Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Data Banks

Each of us individually create a huge amount of data online. Some of this data we create explicitly, such as when we make webpages or public facing profiles, write emails, or author documents. But we also create a lot of data implicitly as a byproduct of our interactions with digital information. These implicit data includes the search queries we issue, the webpages we visit, and our online social networks.

The data we create is valuable. We can use it to understand more about ourselves, and services can use it to personalize our experiences and understand people’s information behavior in general. But despite the fact that we are the ones who create the data, much of it is not actually in our possession. Instead, it resides with companies that provide us with online services in exchange for it. A handful of powerful companies have a monopoly on our data.
Definition of monopoly: the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service
Definition of data monopoly: the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in an individual’s personal data

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Help! I'm Sexist!

The research studies I posted last Friday about the role gender plays in the STEM workplace paint a consistent picture: women face significant discrimination. Women are paid (and hired, and tenured) less than men with the same qualifications, and these gender differences are particularly large for parents. While women are often encouraged to address the existing disparities by advocating for themselves (e.g., by being assertive, negotiating, or encouraging diversity), research shows this type of behavior typically incurs a further penalty.

Instead, gender disparities in the STEM workplace are a problem that the entire community must address. Hiring managers need to hire more women. Managers need to promote more women. And peers need to accept diverse communication styles without the lens of gender.

Importantly, however, this does not just mean that MEN need to hire (and promote, and accept) more. Because the other consistent picture that arose from the studies I posted on Friday is that both men AND WOMEN discriminate against women. We all have deep seated biases that contribute to the problem.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Research about Gender in the STEM Workplace

Science Faculty’s Subtle Gender Biases Favor Male Students by Corinne A. Moss-Racusina et al.
In a study with 127 science faculty at research-intensive universities, candidates with identical resumes were more likely to be offered a job and paid more if their name was "John" instead of "Jennifer." The gender of the faculty participating did not impact the outcome.

How Stereotypes Impair Women’s Careers in Science by Ernesto Reuben et al.
Men are much more likely than women to be hired for a math task, even when equally qualified. This happens regardless of the gender of the hiring manager.

Measuring the Glass Ceiling Effect: An Assessment of Discrimination in Academia by Katherine Weisshaar
In computer science, men are significantly more likely to earn tenure than women with the same research productivity. [From a summary]