Tag: equality

keep a breast of open knowledge

No nudes is not good news. Picture taken by me at work of one of the artworks on display from our collections. No rights reserved by me.

In an effort to stay up to date with all things wiki, I went last week to Wikimania 2017 in Montreal. It was my first Wikimania. Ewan and I did our ‘What’s the Value of a Wikimedian’ double act. You can watch us on Media Hopper.

The conference was really interesting, and quite political. Lots of talk of combatting fake news and a keynote from the ACLU. It was also quite a diverse conference, I thought, and the topic of diversity came up again and again. A lot of people thinking very hard about the sheer scale of getting ‘everyone’ involved in open knowledge.

I mused* on 2 things:

  1. Someone presented some research indicating that women who contribute to Wikipedia do not only edit on ‘women’s topics’ or female biographies. That was not a shock as women, notoriously, are interested in all kinds of topics. But it does mean that getting more female editors does not automatically increase the coverage of our under represented bios.
  2. There was some interesting findings with regard to images. It seems that the images available in Wikimedia Commons to represent people in roles and professions disproportionately portray men in those roles.  Even when the profession in question is traditionally female dominated.

Interesting.

The connection between these two I think, must draw upon the same theory of ‘unconscious bias’ as our recruitment training does. Men and women both tend to think that men are more appropriate in professional roles, and more notable for biographies. Unconsciously, even when we pay attention, we may fall foul of our bias.

(slides from these research presentations)

Much inspired by it all, I return to my main hobby of creating and improving women’s bios. This week I wrote about Prunella Briance, founder of the NCT and Sheila Kitzinger.  I felt brave and added a picture of actual breastfeeding to Kitzinger’s page. I think she would have wanted that. Briance, Kitzinger and the NCT fought the good fight to allow women to breastfeed without fear, even in public.

 

*coincidentally, while I was there I discovered another dead muse, and created a page for Blanche Blackwell.

 

how do I know Ruth Adler?

Rosie the Editor
I created a Wikipedia page for Ruth Adler, because I saw her on Ewan’s list of ‘women in red’ (women notable enough to need Wikipedia pages but yet have none). I remember Ruth from my childhood in Edinburgh. Her kids went to the same school as me. She was also prominent in many of the causes in which my mother was involved and her name was mentioned in our house many times.

In creating the page I learned how impressive she really was and how much she did. I’m pleased University of Edinburgh recognise her.

Read more about Ruth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Adler

counting steps and supporting fathers

Picture taken by me outside the British Library, London. No rights reserved by me.

Counting steps is all the rage amongst the ladies of my acquaintance. How many steps have you managed today? this week?  Is it time for a wee sit down now? Yes. You deserve it.

I’ve been making some progress on our PlayFair Steps Programme  in ISG.

We have welcomed some excellent speakers as part of our commitment to raising understanding of equality and diversity issues in our workplace. It has been particularly interesting to have academic colleagues present the most up to date data from their research and describe how their work influences public policy development in Scotland.

Our speakers this year have been Barbara Melville (Equate Scotland) on the language of job ads; Morna Simpson introducing Girl Geek Scotland; Professor Sheila Riddell (Chair in Inclusion and Diversity) on disability data and employment and Dr Tom Callard (UoE Business School) on managerial perspectives. ISG directors have also considered initiatives for apprenticeships, ‘Women Returners’ projects and we have become an institutional sponsor of Geek Girl Scotland.

For our next event the PlayFair Steps team have partnered with Fathers Network Scotland – a national charity who specialise in creating dad-friendly workplaces – to facilitate a short focus group specifically for ISG. Research has consistently shown that one of the key groups missing from discussions on gender equality are fathers in the workplace. Dads at work also need to feel supported in combining their work with their family commitments. This focus group will explore the key areas in which you believe could be addressed at work to support work-life balance.

We have also recently announced the appointment of the new Director of Software Development and Application. There will now be three ( that’s three!) women at Director level.  I think that might be a record.

a cloud named eleanor

Eleanor Anne Ormerod (1828-1901).jpg
By Eleanor Anne Ormerod – Eleanor Anne Ormerod, Public Domain, Link

It’s always fun to name new services after goddesses.

