaton, who is featured in the video, posted about it on his website:

Those people are not geeks; they’re celebrities who happen to use Twitter. Featuring them as “geeks” undermines the whole effort, because they aren’t like us. I’ve been a geek my whole life. I’ve suffered for it, I’ve struggled because of it, and I’ve worked incredibly hard to remove the social stigma associated with all these things we love, like gaming and programming. It’s like a slap in the face to be associated with these people who claim to be like me, and want to be part of our culture, but couldn’t tell you the difference between Slackware and Debian, a d8 and a d10, or how to use vi or emacs. In other words, they haven’t earned it, but they’re wrapping themselves in our flag because their PR people told them to.

I’m relieved. I thought the fact that on Friday my friend Brady and I are driving around to all the sites in L.A. we can find where scenes from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Angel” were shot made us pretty firmly geeky, but I know nothing about vi or emacs, so apparently I’m saved from this stigma. Seriously, there are all kinds of things you could focus on there–the setting of boundaries around a community, the definition of a geek culture, the decision to include certain things as evidence of belonging, the sense of victimization, etc. But this is a post about gender, so I’ll just let you meditate on those issues on your own (feel free to comment about them!).

Anyway, the point is, someone created this image in response to supposedly show the difference between a real geek and a wannabe, and the gender depiction is interesting (found at sbdc):


As sender-inner Jamie J. says, “Being a female who is into comic books and anime/manga and other various geeky things, I’ve always felt put out in the cold by the boy’s club of geekdom, and this is just another case.”

Simon O. told us about a presentation given at the Golden Gate Ruby Conference. The talk, titled “CouchDB + Ruby: Perform Like a Pr0n Star,” included images such as these (see the whole slideshow here; I just grabbed the first few, there are a lot more very interesting/sexual ones):

Picture 1

Picture 3

Picture 4

Geek Girls Guide has a description of similar incident at a programming/design conference.

Finally, Ken Kambara of Thick Culture sent in a link to the charming, um, game (?) “Mona the Ragdoll.” It was created as a demo to show off a physics engine for Flash. How best to demonstrate how awesome the engine is? Have a completely passive lingerie-clad woman you can manipulate like a limp doll:

The reviews of the demo at Newgrounds center around it being funny that you can put the arrow in her vagina or butt and that if you throw her against a wall hard enough, her boobs pop out of her back (and/or get partially torn off).

I truly do not understand the world sometimes. I do not get why those things would be fun(ny).

Related posts: science fiction, women, and war, Dell markets to women, info on percents of science/engineering Ph.D.s earned by women, PMS Tracker app, gendering robots, highspeed internet gets you your porn faster, better a seductress than a scientist, geek gender hierarchies, and nerdy girls are cool…as long as they’re hot.

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