Sunday, April 6, 2014

How To: Study Women in STEM

This guide is intended for feminists of diverse backgrounds and experience seeking to study women's issues in STEM in general, and Free Software Development, Computer Science/Engineering and IT in particular.

Most people in such fields are busy people, often hard pressed for time and time for living. Then there are women who may not be willing to talk or reveal their identity to the general public for various reasons. That means that you better be very prepared and professional in your approach.

If you are just a news person with interest in women's affairs and seek to cover some geek related sexist incident, then you should be aware of all of the resources below and more on good rules  of such reporting  (that may not be part of your news channel's policies).

The resources that you should be aware of include:

The wikia has references to other studies, includes information on various incidents and geek women, but is generally deficient on many theoretical aspects. Admittedly the focus is on women in the west. You will, for example (as of this writing), not find enough material or information on sexism and gender discrimination in Latin American and South East Asian countries - though it fairly well known that the situation is not good. All this means that the focus of your study should be appropriate enough.

If your study can be done through interaction in private and public mailing lists for women's issues, then do consider the option and follow all related privacy rules. If in doubt, do ask! Also note that it is not advisable to proceed through mass public channels like Reddit - mainly because these are spammed by organized bigots/vested interests and moderators do not have sufficient control.

The other problem that you need to be aware of is that many geek women may not be particularly competent in feminism or aware of feminist terminologies and the "apparent trivial nature of complex questions". If your study concerns contrasting narratives, then you better fix a good time and explain the complexity in advance. The same applies for studies with a focus on feminist epistemology.

Your work-flow may therefore be along the following lines:

  • Fix Topic
  • Do your Homework
  • Rectify Topic
  • Identify Potential Respondents.
  • Check if Topic and Methodology will appeal to potential respondents.
  • Fix Possible Questions - What kind of answers are you anticipating?
Rest should be easy.

Finally if you doubt everything and nothing less than real-time studies of your subject will convince you, then stay with us.


All Rights Reserved, Copyright A. Mani' 2014

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