Eleanor Anne Ormerod, was the first woman Fellow of the Meteorological Society and first woman to be given an honorary doctorate by University of Edinburgh. During the conferral of an LL.D. degree from the University, she was described as the “as the protectress of agriculture and the fruits of the earth, a beneficent Demeter of the nineteenth century.” Her portrait is in Old College.

We’ve named our new research cloud computing service after her.

Information Services Group has created a comprehensive cloud computing service, able to support flexible provisioning of infrastructure.  Based on OpenStack, it is an ‘Infrastructure as a Service Cloud’ for carrying out computational and digital research. We provide free and funded tiers.

Once registered, you can access the interface at eleanor.cloud.ed.ac.uk

host a wikimedian: you can’t afford not to

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]This week I spoke at a Wikimedia Edu conference. I spoke about the value of wikimedians in residence (WiR) for higher education (HE).  Some people have told me they can’t afford to host a wikimedian. I would argue you can’t afford not to.

There are 3 main reasons why you can’t afford not to. They are:

  1. Universities must invest in digital skills.
  2. Gender inequality in science and technology is a real thing.
  3. Wikimedians will save us from Wikimedians.

Universities must invest in the development of digital skills for staff and for students. The senior managers in your institutions will be well aware of the recent HEPI report and numerous other reports. Which urge universities to pay attention to digital skills. It is widely recognised that digital capabilities are a key component of graduate employability. To stay competitive globally, ‘the UK must ensure it has the necessary pool of (highly) digitally skilled graduates to support and drive research and innovation throughout the  economy.’

Universities do invest- some more than others. Some employ IT skills trainers, information literacy librarians, study skill tutors, they buy a site-wide license for Lynda.com. For staff they invest in staff development units, learning and development teams. They choose writing for the web training, social media training,  data management skills,  public engagement training, they choose coding for all.

If you are in a university, go look how much those digital skills trainers are paid, that is what you should be paying your wikimedian. If you have a wikimedian hiding in your library, it’s time to come out from behind the stacks and engage with the real business of teaching and learning.

We can’t afford not to develop graduates’ digital capabilities; universities need digitally-skilled staff with digitally-enabled experience.

The formal recognition of students’ digital capabilities is also important. Technology can make it easier to develop authentic learning experiences that are relevant to the labour market and help  students demonstrate their skills to employers.

If you put your wikimedian alongside your digital skill trainers and learning technologists.  Their impact can be significant.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]And it’s not just about editing skills, it’s about open data, replicability, re-use, understanding sources, spotting fake news, understanding analytics, understanding copyright, being part of communities on line. Writing in different styles. Understanding how robot editors and human editors work together- all that new ‘digital labour’.

With HE students and staff wikipedia leads to discussions about privilige and geographies of knowledge, transparency, bias, and if there is ever a ‘neutral’ point of view.  If our staff and students choose to participate in developing new tools, they are developing tools as part of a world-wide  open-source software development project, which is  a significant authentic opportunity.

Gender inequality in science and technology is a real thing, and that is the second reason why you can’t afford not to have a wikimedian in residence.

Your institutions will all be participating in Athena Swan initiatives to some extent.  To achieve Athena Swan awards departments must show how their workplaces and practices tackle the structural barriers for women working in academia, specifically in the STEM disciplines. The Athena Swan assessors like to see evidence of networks and activities, highlighting achievements, and role models and  visibility.

One of our early editathons at Edinburgh – focusing on the Edinburgh 7– the first women to study medicine,  was cited as an example of good practice by the institution in preparing our submission for silver award. Edinburgh was the first of the Scottish institutions to gain that award. The challenges of overcoming structural inequalities which mitigate against  women’s contributions  is an endeavor higher education shares with Wikipedia. It is not enough to say women don’t participate because they don’t have time or technical skills. It is not enough to say that if women learned to behave more like men they would be able to fit in or join in. It is not enough to say that the world of Wikipedia- and science in general- is ‘neutral and fact driven’ and thus free from bias.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]The first step maybe to target articles about women, and recruit new female editors, but  as soon as you go a step beyond that, and apply some kind of Wikipedia Bechdel test –does an article about a woman scientist draw upon a credible source written by a woman? Do those credible sources about women scientists exist, if not why not?  You quickly come up against a wider structural issue about womens participation in academia and scholarship, and promotion, and publication.*

So I suppose my point here is that if you are making a business case for a WiR and you can’t get the funding straight away from the digital skills budget holder, you might be able reference your own institution’s Athena Swan activity and show how the kind of work activities a WiR would do would deliver successful, measurable outcomes for gender equality initiatives.

