Women Who Wiki Workshop

There’s an old proverb: Action is the proper fruit of knowledge – which is why 1X57 is offering a free workshop (drawing upon our days of running training for the Intellipedia Sabbatical) in DC next week for women and girls to learn how to edit and contribute to Wikipedia.

Less than 13% of the Wikipedia editors are female. Sue Gardner, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director, shared Nine Reasons Why Women Don’t Edit Wikipedia (in their own words).

The reasons listed are not insurmountable. In fact, individually they’re all fairly easy to address.  Much of the solution lies in knowledge and awareness. But a solution is needed because a user-contributed encyclopedia primarily built by the contributions of twenty-something, single, white males inherently leaves gaping holes in shared knowledge. Or even worse, inherent biases.

Teaming up with DC Web Women‘s Girls Rock On the WebJESS3 (who will be hosting the event at their office in DC) and Andrea Baker and Kirby Plessas who will be our Guest Gurus, we have a sold-out event.

The invitation with full details is here: http://growwiki.eventbrite.com/

We also created a page for the workshop in Wikipedia itself and added the event to the scheduled future Wikipedia:Meetups list.

 

Where have all the women with gray hair gone?

I miss my grandmas. I was lucky and I had two wonderful women. Neither was perfect but they loved me and taught me so much.

Now I look around and wonder, where have all the mature women gone?

Is there a role in our society for them. Or, does every women have to a seductress with perfect features. Maybe they can only exist as extensions of the family, as moms or grandmas.

Everyday I look I look for something more and don’t find it. It’s as if strong mature women have vanished from my life and possibly society as a whole. I can’t remember the last time I saw a woman under the age of 80 with gray hair.

What do you think happened to them. Am I just wailing about my own loss or living in the wrong area.

Are there others out there without this problem?

It doesn’t seem so. The problems evident at so many levels of society and in my own life cry out for a mature woman. All my experiences with my grandmas remind me of this.

They provided the glue that kept many things together. The advice in the face of foolhardiness. Love instead of fighting. And the memory of good times and bad that bind us together.

I don’t see a whole lot of that in America these days.

Who knows…maybe I’m crazy and the feminists have got it all figured out. They know what they’re doing. Shatter those glass ceilings and prove to the world what you’re capable of.

Wikipedia: Gateway Platform to More Girls in Tech?

Ever since the Wikimedia Foundation announced its goal to raise the share of female contributors to Wikipedia 25 percent by 2015, I’ve had it in my head to make sure my 11-year old niece is adding her voice to the collective knowledge of the world.

It was with this goal of lighting the next generation’s torch that I ventured over to my brother’s house to hang out with the little genius who happened to be working on a homework assignment on her computer when I arrived. The assignment was to research and write a report on an invasive species – and she had selected the “mitten crab” – a species introduced to the Chesapeake Bay in 2005 and is currently being evaluated for its impact on the native Chesapeake Blue Crab.

As she was searching and culling the internet for information, I asked if she was allowed to use Wikipedia – she said yes. Then I asked if she had ever edited Wikipedia – she said no.  That’s when I gave her her first lesson in editing Wikipedia. We had fun, for over an hour, and it went off exactly how I first learned to edit Wikipedia back in 2006 when I was an instructor for Intellipedia.

The mitten crab Wikipedia page was the perfect page to launch her learning. Why? Because the number one reason people avoid contributing to Wikipedia is the feeling that they don’t have anything or enough information to contribute (per the 2010 survey conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation).

My niece and I quickly noticed we had something to add. The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center just announced it’s seeking reports of mitten crab sighting and collections. But this wasn’t mentioned anywhere in Wikipedia article – and we believed it belonged there.

To get her going I started with the basics – how to edit sections (versus the entire page), wiki-markup for things like links, bullet points, and bold text, the importance of including an edit summary. She picked it up effortlessly like the little sponge-brain she is.

In fact, her hand was on the mouse clicking “edit” faster than I could say “Whoa, Tonto!” First thing the following morning, she was reporting on the status of the page. It had been edited by a “crustacean nerd” (my niece’s words, not mine) but the bulk of our contribution was still there, including the line we added in the first sentence: named for its furry claws that look like mittens.

