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MIT Names First Female President

CowboyNeal posted about 10 years ago | from the whoa-oh-oh-she's-a-lady dept.

Education 540

wintermute1000 writes "According to CNN, MIT has just named its first female president. Along with other recent programs' efforts to get more women involved in the MIT community, is this a step in the right direction for the historically gender-biased institution?"

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Big deal... (5, Funny)

avalys (221114) | about 10 years ago | (#10086769)

When MIT announces the first robot president, I'll be listening.

Re:Big deal... (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 10 years ago | (#10086792)

...so you prefere MultiVac [wikipedia.org] to Susan Calvin [wikipedia.org] ?

male/female/black/white (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086778)

Who cares? It's those who shout for equality who seem to be the first to highlight irrelevant differences; and such people are the first defence used by the prejudiced to block those with true potential.

Re:male/female/black/white (4, Insightful)

zaxios (776027) | about 10 years ago | (#10086864)

"The present is a product of the past." Male/female/black/white have not traditionally been treated equally, and the current employment landscape still reflects its history. That can't just be ignored in the idealistic minority's hurry to move on. We can dream of true equality without regulation, but for the moment this [bbc.co.uk] and and this [bbc.co.uk] need practical solutions.

Re:male/female/black/white (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086887)

So the solution to discrimination is more discrimination?

No, the solution to discrimination is the elimination of discrimination in every realm. The silly notion that we can somehow right the wrongs by giving those groups discriminated in the past preference over those who were not is just as wrong.

Re:male/female/black/white (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086896)

We wish to deny all those arbitrary distinctions of vice and virtue, honour and treachery, upon which mere rebels base themselves. The silly sentimentalists of the French Revolution talked of the Rights of Man! We hate Rights as we hate Wrongs. We have abolished Right and Wrong.

-- Lucian Gregory

Re:male/female/black/white (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086939)

So being a woman is better than being a man?

You are not making sense.

If you want to support rights you look at the qualities that matter. Gender is not a quality that matters to a job. Hire the best man or woman for the job.

wrong (5, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | about 10 years ago | (#10086950)

Discrimination has no solution. Look at the two alternatives:
  1. Ignore the discrimination and trust to human nature: well, human nature doesn't have an exemplary history of ensuring nondiscrimination. Gender based roles (and racial/appearance based roles) are tightly integrated with just about every society whether animal or human, and a certain portion of the population (the 'followers') will feel constrained by these roles despite their fitness to take on others, absent gender/racial or appearance based stigma.
  2. Have a whole host of rules and regulations to make sure society and employment are nondiscriminatory. This causes stigma for the beneficiaries of said regulation, with the perception (if not reality) that they are unqualified for the positions granted them by the regulation. Moreover, it also encourages corruption, whereby those of means are able to avoid the regulations. The net effect is that no one is happy - not the wronged groups, and not the traditional advantaged groups. Ultimately this will cause more discrimination as a result, solving nothing.

The belief of the 1960s progenitors of US affirmative action programs (most notably the late Sen. Moynihan) was that a period of #2 would permit #1 to succeed. I believe the last 40 years have proven him rather misguided. I don't know what the solution is - and I doubt there is one - but enforced discrimination isn't it.

Re:male/female/black/white (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086984)

Your missing the point of affirmative action.

Poor white middle class morons ... worlds full of them - why don't you try and break the mold!

Afirmative action does put the shoe on the other foot. Think about WHY the majority of people who are in high paid influence positions in society are white and male. Now think about why there are so few non-white (for lack of a better word) people or females in those positions.

Here is a hint look at the past and think about the fact that traditionally these people have NOT had equal rights in society as a whole. Don't forget segragation end not so long ago in many countries. In my country, Australia, up until 1972 the Indigenous peoples of our land where not even counted in the census (we where classified by law and constitution as animals).

As an advocate for affirmative action, I see it as a fast track to correcting the hundreds of years of mistreatment laid out upon the groups of people within our (now global) society.

A last question for you ... If you where born in poor circumstances do you think you would still have an equal chance to "get-ahead-in-life" as some who wasn't?

It's about a level playing field period.

Re:male/female/black/white (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086954)

First, we must assume the presentations of the CVs were randomised (so Mr X's CV didn't look the same at every firm), as was time of sending.

A sort into alpha order, which might be standard at a mailroom, gives Mr Andrews first reading, Mr Hanif second, and Ms Hughes third.

Contrasting black- with white-sounding names, 13 vs 25 of 100 interviews offered, a difference of 8 where each firm has 2 applicants, means at minimum only 4 of 50 firms can be considered "anti-black" (if that is even that correct conclusion) - i.e. 8%.

We are still ignoring uncertainties. We are ignoring the possibility that it's sexism - people know Jenny is female, but do they know the black names? We are ignoring the possibility that people are setting a quota for non-white names because they feel they must, while judging the white names on ability, the "good intention" the Pc brigade have imposed upon them actually working against applicants.

Stastistics are very dangerous. Interpretation is very difficult.

Re:male/female/black/white (5, Insightful)

PatrickThomson (712694) | about 10 years ago | (#10086920)

Precisely! My place of work is in the throes of equal opportunities policies that are simply insane. I appreciate the need to remove any lingering subconcious biases in the minds of those who conduct interviews, but not giving a job to someone because they're not in an under-filled denomination is pure discrimination

"sorry, we have too many white people, try again next week"

Honestly, these things are no more relevant than being left-handed.

Disclaimer: We don't work with members of the public who might have prejudices that affect the ability of, say, black disabled gay women to do the job effectively.

