Jul. 15th, 2014

Canon and the Ambiguously-gendered Protagonist

Hi, not dead. But thinking about something based on the news about the upcoming Super Smash Bros. game. My brother, a big SSB fan, told me that Fire Emblem characters were announced and I IDd them. When we watched the video, I saw that Robin/the Tactician was one of the characters and immediately said 'I hope they let you play female Robin' (they showed the male Robin first). Thankfully, once they got over the fanfare (Lucina! Captain Falcon, who is not a Fire Emblem character but still exciting!), they did say Robin would be playable as both male and female versions (presumably with the same moves, just like in the game).

Read more... )

Aug. 23rd, 2012

100 SF/Fantasy Stories 015: Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce

I'll blog more later, but have a book for now.

I read most of Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Quartet as a teenager, before the modern YA trend got started. And, well, she writes a good blog and is sort of local to me, and I have several friends who are fans of her. And, honestly, once I got past my teenaged years, I got a lot less insecure about reading 'kids books'.

So, I picked up her other world of books, the Magic Circle ones, which follow four orphaned youngsters from different backgrounds who end up having a semi-rare sort of magic for a certain craft or set of things. )

Jun. 8th, 2011

Inspiration from Terrible/Disappointing Ideas

So, I've blogged about this before: I get ideas from seeing things that either are ideas executed badly, or are ideas that the author just takes in a different direction than I would. When I read Matched, I noted that I was a bit disappointed that the cover copy was basically 'Girl grows up in society where people are paired via computer. Girl gets paired with Boy1 as her ideal match. Girl starts falling for Boy2, who may also be her ideal match.' The overall plot is pretty much 'utopic city with seedy underbelly covered up' + romance, when I discovered I'd rather read about the ramifications of the Match system. For that matter, when I read Mercedes Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms series at first I wanted to read about Elena and Co. dismantling the Tradition, a sort of Law of Nature that pushes things into story patterns and lends magical power when these patterns are followed, rather than the romance plots + using the Tradition to ensure happy endings without any of the awful stories coming true.

Now, both were not bad books, but not what I wanted. )

Mar. 3rd, 2011

Of interest

Psych-Out Sexism: The innocent, unconscious bias that discourages girls from math and science.

This article argues that some of the 'leaky pipeline' -- the fact that women drift away from science and math at a proportionately higher rate than men when you go from high school to college to grad school to a career -- is based partially on biases about whether science is inclusive. Basically, it cites some studies done that show female high school students are more willing to tackle a tough math problem on a test when a female math major is proctoring the exam (rather than a male math major), and that female students with a female professor become more willing to volunteer answers in class and go to office hours than if they have a male professor. I've seen other studies that show students two advertisements for a science program and both male and female students identify the mixed-gender pictures as seeming more welcoming than the predominantly-male pictures.

It's a bit discouraging, since it's kind of a self-perpetuating cycle unless you ask women to work their butts off to get the next generation into the field. I know I've met female professors who've mentioned being asked to be on ALL THE COMMITTEES so they aren't all-male, which takes them away from the parts of the job they like. Teaching is fun, but I think I'd start to resent it if I was constantly asked to do it instead of cool science things.

I don't know how much I was affected by things like this. My stepmother is a scientist, and I had mostly female science and math teachers in middle and high school -- from 7th grade*, only my high school physics teacher was male and the math teacher I had for a month in seventh grade before I was moved up a year.

OTOH, it's one reason Nancy, our outreach coordinator, is particularly happy when we have both male and female grad students (or anyone) helping. Because it's good for the public to see scientists that aren't all men.

* Which was when we got teachers dedicated to each subject. In 6th grade, two teachers were in charge of wrangling the gifted and talented classes, and they traded off subjects.

Dec. 6th, 2010

Women in science

Reading blogs, and I got this from Pharyngula. Dr. Myers notes that he likes to throw a few softballs at his students at exam time so that the folks who show up/do the reading/pay attention get some points. One of the questions he normally asks is "Name a scientist, any scientist, who also happens to be a woman."

About 10% of the class leave it blank. C'mon, it's a free 2 points on a 100 point exam! Over half the time, I get the same mysterious answer: Marie Curie. We do not talk about Marie Curie in this class at all, and it's always a bit strange that they have to cast their minds back over a century to come up with a woman scientist. Next year, I should change the question to "Name a scientist, any scientist, who also happens to be a woman, and isn't named Marie Curie," just to screw with their heads. They won't be able to think of anyone but Marie Curie.

Note that this is a biology class that mentions many biologists. Dr. Myers also notes that the second-most-common is 'Jane Goodall' (who was also not mentioned in the course). Third was 'Louise Pasteur', which... well, I guess showing that many people are confused by French noun gender. So, Dr. Myers offered a challenge -- name 10 female scientists who were not Marie Curie (or Goodall).

... I got about 18 before I realized I was starting to name friends. But I did get at least ten people I have never actually met or heard speaking. Reading the comments brought me a few more professionals of things I wasn't sure if they counted as 'science'.

So, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to name as many female scientists as you can. You can use Google to check name spellings, but not to, say, match up 'that one that discovered the thing'. (Scientists may want to either exempt themselves from the challenge or limit it to 'people who are not working in my field and/or who I know personally'.)

And, if we're being fair, see if you can name as many male scientists -- just to control for people who don't know many scientists at all.

Mar. 25th, 2008

An amusing story

My mind wanders at night, and gets into tangents...

And this is one of them. )