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back to article Sci/Tech quango promises an end to 'events with no women'

Sci-tech quango Nesta has announced a ban on all-male panels at its events in a bid to challenge the blokeyness endemic in the fields it covers. The quango, nowadays officially a charity but one which spends lottery money on "innovation" (more here) promised to actively seek out women to chair public meetings and debates. It …

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Jobs for the girls

This is not the result of any attempt to provide balanced representation. Note how they are making no effort to increase the representation of ethnic minorities, or those whose background is not from the "right" universities.

It's tokenism which is engineered to look good for the BBC with the agenda for better opportunities for white middle class women,

If you genuinely wanted more women, then you'd spend some effort training promising ones to get to a position where they had something useful to say about technology. They do exist, some are excellent enough that I notes when they speak.

But that's work isn't it ?

It takes time and effort, but this sort of tokenism gives an impression of utility without taking time away from golf.

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Meh

Re: Jobs for the girls

"Note how they are making no effort to increase the representation of ethnic minorities, or those whose background is not from the "right" universities."

You obviously missed this bit in the article:

"It claimed the initiative was just the beginning of a drive to "challenge dominant ethnic, class and disability representation in public life"."

That said I totally agree with the rest of what you said...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jobs for the girls

I teach computing science at a University. We go to a reasonable amount of effort to address gender imbalance. The difficulty that we have is, right from the start, less than 10% of applications come from women. It's hard to overcome this. This is not a British problem; it's consistent across most of the EU and the US. It doesn't happen in Japan, where the split is more even. Nor does it happen in other technical disciplines; in my other field of biology it's closer to 50/50.

Everybody is open for a solution. If you have one, as opposed to just offering criticism, I am sure that everyone would be happy.

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Boffin

Re: Jobs for the girls

It's weird to assume both genders will gravitate to the same interests even if all other things being equal. There's no single thread of evidence yet to be found that they do. And computer science is highly interest driven. So it's not a problem waiting to be solved. It's a problem waiting to stop being called a problem. But one solution could be to introduce relevant computing science classes and programs at the biology department itself: the mountain going to Mohammed, so to speak.

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Mushroom

Re: Jobs for the girls

I totally agree. Always need someone to serve the coffees and to be the booth babes for whatever vendor products are on display....

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FAIL

Re: Jobs for the girls

Surely it's weird to assume the genders WOULD gravitate to different interests if all other things are equal. Why on earth should the fact that men have dangly bits & women have lumpy bits affect areas of interest and therefore career choices?

We can all see that there IS an overall difference in interest areas, but that's going to be down to conditioning at an early age more than intrinsic differences between the sexes.

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Stop

Gender over Quality?

"The quango, nowadays officially a charity but one which spends lottery money on "innovation" (more here) promised to actively seek out women to chair public meetings and debates."

History shows us that there have been numerous of attempts in a dozen different environments to try and get more women involved with $environment. Unfortunately more than often resulting in people focussing almost entirely on gender and not so much on qualifications any longer.

Heck; within our local (Dutch) government there have been situations where a better qualified man was turned down for a lesser qualified woman (the not to great qualifications became apparent at a later time). And only for the sole purpose of getting more females on board.

So pardon me for considering this a failure in the making. Not only is it unfair towards the public who sometimes no longer gets the quality they're used to, but it's also extremely unfair towards the women who were hired based on their gender instead of their qualifications. Especially if they end up becoming quite unpopular with the public. In those cases the public portraits the fail on the person in question, while in fact the real guilty party remains safely behind the scenes in the shadows.

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Happy

Re: Gender over Quality?

Incompetence has never been a disqualifying factor for males in public service, parliament etc, so why should it be a problem for women?

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Re: Gender over Quality?

While I applaud seeing more gender equality, especially in the sausage-fest that is IT, adding a quota of females is still sexual discrimination.

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FAIL

who wants to be a female panel member at Nesta now?