Re:male/female/black/white (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086923)

Exactly. This is why I have no problem hitting a woman. I'm a feminist and believe in equality.

futurama quote (5, Funny)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | about 10 years ago | (#10086779)

fry: can't we just be together?
leela: listen - you are a man, I'm a woman. We're just too different.

Re:futurama quote (1)

jaymzter (452402) | about 10 years ago | (#10087036)

Lela: society's never going to improve until we can all learn to pretend to like each other

probably change towards good (5, Funny)

Keruo (771880) | about 10 years ago | (#10086782)

Generally technology field has been boys club and most women around are usually surnamed .jpg.
Women at workplace usually balance the atmosphere towards more positive.
In paper industry, some studies have shown that departments lead by female chiefs, run more efficiently and have less disputes among workers.

Re:probably change towards good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086853)

In paper industry, some studies have shown that departments lead by female chiefs, run more efficiently and have less disputes among workers.

They said that about departments run by Mussolini too. Coincidence?

Re:probably change towards good (4, Insightful)

mirio (225059) | about 10 years ago | (#10086881)


Generally technology field has been boys club and most women around are usually surnamed .jpg.
Women at workplace usually balance the atmosphere towards more positive.
In paper industry, some studies have shown that departments lead by female chiefs, run more efficiently and have less disputes among workers.


I don't understand how we can look at gender in the workplace as being a positive thing (as in your example) but not also use it with the negative. For example, you would never hear someone say, "In X industry, some studies have shown that departments lead by female chiefs, run less efficiently and have more disputes among workers".

I guess it simply follows the tried and true rules of political correctness in the US: As long as you're basing your opinions of prejudice against white males, you're not really discriminating.

And yes, that's exactly what the above opinion does. It basically says that women chiefs/department heads/whatever create a better work environment than men -- prejudice.

Re:probably change towards good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086951)

I don't think it counts as prejudice if it is the result of an honest study. Of course, studying issues such as this properly is exceedingly hard.

Re:probably change towards good (1)

mirio (225059) | about 10 years ago | (#10086993)

I don't think it counts as prejudice if it is the result of an honest study. Of course, studying issues such as this properly is exceedingly hard.

Any study can be done with bias and almost no study can represent the 'big picture'.

For example, the parent poster did not mention anything about productivity. Is it possible that the people working for women chiefs in the paper industry were generally happier because they weren't being pushed as hard and weren't being as productive? Yes, it's possible. I'm not saying that this is a trait of female management, I'm just simply pointing out that studies that focus on specifics generally are done without regard for the 'big picture'.

Re:probably change towards good (1, Funny)

doodlelogic (773522) | about 10 years ago | (#10086987)

"gender in the workplace as being a positive thing"

Catbert: how can I eliminate gender from the workplace?

Dogbert Consultancy: Well we have these Elbonian eunuchs...

Re:probably change towards good (4, Insightful)

dasunt (249686) | about 10 years ago | (#10087032)

I guess it simply follows the tried and true rules of political correctness in the US: As long as you're basing your opinions of prejudice against white males, you're not really discriminating.

Case in point -- the article itself. Few people see anything wrong with MIT promoting one gender over another as long as the gender they are promoting is female.

[PS: I've been called sexist for discussing this viewpoint before. ]

Re:probably change towards good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10087034)

Well sure, but where is "white males" mentioned in the grandparent post?

Re:probably change towards good (2, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 10 years ago | (#10086996)

In paper industry, some studies have shown that departments lead by female chiefs, run more efficiently and have less disputes among workers.

Well, duhh!

In a "boys club" work environment, you can talk about whatever you want - Rude, crude, offensive, and no one cares. This occasionally may lead to a few riled tempers.

Throw some women into the mix, and everything changes. Since we have sexual harassment laws based on the "feelings" of the "victim", rather than the intent of the accused, the friendly banter grinds to a halt. Suddenly, a formerly happy work force becomes silent, bored, and frustrated.

As a side-effect, efficiency increases (less banter means more more time to actually work), arguments decrease (what can you argue about if you can't talk freely about anything?). But morale? Well, no one cares about morale. Only productivity.


And anyone who thinks I mean this as a troll or flamebait has clearly never experienced this transition in person... Like helplessly watching a tsunami speed toward you.

Not to say that I in any way object to working with women - I've worked with quite a few that understood the idea of "humor". I object, however, to the current orientation of the sexual harassment laws. Basically, if someone bothers to accuse you, that in itself counts as "proof" of your "crime". That I consider intolerable.

Re:probably change towards good (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 10 years ago | (#10087042)

most women around are usually surnamed .jpg
Easily the funniest thing I have read this week :)

Should have picked Ceren... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086786)

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Please show your support [calcgames.org] for Ceren in this poll of Geek Babes!

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Linux [gentoo.org] is a joke as long as it continues to lack sexy girls like her [dis.org] ! I mean just look at this girl [dis.org] ! Doesn't she [dis.org] excite you? I know this little hottie [dis.org] puts me in need of a cold shower! This guy looks like he is about to cream his pants standing next to such a fox [spilth.org] . As you can see, no man can resist this sexy [spilth.org] little minx [dis.org] . Don't you wish the guy in this [wigen.net] pic was you? Are you telling me you wouldn't like to get your hands on this ass [dis.org] ?! Wouldn't this [electricrain.com] just make your Christmas?! Yes doctor, this uber babe [electricrain.com] definitely gets my pulse racing! Oh how I envy the lucky girl in this [electricrain.com] shot! Linux [suse.com] has nothing that can possibly compete. Come on, you must admit she [imagewhore.com] is better than an overweight penguin [tamu.edu] or a gay looking goat [gnu.org] ! Wouldn't this [electricrain.com] be more liklely to influence your choice of OS?

