Recently, we (that is Page and Christina) successfully launched the Parisian installation of R-Ladies Global. It’s a meetup group and at the same time a non-profit coding club for all R proficiency levels, whether you’re a new or aspiring R user, or an experienced R programmer interested in mentoring, networking, and maybe picking up some new skills. We are a community designed to encourage, support and ultimately drive the development of our own R skills through a range of events, including meetups where members tackle hands-on tutorials and exercises to learn specific functionalities, informal gatherings, talks about latest trends, and debates. Our goal is to promote access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers and tools for women (trans and cis) and gender-variant people. Men are welcome, too, by the way. We just need a member to bring them to the next meetup. In other words, we try to be a harassment-free zone. Sadly, that’s easier to do when men are screened beforehand.
Meet Anne Scheel, PhD candidate at LMU Munich. She stood up and asked the author of the opinion piece on “methodological terrorism” for a statement after her keynote at the DGPS conference. Since tough questions in front of big audiences by young women are still a rare thing to encounter at conferences (and elsewhere), we were curious to know how this went down for her. And of course, we also took the opportunity to discuss the content of the piece in question. Continue reading An interview with a next generation methodological freedom fighter
I started thinking about writing this blog entry when I first read about the speakyourstory initiative in this insightful Nature column a few months ago. This initiative raises awareness of microagression in the form of subtle sexism in the world of research. Subtle sexism is often less obvious both to its initiators and recipients than overt sexism, but can nevertheless be quite harmful – or I should say could be harmful, since we know amazingly little about its real effects. Microagressive comments are, of course, not restricted to sexism, but to an abundance of topics people can be – often unintentionally – biased about (read more here or here).
Guest post from Page Piccinini (postdoc at École Normale Supérieure, Paris)
I’ve been an R user for about 8 years (with the occasional break, including that year I took off from science and worked as a real estate agent’s personal assistant). Recently I’ve started teaching an informal R course in our department*. How I went from being self-taught to teaching a course was the prompt for this blog post. Honestly though, it feels weird to say that I’m an R programmer, I guess because I feel like it’s been ingrained in me that I’m not really an R programmer. I don’t do the most complicated things. There are so many people who know so much more than me. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this disconnect, the fact that people come to me to ask for help in R and I (almost) always have an answer, yet I’ll still have those moments of panic where I think I’m doing everything wrong. I’ve decided my impostor syndrome can be reduced to a couple key issues in how coding is taught and treated inside and outside of academia. First is gender discrimination. This isn’t a new idea, plenty of women have discussed gender discrimination they’ve experienced in science and the tech industry. Second is how people outside of my field (Linguistics) view my field. And third, and probably the most unfortunate of the three, is how people within my field (and potentially science at large) treat each other when it comes to coding and statistics.
That women in science and in the professional world in general are subject to gender biases with real consequences (lower pay, less career opportunities) goes without saying. In this context, I find it important to be aware of how easy it is to be biased myself. Not in order to justify, but to better understand. I have recently made two experiences with my own and fellow female researchers’ biases, in situations where I somewhat slipped into a man’s skin.
Yesterday we announced CogTales on Facebook. And despite the fact that we used a wording like “perspective of female researchers”, we got a roughly equal number of likes, comments, and private messages from both genders.
I debated with myself whether or not I should share this observation. Because, what does the fact that I find it worth mentioning imply? That I was implicitly assuming all my male Facebook contacts were ignorant assholes that didn’t care about women?