Archive for Gender

She Invented. She Invented. She Invented.

There’s a lively discussion at Feministing over whether Google’s algorithm is sexist (it isn’t, everyone else is) and whether D&D fans are all misogynist teenage boys (all the ones I’ve known are). Turns out that if you search for “she invented” on Google you get as a recommendation “he invented.” Now, as a self-identifying geek, I’m fairly sure that it’s because people search more often for “he invented” than “she invented” more than for any other reason (certainly not because Google has some secret anti-woman-scientist agenda). But, I also think that’s sad. So, here are a few “she invented”s for you and Google.

  • Hedy Lamar. She invented radio control for torpedoes that used frequency hopping.
  • Madame C. J. Walker. She invented a special soap and brush used for straightening hair.
  • Maria Telkes. She invented a solar heated house, a solar oven, and a distiller for life rafts.
  • Hypatia. She invented the astrolabe and hydrometer, and was murdered by monks who believed math and science to be immoral.
  • Ada Lovelace. She invented the binary system used in modern computers, and developed the programming code used in Charles Babbage’s computer.
  • Mary Walton. She invented one of the first systems for scrubbing pollution out of exhaust (essentially an enormous bong).
  • Beulah Louise Henry. She invented, among other things, a vacuum ice cream freezer, a typewriter that made four copies of whatever was typed on it, and the first bobbinless sewing machine.
  • Gertrude B. Elion. She invented many different medicines, including Purinethol, the first leukemia treatment; Imuran, an immuno-supressent used in organ transplants; the antibiotic Septra; and Zovirax, a treatment for viral herpes.
  • Erna Schneider Hoover. She invented a computerized telephone switching system that eliminated system overload.
  • Stephanie Kwoek. She invented Kevlar.
  • Katharine Blodgett. She invented, among other things, invisible glass, poison gas absorbents, the color gauge (an amazingly accurate ruler inspired by soap bubbles), and a method for deicing aircraft. She was also the first woman to get a Ph.D. from Cambridge.
  • Mary Anderson. She invented the windshield wiper.
  • Helen Blanchard. She invented several different sewing machines (including the first zigzag sewer) and different types of surgical needles.

And if you want to see more things that “she invented” go to this partial list of patents awarded to women in the US.

BTW, I’m going to be contacting Google, asking them to fix their algorithm so that it doesn’t suggest “he” for “she.” If you want to do the same, their contact info is:

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
phone: (650) 253-0000
fax: (650) 253-000

I’ve yet to find a support e-mail address, but if I find one, I’ll update this page.

Update: Due to the large numbers of searches for “she invented,” on Google, “she invented” no longer triggers a recommendation for “he invented.” I’ve been out of touch, but it doesn’t look like Google made any changes to their algorithm. Score one for the wisdom of the masses.

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Why We Have Hate Crime Laws

I just read this wonderful article by Michael Dorf on FindLaw about Bush’s threat to veto the proposed hate crimes bill. He points out that, while it is possible to argue against hate crime laws in general on the basis of constitutionality, Bush’s real motive is more likely homophobia. Well, that’s a little obvious, but it needed to be said.

Anyway, I was listening to Thom Hartmann on Friday, and he and his callers were talking about the veto and why we need hate crime laws in the first place. Thom said that the reason we have harsher punishments for crimes motivated by hatred towards a certain group is because it is intended to spread fear. (Which, BTW, is not prohibited by the First Ammendment; see Virginia vs. Black. Fuck off, libertarians.)

True, but the main reason we must have federal hate crime laws is because local law enforcement (especially in conservative areas, where hate crimes are more likely to take place) tends to turn a blind eye to crimes against blacks, gays, transexuals, etc. Hate crime laws allows the federal government to step in and investigate a crime when the local authorities fail to do so.

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Okay, I Lied. Sue Me.

I’m really back this time, but posts may be sporadic until mid-May. Aside from finals, I get to go doctor-hopping again (yippee!). Long story short(er), I’ve been having back pain and numbness again, so I’ve been trying to get in to see my neurosurgeon. Unfortunately, he’s insanely busy, and I couldn’t get in for a month. I went to my family doctor, who said that I had very distinct chyphosis (hunching), which I didn’t have a month ago, and that a few spinous processes were missing. So, my grandpa, bless him, e-mailed his doctor, who e-mailed my surgeon, who phoned me and said to come in that night. So, I was up at OHSU Thursday and Friday, having tests run, and they’re stumped so they’re sending me to a metabolic specialist to figure out what’s wrong with my spine. So I’m sorry for the sudden dearth of intelligent commentary in the blogosphere. (No, the fiasco hasn’t popped my inflated ego.)

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I’m Baaaaaack!

It took me a few days to recover from those horrible pre-spring break midterms my professors cooked up for us (I love my professors, really, I just wish there weren’t so many tests in one week). But, I’m rested and raring to go. So, a quick wrap up of the news I’ve missed: Read the rest of this entry »

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Hillary ≠ Bill

I normally don’t talk like an obnoxious cheerleader, but right now it’s appropriate. Oh. My. God.

On Thursday, Meredith Vieira interviewed Barack Obama and asked him whether or not he will “make the personal issues of other candidates an issue in [his] race.” A decent question (though inane to anyone who has followed the squeaky-clean campaigns that Obama has previously run). The problem was the prelude:

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the marriage factor and how that will play in the race. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Newt Gingrich — all married multiple times. Plus, Hillary Clinton has had her marriage troubles as well. [Emphasis added.]

Yes, Hillary has had numerous affairs while her spouse was crippled by a car accident, refused to pay even a tiny amount of alimony despite her multi-million dollar salary, and announced her divorce shortly after Bill was diagnosed with MS. Oh, no, wait, that would be McCain, Giuliani, and Gingrich, respectively. Hillary Clinton’s “marriage troubles” consisted entirely of taking back the man she married despite several affairs. Which proves, at worst, that she trusts her husband too much, and more likely that she loves him despite his flaws and believes that marriage is sacred. Can we have a little less misogyny and a little more truth from NBC, please?

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Blog Against Sexism (Take 2)

God, I’m stupid. Five minutes after I make my post saying I can’t think of much for Blog Against Sexism Day, I realize I do have something to say. Hegemonic masculinity sucks. For those of you who know what hegemonic masculinity is (it might be limited to rhetoric students, I’m not sure), you can skip this post. If not, more information follows the jump Read the rest of this entry »

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Blog Against Sexism

Well, there’s a couple hours left in the day, so I figured I ought to try to participate in Blog Against Sexism Day. Since I’m not entirely sure what to write about (“sexism is bad” should be a “duh!” thing, and Feministing, Pandagon, et al. do a better job than I could ever do disproving the myth that sexism is gone), here’s a tribute to my parents (and assorted family members), who made me the male feminist I am today. Read the rest of this entry »

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