Patrick Dunleavy on the Republic of Blogs

After a long period of monopolising academic discourse, European universities went into decline as classical scholasticism, which was primarily inward and backward looking, gave way to the ideas of Enlightenment. Intellectual development moved outside the walled gardens of academia, because enlightenment thinkers shifted their various discourses into the realm of correspondence, creating a Republic of Letters. Prof. Dunleavy argues that we are currently experiencing a similar shift towards a Republic of Blogs that enlarges communication, debate and evidence beyond the halls of universities. Academic research is changing, academic publishing is moving towards a new paradigm of advancing ideas outside the confines of the traditional academic publishing model. Orthodox journals will soon be understood as tombstones: end of debate certificates. In particular:

Micro-blogging is not only replacing traditional news media, but becoming a tool for finding and disseminating ideas and research (active research surveillance).

Rest on: The Sociological Imagination.

Campus Rape and the Rise of the Academic Industrial Complex

On truth-out:

In 2012, it was revealed that the University of Montana and the city of Missoula were being investigated for a mass cover-up of sexual assaults on campus. Eighty reported assaults were either ignored or not prosecuted over a three-year span. Senior administration of the school was personally involved in attempting to silence victims and skew reports, and the football coach and athletic director at the center of the inquiry were fired. On February 14, the US Department of Justice reported that the Missoula County prosecutor’s office “systematically discriminates against female sexual assault victims in conjunction with the cases stemming from the University of Montana.

Sexual assault on college campuses is not a new problem, but it has arguably become an increasingly severe one. Rana Sampson states in her report “Acquaintance Rape of College Students” for the United States Department of Justice, “Rape is the most common violent crime on American college campuses today.” As more attention focuses on the issue and how to curb and prevent it, the conversation has relied heavily on addressing awareness, education and reporting. While that all is important, serious questions remain about the factors behind the heightening of the problem. How has the campus environment become increasingly unsafe? Why have senior administration and university presidents become more personally and deeply involved in covering up rape, rather than protecting their students? High rates of campus rape may be a symptom of the growing Academic Industrial Complex – specifically, how the increase of private money influences administrative handling of sexual assault, and particularly, how it is silenced. [Rest.]

See also:

[research] Victim Blaming Others: Rape Myth Acceptance and the Just World Belief

This is an interesting study published in the journal of Feminist Criminology recently. It’s the about the extent to which rape myths are accepted (i.e. rape is normalised and excused) if individuals subscribe to a “just world belief” whereby people “get what they deserve”. It’s a grim outlook, particularly in relation to rape, and it is a disgusting way to excuse rape (or, worse, argue that someone deserved to be raped) but as the study indicates, it is prevalent (though not necessarily as clear-cut as it first appears). I have the full PDF, by the way, if anyone wants it.

Feminist Criminology, July 2013 issue.

Abstract: Rape myth acceptance which are false beliefs regarding the incidence of sexual assault, and are more prevalent among males, may influence how victims are treated. Acceptance of the just world belief (JWB), which argues that individuals believe that people get what they deserve, may be a predictor of rape myth acceptance. The present study examined the relationship among gender, belief in a just world, and rape myth acceptance. Findings suggest that while gender remained a significant predictor of rape myth acceptance the relationship between just world belief and rape myth acceptance was more complicated than hypothesized.

From findings: These findings may be understood through several possible explanations. First, gender, especially in the context of rape myth acceptance, remains a significant predictor because of society’s insistence on the normalization of sexual violence due to patriarchal attitudes toward the construction of gender (Schwartz & DeKeseredy, 1997). Second, it is possible that victim blaming, even within the context of rape myths, needs to be separated out as victim blaming-self versus victim blaming-other. Third, it is also possible that JWB is a unidimensional construct and JWB-other is unnecessary. [Link to PDF.]

"The bottom line is that saying there are differences in male and female brains is just not true.

The bottom line is that saying there are differences in male and female brains is just not true. There is pretty compelling evidence that any differences are tiny and are the result of environment not biology,” said Prof Rippon.

“You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girls brain, or that’s a boys brain’ in the same way you can with the skeleton. They look the same.”

Prof Rippon points to earlier studies that showed the brains of London black cab drivers physically changed after they had acquired The Knowledge – an encyclopaedic recall of the capital’s streets.

She believes differences in male and female brains are due to similar cultural stimuli. A women’s brain may therefore become ‘wired’ for multi-tasking simply because society expects that of her and so she uses that part of her brain more often. The brain adapts in the same way as a muscle gets larger with extra use.

