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Women in Science 2015: The Computer Scientist and the Cleaner

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If I tell you a story about a heterosexual couple who are a computer scientist and a cleaner, would you have any preconceptions as to which was the man and which was the woman? You might not, but Google image searches show that the internet does.

Prof Ian Gent will use this as a parable about the vital problem of gender imbalance and stereotyping in Computer Science, perhaps the most important problem for the field. Ian will also discuss the Petrie Multiplier, a graphic illustration of how gender imbalance can dramatically affect the minority, even when the majority doesn't behave any worse.

Talk given at the Dundee Women in Science Festival, 18 March 2015

Published in: Education
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Women in Science 2015: The Computer Scientist and the Cleaner

  1. 1. The Computer Scientist and the Cleaner Ian Gent School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews http://ian.gent twitter: @turingfan 2015 Women in Science Festival #WomenSciFest
  2. 2. The Computer Scientist and the Cleaner Ian Gent School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews http://ian.gent 2015 Women in Science Festival #WomenSciFest Honestly, that’s my URL, try it!
  3. 3. Thanks to... The Women In Science Festival for inviting me … Karen Petrie for the Petrie multiplier … and one or two others who helped me with this talk …
  4. 4. Thanks to... Many people at St Andrews not least standup comedians like a sex researcher and Royal Society University Research Fellow, a historian at the University of Dundee, a professor, a reader, a software engineer and a postdoc from Edinburgh University, the former chair of BCS Women, the first female professor at St Andrews, a NewYork Times bestselling children's author, an antiques dealer in Wales, the Oxford University Student's Union LGBT officer, a high school teacher in Denmark, a postdoc at Liverpool, a freelance photographer, a beer researcher from Heriot Watt, , a rocket scientist from NASA, a swordfish cockpit swapping Mills & Boon author, a graduate of the first college in the USA to admit women, two pantomime performers from Fife and the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government.
  5. 5. The Computer Scientist and the Cleaner
  6. 6. The Computer Scientist and the Cleaner • Let me tell you a story. “The computer scientist and the cleaner had a long and happy marriage. One of their few arguments was when she forgot their wedding anniversary. But their marriage was strong and he forgave her.”
  7. 7. The Computer Scientist and the Cleaner “One of their few arguments was when she forgot their wedding anniversary.” • Let me ask you a question. • Who forgot the anniversary? • Was it the computer scientist or the cleaner?
  8. 8. The Computer Scientist and the Cleaner “One of their few arguments was when she forgot their wedding anniversary.” • Let me ask Google a question. • Who forgot the anniversary? • Was it the computer scientist or the cleaner?
  9. 9. C Unmoderated image search for “Computer Scientist”
  10. 10. Unmoderated image search for “Cleaner”
  11. 11. Who forgot the anniversary? “The computer scientist and the cleaner had a long and happy marriage. One of their few arguments was when she forgot their wedding anniversary. But their marriage was strong and he forgave her.” • Look inside your brain • Did you think the woman was the cleaner?
  12. 12. Tell me, was she the computer scientist or the cleaner? • I’m not going to tell you ... • ... it’s just a story • What matters is this... • If you’re a woman ... • ... and you’ve heard “he” for computer scientist your whole life... • ... do you think maybe that might make you think that Computer Science isn’t for you?
  13. 13. Allies • We need male computer scientists to be “Allies” • Men who think it’s important that both women and men are treated right in Computer Science • http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Allies • I hope I am one • I am trying to lose at Ally Bingo
  14. 14. Image: Concerned Feminists, 2014
  15. 15. Image: Concerned Feminists, 2014 I want to lose at Ally Bingo!