With sexy chicks [minions.com] like the lovely Ceren [dis.org] you could have people queuing up to buy open source products. Could you really refuse to buy a copy of BSD [netbsd.org] if she [dis.org] told you to? Personally I know I would give my right arm to get this close [dis.org] to such a divine beauty [czarina.org] !

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$Id: ceren.html,v 9.0 2004/08/01 16:01:34 ceren_rocks Exp $

Re:Should [NOT] have picked Ceren... (1)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | about 10 years ago | (#10086857)

let me say this, Ceren ain't all that, and I'm tired of seeing quotes saying that she is. just because she prances around geek conventions with annoying outfits on doesn't make her pretty; in fact, she's pretty damn annoying ugly if you ask me, but I only bring that up in defense of common sense. now go out and meet a real girl, regardless of if she needs a hair style (Ceren), needs a visit to TLC's "What not to wear" (Ceren) and needs a shrink to tell her what's missing in her life to have to try to be something she isn't (Ceren).

In closing, F Ceren and the horse she rode in on. Thank you.

CB

Re:Should [NOT] have picked Ceren... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086878)

In the words of Sir Galahad:

Bet you're gay!

Re:Should [NOT] have picked Ceren... (1)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | about 10 years ago | (#10086953)

if I was it would not change my opinion. thank you.

BV$#@CB

When will this kind of regulation go too far? (5, Insightful)

beh (4759) | about 10 years ago | (#10086791)

While I do support equal opportunities/emancipation issues, has MIT selected this woman because she is female and very good in her area of expertise, or has MIT selected her because she was the best irrespective of gender?

Don't get me wrong here - if she is the BEST for the post, she should get it, but looking at things like the gender quotas like we have had in Germany - these are the wrong way (as they block progressing potentially better male candidates, if the female member quota hasn't been reached yet. This also led to a court case brought on by (IIRC) a civil cervant skipped in a promotion because there was another woman who could take the post - that case went all the way to the highest EU court which ruled that these kinds of quota regulations also are a form of gender discrimination and hence are deemed illegal.

And there are similar things happening - in a Swiss University I saw a notice for a competition about women in academic study courses, with a prize of EUR 10.000 for the best diploma thesis to be handed in by a female student that year. That particular competition notice actually had been put up by the "equal opportunities" advisor of the school... Where's the equal opportunity here?

In the UK, there is a female-only car insurance (Diamond), which will only accept female clientele because their insurance claims would in average be lower (hence allowing female drivers to save money, while indirectly increasing the insurance cost of males, by removing drivers with "lower claims" from male/female car insurance companies)...

Where's the equal opportunity here?

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086804)

It died when Bush came to power.

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086821)

MIT isn't promoting the fact that she is the first woman, the press is.

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2004/president-ann ou ncement.html

From the announcement article it sounds like she was selected because she was best for the job overall. Not surprised at how the press it promoting it though.

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (2, Interesting)

attam (806532) | about 10 years ago | (#10086938)

>>MIT isn't promoting the fact that she is the >>first woman, the press is VERY good observation. as an MIT alum, i have received NUMEROUS messages about the appointment and NONE of them mentioned that she was the first woman. my friends and i kept wondering and wondering, but it never came up anywhere until i saw this /. story this morning. they arent making a big deal out of it, and neither should we.

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (4, Informative)

dave_mcmillen (250780) | about 10 years ago | (#10086976)

MIT isn't promoting the fact that she is the first woman, the press is.

Right - the article somehow makes it sound like this is a result of quota hiring, but there's nothing to suggest that.

Further note, grandparent post, that the "other recent programs' efforts" mentioned in the article involve getting girls in high school to participate in activities (and classes) related to computer science, electrical engineering, and math. This is far from some sort of quota program, and it seems to me to be a very sensible approach: if the problem is that too many girls are either shooed away from these fields or have never thought that they were an option, then give them a chance to see what it's all about, then decide for themselves.

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 10 years ago | (#10086830)

Well, in the US, there are quotas, but they don't seem to be as heavily enforced as they are in Germany.
When it comes to car insurance though, Europe and the US seem to be on the same page, esp. for younger people, car insurance is cheaper for females than it is for males. I guess this is actually based on statistical evidence that suggests that young female drivers are safer than young male drivers....

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10087021)

The differences in insurance isn't a quota. Quotas are just percentages of jobs that have to be given to x minority group. The insurance stuff is just statistics that suggest that certian types of people are more likely to drive dangerously.

Now that does raise a very good question.

Is it sexist? What if there are some men out there who can prove they drive very well?

What if there were studies to suggest that African-American drivers were much more dangerous than any other race and that Asian-Americans were the safest (with the others in between somewhere) and gave them rates accordingly? Would that be illegal or any more wrong than gender discrimination, if the studies were done in the same fashion as the ones for gender?

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (3, Insightful)

hurterer (113323) | about 10 years ago | (#10086842)

With regard to the prize for best female whatever, the equal opportunity angle is that those prizes are attracting female students into the field, through the university. The prize's purpose isn't to reward current female students over current male students, it's there to encourage potential female students to pursue that course of study. They can't do the second thing without the first, in the current system.

As far as the insurance thing goes, insurance companies dont owe you shit. If you want better rates, then make all (young) men drive more safely.

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (1)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | about 10 years ago | (#10086959)

As far as the insurance thing goes, insurance companies dont owe you shit.

Of course they don't. They have the benefit of twisting the government (a government that I subsidize with my tax dollars) around its little finger, and forcing me to cough up more of my hard-earned pay to support their little extortion scheme vis-a-vis mandatory liability auto insurance.

