The First Road Trip

Jason Torchinsky at Jalopnik tells the story of how Bertha Benz, wife of car inventor Karl Benz, propelled her husband’s design to a higher public profile by taking it on a drive of unprecedented length. Great read.

Via Dave McCall.

Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day Has Been Canceled

As creator Leigh Alexander explains on The New Statesman, the whole thing “runs the risk of catching fire with people who miss the point.” Though Alexander wanted certain male tech writers to understand the sexism in the tech writing world by having people tweet out comments about male tech writers’ appearances when sharing their articles, some might reduce the movement to a joke or use it as a way to say hurtful things to men and women alike, she explains.

This bums me out a little, because it could have been a fun, light-hearted way to draw attention to a serious problem, but she’s probably right—it’s too easy to imagine ways the whole thing could backfire.

"Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day"

The day is the brainchild of writer Leigh Alexander. “The purpose of the exercise isn’t to ‘get revenge’ or to make anyone uncomfortable: simply to help highlight by example what a gendered compliment looks like, and to get people talking in a funny and lighthearted way about how these kinds of comments distract from meaningful dialogues and make writers online feel like their point of view is only as relevant as how attractive they are.”

I’d love to go out of my way to target Jim Dalrymple, but I probably won’t unless I have no other occasion to mention a male tech writer.

Stanford CS Department Targets Women

Billy Gallagher at TechCrunch covers Stanford’s quest to recruit more female students into the Computer Science department:

In 2009, the Stanford CS department revamped its undergraduate curriculum, broadening the program so students could focus on tracks in areas that most interested them. Stanford Professor Mehran Sahami says the addition of multi-disciplinary tracks, such as collaboration with psychology, product design, and others, helped to cast a broader net for potential CS majors.

The department has seen growth across the board since the 2009 revisions, Sahami says, with female enrollment increasing faster on a relative basis. Since 2009, the number of female undergraduates majoring in CS at Stanford has increased 9.5 percentage points.

This kind of “affirmative action” (for lack of a better term) seems to me like the best way to level the ground for under-privileged groups: not necessarily lowering standards, but actively engaging and reaching out to people who might feel marginalized.

Bihar Village Bans Use of Cell Phones by Women

It’s exactly like it sounds.

I mean, come on, everyone. We all know how bad it is when women talk, right? The elders of this Indian village have bravely decided to limit all that pernicious communication, and it turns out that the final straw came when they realized that cell phones were giving women too much freedom to choose their spouses:

Members of the all-male panchayat (an informal, but respected council of village leaders) justified their ruling by arguing that the reputation of their village has been compromised by the handful of single women who have eloped with their partners as well as some married women who have left their husbands by eloping with their current partners.

So, as a group, women are unhappy enough in their marriages that the village is seeing an epidemic of extramarital affairs and elopements, and their solution is to keep women from talking to anyone? That should totally work.

Bonus Anger Fuel: The final paragraph of the article, where we learn that Indian women get raped because they aren’t sexually satisfied.

Assorted Thoughts on the Apple Event

Apple today announced substantial updates to their iPad, iMac, and MacBook Pro lines, a minor update to the Mac Mini, and the all new iPad Mini tablet. Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and The Magazine has some great initial thoughts on the new products.

Your Nasty, Nerdy Sexism Isn't Cute

Molly Oswaks, one of two female Gizmodo writers, on the frequent allegations that she must have gotten her job by performing sexual favors:

We all use all sorts of technology on a daily basis. In fact, an argument could be made that women use more tech than men do. You know what’s a brilliant technology? The tampon. You know what else is? Condoms. The pill is a brilliant example of biotechnology. A pill that prevents you from getting pregnant! It is incredible!

Via The Frisky