Which brings me to the third reason why you need a Wikimedian in Residence- is because dealing with Wikimedia is a job in itself.

Wikimedia has developed, in quite a short time,  a particular culture amongst its community. Also it’s tools , toys and projects are growing at a rate of knots.  It’s hard to keep up unless you are immersed.

Sprawling bureaucracy and policy labyrinth is very familiar to those in HE- particularly those in ancient institutions. We also know about exclusive language and communities of practice. There is some irony in the fact that Wikipedia cannot explain itself clearly. Its policies, its processes, its rules and community.

What I have learned from hosting a WiR to develop curriculum activities for students is that is it just not that simple. I was lucky to get one who is already a teacher, because he has had to do a lot of work to ‘translate’ Wkimedia’s policies and processes into ways we can engage.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]Editing as an individual is a different activity than editing as a group or class. Classroom activities – learning and teaching activities- need to be carefully designed and structured and although this can be done successfully it takes a bit of work and that’s what we need a resident to help us with. So if Wikipedia can meet educators halfway and explain its process simply & effectively (e.g. a detailed lesson plans, a robust Visual Editor, easy to follow video tutorials etc) that would really help teachers and trainers in their workplace.

We can’t expect learners and teachers to bend themselves completely out-of-shape to accommodate Wikipedia when there are things we can do quite simply to which would bridge the gap: highlighting its rubrics, assessment criteria, word count tools, plagiarism & copyright detectors and past course assignments & materials etc. Modelling good practice and sharing exemplars will lead to takeup in courses.

Students come to classes and staff come to staff development sessions to learn in groups and that group work activity requires time, effort and resources before during and after. We are working towards that at Edinburgh, creating and sharing re-usable lesson plans and models for classroom activities, but it is that ‘translation’ role between the technology and the teachers which is missing.

‘Twas ever thus in learning technology. This is not new, this is what learning technologists do. It is timely for Wikipedia now.

And in return, we  will enrich content with our collections and expand the range of knowledge covered. We will contribute not only our research to Wikipedia but do research with and about Wikipedia. We will use the data sets being shared and study how the work of knowledge sharing and gathering is conducted.

And hopefully we will all end up pulling in the same direction.

 

  • Please read
    Heather Ford and  Judy Wajcman
    ‘Anyone can edit’, not everyone does: Wikipedia’s infrastructure and the gender gap’
    Article in Social Studies of Science, May 2017

 

grab some scottish pussy

If you feel the urge, as Donald Trump sometimes does, to grab some pussy, this 3D model of the skull of a Scottish Wildcat (Felis Silvestris) made by Dr. Tobias Schwarz, of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies has been shared as OER on Sketchfab where it can be viewed, grabbed, re-used and re-shared.  It’s a cat with big teeth.

You and I both know that phrases like ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ does not go down well with Scottish women, nor with our national Bard,  Robert Burns. Even in 1792  he warned that such locker-room banter was old-fashioned.   Burns’ poem on ‘The Rights of Women‘ describes three rights we can expect from men: protection , decorum and admiration.   On decorum I am confident he would have stood with most men and scolded Trump bigly.

‘There was, indeed, in far less polish’d days,
A time, when rough, rude men had naughty ways,
Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot,
Nay even thus invade a Lady’s quiet.

Now, thank our stars! those Gothic times are fled;
Now, well-bred men-and you are all well-bred-
Most justly think (and we are much the gainers)
Such conduct neither spirit, wit, nor manners.’

On protection of our rights, one week in to the Trump presidency, I’m not filled with confidence. The pictures from the White House of Trump’s all-male advisors gleefully signing executive orders is chilling.

‘While Europe’s eye is fix’d on mighty things,
The fate of Empires and the fall of Kings;
While quacks of State must each produce his plan,
And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some attention.’

At our Burns Night supper this week I was grateful to be reminded by Sian that it was Hilary Clinton who coined the phrase “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” . That was more than 20 years ago (1995) at  the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing.

“What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well. That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on this planet does have a stake in the discussion that takes place here.”