I don’t think doubling the number of females contributing to Wikipedia by 2015 is a difficult mark to hit. In fact, I think it should be much higher since the barriers to contributing are pretty easy to address. My experience this weekend proved just how easy it can be.

While wiki markup is just a syntax (similar to using Word), I can’t help but think that learning it could encourage girls to learn to program – as a gateway language so to speak – by showing them how fun it is to build and create something, moving them from consumers of information, to creators and builders.

If every Wikipedian took just one hour of their life to teach a girl how to contribute, the future of Wikipedia would be forever changed. Diversity is the key to survival and Wikipedia needs more of it – not simply to survive, but to thrive. Maybe there should be a pledge to sign – teach a girl to wiki. Or free classes led by Wikipedian volunteers. I don’t know, but I don’t think females aren’t contributing to Wikipedia because they lack desire or don’t have the time. I think there’s a barrier (albeit a small one) in education and awareness that once addressed will create a stronger, better Wikipedia, and in the process, perhaps will create a more technologically capable generation of women who can build the future they want to live in.

Post CES Take-away: In Vegas, women are discarded like unwanted Garbage Pail Kid cards

Or at least that’s the image that’s stuck in my mind after leaving Las Vegas for the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. Not the cool 3-D displays I saw or the latest breed of electronic vehicles and tablets and it’s not the image of topless women I saw during my first Vegas strip club visit (yes, you read that correctly, I patronized a Vegas strip club – and was surprised at how enlightening an experience it was). No, it’s the image of those guys and gals (almost exclusively Latino) on the Vegas strip handing out cards with naked girls on them for sexual encounters. Or more accurately, the image of those cards scattered all over the ground like party confetti wherever I walked.

Most people who know me would not consider me a prude. I’m pretty open and open-minded about sex. But the image of naked women carelessly strewn all over the ground bothers me. The image of anything so exposed and discarded bothers me. I don’t care how people spend their time in Vegas. I’m not passing moral judgments on individual life choices. You want to gamble, gamble. You want to pay for sex, go for it. You want to cover your balls in peanut butter and let your dog lick it off – those are your balls and your dog, not mine. I don’t take offense to prostitution, stripping or gambling (*although, thanks to Adam’s comment below, I’m not saying I’m a proponent of them – it’s just they invoke larger thoughts that exceed the limits of this individual post). What I do take issue with, or at least question, is the impact of people mindlessly stepping on images of naked women during their visit to a major epicenter of business in the United States. It makes me think of the Broken Windows Theory, where the norm-setting and signaling effects of urban disorder and vandalism promotes additional crime and anti-social behavior. Except instead of broken windows devaluing neighborhoods, the seemingly trivial “babes on a card” being passed out and tossed aside on the Las Vegas strip are devaluing women.

I can only wonder what impact it has on visitors from foreign countries whose only experience of the United States is Las Vegas and the strip. CES had over 140,000 attendees, up 11% from last year’s 126, 000 (even though visitor numbers to Vegas has been on the decline since the recession). The increase is attributed to attendees from foreign countries, most of whom were men. The irony is a lot of the gadgets at CES were geared towards women. But I’d say less than 10% of CES’ attendees were female (maybe 20% tops). It seems like a big mistake on the part of any seller to ostracize and neglect women – they’re a big fucking consumer demographic. Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases, including everything from automobiles to health care. If consumption is part of the virtuous cycle of production, I want women to be included in that cycle.

So what to do? Am I the only one who’d like to see the sex cards disappear from the strip? Am I the only one who thinks it could have a positive net impact for Las Vegas and its visitors – like when bars started banning smoking. Bar owners were terrified they’d lose patrons and money. But it turns out, most bar go-ers didn’t like the smoke, and smoke-free establishments actually saw a 20+% increase in sales. Maybe a sex-card free strip would actually draw more folks in. Besides, isn’t this 2011? There’s this thing called the internet. Hard copy is, in a word, archaic. Seriously, just bing it.

