Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:As always, it only goes one way... (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49332593) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

Why the continual one-way focus on women?

Because they're usually the ones who avoid fields due to barriers to entry rather than due to choice.

To prove your point, you would need to find as many men who wanted to get into child care and avoided it due to discriminatory factors as you can find women who avoided tech careers due to discrimination.

While you could probably find at least one example in both cases, I'd be willing to hazard that the latter group would be much larger over a wide enough sample set.

Comment: Re:superficial (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49332509) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

It doesn't. Its got exactly nothing to do with how good a show is. The test is about how women characters are represented and nothing else. And its results are intended to showcase the misogyny in Hollywood and what that reflects on society as a whole. Its not a critical review.

You can have a completely crap show that passes the test with flying colors and you can have the most amazing movie in the world that fails it.

Asking whether the test relates to how good a movie is is like asking how color relates to the speed of a car. After all, most beige cars are boring family vehicles while most bright yellow cars are fast sports cars. Does that mean I can paint my Ford Focus bright yellow and have a faster car? No.

Likewise, passing the Bechdel test may in some ways correlate to better movies, but its a weak correlation at best and just adding a Bechdel-passing scene to an otherwise shit movie is still going to leave you with a shit movie (probably a shittier movie -- forcing in a scene that shouldn't be there is almost never going to make a movie better.)

Comment: Re:Someone doesn't undestand the Bechtel test. (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49332435) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

You're mixing up your existential operators.

The test isn't whether all conversations between two women revolve around something other than men. Its whether any conversation does. Only needs one to pass. The whole rest of the movie can be male-centric. But at least one scene has to show women being focused on something other than a man.

Yes, real girls talk about boys a lot and real boys talk about girls a lot. Probably even more than in movies. But in both cases, we also talk about work and food and whatever else as well.

And that's the catch -- in many movies, that "work and food and whatever else" bit is skipped over when it comes to conversations between women.

Comment: Re:This is stupid (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49332399) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

Its taken hold because its simple, easy to understand for a layperson, and is surprisingly (or sadly) effective.

I would say a passing Bond movie is exactly why the Bechdel test is genius -- it indicates that, at least in some small way, even a "guy movie" give the female characters some independence and thoughts of their own.

It might not be much, but its something (assuming that the scene had a purpose in its own right and wasn't just tacked on specifically to game the Bechdel test.) Even a small step in the right direction is still in the right direction.

Comment: Re:Bechdel test is a joke (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49332351) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

The original test is persistent because joke or not, it proposes a very simple way to define gender balance in movies.

This "new" test on the other hand is fairly useless because functions don't typically have a gender. In terms of the original (movie) version, this would be more along the lines of "a female screenplay author, who used at least one quote from another female screenplay author" without any further context. Screenplays don't have a gender (only the characters in them do).. quotes don't have a gender (only the character speaking the quote does.. usually.)

I mean its not _entirely_ meaningless. Certainly the chance of one woman's function calling another woman's function goes up the more women you have building functions.. but you can do a simple head count if you just want to know how many women you've got and this new test doesn't provide any deeper insight than that.

Comment: Re:discussion (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49332295) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

There's some research that men have a slight advantage in math skills.. but its very slight and even that is disputed.

But even if it exists, its certainly nowhere near the level needed to justify the M/F ratio in science and engineering fields.. not to mention the fact that pretty much everything in those fields requires plenty of skills outside of pure math that women have been shown to be equal or possibly (again very slightly) better at.

That said, you're technically correct -- our brains do differ slightly in terms of hormone production and whatnot. But as far as anyone's been able to tell, there is very little to no difference in terms of what we typically define as intelligence.

Comment: Re:discussion (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49332223) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

Baseball specifically I'm not so sure about, but there's plenty of "women's" versions of other sports -- basketball, hockey, soccer, rugby, etc.

I don't know that its really helping equality all that much given that the women's leagues tend to get little to no air time or media support, but its certainly better than nothing and coed versions of most sports could would almost certainly lead to all sorts of sexual harassment troubles.

And yes, people complain all the time about the lack of women in high-visibility sports.. its just often overlooked or outright ignored because sports viewers are also mostly male.

Its sort of the same reason why nobody really takes issue with the gigantic hulking men in comic books -- not because that isn't just as stupid a stereotype as the petite heroine with GGG breasts, but because its a stereotype that's geared towards the audience its stereotyping and so who's really going to complain?

Comment: Re:Here's MY test (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49330857) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

No, but when they get 2% of the credit there's a problem. And that's sort of the situation we discover whenever there's a large discriminatory bias -- the majority tends to overwhelm the minority and give them far less credit than they're due -- never mind giving them more credit than they're due.

In terms of employment, said credit is usually measured in salary dollars and we find in study after study that women and minorities are still getting, on average across the US, less compensation for their work than a white male in the same position. Generally speaking the numbers have been improving over the decades, but a quick jaunt to Wikipedia places it at around a 20% difference (2009 data) -- which is huge!