Man, I wish I could force people by law to financially support my line of work.

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (1)

Mwongozi (176765) | about 10 years ago | (#10086913)

Just for reference, Diamond insurance do accept male clients, they just advertise specifically at women.

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086965)

I am a postdoc at MIT and I can testify that many labs here are strongly male dominated which leads to a very depressed, anti-social, and unproductive atmosphere. There is still quite a bit of unspoken resistance against admitting more women, particularly by some older faculty.
We urgently need to admit more women and encourage women to go into science and engineering! That will make the difference between a world-class research institution with a healthy social life and an unproductive male-dominated nut house with an anti-social climate where pathetic sketchy nerds are spending more time looking at porn than doing research. This applies to other universities as well and it is our last chance to change it.

Re:When will this kind of regulation go too far? (1)

surreal-maitland (711954) | about 10 years ago | (#10086986)

well, you'd have to define "best" for the position. she may be qualified (and it would appear that she is), but for such a multi-faceted position, what would make her the "best." personally, while i would be very surprised if her gender were not an issue, and while i do think that in an ideal world it shouldn't be, i think this might be a really good move for MIT. firstly and most obviously, PR wise, it gives them a little more of a leg to stand on. MIT has not had a good track record of graduating female grad students and an even worse one of hiring female professors. there was a study a few years ago. i could hunt it down, but i'm too lazy. secondly, this may bring more women to the graduate schools and as professors. some of you may not think this is a good thing, but, given that men and women *are* different and have some very different forms of social interaction, i'm in favor of some balance. furthermore, i think that encouraging women in science is a good idea if only because whenever you discourage a group from your field, you're potentially turning away major contributers. in fields like computer science (which MIT is so famous for), it's very much a man's world, and if this brings some more balance to it, i think that the field as a whole could benefit. but will being a woman make her a better president? certainly not.

The whole world is gender biased. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086797)

People will not stop complaining about 'unfairness' until the whole world is perfectly split between the sexes, and that's never going to happen. We have women complaining that they never get the best positions at companies like upper management jobs.

Well, take a look in the coal mines. They too are very gender biased. You don't see many chicks underground with a jack-hammer. Funny, you don't see them complaining about this, either.

The reason women do not have as many of the 'top jobs' in this world is economics. If you hire a woman and she has a kid, then she will be gone for several months and you will have to pay her maternity leave even though she isn't there. Economically speaking, it's better to hire the man. I don't mean that a woman does not deserve the job or isn't capable of doing it, but managers look at the demographics and see that it is more profitable to hire a man. You could even argue that they are obligated to hire the man for the sake of the shareholders.

Re:The whole world is gender biased. (4, Interesting)

Artifex (18308) | about 10 years ago | (#10086855)

The reason women do not have as many of the 'top jobs' in this world is economics. If you hire a woman and she has a kid, then she will be gone for several months and you will have to pay her maternity leave even though she isn't there. Economically speaking, it's better to hire the man. I don't mean that a woman does not deserve the job or isn't capable of doing it, but managers look at the demographics and see that it is more profitable to hire a man. You could even argue that they are obligated to hire the man for the sake of the shareholders.


Interestingly, most European nations take care of this disparity by granting new fathers potential leave as well.

Re:The whole world is gender biased. (2, Informative)

MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) | about 10 years ago | (#10086890)

As a new father, they do this in the U.S. as well. By law, I'm guaranteed up to 12 weeks (pretty sure, I may be off by a couple weeks) Paternity leave when my child is born.

Few dare to take it though... men (at least the ones in my life that I know) start to lose their minds a little bit when they're not working. Retirement kills men in my family.

Re:The whole world is gender biased. (1)

doodlelogic (773522) | about 10 years ago | (#10086886)

take a look in the coal mines. They too are very gender biased

Funny example, not many deep mines left in the UK, but this is the one civillian job barred by law to women. If there were more jobs, someone would probably bring a claim.

If you hire a woman and she has a kid, then she will be gone
for several months and you will have to pay her maternity
leave even though she isn't there.

I've heard this anti-equal opportunities argument before, in various guises, and it has always struck me that it is more interesting to reverse the equation. If we had a greater culture of equality, men too would have (and take) parental leave. The "economic" argument against employing women has always been dubious, but equal parental leave would finally scupper it.

Just my 0.03216 euros worth...

Re:The whole world is gender biased. (1)

east coast (590680) | about 10 years ago | (#10086968)

Funny example, not many deep mines left in the UK, but this is the one civillian job barred by law to women. If there were more jobs, someone would probably bring a claim.

But here in the good old USA we have no such laws and, as my father is an ex-miner, there are very few woman in the profession.

Funny example, not many deep mines left in the UK, but this is the one civillian job barred by law to women. If there were more jobs, someone would probably bring a claim.

Give me one good reason the man should have leave? Perhaps some time directly around the time of birth in order to accommodate the wife but aside from that why does he need more?

The "economic" argument against employing women has always been dubious, but equal parental leave would finally scupper it.

So giving time off to a man only because his wife had a child is fair? What about those of us with no children? Where is the fairness in that? Frankly I feel the argument is pretty much non-sense. Aside from that, my working experience has also shown that woman who do have children normally do not want higher positions because of family. We have a few females in my current company who have advanced fairly high and they either have no children or the children are of a more independent age. I do grant you that the concept that a woman may have a child and may leave the job is no reason to overlook them but at the same time the fact is that most woman who do have children (and I'm sure it's a high percentage) do not value the job as much as the family. This is all fine and well, but why should males feel bad about dedicating themselves to be the provider?

