I took a break from all…

I took a break from all the stress to read Tim Powers's charming The Drawing of the Dark, a novel about King Arthur and beer, essentially. Fun stuff, and well-written, as Powers's work always is. Another lovely contribution to yesterday's happiness was the arrival of a beautifully-worked silver fairy pin, a Christmas present from Jim. Thanks, Jim! It's lovely, and I plan to wear it at my hobbit party. I think I'm going to go dressed as Rose, Sam's hobbit wife. I think she's just the sort to dream about elves -- that's part of why she and Sam get along so well.

Yesterday's Kriti meeting went well, I think, though we had five very quiet new people. I hope I didn't scare them. They all signed up to do stuff, which is good. I need to write up the notes on the meeting and post them to the list. I'm not sure I mentioned that we're starting a South Asian/diaspora book club in Chicago -- the first meeting will be in early February. And we're now discussing doing some kind of group blog. Could be fun.

I made a good amount of curry for yesterday's meeting (chicken, mushroom, potato tomato pea, egg), which should feed me and Kevin today and tomorrow, with some left over. That's good, because any cooking from this point forward should go towards the party on Saturday. I need to pick up some raisins and currants, and then I'll make a couple mincemeat pies this evening, I think. The rest of the plan for today involves doing some writing (soon), followed by a last little bit of Xmas shopping. I changed my mind on what I was getting Kevin, so.

If you have RealPlayer, I really recommend downloading and watching a video clip from the author of Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women. She essentially summarizes the main points of the book, and does a great job of talking about why even with no overt bias on the part of men and women, and even when correcting for equivalent amounts of scholarship, hard work, etc., men tend to advance notably faster than women. Recommended both for any women attempting to move up a career track (esp. in academia), and for men and women on the management side of the process. Good for editors too, I think. It's an hour and a half, but you can listen to it while you do the dishes or the laundry -- that's what I did. Fascinating.

12 thoughts on “I took a break from all…”

  1. I am curious as to whether you think the occasional high profile exception to the “women progress more slowly” is a positive thing or is irrelevant? I am thinking, in particular, of J. K. Rowling and Oprah Winfrey. No man in their respective fields has made as much money at it as either of them.

  2. Someone asked this in the Q&A at the end of the presentation, and I confess, I find it an irrelevant question. Exceptions are exceptions — they’re statistically insignificant, and should be discarded from any analysis of trends.

  3. I agree that they should be omitted from the analysis of trends. The question I intended was whether you think they may have a jump-start effect which will benefit the larger population in the long run.

  4. I think it’s really hard to say on an individual level. Certainly having someone to look up to in general is likely to have a positive effect. I don’t have any idea whether they’ll have enough of an effect overall to counter the pervasive problems, nor any clue which women’s efforts are most likely to most inspirational to others.

  5. Sorry if you are getting tired of this thread. I don’t know whether I am correct in this or not, but my belief is that such people create the perception in the minds of both sexes that women are competent and should be treated as competent. I have had colleagues who have dismissed women as unable to be truly great mathematicians. But the spectacular success of a few of them has made this a less and less plausible view over the years. As one who never held such a view to begin with, I am not sure that I understand the workings of the minds of people who do or did to know whether they a) no longer believe it; or b) don’t say so since it is regarded as politically incorrect.

  6. No, I think that’s an accurate effect. But what she’s talking about in the book is a much more subtle thing — how even with people, both men and women, who have completely internalized that women can succeed, and succeed wildly in the field, you see bias against women in professional advancement situations. That’s a bewildering state of affairs, and she does a really good job of explaining why it still happens.

  7. I think you can download RealPlayer for free; there are instructions on the MIT site, if you follow the link. But of course you can also read the book. I haven’t read it, but Kevin has, and says it’s good.

  8. I have read the book, albeit three years ago. In a nice bit of synchonicity, I just succeeded in unloading my copy via Half.Com earlier this week; my recollection was that it was all but worthless. Interestingly enough, the professor who’d assigned it to our Women’s Studies / Anthropology / Linguistics class turned out to pretty much agree that it was deeply flawed… I was never quite clear on just why we were assigned it, except as an easy target making us comfortable questioning the readings. (This was the first work we were assigned that semester; better stuff that employed legitimate research methodologies and tenable reasoning followed later in the semester.)

  9. It’s definitely the same book.

    Unfortunately, I can’t provide more specific criticisms, because, as I’ve said, I read it three years ago, didn’t care for it, and no longer have my copy to consult. I remember my reaction, and that I wasn’t alone in it, but that’s about it. (I just tried to find my notes from that semester, but I don’t know which box they’re in, and the piles of boxes in the loft aren’t very easy to sort through.)

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