Federal health officials are taking steps to correct a longstanding gender imbalance in laboratory research on potential drug treatments.An Editorial in the New York times states that “For the past two decades, federal law has required that women be included in clinical studies funded by the National Institutes of Health in recognition of the fact that drugs often have vastly different effects in men and women. As a result, more than half of the participants in N.I.H.-funded clinical research are women. But there has been no similar requirement to eliminate the sex bias from more basic laboratory research that can lead up to a clinical trial or doom a drug to the discard pile if it seems not to work.
“That is about to change. Top N.I.H. officials announced in the journal Nature this month that the agency would soon require researchers applying for grants to balance male and female cells and laboratory animals unless there is good reason to include only one sex “based on rigorously defined exceptions.” A laboratory study of ovarian cancer or of prostate cancer could presumably include only animals or cells of the relevant sex, for example. The new rules could have a significant effect on how laboratory research is conducted because the N.I.H. is a major funder of biomedical research around the world.
“The gender imbalance results in part from resistance to any change in ingrained practices, fears that costs may rise, and obsolete views that fluctuations in female hormones would complicate results in female laboratory animals. Yet for some traits and behaviors there is far more variability among males than females. Continue reading “More on bias in the lab”
You don’t have to be strictly a man or a woman on Facebook anymore.
CNN today reports that “In a nod to the “it’s complicated” sexual identities of many of its users, the social network on Thursday added a third “custom” gender option for people’s profiles. In addition to Male or Female, Facebook now lets U.S. users choose among some 50 additional options such as “transgender,” “cisgender,” “gender fluid,” “intersex” and “neither.”
“Users also now have the ability to choose the pronoun they’d like to be referred to publicly: he/his, she/her, or the gender-neutral they/their. “When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self,” Facebook said in a post on its Diversity page.
“An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just ‘male’ or ‘female,’ ” the post continued. “So today, we’re proud to offer a new custom gender option to help you better express your own identity on Facebook.” Facebook said it worked with a group of leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organizations to come up with the new gender categories.”Facebook users from across the country have been asking for the ability to reflect their gender accurately, and today Facebook showed they have been listening,” said Allison Palmer, a former GLAAD vice president, who worked on the project with Facebook. Continue reading “Facebook moves beyond female and male”
The total number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters remains steady on U.S. television for a second year, but is represented more equally between males and females, gay rights group GLAAD said on Friday, according to Voice of America
“There will be 112 LGBT characters in regular or recurring roles on scripted television shows across the United States in 2013-2014, and half are played by women, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said, adding that it indicates networks are making more effort to diversify storylines.
“In 2012, the majority of LGBT characters tracked by the GLAAD report were male.
“Last year saw a record number of LGBT characters across U.S. scripted television, with 31 regularly on the five main primetime networks. GLAAD releases a report annually tracking gender and ethnic diversity on television over the past year and in the coming year. This year has seen a drop in LGBT characters on primetime networks due to the cancelation of shows such as “The New Normal” and “Go On,” with 26 regular LGBT cast members and 20 recurring. On cable television, LGBT characters rose to 42 from last year’s 35, HBO leading the way with 11 characters. LGBT characters featured in leading or recurring roles in new shows this year include Fox police comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” NBC sitcom “Sean Saves the World” and CBS thriller “Under the Dome.”
“ABC and FOX were the only primetime networks to increase the percentage of LGBT roles in shows, and NBC came in last among the five primetime broadcast networks. While last year there were no regular transgender roles on primetime broadcast shows, “Glee” upgraded transgender character Unique to regular this year.”
More at: http://www.voanews.com/content/reu-gender-representation-equal-among-gay-us-tv-characters/1767718.html
Some of have gotten quite fond of Siri. You know what we mean. Her wit and sensitivity. The ways she remembers things about you others forget. That certain sound of her voice. Now Apple has decided to to change her.
“Today Apple unveiled a new look for Siri that came with new voice options, actions, and some hot integration, including in-car options and music streaming, reports C/NET.
“The voice command technology has new voices, female and male — also available in French and German. Siri’s display includes a new look that shows a sound wave at the bottom while its detecting a user’s voice and full-screen results.
