Bad driving TV pilot seeks Contributors!

I may have found a TV participant solicitation even worse than the homeopathic wart cure show from a few weeks ago. This time they’re looking for bad drivers, so of course the only participants they could possibly look for are women. From the email:

We are looking for husbands & boyfriends who would like to help their partner become a better driver.

Does your wife need a dozen attempts to parallel park the family car? Have you bitten your tongue for years?

Has your girlfriend ever crashed the motor trying to reverse into a space? Instead of holding your head in your hands do you want to work with us to help her?

Have her poor parking skills become a long running family joke?  If so – we’d love to hear from you.

Women can’t drive and all couples are hetero. This promises to the be the most entertaining new show of the 1970s.

“The World is Getting Better. Quickly.” — Anil Dash

Anil Dash’s account of meeting with Bill Gates to hear about the progress of the UN Millenium Development Goals:

Last week, I had a chance to sit down with Bill Gates as part of a small group, in a discussion focused around the release of his annual letter and the progress that has been made against the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. You can also read his annual letter as a 6.3MB PDF. Ill write separately about what it was like having a conversation with Bill Gates, but the biggest highlight that came from the meeting was a simple lesson:

The world is getting better, faster, than we could ever have imagined.

Worth reading the whole thing to see how much progress our species has made in 20 years.

Adults do not obey

The best comment I’ve read on the topic of Savita Halappanavar’s death comes from Emer O’Toole, in the Guardian:

I am no longer a Catholic, so I need to look for earthly explanations as to what happened to Halappanavar. The medical technology to prevent this painful, senseless death was at hand. Yet doctors did not use it. Why? One could argue that they had to obey Irish law. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, speaking of defences mounted by the perpetrators of atrocities during the Holocaust, Hannah Arendt says that adult citizens cannot obey. Children and animals can obey, but adults have the capacity to morally assess the actions that their sociopolitical systems demand of them.

Adults do not obey, they consent.

Godwin’s Law aside, the message here is clear. Regardless of what Irish law may be (and of what it may become) with respect to abortion, any doctor who has stood by and allowed a woman to die, rather than even attempt provide the medical care she needed, bears moral responsibility for her death.

Narrow the gap

In recognition of International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8 every year, Gina Trapani (of Lifehacker and This Week in Google fame) launched Narrow the Gapp, highlighting the gap in salaries between men and women doing equal work.

(Edit, March 12: Gina has now posted about this on her own blog, Smarterware.)

For example, in software engineering women earn on average only about 91% of what men earn.

The data is from the United States, but the problem is world wide.

My natural first reaction to seeing statistics like this is to think, “It’s terrible that this is the case, but I’m sure it’s not true of my company.” And maybe I’m right. After all, I don’t work for a conventional comany. But even if I am right, that means that for every woman I work with who justly earns what her male colleagues earn, there is someone at another job who has it twice as bad as the stats imply.

Here’s the thing about gender and its relation to software engineering. I’ve seen some strange things in my time, but I’ve never seen anyone use a penis to improve his programming. It seems weird that you might be paid extra for having one.

A common argument that comes up every time the pay gap is mentioned is that men are better at negotiating salaries. But isn’t that still part of the problem? Pay should be related to the work you do, not your ability to negotiate with your employer. If men are more likely to be willing or able to negotiate higher salaries, then that is itself a systematic bias against women whether or not it’s rooted in overt discrimination.

It’s also likely that if men are generally more successful at negotiating it might not be because they’re better at it. It’s just as likely that they’re successful because of the attitude of the person they’re negotiating with. A lot of negotiation is in the perceptions of the person on the other side. Discrimination (intentional or otherwise) creeps in wherever it can.