“What often isn’t picked up on is how plastic and permeable the brain is. It is changing throughout out lifetime.

“The world is full of stereotypical attitudes and unconscious bias. It is full of the drip, drip, drip of the gendered environment.”

Prof Rippon believes that gender differences appear early in western societies and are based on traditional stereotypes of how boys and girls should behave and which toys they should play with.

- Men and Women Do Not Have Different Brains, Claims Neuroscientist (via thegendercritic, rhrealitycheck)

Sunday feminist roundup (23rd March 2014)

- Beauty Standards Are Bullshit (The Belle Jar)

- International Women’s Day and the feminists who inspired me to reclaim my body (A Room of Our Own)

- How Mumsnet put some fire in my belly and why I hope my boys embrace feminism by @mummytolittlee (A Room of Our Own)

- Hidden sexism in the Academy (The F Word)

- Gang Raped at 15-Fiancee Says I Wanted It (everydayvictimblaming)

- In prostitution, ‘race, class, and sex intersect in the worst of ways to subjugate Native women’ (Feminist Current)

- Sex and the REF (Times Higher Ed)

And the best of the quickhits from the last week:

Self-Citation Gender Gap (female researchers do not cite their own work as often as their male colleagues)

A study commissioned by The Chronicle of Higher Education shows that women in academia are much less likely than men to cite their own research. Because citation counts are now critical to many decisions about hiring and promotions, citations are becoming one more area where women are falling behind their male colleagues.

A research team from the University of Washington, led by theoretical and evolutionary biologist Carl Bergstrom, analyzed 1.6 million papers spanning 60 years from the scholarly database JSTOR. The papers included 40 million citations, of which 1 million were from scholars referring to their own work. Bergstrom’s team found that men were 56 percent more likely to cite their own work. In some male-heavy fields, the gender gap was even more pronounced than in fields where female researchers are more prevalent. In mathematics, for example, men were 84 percent more likely than women to self-cite, compared to sociology, where they were only 43 percent more likely to cite their own research. The researchers also reported that this gap has grown in the last 10 years, as more women have entered academic research. [Rest.]

Self-Citation Gender Gap (female researchers do not cite their own work as often as their male colleagues)

Elderly Male Professor Takes An Interest in My Philosophical Bosom

As a PhD student, I was walking down the hallway of our campus building with a male student, also a PhD student in our program. An older man was coming towards us, and approached the male student to say hello. As he conversed with the male student, he blatantly stared at my chest the entire time. I felt very awkward, and wondered who this rude older man could be. He did not say hello to me, or ask my name, or introduce himself, but continued to gawk at my chest in a lecherous manner. Naturally, I did not want to introduce myself to him, given this behavior, so I ignored him. He was inviting the male student to play golf with him one day after class. After he walked away, I asked the male student, “who was that disgusting old man?” He replied, “Oh, you don’t know him? He is full professor here in the department.” After this incident, I started inquiring about his classroom behavior among some of the female undergraduate majors that I knew– not in any accusatory way, just general questions about what his classes were like. Nearly every woman I spoke to said that he consistently dismissed, belittled, and/or ignored any ideas or questions of female students, to the point where none of them felt comfortable in class. This was my first year of graduate school, and gave me a taste of what academia can be like for women– which was very eye-opening for me, because I assumed that intelligent and politically aware people such as I imagined philosophers to be could not possibly be this misogynistic and obnoxious. [Rest.]

Elderly Male Professor Takes An Interest in My Philosophical Bosom

[research] Images of Gender Twenty Years Later: A Content Analysis of Images in Introductory Criminal Justice and Criminology Textbooks

Feminist Criminology, October 2013 issue.

Abstract: This research is a content analysis of photographs in 23 introductory criminal justice and criminology textbooks published between 2008 and 2012, replicating the original work of Baro and Eigenberg analyzing changes of gender depictions in introductory criminal justice and criminology textbooks and adding an examination of gendered interaction patterns. Findings support women continue to be marginalized in introductory criminal justice and criminology textbooks some 20 years after the initial study while images of gendered interaction patterns are largely absent. A discussion of the findings as well the study and praxis of criminal justice and criminology are presented. [Link to PDF.]

[research] Images of Gender Twenty Years Later: A Content Analysis of Images in Introductory Criminal Justice and Criminology Textbooks

Violence against women: an EU-wide survey: main results report

This FRA survey is the first of its kind on violence against women across the 28 Member States of the European Union (EU). It is based on interviews with 42,000 women across the EU, who were asked about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including incidents of intimate partner violence (‘domestic violence’).