So I’m petitioning the city of Las Vegas to ban the sex cards. I think the gain would grossly outweigh any perceived loss. Las Vegas will be getting a new mayor – the man who has been running the city for the past 11 1/2 years is saying his farewell. Now seems like the perfect time to makes some changes and possibly make Sin City a little more seductive, a little more alluring and that much more attractive to visit.

If you agree, you can join the cause with me by petitioning @CityOfLasVegas via Act.ly to “Eliminate Sex Cards from the Strip”: http://act.ly/2yf (RT to sign).

Maybe the new leadership might take notice. Maybe the end consumer can actually influence the source. And maybe it’s better to act on Margaret Mead‘s quotes instead of just quoting her.

It’s the little things in life that count.

The Difference between Success and Failure is Will

Sometimes in life you don’t realize the impact of a person or event until you have the experience and perspective to understand it’s uniqueness. Few people stand out in my mind as having a positively illuminating impact on my life – I mean truly shine, like a lighthouse in the middle of a vast, dark ocean – and Sue Behringer is one those people.

Sue recently retired after 20 years of serving as Assistant Coach for the Severna Park Varsity Women’s Field Hockey team. Severna Park Field Hockey holds the state record for most State Championships, is the toughest team at the school to make, and it’s head coach, Lillian Shelton, is responsible for bringing the sport of field hockey to Anne Arundel county in 1975 when she created Severna Park’s team, then subsequently led the expansion of the sport throughout county.

Before my first year of high school, I had no substantive knowledge of or experience playing field hockey, even though I grew up a jock. Once I arrived, I quickly learned that field hockey was the most prestigious sport to play. It wasn’t football, it wasn’t basketball, it wasn’t baseball. The field hockey team’s level of success and excellence was unparalleled.

For my freshman spring semester gym class, I had the good fortune of having Coach Shelton as my gym teacher. During the indoor field hockey portion of class, Coach Shelton pulled me aside and asked if I had ever played. When I told her no, she convinced me to come out for the junior varsity team in the Fall. Which I did. And I made.

The JV team was headed up by an All-American Division I Field Hockey and Lacrosse player. While she and Coach Shelton had their differences, I flourished under Coach Petersen’s coaching and ended the year as the team’s leading scorer.

If I wasn’t a favorite of Coach Petersen’s, I certainly felt and played like I was. Getting the ball in the net seemed like the easiest thing for me to do. Until the next year when I moved up to varsity the next year. On varsity, I was not a favorite of Coach Shelton’s. As a junior I didn’t start and spent more time on the bench than on the field. I learned to accept this but my senior year, when I wasn’t selected as part of the starting line-up, it got to me. It affected my entire game-time playing ability. There were circumstances outside of just me that impacted my game performances, but I think the biggest factor was inside my head. Things I did in practice I could rarely repeat in games and it got progressively worse. The entire regular season passed by and I only scored a handful of goals. I remember one game against a relatively easy team where the ball was right in front of my stick, in front of the goal, and I didn’t move. It was like my natural instinct to score had all but vanished.

So there I was sitting on the sideline of a scoreless game at the quarterfinals when a time-out was called with only a few minutes on the clock. Coach Behringer pulled me aside and before sending me in, said:

“You’re going to score.”

“I want to,” I replied.

“Not want to. You will.”


Thirty seconds later, I knocked the ball in the goal, and it made a loud, thunderous clang that rang up into the bleachers.  The goal sent our team in the semi-finals. The newspaper write-up of the game didn’t do Coach Behringer justice. She knew I could score. I had stopped believing it much earlier on in the season.

I went on to do it again in the semi-finals, only in that game we were down 1-0. I scored with less than 10 minutes on the clock to tie it up and my teammate scored to send us to the State Championships.

In the state championship game, with 3 minutes left, we were down 1-0 but a teammate scored a goal to tie it up which sent us into overtime. But neither team could score. As the time on the clock was winding down to less than 2 minutes, our team was awarded a penalty stroke. Without even looking at the sideline for a cue from the coaches, I walked up to take it. I had no doubts, no nervousness, no awareness of all the people anxiously watching me. It was just me, the ball, and the goal.

