Archive for » May, 2009 «

blogging the numbers

I stumbled on an interesting post over at double X blog that roundly criticized much writing about how women have been affected by the economic downturn as “recession lite.” Its central complaint amounts to too much soft news, not enough numbers. The author—Linda Hirshman, a retired professor of philosophy and women’s studies at Brandeis—goes on to commend a number of feminist blogs and initiatives that are making a point of grappling with the relevant statistics, with an eye to affecting public policy.

I don’t know how accurate Hirshman’s overall picture is—though I picked up on it partly because I had long since become annoyed myself about all those silly depressionista stories about how Clipping Coupons Saves Thousand$! or When Mom and Dad Move In to Your Basement! Hirshman is mainly taking women writers to task for this, so I don’t know if she shares my (admittedly anecdotal) sense that just as much of this fluff is coming from men as from women writers but wants to hold feminist bloggers to a higher standard, or if she really thinks women writers churn out more anumerical fluff than men do.

If the latter is true, I am left wondering: is this one of the predictable downstream effects of an acculturation process that has pushed so many women away from mathematics in high school? Or an effect of longstanding gender assumptions in the publishing field, regarding both which stories women reporters should cover and which stories women want to read? Or both? Or, more optimistically, is the interesting story here to be found in the signs of a reversal, given that recent statistics show more women now take advanced math in high school and beyond (e.g. the 2008 study published in Science)?

OK, count me also guilty here of speculating about trends in the absence of good—make that: any—numbers. So tempting, and so dangerous…

Canaries of the gender system

Transgendered people are like the canaries of the gender system. Stuck at the seams, this NY Times op-ed tells the story of “gay” marriage when one member of the marriage undergoes a sex change undergoes the how complex a matter gender really is.

The difficulty of establishing any basis for “true” gender extends into areas like gender-testing in sports and how society treats children born intersexed.
Is My Marriage Gay?

Virginia Tech Conference on Gender, Bodies, and Technology

CFP also here
Virginia Tech’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program welcomes you to

This upcoming conference, scheduled for April 22-24, 2010, at the historic Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia, will showcase scholarship that explores the role of technologies, broadly defined, in constructing, reinforcing and destabilizing gendered bodies. As an assemblage of people and technologies, we view the conference itself as an enactment of this theme. Proposals for presentations, including performance art and new media as well as traditional text-based formats, are welcome from scholars in all disciplines. The topics that we anticipate exploring include, but are by no means limited to: new media and feminist aesthetics; gendered in/security and technologies of surveillance; technologies of development and eco-feminism; and the gendered production, design and deployment of technologies. (See the Call for Proposals for more information.)

The conference includes a keynote address by Jennifer Terry; a new, one-woman performance piece on aging and body image featuring Sue Ott Rowlands; and a plenary showcasing examples of new media and performance art that engage gender, bodies and technology through….gender, bodies and technology. The conference format is designed to be inclusive, provocative, and sociable. Continental breakfasts, buffet lunches, and evening receptions are included in the registration fee.

The Gender, Bodies and Technology conference grows out of a new, interdisciplinary research initiative at Virginia Tech, sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, which brings together scholars from Computer Science, Education, English, Science and Technology Studies, Sociology, Theater Arts, Visual Arts, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Our research interests include, among other topics, gender and aging bodies, flexible laboring bodies and immigrant workplaces, performance and new media as technologies for destabilizing gendered embodiments, gendered access to technology fields such as engineering, and writing as a technology of power. We envision the conference as a means to expand our lively internal discussions to a wider group of scholars.

For more information about substantive aspects of the conference or the Gender, Bodies and Technology initiative, please contact:

Barbara Ellen Smith, Director
Women’s and Gender Studies Program (0227)
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061

For more information about conference registration and accommodations, please contact:

Dinah Girma , Virginia Tech Conference Registrar
Continuing and Professional Education
702 University City Blvd. (0364)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

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