The survey also included questions on stalking, sexual harassment, and the role played by new technologies in women’s experiences of abuse. In addition, it asked about their experiences of violence in childhood. Based on the detailed findings, FRA suggests courses of action in different areas that are touched by violence against women and go beyond the narrow confines of criminal law, ranging from employment and health to the medium of new technologies.

Main findings from the report (link to pdf).

Extent of the problem

  • An estimated 13 million women in the EU have experienced physical violence in the course of 12 months before the survey interviews.
  • An estimated 3.7 million women in the EU have experienced sexual violence in the course of 12 months before the survey interviews.

Overall prevalence of physical and sexual violence

  • One in three women (33 %) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since she was 15 years old.
  • Some 8 % of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in the 12 months before the survey interview.
  • Out of all women who have a (current or previous) partner, 22 % have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner since the age of 15.

Characteristics of physical violence

  • Some 31 % of women have experienced one or more acts of physical violence since the age of 15. While women are most likely to indicate that they were pushed or shoved, excluding this form of violence has only a limited effect on the overall prevalence of physical violence, bringing it down from 31 % to 25 %. This result reflects the fact that many women who say they have been pushed or shoved have also experienced other forms of physical violence.

Characteristics of sexual violence

  • In total, 11 % of women have experienced some form of sexual violence since they were 15 years old,  either by a partner or some other person.
  • One in 20 women (5 %) has been raped since the age of 15.
  • Of those women who indicate they have been victims of sexual violence by a non-partner, almost one in 10 women indicates that more than one perpetrator was involved in the incident when describing the details of the most serious incident of sexual violence they have experienced.

Details of intimate partner violence

  • One third of victims (34 %) of physical violence by a previous partner experienced four or more different forms of physical violence.
  • The most common forms of physical violence involve pushing or shoving, slapping or grabbing, or pulling a woman’s hair.
  • Whereas in most cases violence by a previous partner occurred during the relationship, one in six women (16 %) who has been victimised by a previous partner experienced violence after the relationship had broken up.
  • Of those women who experienced violence by a previous partner and were pregnant during this relationship, 42 % experienced violence by this previous partner while pregnant. In comparison, 20 % experienced violence by their current partner while pregnant.

Details of non-partner violence

  • One in five women (22%) has experienced physical violence by someone other than their partner since the age of 15.

Violence against women: an EU-wide survey: main results report

New study finds that drinking doesn’t cause sexual aggression, predators target drunk women

A new study backs up what feminists have been saying for approximately ever about the relationship between drinking and rape. Namely, that alcohol–despite its impressive powers–neither magically turns well-meaning kids into sexual aggressors nor makes everything so topsy turvy that nobody has any clue what consent is and if they have it or gave it. Instead, sexual predators deliberately target intoxicated victims. 

NPR reports:

When researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Washington observed young people’s behavior in bars, they found that the man’s aggressiveness didn’t match his level of intoxication. There was no relationship. Instead, men targeted women who were intoxicated. The researchers hired and trained 140 young adults to go into bars in the Toronto area and note every incident of aggression they saw. They found that 25 percent of all incidents involved sexual aggression. And 90 percent of the victims of sexual aggression were women being harassed by men.

[Rest.]

New study finds that drinking doesn’t cause sexual aggression, predators target drunk women

‘Lad culture’ on UK campuses

The NUS recently commissioned this study into ‘lad culture’ on UK campuses. It’s a long and daunting read*, and I can’t help thinking that something a bit shorter and less convoluted might have been more useful, but it is, nevertheless, an important insight into the experiences of some women students at UK universities. Here’s a summary of the main findings from p. 28 of the report:

  1. This report presents the findings of a qualitative research project conducted with 40 women students (4 focus groups and 21 interviews), focused on their encounters with ‘lad culture’ and their experiences of university life.
  2. Our sample was mostly composed of white, British, undergraduates aged between 18 and 25; most also identified as heterosexual and middle class. However, a significant minority of our respondents did not fit this profile, and our findings reflect intersections with other aspects of identity such as ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, disability and age.
  3. Our participants defined campus culture as largely located in the social side of university life, led by undergraduates and significantly shaped by alcohol consumption. They also defined campus cultures as gendered, and saw strong connections between ‘lad culture’ and the values, attitudes and behaviours evident (and in some cases pervasive) on their campuses. [Rest.]

