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View Diary: New guest bloggers -- teaser (233 comments)

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  •  Merit, not race, ethnicity or gender.... (4.00)
    Let me raise a question abstractly.  There's rightly an air of celebration about Los's posting and I don't really want to interrupt it.  AND I don't want to question any judgments being made here, in the special case of the  largely anonymous internet.  Still less would I second guess Kos; I've only been here a short while.

    On the other hand, those of us who have gotten into the firing line on the race and gender battles in academia have heard the comment "I decided on the basis of merit and not race or gender" many, many times.  Is there a problem with thinking one can even do that?  What is the evidence that human beings actually manage to judge on the basis of merit alone?

    In this context, perhaps it really is easy, because we don't know the race and gender of so many people.  Maybe even guys are assuming traditionally women's names.

    So the question is abstract, merely because Kos used the phrase.  BUT the evidence that we are all UNCONSCIOUSLY deeply biased in our judgments really is overwhelming.  That means that, like it or not, our judgments of quality are normally skewed and certain segments of the population get into positions largely because of attributes other than merit.  (Oddly enough, for example, almost all CEO's are tall; it is close to impossible for a short guy to get promoted to up to CEO (or so I am told on reasonable evidence).)  I AM NOT SAYING THAT THERE'S BIAS GOING ON HERE.  But this is such an important issue, and in fact I've been very explicitly engaged with it on two occasions in the last 16 hours - like, it's a huge problem in academia, for science and engineering, and until very recently for leadership positions, and even there progress is slow.  

    If you want to look at some of the evidence, have a look at:

    •  well... (none)
      the blogosphere medium certainly helps, as I would guess that most of the people in mind by Kos may only be known to him so far as diaries and comments.
      •  Isn't it odda? Removing a lot of the details (none)
        of personal interactions (the look on her face, the tone of his voice) probably makes some very good things possible, and probably also some pretty bad ones.  Like the flaming that can go on.
    •  I do know Kos is Kos and not Los (none)
      Geez!  I need a spell checker.
      •  My guess is (none)
        that if Kos picks a slate of 5 and non are Y chromosome challenged, some might try and read the tea leaves that Kos is therefore a closet misogynist or something. Or if there are no black, or asian, etc. the same thing about "race". Given the flame-wars back in the pie-fights of yore, I don't think it is being wildly off the mark to see that potitnatial accusation being hurled no matter what.

        Just sayin'


        Mitch Gore

        Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

        by Lestatdelc on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 11:33:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's interesting... (none)
          Given how many good women's names (I say this carefully!) were on the recommended list, I'd think it was extraordinary if none were chosen.  BUT, in my humble opinion, we'd need to realize that so much bias is NOT conscious.  So rather than hurl negative epithets, we should try to figure out what would have made it possible.

          And then scream and shout. ;)

          •  would it help (none)
            if i was a black lesbian handicapped muslim?
            •  help in what way? (none)
              I don't get it.
            •  Wait! Now I see. You mistakenly think (none)
              I might be suggesting that someone should be picked to be FP because she is black, etc.  No, I didn't say that.

              I try very hard not to think those qualities have anything to do with quality, which means I fit against the racism, sexism, etc., that the evidence shows we all internalize.  

              Do I think that someone would NOT be picked because she is a black, lesbian handicapped muslim?  I couldn't possibly know that's true here, and I would assume it is not.  But I do know with absolute certainty that such a person would have a hard time getting taken seriously in any institution I have been in, regardless of how bright she is.  It's not impossible, but she'd have a much harder road than those of us who meet all the standard expectations.  Just as short guys do NOT generally get promoted to the top.  If you doubt that, look at the reference I gave above.

              Here's a for starters:  Suppose such a person is being interviewed for a job with some responsibility.  If she is assertive, the evidence points strongly to her being experienced as unacceptably bitchy.  If she is not assertive, she'll be judged unacceptably passive.  So she'll be judged unacceptable.  Believe me, the evidence really is there.  

              •  sometimes (none)
                a joke is just a joke...
                •  Even if it is a standard right-wing cliche? (none)
                  Maybe you didn't realize that...

