Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On Women in the US: Wikipedia, Montana Legislature And Skirt Lengths, And What Sony Pays to Its Female Stars.

Wikipedia, the wonderful experiment in anarchy, has a shadow side:

Wikipedia is a paradox and a miracle—a crowdsourced encyclopedia that has become the default destination for nonessential information. That it has survived almost 15 years and remained the top Google result for a vast number of searches is a testament to the impressive vision of founder Jimmy Wales and the devotion of its tens of thousands of volunteer editors. But beneath its reasonably serene surface, the website can be as ugly and bitter as 4chan and as mind-numbingly bureaucratic as a Kafka story. And it can be particularly unwelcoming to women.

Why unwelcoming to women?  Because of this:

Last week, Wikipedia’s highest court, the Arbitration Committee, composed of 12 elected volunteers who serve one- or two-year terms, handed down a decision in a controversial case having to do with the site’s self-formed Gender Gap Task Force, the goal of which is to increase female participation on Wikipedia from its current 10 percent to 25 percent by the end of next year. The dispute, which involved ongoing hostility from a handful of prickly longtime editors, had simmered for at least 18 months. In the end, the only woman in the argument, pro-GGTF libertarian feminist Carol Moore, was indefinitely banned from all of Wikipedia over her uncivil comments toward a group of male editors, whom she at one point dubbed “the Manchester Gangbangers and their cronies/minions.” Two of her chief antagonists in that group got comparative slaps on the wrist. One was the productive but notoriously hostile Eric “Fuck Wikipedia” Corbett, who has a milelong track record of incivility, had declared the task force a feminist “crusade ... to alienate every male editor,” and called Moore “nothing but a pain in the arse,” among less printable comments; he was handed a seemingly redundant “prohibition” on abusive language. The other editor was Sitush, who repeatedly criticized Moore for being “obsessed with an anti-male agenda” and then decided to research and write a Wikipedia biography of her; he walked away with a mere “warning.”

My guess is that a certain number of the volunteer editors (such as the man who called the founder of Wikipedia a "dishonest cunt")  don't exactly yearn for a larger input for women (aka cunt-carriers?).  The impression I get agrees with what the author of the article states:  The group with the greatest staying power wins, never mind the facts in the story.  Or in other words, if you offer anarchy it doesn't mean that power hierarchies are not created.  They just become impermeable to the influence of the rest of the group.

And if women face extra aggression in the editors' meeting places, it's unlikely that their numbers will rise very fast.  This extra aggression could be both because of misogyny of some milder type and because outsiders shouldn't break into the fortress.

In Montana, the members of the legislature are provided with a dress code.  The code differs for men and women.  It requires female legislators to be sensitive to "skirt lengths and necklines."  Male legislators are not asked to be sensitive to, say, the tightness of their pants in the groin area or how many buttons they have undone.  This is an unimportant matter, in the wider frame of things.  But as one Montana legislator states:

Ms. Eck said she was leaving a health care forum in Helena, the capital, on Monday when one of her Republican colleagues peered at her and told her that he was glad to see she was dressed appropriately.
“It just creates this ability to scrutinize women,” Ms. Eck said. “It makes it acceptable for someone who’s supposed to be my peer and my equal to look me up and down and comment on what I’m wearing. That doesn’t feel right.”
And there's a more traditional gender-political division here, too:

Eck said, "(The dress code) is signed by House leadership, but the Minority House leadership wasn't consulted and I do have an issue with that because the majority of our caucus is women and the majority of our leadership is women."
Speaker Knudsen said the matter's been blown out of proportion, and that no one is going to be measuring skirt lengths.

The Sony hack seems to reveal that the Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars on American Hustle  and that 

The news is even more troubling when you take into consideration that the hack also revealed a staggering gender pay gap among Sony staffers. According to a spreadsheet listing the salaries of 6,000 employees, 17 of those employees were raking in $1 million or more, but only one of those $1 million-plus employees is a woman. Also, analyzing the pay of the two co-presidents of production at Columbia Pictures—who have the same job—pointed to another gender-pay disparity, with Michael De Luca ($2.4 million) making almost $1 million more than Hannah Minghella ($1.5 million).
These data are raw and unadjusted to anything that might be relevant in how someone is reimbursed.  Still, raw data like that suggests that more detailed study of the payment policies of Sony would be pretty interesting.

As I've written before, the secrecy about salaries and wages in the US serves only the employers who wish to pay people the smallest amount they can get away with.  And if the markets, overall, offer women lower alternative salaries, well, Sony can pay women less, too!  Save money, right?