  16. 16. Image: Concerned Feminists, 2014 But will fill in this square…
  17. 17. Gender Balance The most important problem for computing
  18. 18. Gender Balance The most important problem for computing Aside: not the most important problem in computing, which is probably “P=NP?” or maybe “How do you write software that works”
  19. 19. Why the most important problem for CS? Why should we have more women in CS? Many people have given bad reasons… I only know of two good reasons, but they are overpoweringly good. • It’s right • Computer Science would be better
  20. 20. It’s Right • If a woman doesn’t want to do CS, that’s fine • But ... • CS is an incredibly rewarding discipline • If a woman is put off CS they are potentially missing out • That is NOT fine • Everybody in CS is responsible for making sure this doesn’t happen
  21. 21. Computer Science Would Be Better • “Computing's too important to be left to men” Karen Spärck Jones, 1935-2007 • Karen did a bit more than a cute quote • She invented a key technique for internet search ... • ... 20 years before the World Wide Web • Don’t throw away half the world’s talents! Karen Spärck Jones, imageWikipedia
  22. 22. But is it a problem now? • YES! • Even Scientists judge men higher than women ... for no reason! • Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students • Proceedings National Academy of Science, USA, 2012 • http://www.pnas.org/content/ early/2012/09/14/1211286109 In addition to determining whether faculty expressed a bias against female students, we also sought to identify the processes contributing to this bias. To do so, we investigated whether faculty members’ perceptions of student competence would help to explain why they would be less likely to hire a female (relative to an identical male) student for a laboratory manager position. Additionally, we examined the role of faculty members’ preex- isting subtle bias against women. We reasoned that pervasive cultural messages regarding women’s lack of competence in sci- ence could lead faculty members to hold gender-biased attitudes that might subtly affect their support for female (but not male) science students. These generalized, subtly biased attitudes to- ward women could impel faculty to judge equivalent students differently as a function of their gender. The present study sought to test for differences in faculty perceptions and treatment of equally qualified men and women pursuing careers in science and, if such a bias were discovered, reveal its mechanisms and consequences within academic sci- ence. We focused on hiring for a laboratory manager position as the primary dependent variable of interest because it functions as a professional launching pad for subsequent opportunities. As secondary measures, which are related to hiring, we assessed: (i) perceived student competence; (ii) salary offers, which reflect the extent to which a student is valued for these competitive positions; and (iii) the extent to which the student was viewed as deserving of faculty mentoring. Our hypotheses were that: Science faculty’s perceptions and treatment of students would reveal a gender bias favoring male students in perceptions of competence and hireability, salary conferral, and willingness to mentor (hypothesis A); Faculty gen- der would not influence this gender bias (hypothesis B); Hiring These results support hypothesis A. In support of hypothesis B, faculty gender did not affect bias (Table 1). Tests of simple effects (all d < 0.33) indicated that female faculty participants did not rate the female student as more competent [t(62) = 0.06, P = 0.95] or hireable [t(62) = 0.41, P = 0.69] than did male faculty. Female faculty also did not offer more mentoring [t(62) = 0.29, P = 0.77] or a higher salary [t(61) = 1.14, P = 0.26] to the female student than did their male Fig. 1. Competence, hireability, and mentoring by student gender condition (collapsed across faculty gender). All student gender differences are significant (P < 0.001). Scales range from 1 to 7, with higher numbers reflecting a greater extent of each variable. Error bars represent SEs. nmale student condition = 63, nfemale student condition = 64. 2 of 6 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1211286109 Moss-Racusin et al. • Male students were ranked higher in everything • The only difference between the male and female students was the names on CVs
  23. 23. If I Can Make it Here... Image:UniversityofStAndrews
  24. 24. If I Can Make it Here... I can make it in any … Image:UniversityofStAndrews
  25. 25. If I Can Make it Here... I can make it in any … Image:UniversityofStAndrews small seaside town with entrenched sexist attitudes
  26. 26. Sexism in St Andrews Sign on the all-male New Golf Club, St Andrews 1990s Now it just says “Members Only” But the golf club is still all-male Image from Ursula Martin’s Inaugural Lecture, 1996
  27. 27. Sexism in St Andrews • The University is 600 years old, yet ... • Its first female professor was a computer scientist! • Prof Ursula Martin CBE, now at Oxford • Yes, a 600 year old University’s first female professor hasn’t retired yet! • For 579 years we didn’t have a female Prof • The vote to admit women to the Royal & Ancient Golf Club passed on 18 Sep 2014 • For 595 years we didn’t have a female Principal • Prof Louise Richardson Image:QMUL Photo: Corrine Pickering Image:StAndrewsUni
  28. 28. Dundee Woman in Science • Actually St Andrews had a female professor in 1940 … sort of • Margaret Fairlie • First female professor in Scotland • Head of Ob&Gyn, Royal Infirmary, Dundee • Really Prof at Dundee University • then College of St Andrews • In fact St Andrews held up her chair from 1936-1940! Image:Wikimedia Commons
  29. 29. The Petrie Multiplier
  30. 30. • Karen Petrie • Senior Lecturer in Computing at Dundee • Computing graduate of St Andrews • And inventor of the Petrie Multiplier • (but not the namer of it!) Images: Ian Gent Dundee Woman in Science
  31. 31. The Petrie Multiplier • A thought experiment • Let’s assume no gender difference in sexism • Say 20% of people act like jerks to the opposite sex • And 20% of CS people are women • We will see amazing difference in result • http://iangent.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-petrie- multiplier-why-attack-on.html
  32. 32. Let’s start with 32 men.