‘Lad culture’ on UK campuses

"Every single decent man I know is hugely offended…

Every single decent man I know is hugely offended by the idea that he doesn’t have enough self-control over his sexual urges and genitalia to avoid seriously traumatizing another human being. The idea that men are ruled by their impulses and cannot exercise critical thought to control themselves is hugely insulting to men. And the myth is not just misandrist, it’s also used to prop up misogyny, by saying that men cannot be truly blamed for their sexual violence anymore than one can be blamed for blinking. As portrayed under this viewpoint, both are natural phenomena that are simply out of human control. One just happens to result in violence, usually against women.

- Australian Survey Shows Dangerous Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women (via amenenema)

Sunday feminist roundup (19th January 2014)

Study: Viewing An Ultrasound Does Not Dissuade Women From Abortion

Important to know this in continued fight against the war on women. On RHrealitycheck:

With various states passing mandatory ultrasounds and crisis pregnancy centers focusing more of their efforts on getting ultrasound machines, it’s important to ask: Do ultrasounds even work the way that anti-choicers claim? The whole justification for mandatory ultrasounds is the claim that women who get them will be so overcome with excitement at seeing the embryo in their uterus that they will leap up and say, “Why didn’t anyone tell me that I was going to have a baby? Well, I’m definitely not getting that abortion now!” Indeed, so sure are anti-choicers that the shock of discovering that there’s an embryo in there will jolt women out of the abortion decision that one anti-choice activist said 90 percent of women seeking abortions change their mind upon seeing the ultrasound.

Pro-choice experts immediately knew that claim was a lie, because, unlike most people out there, we know that abortion providers often already make viewing the ultrasound available to patients, and they aren’t reporting 90 percent of their abortions being cancelled. But, as Katy Waldman at Slate reports, researchers decided to go ahead and do a thorough, scientific examination of the question. Published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, the study looked at a whopping 15,575 women coming in for abortion. All received an ultrasound and were offered a chance to look at it. Forty-two percent did. [Rest.]

The F-word in academia: Moving beyond individual choices

Great piece on gender inequality in academia (researchfrontier):

Feminism. Not a rude word. To be equal on the basis of gender. As someone clever said, “it is the radical notion that women are people”.

Sorry to say it folks – but gender inequalities don’t just go away by avoiding explicit sexism. I’m afraid implicit sexism structured into everyday mundane activities prevails.

There are more women than ever obtaining undergraduate or postgraduate degrees – but when it comes to moving up further through academia, institutional sexism is pervasive. To avoid accusations of being anecdotal (and the tired eye-rolling we feminists are accustomed to), let’s start with a few statistics from two recently published studies. [Rest.]

Sunday feminist roundup (12th January 2014)

Quite the list this week, folks.

Why should we focus on women in STEM?

It starts at A-levels, with fewer girls doing a-level in STEM subjects despite out performing boys at GCSE level. Fewer still continue to study STEM subjects at undergraduate level, and fewer at post-graduate. This trend continues through career progression, for example in academia, after PhD, fewer women become lecturers, then fewer become senior lecturers; on and on. Women disappear. Despite clear interest and aptitude in STEM subjects they vanish. But we don’t know why. This is the women in STEM problem.

From aroomofourown:

Cross-posted with permission from The Psychology Supercomputer:

 on Psychology, Science Communication, Women in Science and feminist issues. I also tweet as 

@psycho_claire

So, the question posed as the title for this post prompted a twitter discussion between myself and a friend the other day. The discuss got a bit heated, which some could see as a bad thing, personally I see it as a consequence of debate between passionate people. What came out of that debate though, is that I’ve thought about this question a lot, I assumed that everyone understood why this is an important issue and why we should be focussing on it now, but it seems that assumption May be wrong. I’ve been thinking about how best to explain it, and so I approached my friend to see if he’d be ok with me writing a post on this subject. I want to make clear, this is in no way a continuation of some imagined disagreement. He’s happy for me to write this, and I’m looking forward to coffee with him soon. There’s no personal vendetta here.