More over I think that it's society's outlook on motherhood that has tainted the system. For some reason most feel that because the mother isn't earning a dollar figure that she is being devalued. Why can't we accept her non-quantifiable worth is of great value to all involved?

Re:The whole world is gender biased. (2, Interesting)

daveaitel (598781) | about 10 years ago | (#10086945)

Well, I think there's clearly something else at work here. Even if I wanted to hire 50/50, I'd be hard pressed to find 4 good female computer security professionals who can compete on a technical level with the other people on my team (doing software audits and writing exploits). There just arn't that many women coming out of computer science classes. Maybe 10% of the total, generously, and of those, almost none choose to go into hard core technical computer security. I think it's telling (aka depressing) that MIT didn't get a female president from their engineering department.

Why aren't women going into computer science? It's not like coal mining where the job sucks afterwards. Generally, it's sitting in an office and making a lot of cash. So why is it?

-dave

Re:The whole world is gender biased. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10087035)

The reason women do not have as many of the 'top jobs' in this world is economics. If you hire a woman and she has a kid, then she will be gone for several months and you will have to pay her maternity leave even though she isn't there. Economically speaking, it's better to hire the man.
No. This reasoning supports hiring a man over a woman to an entry-level position. Overall, you are very slightly correct (if offensive)... some women will go on extended maternity leave, and fewer men will go on extended paternity leave. However, if this budget factor is important enough to impact hiring decisions, HR should really be asking all candidates, regardless of gender, about their plans for children. A woman with no children, for example, will likely take fewer personal days than a father - whether he child is sick, in a school play, whatever. I strongly disagree with that approach, but at least it is a logically consistent one. The real point is, by the time a "top job" comes into play, both women and men are almost universally of the ages of 40 and up. This means their children, if any, are grown, and they are almost certainly not planning on taking maternity leave any time soon. So this argument is inappropriate to the higher-level job issue, which is really the main problem nowadays.
You could even argue that they are obligated to hire the man for the sake of the shareholders.
You could, but you'd be wrong. Not only is your argument flawed (as explained above), but this would open the company to a discrimination lawsuit, which the woman would (correctly) win. Now, not only has the company lost more money than 3 months salary for the woman in question, but you've gotten a lot of bad press, to boot. I don't think the shareholders would back you up on that one.

Question for women (4, Interesting)

andy1307 (656570) | about 10 years ago | (#10086798)

Are you more likely to apply to MIT because it has a women president?

An article related to this topic.

Is Evolution Leaving Men Behind? [spectator.org]

Here's something Charles Darwin in all his philosophies never imagined. As the third millennium of the common era kicks off more American women than men are graduating with baccalaureate and post- baccalaureate degrees. More women are enrolled in law schools, journalism schools, and soon, they will exceed men in all professional schools, with the exception the dreary schools of engineering and business. At this rate, women will soon overtake men as the top wage earners. Evolution is leaving men behind.

McElroy, who writes a column for FoxNews.com, reports being dismayed at finding educated women who are "genuinely horrified at the prospect of dealing with 'lesser' and 'lower' men as equals in their personal lives." But one of the findings of evolutionary psychology is that females of whatever species are hot-wired to find the best possible mate.

The second para is kinda OT, but interesting nevertheless.

Re:Question for women (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 10 years ago | (#10086870)

Depends, are her turn ons unwashed geeks with sucky grades who want to get into one of the best schools in the world?
If so then you are talking to a future MIT alumn, and possible plantiff in a sexual harassment suit :P

Re:Question for women (3, Informative)

doodlelogic (773522) | about 10 years ago | (#10086931)

The original McElroy article [ifeminists.net] (which itself has some interesting onward links) makes it clear that she does not view herself as one of these elitist women; it concludes:

"I still squirm at the thought of how many successful women now seem to view a large percentage of decent single men. Namely, as lesser and lower."

The Spectator may think that "females of whatever species are hot-wired to find the best possible mate" but McElroy clearly disagrees, at least if you reduce the best to a simplistic, status based analysis. It is a clever trick in the article, which makes it look as if that is what she was saying, when the journalist knows it was the opposite.

Re:Question for women (1)

Mant (578427) | about 10 years ago | (#10087024)

Evolution is leaving men behind.

The writer clearly doesn't have a clue about evolution. Evolution is about successfully passing on your DNA. Until women can do it without men, one half of the species can't be "left behind". Genetic traits of succesful women are (mostly) passed to male and female offspring.

What is more, there isn't any suggestion this is due to evolutionary changes in humans, it is a social change.

Re:Question for women (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 10 years ago | (#10087026)

More women are enrolled in law schools, journalism schools, and soon, they will exceed men in all professional schools, with the exception the dreary schools of engineering and business
Hmm, so now law and journalism are the thing to go for, whereas business and engineering are suddenly 'dreary'? Never mind the fact that graduates of business and engineering schools are often top wage earners as well. Women are fast catching up in many of the professions with better wages, but that doesn't mean that they'll overtake men in these areas. Saying that they will "at this rate" (i.e. extrapolating today's trend into the future) doesn't mean anything.

Personally I don't see any reason why women should or will greatly outnumber men in any line of work (bar a few exceptions). From what I have seen, I'd say that, on average, women perform as well as men at any job.
Evolution is leaving men behind.
This statement implies that women have evolved, and have gained helpful abilities which men are lacking. Is there any proof or even indication that women have changed for the better where men have not? A changing statistical trend of a few decades is hardly proof to back up such a statement.

