Cripes Those Folks At The Yale Information Society Project Are Clueless, Or Something.

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Via Concurring Opinions we learn that the Yale Information Society Project is hosting a Symposium on Reputation Economies in Cyberspace. Already notable for excluding women from its conferences, despite the fact that women are the majority of Internet users, the organizers managed to put together a list of 20 speakers, of which 16 seem to be male. This despite the obvious raft of gender issues related to this topic, see e.g. this, this, this and this just for starters. I’d like to say this was unbelievable, but unfortunately, it certainly isn’t. The few women they have speaking are absolutely fantastic, but sheesh, four panels, four women, one female speaker per panel – could that be any more tokenizing? And yes, I realize there is one female moderator, but if we add her to the count we have to add the three male moderators too, creating a ratio of 23 men to 5 women participating, or about 17%.

–Ann Bartow

Update: Maybe they would start to “get it” if they read this?

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0 Responses to Cripes Those Folks At The Yale Information Society Project Are Clueless, Or Something.

  1. ssladler says:

    Isn’t the proper comparison group not “internet users”, but “people who study reputation economies in cyberspace?” I’m not saying women from that group are not underrepresented, or that women aren’t underrepresented in that group, but I suspect it is more skewed male than the population as whole. I know economics certainly is.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    The Symposium speaker list is multi-disciplinary. About 35% of cyberspace teaching law profs are female, or so some research I saw says; I don’t have time to dig up a link at the moment. In some potentially relevant subject areas like anthropology and sociology the numbers of female academics are even higher. There are a lot of women doing interesting work on this issue in a variety of pertinent disciplines. There are also a number of women working at tecnology and marketing companies who would have made good speakers. Also, it isn’t clear from the bios that all of the male speakers listed are currently doing on point research at the moment.

  3. Ann,

    I’m no stranger to you: we’ve chatted over email, and you were most helpful to me.
    And I’m no stranger to seeing gender bias at social/technology conferences. I wrote about this after attending a small Berkman conference in 2005 (an article which got dinged on it by the National Review, incidentally).

    I understand it’s difficult to convince people either way. I do feel that you have to go behind the numbers, if possible. And I did feel that that conference in 2005 had atmosphere which was particularly– it’s hard to describe, but how about– “man-i-fest”? Most of the talkers and interrupters were disportionately male. (nonwithstanding the fact that Berkman otherwise is tremendously inclusive) It so happened that within a few months, the issue of women op-ed writers, and women in the blogosphere amplified, and BlogHer was formed. By my own timeline, there was a direct path connecting these, but I accept that history is more complicated.

    I was at Yale this past Saturday. Yes, true, each panel only had one woman, and there more guys in the audience. But it did not seem to me– given my limited experience observing such conferences, and as an impartial male observer– that the conference was affected negatively.

  4. Ann Bartow says:

    Jon,

    This is a pretty complicated conversation you and I should have in person some time. Issues of “online reputation” have tremendously gendered aspects. I don’t doubt that women were discussed at the conference; certainly Solove’s book uses a lot of anecdotes involving female subjects. I just wonder why women’s views of these issues are treated as relatively insignificant, time and again.

  5. Ann,

    I’d be delighted to talk in person sometime. I did choose to post here (and over at Concurring Opinions) to merely offer a dissent, from someone who was at the conference, and also someone sensitive to the concern. I first heard of the conference at Beth Noveck’s blog, and signed up on Facebook for it (where anyone was free to air concerns). As compred to that Berkman 2005 conference, there were buckets of blog bashings before the conference about the suitability of the attendees.

    So I didn’t want to see your comment just hang there with no response from ISP.

    Still I keep an open mind. I can consider some tests. One, were there topics that should have been discussed? (I don’t know) Two, were the discussions skewed by a masculine bias? I didn’t see that.

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    So even an all male conference would have ben fine too, as long as you personally didn’t detect “a masculine bias”?

    Eugene Volokh made similar arguments about the gender composition of Federalist Society events, see e.g. http://feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu/?p=2034

    Eric Muller did a nice job dispatching them here: http://www.isthatlegal.org/archives/2007/07/why_the_federal.html

  7. I would agree that proportionate numbers for a deliberative body would ideal. I have a sense what they are for society at large; I do not know what they are for academics in law, or in this particular field.

    I would also assume that there is a wide margin of acceptance, and it could encompass 20%. I am not sure the 14% in the U.S. Congress is desirable, but we have to live with it.

    I would agree that 20% is better than the 9% at the Federalist society (that is, were I a member of it). But you also might consider the list of 30 people who gathered at the “open government working group” at the invitation of O’Reilly Media in Sebastopol, CA. There was one woman, Marcia Hoffman at EFF.

    Jon

  8. Ann Bartow says:

    Your point that other gatherings are just as unbalanced as some of Yale’s conferences, or worse, is well taken. But while the ability to change Congress is well beyond a group of academics, all that has to happen at Yale is for a couple of key people to care a bit about gender issues.