I sent the ball sailing into the net. It won the game and won us the championship. But that goal started with the words ‘you will.’ There’s a big difference between saying you want to achieve something and saying you will achieve it.

I don’t know what would have happened if Sue hadn’t had that talk with me on the sideline before sending me in. Maybe I would have scored. Maybe not. I do know this: the people who don’t believe, who don’t give and show support, who don’t have faith, who don’t say ‘you will’ – they’re a dime a dozen in this world. The Sue Behringers of the world, however, are the reason championships are won, dynasties are built, and masterpieces are created.

They say in sports, it’s all in your head. It’s true in sports and it’s true in life. The outcome of every endeavor is determined before any action is ever taken. Thanks, Sue, for teaching me one of the most valuable lessons of success and life.

In Opposition to The Pill

I don’t normally write about sex per se at 1×57 but the recent 50th anniversary of the U.S. FDA’s approval of “The Pill” stirred up so many thoughts about sexuality, gender, childbearing, relationships, access to information, and the government’s role in all of this that I couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask questions.

I wouldn’t be speaking about this if it hadn’t been for an email Erin Kotecki-Vest shared that was sent to her in response to the ideas she expressed in a CNN piece – What ‘The Pill’ did:

Dear Erin Kotecki-Vest,

I read your piece on CNN.com and I think I know why you are not in God’s favor. HE will take your woman parts because you do NOT obey HIM. You deserve to have much pain in your surgery and to know HIS will.

I pray for you

SG

When I saw this, I couldn’t help but think (besides how sad the author is plagued with such ignorance and hatred) we as a society have a long way to go. For someone to show such vitriol over a woman’s ability to control reproduction means there is still a prevailing sentiment in our culture that fears women having control. Period.

In the past century, we’ve experienced tremendous change, both technologically and socially, with regards to reproduction and birth control.  At the time of my grandmother’s childbearing years, even after giving birth to five children and begging for a tubal ligation, it was still her male physician’s decision to determine when she had conceived enough children to warrant the procedure. She would go on to give birth to two more children, almost dying in labor with her last stillborn child.

During the time of my mother’s childbearing years, there was an entire generation of girls who “went away.” It wasn’t talked about then and it’s not talked about today but post-World War II and pre-Roe v Wade and the prescribing of birth control pills to unmarried women, approximately 1 out of 4 sexually active American women who got pregnant were shipped off to religion-based “homes,” where they were hidden away until they gave birth, then coerced or even forced into giving up their babies for adoption. I can’t imagine how painful or difficult this must have been. Nor can I fully appreciate how relatively recent this practice is – just one generation removed from someone my age.

Which brings me to The Pill and contemporary views on birth control. For all intents and purposes, I support anything that gives women reign over their bodies and prevents the situations my mother’s and grandmother’s generations were put in. What I take issue with is how pregnancy prevention is still considered, by a large segment of our society, a woman’s responsibility, although not necessarily a right. And I wonder what a pro-Pill society means for women.

Many women, young and old, view The Pill as a symbol of personal empowerment and yet I hear too many women say the reason they’re on it is because the men/boys they’re with don’t like wearing condoms. Are women being empowered by doing what’s right for their own bodies or are they simply trying to avoid “inconveniencing” men? Add on the fact that The Pill does nothing to prevent the spread and contraction of STDs, to which women are much more vulnerable than men, as well as the plethora of unfavorable side effects it can have, and The Pill doesn’t seem like such a blessing, which is unfortunate since the trend in the United States seems to be making The Pill the norm. According to the most recent government data, from 2002, more than eight in ten American women ages 15 to 44 had taken oral contraceptives at some point in their lives. And stories of teenage girls going on The Pill as soon they hit puberty are widespread. I can only imagine this thrills pharmaceutical companies, for which oral contraceptives is a multi-billion dollar business. This makes me a little skeptical. Anytime there’s lots of money to be made, I always wonder about the costs. And who bears them.