Huh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086802)

Women? They don't have penises do they? Is this some kind of a joke?

gender-biased... (5, Insightful)

tobi-wan-kenobi (797654) | about 10 years ago | (#10086803)

i really risk getting flamed with this post, but here we go:

i _do_ gratulate her, because i believe she has really earned that position, but:

"...efforts to get more women involved in the MIT community..."
i really hope that this is not the reason she got elected president. you see, i think such positions should be awarded according to ability, _regardless_ of the gender. so "because of" is as wrong as "in spite of".

" a step in the right direction for the historically gender-biased institution?"
not as long as every time a woman is elected this or that, the fact that she is a woman is more stressed in the reports than the fact that she is doing a good job (or what she has achieved).

Re:gender-biased... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | about 10 years ago | (#10086863)

i _do_ gratulate her, because i believe she has really earned that position

I'd like to "gratulate" her for several other positions she could earn :D

Missionary position (NT) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086922)

NT = no text nigga

Re:gender-biased... (1)

tdvaughan (582870) | about 10 years ago | (#10086919)

"...efforts to get more women involved in the MIT community..."
i really hope that this is not the reason she got elected president. you see, i think such positions should be awarded according to ability, _regardless_ of the gender. so "because of" is as wrong as "in spite of".

I agree that ideally, positions should be offered to those best qualified to hold them. However, if the powers that be decided that the ability to attract more women students to MIT was an important characteristic of their president then it made sense for them to prefer a woman over a man. Additionally, gender bias in an institution such as MIT is self-perpetuating and may require overcompensation until the bias is reduced.

Re:gender-biased... (1)

Analogy Man (601298) | about 10 years ago | (#10086967)

i _do_ gratulate her

If anyone tried to "gratulate" my wife or sister they would get slapped silly!

Which First is more important? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086806)

She is also the first president with a life sciences background which is probably more relevant to the future of MIT than the make up of her chromosomes. I would prefer that the headlines note that MIT found the best president that it could and leave gender out of it.

Re:Which First is more important? (1)

Durzel (137902) | about 10 years ago | (#10086854)

In a twisted sense it's newsworthy because they've set a precedant, but by the same token any coverage of it in media circles that would not otherwise report on such events will only serve to undermine the appointment.

Perhaps if as you say they had concentrated more on her life sciences background and its specific relevance to the post, rather than have it as a footnote then it would be viewed with less skepticism.

Unfortunately the tone of the article promotes the thinking that it was a quota-filling exercise rather than a routine "best person for the job" appointment.

It depends (1)

nucleargeek (544900) | about 10 years ago | (#10086810)

is this a step in the right direction for the historically gender-biased institution?"



It depends on whether she was nominated becase she is a woman or because she fits the bill.

Probably a little bit of both.

Is she hot?? (1, Funny)

StevenHenderson (806391) | about 10 years ago | (#10086815)

Nevermind, just RTFA... :-/

Is it MIT that's gender biased.... (4, Interesting)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | about 10 years ago | (#10086819)

...or is it WOMEN who don't like math, science, and engineering?

Re:Is it MIT that's gender biased.... (1)

StevenHenderson (806391) | about 10 years ago | (#10086843)

EXCELLENT point. I, for one, take the latter.

Re:Is it MIT that's gender biased.... (2, Insightful)

Saxton (34078) | about 10 years ago | (#10086851)

...or is it WOMEN who don't like math, science, and engineering?

This should prove to our readers (in response to some of the above posts) that there indeed is some serious gender bias out there. How depressing.

-Aaron

Re:Is it MIT that's gender biased.... (4, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | about 10 years ago | (#10086907)

How is that gender bias? Maybe it is simply true? Man and women are not equal and never will, remember the little birth thing and the children, man on the other side went hunt some animal a few thousand years ago. Just because we know have a society that makes them equal from the 'rights' point of view doesn't necesarry mean that they ever will behave equally, you can't wipe out a few million years of evolution with some hundred years of equal rights.

I am not saying that we shouldn't remove gender bias where it is truely there, just that we shouldn't automatically assume that there is a gender bias just because the distribution between man and women is not exactly 50/50.

Re:Is it MIT that's gender biased.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086915)

So are you willing to ignore years of studies that show that women are not as interested in these areas?

How is the field biased against women?

You know, I'd kill for more women in the sciences and engineering. The male to female ratio really sucks around here.

Re:Is it MIT that's gender biased.... (0)

Glock27 (446276) | about 10 years ago | (#10087005)

This should prove to our readers (in response to some of the above posts) that there indeed is some serious gender bias out there. How depressing.

How is it gender biased to ask that question? (Though I would have phrased it as "or is it that women don't have the same aptitude for math, science and engineering on average?)

There are clearly (on average) physiological and mental differences between men and women, although more research needs to be done to quantify those differences. It is also hard to say how much social conditioning and learning have to do with these issues (nature versus nurture). I know some studies have shown that men have a better grasp of 3D spatial relationships on average, for instance.

It may (or may not) be that advocating "equal numbers" of female mathematicians, scientists and engineers is on par with advocating equal numbers of female NFL players, female championship heavyweight boxers (WBF etc.) or female ditchdiggers.

All that said, I certainly welcome and encourage those women that have an aptitude and desire for math and science oriented pursuits. I just don't think it should be forced on women in general in some misguided pursuit of "equality".

I hate political correctness in general, and in particular that which refuses to admit there are real differences between the sexes - because there are. Billions of years of evolution have made it so. We should try to better understand those differences (viva la difference!), rather than burying our heads in the sand and pretending futilely they don't exist.

I'm sure this will get modded to oblivion, but at least try to consider the facts of the situation rather than having a knee-jerk reaction. TIA. :-)

Re:Is it MIT that's gender biased.... (5, Insightful)

tuxette (731067) | about 10 years ago | (#10086884)

Why is it they don't like math, science, and engineering?