“Users can instruct Siri to complete functions like “turn off my Bluetooth,” or “increase my brightness,” according to software VP Eddy Cue. The digital assistant also has a slew of new integrations. These included Twitter, Wikipedia, and Bing search results, as well ascar integration with maps, music playback, and iMessage. But the highlight of Cue’s presentation was Apple’s long-awaited music streaming service, iTunes Radio.
“Apple highlighted Siri as part of its iOS 7 showcase, iOS’s biggest refresh yet.”
More at: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57588315-37/apples-siri-gets-new-voices-display-and-actions/
Wikipedia stands accused of sexism and being the “encyclopaedic embodiment of the male gaze” after it was revealed the website is moving female authors from its ‘American novelists’ category into a sub-section called ‘American women novelists.’ As today’s The Post (UK) reports
“Successful novelists such as Donna Tartt, Harper Lee and Amy Tan have all been relegated to the sub-category by Wikipedia editors and the process is ongoing. American novelist Amanda Filipacchi says female writers whose surnames begin with A or B have been “most affected” so far. The explanation given by Wikipedia at the top of the page is that the American novelists category is “too long” and authors have to be put into sub-categories wherever possible, Filipacchi notes in the New York Times.
“For Filipacchi the relegation of women authors to a sub-category is a pernicious process as people “get ideas” about which authors to “hire, or honour, or read” from Wikipedia lists. “They might simply use that list without thinking twice about it. It’s probably small, easily fixable things like this that make it harder and slower for women to gain equality in the literary world”, she writes. Continue reading “Encyclopedia of the male gaze”
New York Times recently reported that 76 percent of American university faculty are adjunct professors – an all-time high. Unlike tenured faculty, whose annual salaries can top $160,000, adjunct professors make an average of $2,700 per course and receive no health care or other benefits, as the ever-insightful Sarah Kendzior writes in Al Jazeera this week.
“Most adjuncts teach at multiple universities while still not making enough to stay above the poverty line. Some are on welfare or homeless. “Others depend on charity drives held by their peers. Adjuncts are generally not allowed to have offices or participate in faculty meetings. When they ask for a living wage or benefits, they can be fired. Their contingent status allows them no recourse.
“No one forces a scholar to work as an adjunct. So why do some of America’s brightest PhDs – many of whom are authors of books and articles on labour, power, or injustice – accept such terrible conditions?
“Path dependence and sunk costs must be powerful forces,” speculates political scientist Steve Saidemen in a post titled “The Adjunct Mystery”. In other words, job candidates have invested so much time and money into their professional training that they cannot fathom abandoning their goal – even if this means living, as Saidemen says, like “second-class citizens”. (He later downgraded this to “third-class citizens”.)
With roughly 40 percent of academic positions eliminated since the 2008 crash, most adjuncts will not find a tenure-track job. Their path dependence and sunk costs will likely lead to greater path dependence and sunk costs – and the costs of the academic job market are prohibitive. Many job candidates must shell out thousands of dollars for a chance to interview at their discipline’s annual meeting, usually held in one of the most expensive cities in the world. In some fields, candidates must pay to even see the job listings. Continue reading “The academic underclass”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s announcement just weeks before leaving office that he would bring an end to the policy of excluding women from combat assignments surprised, well, everyone. To call this move historic is to put it mildly. Today’s Huffington Post carried the following article on the last frontier’s of military equality: the ability of transgender service people to serve openly:
“Not long after that, he made history again, bringing a measure of equity to the benefits offered to same-sex military families before leaving D.C. to return to his much-loved walnut farm in California. History will remember Panetta’s tenure at the Defense Department favorably for these decisions to change policies that no longer reflected the reality of our wars or, just as importantly, the values of our nation.
“As a woman veteran, I was elated with these changes. As the wife of a woman veteran (my wife Danyelle was a West Point classmate of mine and served as an Army officer with honor and distinction), I felt encouraged by them.
“But as a transgender veteran, and an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members, veterans and their families, the changes that Secretary Panetta brought about in his last days in office have left me emboldened. Here’s why: As the combat exclusion for women comes to an end and open service for gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans edges closer to truly equal service, it becomes more and more obvious that there is no longer any rational basis on which to bar qualified transgender people from serving in our armed forces. Continue reading “On transgender military service”
Last night the Arizona House Appropriations Committee passed a new version of the notorious “Bathroom Bill.”