For all the women who love The Pill, I’m glad. I’m glad it’s had a positive impact. For me it’s had the opposite. Over the course of my adult life, I’ve been on ten different birth control pills – from Depo to Ortho to Yasmin. And every time it’s had some type of adverse effect on me – from horrible mood swings to extreme lethargy to a libido without a pulse. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced or experiences this, and this is what I find disconcerting. What if an entire generation of women grow up only knowing nothing else? I also wonder if one of the reasons The Pill is effective in preventing pregnancy is because it’s makes women not want to have sex. I know too many couples (too too many) where lack of sex is a primary issue in the relationship. I’m not blaming The Pill here, but I can’t imagine it helps the situation. Women’s lib shouldn’t come at the cost of a woman’s libido.

I don’t have a universal alternative solution for The Pill. For me, it’s meant the guy I’m with has had to take an active role in making sure our actions don’t create any unwanted consequences. It’s meant either using condoms or using the pullout method (an option more viable now that Plan B can be obtained over the counter). It’s been 100% effective in my relationships but it requires my partner have a sense of his own body and what he’s doing and it also requires trust, which, in my opinion, are essential components of a healthy sexual relationship.

I don’t know what the future holds for birth control and reproduction. Maybe it will be an ultrasound procedure for males (like the one being developed at the University of North Carolina) or maybe it will be an artificial uterus. I do know that no matter what technological advances we make, it’s very much a social issue that’s at the center of debate in government, politics, and business. And it will probably continue to be. But it’s a topic that needs to be talked about openly and explored, by both men and women. Relegating it as a women-only responsibility, considering it a topic inappropriate to talk about in public forums, and allowing any one body of thought to dictate the terms, doesn’t do anybody any good.

She’s Geeky…It’s Personal

My story: I was born on a Sunday afternoon to Linda and Charlie Senger. My parents met when my mom was transferred to my dad’s division when her boss wouldn’t promote her because she was – a woman. My dad had a package on his desk addressed to his good friend from college, who turned out to be the beau of my mom’s best friend in high school. I don’t believe in coincidences. I do believe in the virtue of tenacity. A couple marriage proposals later, my mom finally said yes and here I am.

A few important notes: 1) my mom had been married before, which produced my awesome brother 2) my dad is a geeky guy and a total sports fanatic – I mean FANATIC and 3) my dad always said he wanted a little girl. When I was old enough to inquire, I asked my dad why didn’t he want a boy. He said matter-of-factly he already had my brother and all the things he wanted to do, he could do with me. And it’s true. He taught me how to throw a ball and swing a bat as soon as I had the coordination. I grew up playing every sport under the sun.

Swing for the Fences

I also grew up with an older brother who was an engineer, straight out of the womb as my mom likes to say. I probably ruined more of his train sets, stereo, computer and guitar equipment than he’d like to remember. My brother is a smart, successful man but of all his accomplishments, his greatest achievement, in my opinion, is my niece. I adore her. If I never have children, I’m okay with it because my brother and sister-in-law already created this amazing human being who I have the great privilege of loving.

Which brings me to the point of my story. Over the years, I’ve watched my niece grow up. The kid is notably smart, clever, funny, observant, well-mannered, talented…all-around perfect. Not that I’m biased:) She’s taught me that children are either able to become the person they are meant to be or they’re taught to become mirrors of the world around them, no matter how distorted or tainted that world might be. The first time this point was thrown in my face was when she was six years old. We were talking about what she wanted to be when she “grew up” and she said a princess. Walk into any girls section of Toys-R-Us and it’s no surprise why. I told her she’d probably have to marry a prince to become a princess because although she does descend from royal lineage, she’s not in line for the crown. I said an alternative is President of the United States. And this is when she said the words I will never forget:

“Aunt Amy, girls can’t be President.”

The insolence I felt at the notion that this person, so capable of being anything she wants to be, would inherit the idea that she couldn’t be leader of a country known by the rest of the world as the land of opportunity reached Maleficent-level proportions in me. I told her, in a very serious tone, that girls can be President and she would see a woman President one day. And then  she apologized. For saying it. She apologized for the ignorance and discrimination and bias of the rest of the world.