So now when you see a woman on a panel, you'll wonder if she is there because she has anything to contribute, or was picked just to satisfy the new policy.

If you wanted to undermine female panel members' credibility, is there a better way to do it than this?

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Anonymous Coward

Why is the western world so entranced by this idiotic idea that everything has to be representative of the demographics of society?

Surely the best qualified person is the person you want, not someone who is only there because they meet the criteria of an equality target? ie. Having been born with the right kind of genitalia.

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Indeed. And, while we're at it, let's have a return to an absolute monarchy too!

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Anonymous Coward

Which absolute Monarch is it you think was the best person for the job?

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Sarcasm is wasted on some people.

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They are getting rid of men, just because they are men?

Isn't that the very definition of discrimination based solely on a persons sex?

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Anonymous Coward

if w care about balance

then we need to see more women in ditch digging, garbage collection and plumbing. Not a lot of women complaining about the lack of "gender balance" in the disgusting, dirty jobs of cleaning truckstop toilet clogs, or helping clear a mudslide at 2AM during a November storm in the Middle Of Nowhere.

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Facepalm

Re: if w care about balance

With respect to jobs such as ditch digging and garbage collection that require a lot of physical strength, men are generally better suited for the job, so it's a question of competence not gender imbalance.

With respect to disgusting, dirty jobs, I would think that far more women than men are in jobs cleaning toilets, changing diapers and cleaning up hospital patients etc.

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muscles

Oh bollocks...

Ditch digging and garbage handling in almost all societies that care about gender issues is highly mechanised. Can't have the little darlings strain their backs can we? Pulling levers in a digger requires no more muscle than pulling a pint!

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Re: muscles

Here in Canada women are getting more widespread in mining. Women drivers of haul trucks are common if still a minority.

You don't need much in the way of muscle to drive a 300ton truck, for rather obvious reasons they have power steering. There is however still a stereotype that women drivers are more reliable, don't turn up for work drunk or stoned, don't get into fights at work and are more conscientious.

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Thumb Down

Re: if w care about balance

But true equality has to be a 50% split, and the right attributes (or not) to do the job are irrelevant!

"I want to be called Loretta".

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Coat

I have the solution for better participation.

Figure out how to make it cosplay!

I'll get my coat.

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FAIL

It's Tokenism all Right

A statement from Nesta, written by Jo Casebourne and Laura Bunt, said:

" we hope this will ... start to make events with no women speakers seem odd and anachronistic. ..... Tokenism? We don't think so."

If this isn't tokenism, I don't know what is. As for events that seem "odd", on the contrary events with women speakers will start to seem fixed. I would go so far as to say I would consider skipping listening to a woman speaker if this outfit had a hand in organising the event.

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Unhappy

So what if they can't find a woman (even a token one) wanting to join a particular panel? Do they cancel the event?

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Mushroom

This is good news...

For the guys that are lucky enough to attend such events in the future, freshly made sandwiches will now be available.

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MrT
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I saw 'boards'...

... but read it at first glance as 'beards'...

Now it was just about okay with "ensuring that organisations' Beards are representative", but it then fell apart with "at Nesta we're glad that our Beard has moved closer to gender parity". Unless Nesta is picking particularly hirsute ladies...

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It's been my experience, going back as far as the 80s, that women in IT are generally judged on their merits and not discriminated against because of their gender. If women do have a problem being under-represented at higher levels, then it is their own fault. As has been previously mentioned, there are few women even entering IT. They cannot complain about too few women at the top when they are under represented at all levels.

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Meh

That's an interesting perspective--have you asked any actual women about how they feel?

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Anonymous Coward

This again

Weed out the shitty men, and the women will arrive naturally.

Always been obvious, never been newsworthy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This again

There's one already.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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WTF?

WTF?

Women and men are different, they have different interests, is it something we should be changing? do we need to FORCE women into IT?

I am all for more women in IT, but lets do it by removing barriers rather than putting rules in place

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