  33. 33. Let’s start with 32 men.
  34. 34. Let’s start with 32 men. In pink of course
  35. 35. Let’s start with 32 men. In pink of course The boy’s colour
  36. 36. I am related to a woman (1) Photo: Ian Gent My daughters playing a classic computer game at National Media Museum, 2012
  37. 37. I am related to a woman (1) Photo: Ian Gent Aside: Can you see what game they are playing?
  38. 38. I am related to a woman (1) Photo: Ian Gent Doesn’t take my daughters long to see #EverydaySexism
  39. 39. “…because pastels” • Snazaroo face paints in Ryman, St Andrews • March 14, 2015 Image: Ian Gent, 2015
  40. 40. Image: Concerned Feminists, 2014
  41. 41. “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls.The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” -- Earnshaw's Infants' Department 1918
  42. 42. “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls.” Something to remember next time you catch yourself thinking some gender difference is inherent
  43. 43. Let’s add 8 women.
  44. 44. Let’s add 8 women. In blue
  45. 45. Now add 8 more men who act like jerks to women
  46. 46. Now add 8 more men who act like jerks to women
  47. 47. And 2 more women who act like jerks to men
  48. 48. And 2 more women who act like jerks to men
  49. 49. Remember! Each gender is equally jerky to the other
  50. 50. Let’s see what happens.
  51. 51. Some man acted like a jerk to some woman. Not good.
  52. 52. Some woman acted like a jerk to some man. Also not good.
  53. 53. 12/10/2013 18:00 Page 1 of 1file:///Users/ipg/Work/Talks/Sexism/images/petrie80.svg 12/10/2013 18:00 12/10/2013 18:00%3 Man Woman Lucky Typical Unlucky
  54. 54. 12/10/2013 18:00 Page 1 of 1file:///Users/ipg/Work/Talks/Sexism/images/petrie80.svg 12/10/2013 18:00 12/10/2013 18:00%3 Man Woman Lucky 0 4 Typical 0.35 5.6 Unlucky 3 9
  55. 55. 12/10/2013 18:00 Page 1 of 1file:///Users/ipg/Work/Talks/Sexism/images/petrie80.svg 12/10/2013 18:00 12/10/2013 18:00%3 Man Woman Lucky 0 4 Typical 0.35 5.6 Unlucky 3 9 Unluckiest man of 40 does better than luckiest woman of 10!
  56. 56. • 0.35 bad experiences per man • 5.6 bad experiences per woman • 16x as many • Ratio of bad experiences is square of gender ratio • 80% men : 20% women = 4 : 1
  57. 57. Petrie Multiplier: Lessons • With women underrepresented • Women experience amazing disparity of sexism • With no assumption that men are worse • So attacks on sexism in CS... • ... and statements that women get it worse than men • are not attacks on men
  58. 58. People really like the Petrie Multiplier
  59. 59. http://www.theguardian.com/science/life-and-physics/2015/mar/08/the-petrie- multiplier International Women’s Day 2015
  60. 60. http://www.theguardian.com/science/life-and-physics/2015/mar/01/given- a-multiverse-does-astrology-work-somewhere
  61. 61. Playable post by the awesomeVi Hart and Nicky Case
  62. 62. I am related to a woman (2) This is a picture of two computer scientists preparing for an event to get more women into computer science in 1992. Selfie taken using the awesome wonder of a digital camera! The woman on the right was then the smartest person I knew. She still is, and yes she is now my wife. Image: Judith Underwood and Ian Gent
  63. 63. Only one in the room • While I was helping try to get girls into science • I went to a meeting • About 30 women : 1 or 2 men • All the women were really nice • And I felt really uncomfortable • This has happened to me once • This happens to women in CS every day
  64. 64. Only one in the room • While I was helping try to get girls into science • I went to a meeting • About 30 women : 1 or 2 men • All the women were really nice • And I felt really uncomfortable • This has happened to me once • This happens to women in CS every day Image: Concerned Feminists, 2014
  65. 65. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it • Some guy’s computer in a lab was stuck • She tried to tell him that this computer needed to be left alone for 15 minutes • Then it would come back to life • All the regulars in the lab knew this • He kept hitting keys • cos what would she know? • In frustration she said... • “Just leave it alone for 15 minutes ... ... and don’t worry your pretty little head about it”
  66. 66. What can we do? • We can’t change today the gender imbalance • We can make CS a much nicer place for women to be • We can do three simple things...