Two years later, we were at the mall and the half-pint requested a visit to the book store. I said okay and asked her what she wanted there. In a very soft whisper, she answered. I had no idea what she said, she uttered it so quietly. I leaned down and asked, “What did you say?” Again, this time looking around like a cagey KGB agent, she whispered, “Pokemon.” “Pokemon?” I repeated. “Yes,” she confirmed. “Why are you whispering?” I asked. “I don’t want anyone to hear,” she replied. I started to think. “Do your parents not want you reading this?” I asked. “No,” she answered. “Then why are you being so weird?” And this is when my niece, who has never been into dolls, has never gotten anythings but A’s in math and science, who can figure out any gadget faster than I can, made the second statement I will never forget:

“Pokemon is for boys.”

The way she was acting, you would’ve thought she was running drug shipments for the Colombians. So I had a little talk with her. I told her if anyone ever questioned her interest in Pokemon, she would aptly inform them: That’s just how I roll.

Gamer Girl

My niece is ten years old and there are three responsibilities I feel very earnestly because of her:

 

1. I must leave her a world that isn’t trashed, literally.
2. She will see a woman President of the United States.
3. My niece will be able to grow into the individual she’s meant to be, without the confines of gender stereotypes.

 

The third responsibility is the reason I am supporting and promoting She’s Geeky. It’s why I’m being vocal about events I see as gender-biased and why I won’t be spending money on any company, product or event that discriminates or appears to discriminate against women. It’s why I participate in Ignite DC and the BvB DC charity football game. It’s why I started 1×57. I can’t expect somebody else to make the change happen. I’m responsible for clearing the path for whatever my niece is meant to be. God help you if you get in my way.

Who wants to be normal?

She's Geeky…It's Personal

My story: I was born on a Sunday afternoon to Linda and Charlie Senger. My parents met when my mom was transferred to my dad’s division when her boss wouldn’t promote her because she was – a woman. My dad had a package on his desk addressed to his good friend from college, who turned out to be the beau of my mom’s best friend in high school. I don’t believe in coincidences. I do believe in the virtue of tenacity. A couple marriage proposals later, my mom finally said yes and here I am.

A few important notes: 1) my mom had been married before, which produced my awesome brother 2) my dad is a geeky guy and a total sports fanatic – I mean FANATIC and 3) my dad always said he wanted a little girl. When I was old enough to inquire, I asked my dad why didn’t he want a boy. He said matter-of-factly he already had my brother and all the things he wanted to do, he could do with me. And it’s true. He taught me how to throw a ball and swing a bat as soon as I had the coordination. I grew up playing every sport under the sun.

Swing for the Fences

I also grew up with an older brother who was an engineer, straight out of the womb as my mom likes to say. I probably ruined more of his train sets, stereo, computer and guitar equipment than he’d like to remember. My brother is a smart, successful man but of all his accomplishments, his greatest achievement, in my opinion, is my niece. I adore her. If I never have children, I’m okay with it because my brother and sister-in-law already created this amazing human being who I have the great privilege of loving.

Which brings me to the point of my story. Over the years, I’ve watched my niece grow up. The kid is notably smart, clever, funny, observant, well-mannered, talented…all-around perfect. Not that I’m biased:) She’s taught me that children are either able to become the person they are meant to be or they’re taught to become mirrors of the world around them, no matter how distorted or tainted that world might be. The first time this point was thrown in my face was when she was six years old. We were talking about what she wanted to be when she “grew up” and she said a princess. Walk into any girls section of Toys-R-Us and it’s no surprise why. I told her she’d probably have to marry a prince to become a princess because although she does descend from royal lineage, she’s not in line for the crown. I said an alternative is President of the United States. And this is when she said the words I will never forget:

“Aunt Amy, girls can’t be President.”

The insolence I felt at the notion that this person, so capable of being anything she wants to be, would inherit the idea that she couldn’t be leader of a country known by the rest of the world as the land of opportunity reached Maleficent-level proportions in me. I told her, in a very serious tone, that girls can be President and she would see a woman President one day. And then  she apologized. For saying it. She apologized for the ignorance and discrimination and bias of the rest of the world.