Not all of that discrepancy is explicitly due to discrimination but a good portion of it is, and of course that particular article is measuring the overall average pay discrepancy so its harder to read the explicit gender bias from the implicit ones (due to women tending toward lower paying jobs in general.. which has its own discrimination implications but at a much wider societal level.) But the article goes into some of that and I'm sure if you have a little more motivation to Google things than I do, you can find real studies with more direct comparisons.

Comment: Re:Here's MY test (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49330697) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

Absolutely. But 4+ years of getting harassed through a male-dominated college program likely disavows many of them of that idea before they have a chance to move on to the work force.

I think the OP's point breaks down into two points:
- Gender doesn't affect being a good programmer.
- Bad female programmers don't make it to the work force while bad male programmers do -- statistically speaking.

Thus if you cut out the bad programmers, you'd be cutting a large portion of males while only a small portion of females, and the remaining balance of good programmers would be significantly closer to the equality line (though probably still biased toward the male side I'm guessing, as there's likely a number of potentially good female programmers who also didn't make it to the work force.)

Comment: Re:Here's MY test (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49330571) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

Generally speaking, same problem.

The tests don't discriminate by skin color -- they discriminate by cultural and social background. In particular they're generally aimed at the middle to upper class American population. Which is predominately white Americans.

That is to say, the racial "bias" of the test is a side-effect of the racial bias in the population distribution, not a (direct) bias of the test itself.

And there's not really much that can be done about that.. if you gear the test to the lower class, you'll end up biasing (for better or worse) towards the "minority" populations (though there's still a lot of white people in America's lower class.) If you try to have two (or more) separate tests then you'll just end up with everyone claiming that they're not measuring the same thing and thus are incomparable or even that they're both invalid. Its a no-win situation.

A more interesting question is whether the test discriminates by gender. Males and females, even when they're equally smart by any measure you can come up with, don't process information in exactly the same way. I'm not sure how big those differences are or whether they'd induce a bias in an IQ test, but its a lot more likely than an impact based on the melanin levels of two equally affluent and educated people of the same sex.

Of course the IQ test is mostly discredited as an indicator of anything beyond how well you take IQ tests, even among its target audience, so this is pretty much a non-issue for most people these days anyway.

Comment: Re:Here's MY test (Score 1) 515

by Altrag (#49330255) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

Generally speaking, its because of all the non-coding factors involved both during education and in the work place.

Nobody gives a shit who wrote a function to be sure. But there's a much higher chance that a woman will be harassed for the style of shirt she wore when she wrote said function than a man would.

That's why this "function" test is absolutely stupid. The performance of a function has exactly zero relation to the gender (or skin color or sexual preference) of the person who wrote it. Basing your project design strategy around those factors is both futile and a waste of time and resources that could be put towards improving the product (or I don't know, improving the work environment so that this is less of an issue in the first place.)

Comment: Ugh. (Score 2) 68

by Altrag (#49330011) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Happened To Semantic Publishing?

The trouble is that this is both boring (for a person) and hard (for a computer.)

So nobody wants to do it manually, and while everybody's got an algorithm to mark up text, they're all terrible and prone to being gamed by unscrupulous advertisers.

How many websites have you gone to and seen some random word in the middle of the text that's bolded, double-underlined, larger font and a completely different color to really draw your eye to it (and away from what you're actually there to read.. ie: be as annoying as fucking possible) and then you hover over it and discover its a Wikipedia link to a house or something equally as pointless?

This has been the problem with "the semantic X" ever since link farms were invented. They usually don't provide a whole lot of additional information (if any) and they distract from what you're trying to see.

If you really want a semantic experience, go to basically any popular wiki. They're explicitly curated and therefore the links you find are (usually) actually both informative and relevant. Of course they do this by going the boring (manual) route and compensating for it by having a million people doing the job instead of just a handful.

Go back and read that "mundane" Wikipedia article about the house and, if you have even the slightest amount of curiosity about anything, can probably spend several hours link chaining.. there's links to construction, history, archaeology, anthropology, etc -- and they're all placed in such a way that they're relevant to the article and yet kept subtle enough that you can read over the ones you aren't interested in without a significant drain on attention.

Comment: Re:What's the point of the NSA knowing everything? (Score 1) 569

They don't need to sift through a trillion emails hoping to spot J.Random Terrorist if someone calls them and tells them where to look.

And even if they wanted to, that would immediately bang into the issue of applying mass surveillance of Americans. I mean everyone knows its happening anyway but as long as they keep claiming its "accidental" they can retain plausible deniability.

Comment: Re:Doesn't smoke or drink or have tattoos (Score 4, Insightful) 569

Or they'll find someone who will hire them based on their skills rather than their body art.

And then when they're 40, they'll be the ones doing the hiring. Its already not uncommon to see people with strange hair colors, tattoos, stretched earlobes, etc in various work environments, including interacting with the public. At least not where I'm from. In some places (particularly places like "trendy" clothing stores,) its getting hard to find an employee that doesn't have some form of body expression.

And that's great. As long as you're not doing something intentionally controversial like tattooing a swastika on your forehead, employers and customers alike need to stop giving a damn about anything other than the ability of the employee to do their job. The cashier with black hair who does a good job today can do just as good a job tomorrow if she dyes it pink.

"Be *excellent* to each other." -- Bill, or Ted, in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure