Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Short Posts 9/14/16: On Undecided Voters, Missing Women On Conference Panels and Chelsea Clinton's Mothering Skills

1.  Digby writes about one of the undecided voters profiled in a GQ story.   That particular voter is not given a name in the story, only a profession, which would be politics reporting, so we can't tell if all the undecided people interviewed in the GQ article are men or all but one.  I suspect that the anonymous person is a guy, too,  and white, given the concerns that person has about Clinton and Trump:

I cannot stomach Hillary Clinton. I just can't get with her. Maybe because I know too much. I find so much of her world hypocritical, reprehensible. I think the rest of the country sort of gives her a pass, like, "Oh, she's always been attacked by Republicans, it's not that big a deal, email shmemail!" But I'm like, "WHAT! This is a huge deal."
And then I also obviously struggle with Donald Trump. The things I like about him are: I believe that sometimes you just have to blow shit up to build it again, and I think that a Trump presidency would do that. But just when I sort of get there with him, like, Ohhhhhhkayyyy, he says or does something and I'm like, "No, I can't!" Like saying, "What do you have to lose?" to African-Americans. Like, WHAT? What?

Gun to my head, I would probably vote Trump because of my feelings about Hillary, and my—I just want to see what happens. But if I were to talk to you tomorrow, I'd be like, "Ugh! I've gotta vote for Hillary!" 

What struck me about those opinions is the way different classes of people have different amounts of "skin in the game."  If Trump's penchant for nuking other countries would be openly linked to bringing back the draft, perhaps the above opinions would have been different?  The excitement with "blowing shit up to build it again" might have been somewhat more muted if blowing that shit up meant that the person: "politics reporter, Washington DC,  42",  might get blown up as part of the shit or if it was that person's child who would be conscripted and sent to participate in the blowing up.

I could be wrong, of course, but when "shit is being blown up" some people get blown up with it first.  Or some people get their lives made more difficult, their safety endangered, their incomes diminished,  their bodies controlled.  Maybe not people who can be defined as "politics reporter, Washington, DC, 42."  In other words, for some the idea of "blowing shit up" is abstract, for others it is much more concrete.

2.  A new study (which I have not read) is reported to cast more light on the impact of being viewed as a woman or as a man has on who gets a paper accepted at a scientific conference:

The study -- published in the Journal of Language Evolution -- is based on a change in the way paper proposals were reviewed for the Evolution of Language Conference, which takes place every two years and is a premier academic event for those in the field. For the most recent conference, held this year, the organizers switched from a single-blind review to a double-blind review.
In single-blind review, the names of reviewers are not disclosed to those who have made submissions. The idea is that reviewers need not fear offending anyone with frank comments. But the reviewers know who has submitted. In double-blind review, all names are shielded, so that reviewers' identities are protected, but they don't know the identities of those who are being judged.
When the language conference switched to double blind this year, the rankings of paper proposals from women or teams where a woman was the first author saw a gain of 4 percent on the ratings system. The ratings of proposals by men or where a man was the first author saw a 19 percent decline in their ratings.
Further, the study found a gender impact when looking at women and men who had submitted papers under single-blind review to prior conferences and to the most recent conference under double-blind review. Under double blind, the women-authored papers moved up and the men-authored papers moved down in the rankings.

I can make theories about what might have driven those findings*, but, in essence, the outcome looks similar to the one observed once orchestras began auditioning new members using a screen which hid the person's external attributes from the judges but left the music audible:  Many more women were accepted as members.

Certain attributes:  perceived biological sex, race, age, body size etc. can all function as seemingly relevant information to our subconscious judges about a person's skills and abilities, even when the information is not relevant.

It's also possible, of course, that this finding was a fluke one, caused by something having changed over time in the relative quality of the papers women and teams led by women submitted, as compared to the quality of the papers men and teams led by men submitted.  Though I doubt that, and add it here just because I try to be a thorough goddess.

3.  Here's today's fun piece of crap:

The subtext is that Chelsea Clinton might be a bad mother, but it's really tough to make that explicit enough.**  So we are asked:  Is it acceptable for one parent to drop the child off on the first day of school?

Hmm.  Let me think about that one for a minute or two!  Is it acceptable for just one parent to drop the child off on the first day of school if that parent is the mother? 

What percentage of children have both parents drop them off on the first day of school? 

What percentage of children, traditionally, had just their mothers drop them off on that day?  Just their fathers?

Getting that subtext about bad-mothering accusations clear enough is hard if it is done in the context of "parenting," not in the context of "traditional mothering" obligations.   Mmm.

Do weird kinds of journalists follow Trump's wife, sons and daughters around in order to find what kind of people they might be? 
* But those theories are just idle speculation.  Here are a few examples, for those who are interested: 

It could be that people use academic rank as a signal of how good an article might be, and if women, on average, are less likely to be full professors, then that would hurt them.  It could be that people use institutional affiliation as a signal of how good an article might be, and if women, on average, are less likely to have one of those truly fancy institutional affiliations (Ivy League, say), then that would hurt them.

Or both of these together or in combination of that psychological phenomenon where women at meetings or seminars or conferences may just not get their opinions listened to that seriously, what with being subconsciously viewed as individuals of lesser rank, less powerful to affect the career of someone else,  and therefore safer to ignore when time and resources are short.

**  Imagine if the story was reversed:  Mark Mezvinsky, Hillary Clinton's son-in-law, misses the first day of his daughter's school.  That wouldn't even be a story.  And just as an aside, did Donald Trump take his children to school on their first days of school?