Two years later, we were at the mall and the half-pint requested a visit to the book store. I said okay and asked her what she wanted there. In a very soft whisper, she answered. I had no idea what she said, she uttered it so quietly. I leaned down and asked, “What did you say?” Again, this time looking around like a cagey KGB agent, she whispered, “Pokemon.” “Pokemon?” I repeated. “Yes,” she confirmed. “Why are you whispering?” I asked. “I don’t want anyone to hear,” she replied. I started to think. “Do your parents not want you reading this?” I asked. “No,” she answered. “Then why are you being so weird?” And this is when my niece, who has never been into dolls, has never gotten anythings but A’s in math and science, who can figure out any gadget faster than I can, made the second statement I will never forget:

“Pokemon is for boys.”

The way she was acting, you would’ve thought she was running drug shipments for the Colombians. So I had a little talk with her. I told her if anyone ever questioned her interest in Pokemon, she would aptly inform them: That’s just how I roll.

Gamer Girl

My niece is ten years old and there are three responsibilities I feel very earnestly because of her:

 

1. I must leave her a world that isn’t trashed, literally.
2. She will see a woman President of the United States.
3. My niece will be able to grow into the individual she’s meant to be, without the confines of gender stereotypes.

 

The third responsibility is the reason I am supporting and promoting She’s Geeky. It’s why I’m being vocal about events I see as gender-biased and why I won’t be spending money on any company, product or event that discriminates or appears to discriminate against women. It’s why I participate in Ignite DC and the BvB DC charity football game. It’s why I started 1×57. I can’t expect somebody else to make the change happen. I’m responsible for clearing the path for whatever my niece is meant to be. God help you if you get in my way.

Who wants to be normal?

Feminism and Passive Sexism

A political leader (from Greek “polis”) is an individual who is involved in influencing public decision making.

That’s me. I can’t help it. I was born this way. Believe me, too, I have hated it in myself.

Still it has influenced everything I’ve done in my life. Up to this point I have been very silent about this. Only those closest to me were aware. Now, I’m ready to turn it on. I’m starting here.

Starting with my first stance. I’m making a stand, rather obvious one, for womens rights. Women have acheived a lot already but the game is not over.

Passive Sexism

First thing that happens when u suppress a movement like sexism is that it goes underground. It becomes backroom chatter, silent understandings, and hidden oppression. It becomes veiled in other causes (separate but equal) and is harder to identify.

You can’t fool a politician though, that’s our game. I recognize it and I will tell you, you can count on that.

I pledge to fight passive sexism.

Public Image

Ever been in a school? If so you understand what kids look up to and what they mimick. They will be the first to repeat the curse word back to you and copy your worst qualities.

Same thing is true in US society and culture. We don’t understand the true reality of conference panel picking or managment meetings. We understand public image and what you say.

It really is a dual challenge of walking the walk and telling people you are walking the walk. Can’t just be fair and open minded (walk the walk) you also have to openly state your open mind.

Until you do that you sit next to all the sexists that women deal with on a daily basis.

This is not about playing politics or crafting an image. It is about clearly distancing yourself from the sexists.

Otherwise, you leave it up to us to form our own opinions.

The Theory of Mind

“Theory of mind is that thing that a two-year-old lacks, which makes her think that covering her eyes means you can’t see her”

Anil Dash, December 2007

The mind is a powerful force but it is also a secluded force. It is all by itself and can never really ‘touch’ another mind. That’s why empathy is so important in our world. It is something we inherently lack and need to work at.

When it comes to sexism it is just as bad as racism. One can never really understand how it feels to be oppressed until you are. Then you take it seriously. Then you understand how important it is to make a stand and do whatever you can to help.

That is the point of the theory of mind. Its very hard to understand and emphathize with another mind. What you can do is listen to those around you. Notice when they are telling you something. You may not understand it but it will always come accross with passion, hurt, emotions, or a claim that it’s the right thing to do.

That is what I am doing. I’m hearing and seeing all this in my life right now. I’m also hearing a lot of defensive arguements and laissez faire attitudes.

As the leader that I think I am it is my duty to stand up and stake my claim. I believe I am seeing sexism. I believe that chips will always fall as luck wants, but a person can do the right thing in the meantime.

I want to see a better world, one without sexism. Please join with me and take this step.