The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Balanced Representation

There are a lot of interesting and irritating ways in which women and minorities end up getting shut out of society. When I read editorials like this one from the NYT or this one from the Atlantic, it just seems to reinforce the degree to which we can prove this and the importance of this issue.

There's one line at the top of the Atlantic piece which, for me, really captures why this is important. It reads: "... if you read my piece, you could be forgiven for thinking that CRISPR was almost entirely the work of men." 

This is the sort of thing that affects how people view the world around them - most of us don't usually go trawling for data to confirm or disprove our common sense and/or gut instinct (even thought we probably should). This is part of the reason why people don't think women make contributions to the world, and it's part of the reason why the pipeline for STEM fields is quite leaky for women. As the articles I linked to point out, it drives better reputations for more men, makes it easier to find and refer to them, and becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy after long enough - unless we take active steps to change that.

These articles also describe what we should do about it - go out and make sure we're capturing women's perspective as well, and double check our own work to hold ourselves responsible. (For the record, I'm at 33% - 2 women out of 6 people total - for the people I've referred to over the past five days, including this post.) Keeping track is a bit of extra work, but there's every reason to believe that the benefit society gets will be worth it.

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