                  There's an interesting question - it's related to the question that's been discussed here about so-called "rape jokes".  We probably share the perspective that there can't be any jokes about the Holocaust or about KKK hangings; that is, we're not going find anything funny.  

                  That one of us can take your comment as a joke and one of us can't says something very telling about our different perspectives.  Probably you haven't spent your life been downgraded and devalued time and time again.  

                  Let me give you an example (the telling of which  depends on our assuming JPete is my real name):  Recently a colleague of mine met my husband, to whom he said, "I'm so glad to meet you; I always figured that most of jpete's ideas were really coming from you."  Now my husband is not in my field and he doesn't get involved in the political actions I do, but nonetheless, people think that I must be getting any of my  good ideas from somewhere else.  AND this is in a university where we all have PhD's, for god's sake.  And stuff like this is going on damn near every day of my life.

    •  Well stated. Thank you. (4.00)
      I appreciate your insights and perceptive comments on this topic. Race, ethnicity and gender are very important topics in crafting a Democratic (and democratic) agenda for 2006.

      From my experience that kind of comment typically comes from one who is "one rung up" on the ladder and doesn't fully appreciate the obstacles faced by others moving through the system.

      I think it's important to have front pagers who live those experiences, particularly during this coming election cycle.

      •  Your comment about lived experience (none)
        and what we need in the election cycle is really important.  This might be a very different world, for example, if perspectives like Cindy's were more visible in DC.
    •  Valid point (none)
      and I can do the "merit" thing here because of the vastly more meritocratic nature of the web. The only institutional barriers to those who want to participate are financial (if someone can't afford internet access or a computer).

      And of those who participate, 80 percent of the time I have no clue whether they are male or female, black, white, asian, latino, or anything else.

      It's telling that in this more genuinely merit-based system, the guest bloggers have been an extremely diverse bunch without a need to artificially create that diversity.

      •  Thanks! I'm glad you saw I wasn't accusing you (none)
        of anything!

        That said, I'd raise a question or two about how complete the meritocracy is. (NOT that you said it was complete.)  Even with most clues about a person's standard identity missing, there are all sorts of ways that social contexts get created which end up excluding people.  It's seemed to me that women's voices are getting stronger here, but DKos has had a reputation with some people for not paying much attention to them and the political issues that affect the lives of over 50% of the population. (I really don't know that that's justified, but it is part of what I had heard.)  

        I know the very painful Thanksgiving-tears scene was taken by many to be largely a bit of hysteria, but social forms and kinds of discourse can make people feel so marginalized and/or fed up that they end up throwing away all the social rules and screaming out.  

      •  will you consider (none)
        the suggestion made in this recommended diary to allow Armando to continue front page posting on the ongoing SCOTUS battle through its duration, 24/7 rather than just on weekends, given the rapidly moving and very time-sensitive character of events?

        I know that this would constitute a slight innovation of tradition, but seems to me that this open seat constitutes extraordinary circumstances, and many of us feel that his expert commentary and leadership on this issue is invaluable.

        This temporary innovation can be confined to this one singal issue, and obviously this issue won't go on forever.

        remember your humanity, and forget the rest

        by human on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:22:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Do men write better than women? (none)
      There are thousands and thousands and thousands of writers on this site.  Some of them are very good writers.  "I choose based on merit, not sex, ethnicity, or any of that stuff" is a canard.

      If - and I'm not saying this is what's happened - but if out of five new front page posters, none are women, or only one is a woman - what does that say about the choices? It says that one of two things is going on:

      a) Either there is some conscious or unconscious bias going on - since it is absurd to claim that men write 80% better than women - or
      b) There aren't enough women writers on the site.

      Either one is a very serious issue that ought to be looked at.  Inclusiveness is important.  Valuing women and minorities is important.  A variety of life perspectives is important. I know there are people who disagree, but they're wrong.

      Ditto all this for ethnicity, etc.

      How can we get over it when people died for the right to vote? -- John Lewis

      by furryjester on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 12:29:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I think you did a much better job than I (none)
        did of getting at the fact that it might be the site's problem if there aren't many women writers here.  I was trying to say this in response to Kos.  

        I have the sense that women's voices are getting stronger, but maybe I'm just learning how to find them on the site.  

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