Remember the "I hate math" Barbie doll? [msu.edu] A raging debate ensued, and educators and others were forced to face (and deal with?) the issue of the assumption that not only do girls hate math and science, they are biologically programmed to do so. So the rule was girls are not supposed to like math and science, if they do there's something inherently wrong with them and thus we must ridicule and pressure them into becoming a proper female. And as most of us know how peer pressure can be, girls end up being conditioned to stay away from math and science if they ever want to be cool and have a life.

What was worse for me while growing up, was that I loved science and math. "Well, OK, but that's because you're Chinese" was what I always got back. The implication that I couldn't help myself for that or something. So not only did I get the derogatory labels regarding female geeks rubbed in my face, I got the racism as well.

Sexist policies (5, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | about 10 years ago | (#10086918)

Most people don't like math science and engineering.
I know lots of women who could be capable engineers, but chose other paths.

I don't think it really matters how many female engineers we have, as long as the end result is designed right neither should you.

I am getting sick of working with second rate 'quota' people. Particularly with the government they will put someone without the ability or experience to do a job but got the "Minority XXXX" points to land the job.

You end up with
#1 The job not being done right.
#2 Convincing anyone with the stereotype they are right because look, that kind of person can't do the job.
#3 A person who can't do the job getting frustrated. They either hate their job, and discourage others, or they quit. Then you end up having even more trouble recruiting group XXX into this position.

Removing barriers is one thing, silly quota/promotion games are wrong.

More ranting, in public school (I was 13 years old) The girls got to go to 'science day' at the local university to encourage them to go into science. Apparently it was very interesting, with lots of cool stuff.
Of course as a boy, I couldn't go. Welcome to the wonderful sexist world we live in where girls who don't care about science get encouragement, and guys who do care get slapped down.

Re:Sexist policies (1)

White Rabbit 101 (788719) | about 10 years ago | (#10087000)

All government workers are second rate... It has nothing to do with whether they are male or female. Government workers spend too much time in meetings and not enough time getting stuff done... I should know... I worked for them:)

Re:Is it MIT that's gender biased.... (1)

minus_273 (174041) | about 10 years ago | (#10087009)

No, you mean AMERICAN women are not interested in math and science. Take a look at how many asian women area at MIT.

Re:Is it MIT that's gender biased.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10087022)

As a female undergrad, I have to say theres a subtle gender bias here in some irritating ways. Example: in one of my math classes last term I did best in my section and near best in the class. (This is not unusual for me. My GPA is excellent.) My TA kept telling the guys that they should work harder so the girl wouldn't keep beating them. The implication that I couldn't do as well as them if they were actually trying(and most were) was frustrationg at the least.

Some departments too many people here who give men the benefit of the doubt when it comes to competentcy but won't extend the same favor to the women. Having to prove yourself to everbody in your department takes more energy than some of us care to expend, especially when there are other fields/departments that pay just well, if not more, and don't have such a problem with it.

I've since switched majors to a course where theres a lot more girls and supposedly less of that crap.

It's about fifty years overdue (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086829)

Haven't women been discriminated against long enough? Why does the cause of women's rights progress so slowly?

If the US were really committed to ending discrimination, the Equal Rights Amendment would have passed by now.

Competition (-1, Troll)

houghi (78078) | about 10 years ago | (#10086834)

The other candites were very disapointed, although they were almost equally good as can be seen if you follow this link [google.com]

A New Role Model (1, Funny)

syntap (242090) | about 10 years ago | (#10086839)

Hopefully now we'll finally churn out some more geek and gamr grlz.

Women are from Venus? (-1, Flamebait)

Red Dane (771396) | about 10 years ago | (#10086859)

Kinda goes alongside MIT, don't you think? ;)

I wonder if she's got a thang for physics, mrrrrow.

Oh wait, what does she look like again?

*FWAP* *FWAP* *FWAP* *FWAP*

all in fun :) (in other words, JUST KIDDING for the feminazis out there..)

Alphabet soup, anyone? (1)

xeon4life (668430) | about 10 years ago | (#10086862)

According to CNN, MIT has just...

...named the FFP to RTS for YTC and BTMBLOTA. TY.

Whoa.. . (-1, Offtopic)

Red Dane (771396) | about 10 years ago | (#10086872)

I hope she isn't in charge of deciding who teaches defensive driving courses... Screeech HONK! CRASH! *tinkle*

Re:Whoa.. . (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 10 years ago | (#10086983)

Get the sequence right... it's: Screeeech, CRASH! HONK! :)

only if she can do the math! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086875)

"is this a step in the right direction for the historically gender-biased institution?"

or looks like Gina

http://www.batnet.com/mfwright/lollobrigida1.jpg

Dr. Hockfield's accomplishments (5, Informative)

Guano_Jim (157555) | about 10 years ago | (#10086876)

A list of her recent publications can be read here. [yale.edu]

From the page:

The main focus of our work is to bring biochemical and molecular biological techniques to the classical anatomical analysis of mammalian CNS development.

CNS being Central Nervous System, IIRC.

If you went there... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086885)

If any of you actually went to MIT, you would realize that this whole thing is actually a ploy to get Aimee Smith to fucking shut up! Now when she talks about the overruling partiarchy, we'll finally be able to say, "*ahem* A woman is currently in charge."

Woman at MIT??? (2, Insightful)

jmcmunn (307798) | about 10 years ago | (#10086891)


Geez, before you know it they will have the right to vote!

As stated already, I hope they hired her for her qualifications, and not the quota. I have somewhat of a personal view on things...