  67. 67. Three Simple Things 1.Don’t be a jerk to women in CS 2.Don’t use sexist language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  68. 68. Not just women 1.Don’t be a jerk to disabled in CS 2.Don’t use ableist language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  69. 69. Not just women 1.Don’t be a jerk to non-whites in CS 2.Don’t use racist language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  70. 70. Not just women 1.Don’t be a jerk to people from deprived backgrounds in CS 2.Don’t use classist language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  71. 71. Not just women 1.Don’t be a jerk to mentally ill people in CS 2.Don’t use mentalist language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  72. 72. Not just women 1.Don’t be a jerk to transgendered people in CS 2.Don’t use cissexist language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  73. 73. Not just women 1.Don’t be a jerk to older people in CS 2.Don’t use ageist language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  74. 74. Not just women 1.Don’t be a jerk to gay people in CS 2.Don’t use homophobic language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  75. 75. Not just women 1.Don’t be a jerk to religious people in CS 2.Don’t use religionist language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  76. 76. Not just women 1.Don’t be a jerk to tall or short people in CS 2.Don’t use heightist language 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2.
  77. 77. None of the above? • Even if it was ok to be a jerk to a ... • Straight white privileged non-disabled non- mentally-ill cisgendered male of about your age, height and religion • (it’s not ok to be a jerk to him) • How do you know he’s all those things? • is it so obvious I’m on prozac? • http://www.depressedacademics.blogspot.com
  78. 78. Back to Women • Going to return to focus on women • Not because other groups are not important • Just to make it easier to talk specifically
  79. 79. 1. Don’t be a jerk • This is really simple to understand • Unfortunately being a jerk to women in CS is really widespread • I’m not going to provide examples • it would take too long • seriously, it’s almost unimaginable how long it would take
  80. 80. 2. Don’t use sexist language • I mean this in two ways • Don’t use language that implies CS people are men • remember the Computer Scientist and the Cleaner • leads to females feeling excluded • and subtle biases as in the PNAS paper • Don’t engage in sexist “banter”
  81. 81. 3.You don’t get to decide... 3.Understand that it’s not you who decides if you are doing 1 or 2. • This is really hard to understand • Maybe you think somebody shouldn’t be offended when they tell you they are • Tough! Guess what, they were offended! • You only have two options • “I’m sorry, but I deeply believe that X is true so I stand by what I said” • “I’m sorry, I’ll try harder not to say things like that in future”
  82. 82. Never say “It’s only banter” • "Banter" is apparently a free pass: I can insult you, but you're not allowed to be insulted, because "it's only banter". I can be obscene, but you can't be offended, because "it's only banter". No. If you're a grown-up, you know that your offensiveness may offend, and you either accept that or you apologise and don't do it again. Tom Chivers, http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/ 100141906/if-you-like-banter-you-are-an-idiot/
  83. 83. Better For Everybody “I want the world of science and engineering to be a world that embraces everybody” Maria Klawe, 2013 Computer Scientist President of Harvey Mudd College where women in CS final year went from 10% to 48% in seven years Image:HarveyMuddCollege
  84. 84. Another thing we can do is …
  85. 85. Talk about our geek heroines for Ada Hope I’ve done some of that today…
  86. 86. Talk about our geek heroines but saved the best for last
  87. 87. I am related to a woman (3) Photo: Ian Gent (or close relative)
  88. 88. My Ada Lovelace day heroine Photo: Ian Gent (or close relative) My mother Ann Margaret Gent A Mills & Boon author….
  89. 89. A Mills & Boon author Photo:Abe Books Photo: Ian Gent (or close relative)
  90. 90. A woman of calculators Photo: Ian Gent (or close relative) 4 bit calculator from sister’s doll’s house base! Curta Calculator TI-57 Programmable Calculator imagesWikipedia
  91. 91. Midair cockpit swapper Photo: LA(PHOT) Abbie Herron/MODPhoto: Ian Gent (or close relative)
  92. 92. Thanks to... Many people at St Andrews including a standup comedian sex researcher, a historian at the University of Dundee, a professor, a reader, a software engineer and a postdoc from Edinburgh University, the former chair of BCS Women, the first female professor at St Andrews, a NewYork Times bestselling children's author, an antiques dealer in Wales, the Oxford University Student's Union LGBT officer, a high school teacher in Denmark, a postdoc at Liverpool, a freelance photographer, a beer researcher from Heriot Watt, , a rocket scientist from NASA, a swordfish cockpit swapping Mills & Boon author, a graduate of the first college in the USA to admit women, two pantomime performers from Fife and the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government.

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