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Is there a demand for clear-headedness? - Input Junkie
December 15th, 2009
10:20 am

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Is there a demand for clear-headedness?
A online freelance writer discovered that it was possible to put a career together under a male name, but not under her own name.

The difference in how she was treated under different names was huge.

I'm horrified and angry at the degree of prejudice, but it's also clear that decades of direct work to cut back on the level of prejudice haven't had a lot of success.

And what I'm not seeing is techniques for paying attention to what's in front of you (like the quality of a piece of writing) rather than being distracted by the gender of the author's name.

I'm not seeing people asking for those techniques, either, but maybe I just haven't heard about them. I'd like such techniques for myself.

I realize that gender, or race, or whatever blindness isn't the solution all the time, but it would help with a lot of things.

Link thanks to supergee.

(11 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:sartorias
Date:December 15th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
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This is no surprise to me, sigh.
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From:fengi
Date:December 15th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 15th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the link. It certainly makes her a less attractive person, but it underlines the point that there are advantages to being (appearing?) male, and perhaps that there are more advantages to being obnoxious about it.

I wish it had been a cleaner experiment with just a name change.
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From:madfilkentist
Date:December 15th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
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That article says she used pictures of naked women. I wonder how much that had to do with her increased success.

Prior to reading that article, I'd wondered if some other form of name bias might be at work; perhaps her real name is late in the alphabet, for instance. But after looking at that, I'm inclined to think the difference was image, with the name being just one part of it.
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From:communicator
Date:December 15th, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
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I know it. How many times do I co write something with a man, just to get the work. He writes 0 words but gets 50% of the income. :-(
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From:thnidu
Date:December 15th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
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This is not news. There are sufficient careful studies to demonstrate the existence of gender, racial, and iirc ethnic bias in the treatment of resumes, job applications, and other situations. As the previous commenter points out, this case is more complex than that.

And I'd say that, unfortunately, the need is not for (just) "techniques for paying attention to what's in front of you (like the quality of a piece of writing)", but (also) for convincing people of their need for such techniques ("I'm not biased!") and getting them to use them.
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 15th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
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All true. However, if the techniques don't even exist, this does suggest that it's a problem people aren't very interested in working on.
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From:sodyera
Date:December 15th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
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Sorry, not the least bit surprised. Thank the gods she wasn't black.
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From:atomicat
Date:December 15th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC)
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C. L. Moore along with many others used initials instead of her full name because women can't be sci-fi writers. Scientific papers authored under a woman's name get fewer citations than those of male peers. And so it goes, on and on.
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From:dr_zrfq
Date:December 15th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
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The thing is... I totally do not get the mindset of the folks who treat women like this. The author's a good writer, tells a good story and tells it well. Doesn't appear to be aiming for a market that's seriously aimed at stories written by *any* particular gender. Ergo, WTF?

OK, I admit I'm a tech geek. In a professional situation, if I'm paying much attention to the person at all instead of to their work, the question I'm asking is in regard to political connections and not gender. (Of course, I'm also bloody broke, so WTF do *I* know, right?)
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 16th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
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The thing is, I'm pretty sure it's a matter of unconscious reflexes for the most part. It's even possible that you're kidding yourself about whether your focus is only on the quality of the work.

At this point, I wouldn't trust self-reporting on that sort of thing unless it's backed up with randomized testing.
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