If only that had been more important than how she managed her emails. This episode of ‘This American Life‘  Act 1: ‘Server be Served’ describes how Secretary Clinton was  scupperd by her own IT support.

The interviews “depict less a sinister and carefully calculated effort to avoid transparency than a busy and uninterested executive who shows little comfort with even the basics of technology, working with a small, harried inner circle of aides”.

( Act 2: ‘Knowing what we Know’, a dramatised conversation between Hillary and Huma is excellent too)

things we can name

Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USN (covered)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper
My choice of platform for Thing13 of our 23things is Media Hopper.

You may wonder why Media Hopper is called Media Hopper. You will know the following definitions of hopper:

hopper ( agric) :  a container for a loose bulk material.
hopper ( minecraft ):  a block that can be used to catch item entities, or to transfer items into and out of other containers.
channel-hopper( tv) : quickly changing from one channel to another to find something you want to watch.
Grace Hopper ( rolemodel) : an inspirational computer scientist. She developed the implementation of standards for testing computer systems and components and coined the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches when she removed a moth from her computer.
Dennis Hopper (role model):  just cool.
space hopper ( toy ):  just orange and bouncy.

As I was explaining to Vicki, our Digital Recruitment and Marketing intern just the other day, Media Hopper gathers together all the mixed up multitude of video material from all over the University; brings it into one place; channels it into our VLEs, websites, portals and courses; applies standards and metadata  is very cool.

I think it’s important to name things after inspirational women when you can, and Grace Hopper fits the bill for me.

Vicki will now be using videos in Media Hopper to liven up our LinkedIn presence.

 

things to include

EuroStemCell Wikithon 2016I am participating in the University of Edinburgh digital skills course ‘23 things for digital knowledge‘. Thing 5 is  about diversity.

As well as being one of the ISG change themes through which we are looking at our organisation and changing it to be fit for the future, equality and diversity is part of a larger consideration of digital transformation going on in the university, being championed by our CIO.

Our CIO challenges us to think about the ‘internet of me’, where each of us is at the centre of a web of services tailored to what the internet knows about us and what it anticipates  our wants and desires to be as a result.  Examples given of Uber, Airbnb etc certainly seem to make life easier for some.

I’d suggest that we cannot think about digital transformation without considering privilege and bias.  For some people, their experience of the internet is not as positive as it may seem to be for white, wealthy, north american or british men. For some it is  toxic, biased and perpetuates unhelpful stereotypes.  It is up to us as tech professionals to consider all our users and ensure that we create an internet for all. It is up to us not only to consider our unconscious bias but also to check and recheck that the services we build are inclusive.

The best way we can do that it to have diverse teams working on every project and provide safe working environments for colleagues to share their experiences which can inform our thinking. The risk if we don’t is that the more our services become personalised, the less we are able to empathise with the experience of others.

Some articles worth reading:
Airbnb’s ‘belong anywhere’ undercut by bias complaints
Can computers be racist? Big data, inequality, and discrimination
Research reveals huge scale of social media misogyny

people know people

Issue 26 p. 1 front cover Illustration of hanging a sheet on a washing line Usage terms: We have been unable to locate the copyright holder for Hanging a sheet on a washing line. Please contact copyright@bl.uk with any information you have regarding this item. - See more at: http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/spare-rib-magazine-issue-026#sthash.qZnKW0Db.dpuf
Issue 26 p. 1 front cover
Illustration of hanging a sheet on a washing line
Usage terms: We have been unable to locate the copyright holder for Hanging a sheet on a washing line. Please contact copyright@bl.uk with any information you have regarding this item. – See more at: http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/spare-rib-magazine-issue-026#sthash.qZnKW0Db.dpuf

As part of the PlayFair Steps equality and diversity initiative in ISG we have been looking at our staff demographics and considering our recruitment practices.

There is many a cliche to be heard around how difficult it is to recruit women into tech jobs. Some of it is true, some of it is lack of imagination. As a large tech employer in this city we compete for the best talent against other tech employers in the city. The competition for new graduates, skilled software engineers, designers,  excellent IT managers and creative thinkers is hot*.

As an organisation we recognise that we need to improve the diversity in our teams to improve our insights and creativity, to draw upon a diverse set of ideas and experiences and to model for our own students the world in which they might want to work.