Don't get me wrong, I am married to a structural engineer (yes, a woman) so I fully believe in equality between all genders/races in all fields, but I have seen many instances where a woman or other minority had an unfair advantage at getting a job or getting accepted into a school.

I'm not trying to start an affirmative action argument, but let me say that from my wife's perspective she has had to ask herself many times "Did I get this job offer because I am a woman, or because I am most qualified?" And in my mind she was the most qualified, but it should not be a question that she has to ask herself. It is unfair to her, as much as it is for anyone not getting the job.

Hormones... (2, Funny)

Skiron (735617) | about 10 years ago | (#10086898)

Will she have to grow a beard now?

2 months later (1)

Eudial (590661) | about 10 years ago | (#10087001)

Will she have to grow a beard now?

2 months later at slashdot.org
Science: MIT Names First Bearded Female President

MIT's view (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086911)

See MIT's actual announcement for Dr. Hockfield's scientific achievements and administrative experience. It's not suprising that the news outlets all highlight the fact that she's a her, but it is not why she was choosen.
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2004/president-annou ncement.html [mit.edu]

Re:MIT's view (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086973)

bullshit... she was chosen because she's female, and the ultra-liberal (remember what state it's in?) schools are falling all over themselves trying to get women in positions of power to demonstrate how "diverse" they are. MIT is a shitty school anyway - somehow they've just managed to purchase a reputation.

Speaking from experience, I've had two MIT engineers working for me in the past, and neither of them ever got better than mediocre reviews from their peers. I laid both of them off when the recession hit. The Indians I hired to replace them aren't any better, but they're a hell of a lot cheaper.

Sexist Comment (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086932)

Well MIT now is going to have majors in cosmotology, cooking, and homemaking.

I name thee... (1)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | about 10 years ago | (#10086955)

Most High, Most Mighty and Most Excellent Princess of MIT, Queen Dowager and Queen Mother, Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Geek, Lady of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Science, Lady of the Imperial Order of the Crown of Tech Empire...

Eh.. Enough I guess...

Oh My God! (-1, Offtopic)

Spackler (223562) | about 10 years ago | (#10086964)

I fscked her.

It's wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10086998)

As an alumnus, I'm disappointed. I think it's obviously a gender-based decision. However, my main objection is not to the new president's gender, but to her discipline; the MIT President has traditionally been an engineer, not a scientist, while the Provost has traditionally been a scientist.

Wow! Right in my backyard! (1)

east coast (590680) | about 10 years ago | (#10087003)

Good lord, I knew MIT [micropowerit.com] was a tech school but I didn't think it was well known enough to make SlashDot! Right in my own backyard! Maybe I can be president someday!

Non-news (2, Insightful)

kirbyman001 (448856) | about 10 years ago | (#10087004)

It's been said, but this is just crap.

If you want to read a real article about why she was chosen, head over to web.mit.edu.

Oh, and "historically gender-biased institution"? It's a fucking tech school, what do people expect? I should also point out that the entering freshman class (the one I'm in) is about 55% male and 45% female. Please, let's at least be reasonable when coming up with non-news, mmkay?

Mmkay.

Feminist (1, Funny)

KrunZ (247479) | about 10 years ago | (#10087007)

I hope she is a feminist because they ar sooo cute!

Great for Kerry's campaign (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10087016)

See? While I was abdicating my seat in the senate to run for president, a college I had nothing to do with, but that was in my state, elected a female president. I am therefore in touch with women's issues! See, while I was in Cambodia, no wait, Chechnya, yeah, that's it, women were oppressed, and I objected. That's why, when I came back, I threw my, no wait, my friend's, medals over the whitehouse gate. Since then, I've attended every single vote on the senate floor in order to champion the causes of womens' equality (as long as not voting counts as voting).

Hah... I can see it now...

Bring on the Babes!!! (1)

D_Zoolander (808773) | about 10 years ago | (#10087027)

Women play a very integral role in the tech sector, and it is about time efforts were made to recruit more women in the field. IT is a boys club and it could definately use some more hot women. If Doc Hock can bring on the babes, I say more power to her. As mentioned earlier, who would select a university because it has a female president? Not me or anyone else I can think of. However, the number of women on campus in hot pants is definately an influential factor!

We tried this... (1)

MicroBerto (91055) | about 10 years ago | (#10087038)

We [osu.edu] tried this, and the majority of the undergraduate population would agree that it's not going well. Our president, Karen Holbrook [osu.edu] , has done nothing good to replace her predecessor, William "Brit" Kirwan.

Holbrook came in, and immediately pissed off people by trying to curb our tailgating for football games - a huge tradition if you've ever been in the area. Then she does nothing to curb the ever-raising tuition rates, agrees to shut off funding to some agricultural programs (which are the traditional basis of this campus), and is only concerned with research funding rather than the enormous undergraduate population.

Kirwan did nothing but foster our traditions, and fought tooth and nail with the state to get them to keep our funding so that tuition wouldn't go up over 10% every damned year.

Of course, this has nothing to do with Holbrook being a woman or even being from Georgia :)

So the point is, it doesn't matter who the newest president is; male, female, black, white, yellow, alien... just don't come in thinking you can change traditions, and don't alienate those that you will eventually be begging for money (which is, by the way, the president's basic duty, like it or not).

Good luck to MIT, hopefully she does nothing but foster tradition and raise the academic bar.

Heh.. (1)

Jugalator (259273) | about 10 years ago | (#10087041)

I, for one, welcome our new female overlords.

It's a shame..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10087043)

...that in 2005 that we feel that this announcement was newsworthy and we need to decide if this is good or not.
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