SB1045 makes it against state law for local governments to pass laws or regulations which ensure access to public access to “privacy areas” based on “gender identity or expression,” reports Huffington Post.
“It nullifies existing laws that do, and states that business owners can’t be held accountable if they deny access to an individual if the individual’s gender expression doesn’t meet the business owner’s approval. Almost as appalling was the designation of this bill as an emergency measure. Continue reading “Arizona reverses again to worse law”
As colleges and universities adopt increasingly inclusive stances toward transgender students, some institutions are finding themselves confused by an array of contradictory laws and government policies nationwide. As Huffington Post reports,
“An exclusive, women’s liberal arts college has rejected a transgender applicant because a government financial aid document still registers her as male.
“Calliope Wong, a student at Amity Regional Senior High School in Connecticut,posted a picture of her official rejection letter to Tumblr on March 10. Signed by Smith College’s Dean of Admission Debra Shaver, the letter thanked Wong for her application but said that “Smith is a women’s college, which means that undergraduate applicants must be female at the time of admission.” The problem, according to the letter, is that Wong’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) identified her as male. Continue reading “Smith college transgender confusion”
“If you work for a company run by a male chief executive whose wife is about to give birth to a child—particularly his firstborn—you might want to cross your fingers they have a daughter” reports today’s Wall Street Journal. ” And if you’re a male worker, you might get the short end of the stick no matter the gender or birth order.”
“The gender of a male CEO’s children is significantly linked to the salary of
his employees, according to new research from Aalborg University economics professor Michael Dahl, University of Maryland Smith School of Business professor Cristian Dezso and Columbia Business School professor David Gaddis Ross. Presented Friday at the annual American Economic Association meeting here, the analysis suggests some explanations for the linkage, but doesn’t draw absolute conclusions. Continue reading “The boss and his baby”
“In Gaga Feminism, instead of pitting bodies with vaginas against bodies with penises, I argue that we are living in a new world where the categories of male and female are rapidly being updated all around us,” writes Jack Halberstam is an essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books. As Halberstam puts it, “Truth be told, gender and gender politics nowadays have little to do with simple genitality and are much more connected to new social arrangements, diverse households, and innovative classifications of identity, community, and desire … In a world of sperm banks, in vitro fertilization, queer families, butch daddies, transgender men and women, and heteroflexible women, pretending to be offended by the use of the word “vagina” in a public speech or making insupportable claims about rape and pregnancy are not just quaint and old-fashioned: they signal a deep ignorance about the world we live in and the enormous changes that have taken place within it in the last two decades. Continue reading “Gaga feminism”
A group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan have issued a fatwa against the Taliban assailants who tried to kill a 14-year-old girl, famous for campaigning for the right of young females to an education. As reported in The Guardian, “The Islamic scholars from the Sunni Ittehad Council publicly denounced attempts by the Pakistani Taliban to mount religious justifications for the shooting of Malala Yousafzai and two of her classmates as they sat inside a school bus on Tuesday. Hamid Saeed Kazmi, a former religious affairs minister, replied that Islam “holds the killing of one innocent person as killing the entirety of humanity”. There was continued outrage over the attack, which has left Yousafzai in a critical condition at a Pakistani military hospital after surgery to remove a bullet from near her spinal cord. Authorities are offering a reward of $100,000 for the capture of her attackers. Continue reading “Fatwa issued against Yousafzai shooters”
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As a topic, bullying has received considerable media attention in recent years in its linkages to online harassment, school shootings, suicide, and even a notable candidate for political office. While bullying can be overt or subtle, it nearly always involves a power imbalance based on some kind of difference in behavior, appearance, culture, or belief. Perceived standards of the “normal” or “natural” get used to rationalize verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. In The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools (New York University Press, 2012), Jessie Klein argues that these notions of normality are far more significant in bullying than individual pathology.Bullies may the active agents in causing harm, but larger groups or an entire “bully society” may be the real problem, especially when we consider that this is not just about kids. Writ large, bullying can be seen to inhabit the workplace, the political arena, and the mediascape.
Continue reading “The bully society”