Right, so that’s the disclaimer out of the way. :)

Before I explain the why. I suppose I’d better explain the what. What is the women in STEM issue. For those that don’t know STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. And currently we have a problem in STEM subjects and careers. That problem is the low uptake of women. This is not just a recruitment problem, in fact you could argue it’s not a recruitment problem at all. Since girls tend to like and do well in STEM subjects through high school. The women in STEM problem is being referred to as the “leaky pipeline” – at each further stage of education and career progression the proportion of women to men drops. It starts at A-levels, with fewer girls doing a-level in STEM subjects despite out performing boys at GCSE level. Fewer still continue to study STEM subjects at undergraduate level, and fewer at post-graduate. This trend continues through career progression, for example in academia, after PhD, fewer women become lecturers, then fewer become senior lecturers; on and on. Women disappear. Despite clear interest and aptitude in STEM subjects they vanish. But we don’t know why. This is the women in STEM problem.

So, the why? The question raised in the discussion was why are we (as scientists, engineers etc. those involved in public engagement, the media, institutions and the government) placing such an emphasis on this problem? [Rest.]

Related:

Academics Against Mass Surveillance (US)

Might be of interest.

This summer it was revealed, largely thanks to Edward Snowden, that American and European intelligence services are engaging in mass surveillance of hundreds of millions of people. Intelligence agencies monitor people’s Internet use, obtain their phone calls, email messages, Facebook entries, financial details, and much more. Agencies have also gathered personal information by accessing the internal data flows of firms such as Google and Yahoo. Skype calls are “readily available” for interception. Agencies have purposefully weakened encryption standards – the same techniques that should protect our online banking and our medical files. These are just a few examples from recent press reports. In sum: the world is under an unprecedented level of surveillance.
This has to stop.

The right to privacy is a fundamental right. It is protected by international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. Without privacy people cannot freely express their opinions or seek and receive information. Moreover, mass surveillance turns the presumption of innocence into a presumption of guilt. Nobody denies the importance of protecting national security, public safety, or the detection of crime. But current secret and unfettered surveillance practices violate fundamental rights and the rule of law, and undermine democracy.

The signatories of this declaration call upon national states to take action. Intelligence agencies must be subjected to transparency and accountability. People must be free from blanket mass surveillance conducted by intelligence agencies from their own or foreign countries. States must effectively protect everyone’s fundamental rights and freedoms, and particularly everyone’s privacy.

Visit: academicsagainstsurveillance

[HT sociologicalimagination.]

Related: 

Be Wary of Studies That Claim Men and Women’s Brains Are Wired Differently

A heads-up, just in case any of you were still inclined to take these studies at face value. On newrepublic:

The Wall Street Journal reported this week on a spate of controversial new studies suggesting behavioral differences between men and women are due to “hard-wiring” in the brain. In the most comprehensive study, published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, biomedical scientists at the University of Pennsylvania compared brain images of nearly 1,000 men and women aged 8 to 22 and found that the connective tissues between the two hemispheres developed differently in men and women, particularly during adolescence—with significant behavioral consequences.

Women are mostly better connected left-to-right and right-to-left across the two brain hemispheres…Men are better connected within each hemisphere and from back-to-front. That suggests women might be better wired for multitasking and analytical thought, which require coordination of activity in both hemispheres. Men, in turn, may be better wired for more-focused tasks that require attention to one thing a time. But the researchers cautioned such conclusions are speculative.

The study has, unsurprisingly, attracted plenty of criticism—some of it informed, some of it less so. We shouldn’t ignore research whose implications we don’t like—but that seems to be the premise of one camp of critics, who call the study “too depressing to blog about” or claim that the researchers “threw a wet blanket on gender equality.” More convincing rebuttals come from scientists like Christian Jarrett, who argues that the researchers exaggerated the statistical significance of the differences between the male and female brains, and Cordelia Fine, author of Delusions of Gender, who suggests the differences the researchers identified might have more to do with differences in brain size than function. [Read the rest.]

Related:

Study Finds White Americans Believe They Experience More Racism Than African Americans

I shall let these findings speak for themselves but I think that the first thing that the respondents need to do is a crash-course on the nature of -ism and -obia and the power dynamics therein and think critically about how majority groups cannot, ever be on the receiving end of the racism (or sexism etc.) experienced by minority groups.

There’s a saying that “the new racism is to deny that racism exists.” If that is the case, it may explain a study conducted by researchers from Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Business School. Their findings claim that self-described white Americans believe they have “replaced blacks” as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America.

The authors say that their study highlights how the expectations of a “post-racial” society, predicted or imagined in the wake of Barack Obama’s presidency, has far from been achieved.

The study finds that while both Caucasian and African Americans agree that anti-black racism has decreased over the last 60 years, whites believe that anti-white racism has increased. Moreover, the study finds that the majority of Caucasians believe that anti-white racism is a “bigger problem” than what African Americans face. [Rest: politicalblindspot]