One of the things we’ve done is to start employing student interns. Dozens of ’em.  It’s been really invigorating. All the teams in LTW have benefitted and I am personally very much enjoying having the most up-to-date thinking and input from the interns in my office.  Dominique works with me on my gender equality plans and Polina works with me on digital marketing and recruitment. These two projects are linked. If we want to get more women into our organisation- particularly at senior levels- we need them to apply for our jobs in the first place.

I am not certain that as a tech employer we are very well served by our recruitment strategy currently. We have no specific graduate careers track in ISG, no ‘return to work after a career break’ initiatives and we tend only to advertise in ‘university places’ such as our own HR pages and jobs.ac.uk**.  I’ve never seen a twitter feed or anything similar pushing out our jobs (other than mine).

HR sites, and even jobs.ac.uk rely on the premise that a person wants to work in a university first and that they’ll be looking for a job and your ad will happen to be there at that moment.  I’m not sure that is the market we most need to be in.  I think we need to be digitally transforming our recruitment approach and reaching passive talent*** while they happen to be browsing.

I have asked Polina to investigate LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has company pages, where employers can gather followers and networks and get their news and jobs in front of people who already have jobs and are busy networking in their professional field.  Looking at Linkedin I note that as well as the University news pages, our business school is already using linkedin for their recruitment. Polina is a business school student so she knows her stuff.  My hope is that  we will figure out how best to use Linkedin in ISG to get our adverts to new eyes using  linked people, friends,  friends of friends, networks, news, alumni, students and interested tech followers to show them what a great place this is to work.

I’ll let you know how we get on. If you would like to follow our nascent company page, please do.

 

 

 

*this is what I learned when i recently chaired an Holyrood magazine event on Graduate Digital Skills.

**it turns out that 15% of working professionals are scanning their network at any given time, and  45% are totally open to considering a new opportunity when approached by a recruiter. I know this. It happens to me a  lot. In addition to the 25% who say they are actively looking for a new job, 85% of the global workforce are your oyster.

*** I’m also having trouble finding anyone who has any stats about how many views or shares our ads get. What I am finding is some anxiety amongst our HR professionals that I may be about to disrupt the status quo (again).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sea the elephant in the room

Salvesen Photo Album
Sea Elephant (c) Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh https://www.flickr.com/photos/crcedinburgh/17180464078/

Last week, as part of our PlayFair Steps equality and diversity intiative in ISG, we invited Dr Rowena Arshad to talk to ISG staff about ‘Race Matters at Work’. The presentation was excellent and thought provoking. Attendance was low though, in comparison to an earlier talk in the same series about age.   I wonder whether colleagues hear ‘age’ and think ‘that’s me‘, they hear ‘race’ and they think ‘that’s someone else‘.

Rowena’s presentation helped us to ask ourselves questions about how we see people as ‘other’, and provided valuable insights into real, recent examples at University of Edinburgh.

As well as being one of the ISG change themes through which we are looking at our organisation and changing it to be fit for the future, equality and diversity is part of a larger consideration of digital transformation going on in the university, being championed by our CIO.

Our CIO challenges us to think about the ‘internet of me’, where each of us is at the centre of a web of services tailored to what the internet knows about us and what it anticipates  our wants and desires to be as a result.  Examples given of Uber, Airbnb etc certainly seem to make life easier for some.

I’d suggest that we cannot think about digital transformation without considering privilege and bias.  For some people, their experience of the internet is not as positive as it may seem to be for white, wealthy, north american or british men. For some it is  toxic, biased and perpetuates unhelpful stereotypes.  It is up to us as tech professionals to consider all our users and ensure that we create an internet for all. It is up to us not only to consider our unconscious bias but also to check and recheck that the services we build are inclusive.

The best way we can do that it to have diverse teams working on every project and provide safe working environments for colleagues to share their experiences which can inform our thinking. The risk if we don’t is that the more our services become personalised, the less we are able to empathise with the experience of others.

Some articles worth reading:
Airbnb’s ‘belong anywhere’ undercut by bias complaints
Can computers be racist? Big data, inequality, and discrimination
Research reveals huge scale of social media misogyny
Trouble on the Tracks: Susan Calman on internet filters

Update:

Rowena encouraged us never to be a bystander. Following  a reported rise in racist incidents in the wake of #brexit, this is also a useful resource on social abjection.