International Women’s Day at Harvard and Google

On the breakfast table this morning in a Harvard cafeteria:

Typing “oppression of” into Google results in “oppression of women” as the first option:

Clicking on Google’s “Women’s Day” graphic brings up pages celebrating Yoko Ono and Frida Kahlo:

What’s the message here, though? Weren’t these artists famous primarily due to their sexual relationships with successful male artists? (both of which male artists happened to be married at the time that the sexual relationships commenced) Was it a good day for Cynthia Lennon when Yoko Ono began having sex with her husband John Lennon? If Google is going to pick female role models, why not pick women who made it as artists without the assistance of a male sex partner? Mary Cassatt, for example, Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, or Louise Nevelson in visual art. Aretha Franklin or Mitsuko Uchida in the world of music.

Or maybe that actually is Google’s intentional message? The way for women to advance is with an already-successful male sex partner and the selection of the partner should not be limited to those men who are unmarried?

Readers: How did you celebrate International Women’s Day?

10 thoughts on “International Women’s Day at Harvard and Google

  1. Why are universities involved in the process of investigating sex crimes in the first place? We’re not in the Middle Ages where the Sorbonne was an arm of the Church and thus beyond the reach of secular law, and cardinals are going to jail nowadays. All allegations of assault should immediately be referred to the police. Sexual harassment is different in that in a corporate setting, it is first addressed by the corporation and only as a last resort in the courts.

    IWD experience: my company bought some snacks from the Halal Guys (not sure what tofu and fries has to do with Middle Eastern, but OK). They were also distributing humorous coasters from a series depicting famous people as hipsters ( The choices on offer were Lady Diana (clearly the epitome of self-made achievement), Frida Kahlo and Rosa Parks. They had a flyer for the entire range and one of my millennial colleagues was looking for other women in the list. She saw Margaret Thatcher, and her response “I have no idea who this is” (the names were on the list, so it was a question of not knowing who Thatcher was, not being unable to recognize her distorted likeness). Same thing for Lenin and Mao. I had to ask her if she had heard of Hitler, yes she had, so recalling one out of three from the trifecta of the 20th Century’s worst mass murderes is all we can expect from the US educational system.

    • >is all we can expect from the US educational system.

      I was skiing yesterday (Friday – a school day). There were a lot of children on the slopes, which clearly tells us about what parents think of value of US educational system, lol.

    • > Why are universities involved in the process of investigating
      > sex crimes in the first place? We’re not in the Middle Ages
      > where the Sorbonne was an arm of the Church

      No, we’re in the present day when the Sorbonne is an arm of the Church, except that it’s a different church and a different religion. “The Future is Female”, i.e. female supremacy, is one of its tenets, which is why universities investigate sex crimes.

  2. I survived International Women’s Day by looking forward to International Men’s Days (March 9 – March 7).

  3. Imagine a modern, couple of year old, factory start up that is assembling relatively high tech items in a large west coast city. What are the demographics of the factory workers? Of the sales, marketing, logistics, customer satisfaction, engineering team? Of the very founders themselves?

    We hired a 60 +/- 5 year old white cis hetero male (presumably cis and hetero) to help us build out our HR department and today, International Women’s Day, he met us, and announced what day it was and welcomed “women and their allies” and showed us the (generic) HR department organizational chart he was intent on building and pointed out the spot for VP of Diversity and Inclusion.

    I wanted to ask how much relative to the other VPs this VP would be getting and if their OKRs and KPIs involved creating paperwork and otherwise quantitatively slowing the company down. I wanted to ask him to look around the room and tell us what inclusivity and diversity quotas we weren’t already meeting.

    He told us that creating spots for VPs of Diversity and Inclusion at all his clients where what this old white male was especially proud of.

    I wanted to ask why we shouldn’t fire his butt and give his spot to a gay disabled woman of color.

    Anyway, Happy International Women’s Day to all women and their allies.

    • Thanks for that: “Professor Strumia stated that ‘physics was invented and built by men, it’s not by invitation'”

      It makes sense that he was fired. Absent cisgender-normative prejudice, how does he know that any of the people who previously worked in physics continued or continue to identify as “men”? Did ever say or write definitively about identifying as a “man”? (also it is possible that all of what are said to be Maxwell’s achievements are actually properly attributed to , the spouse (not to say “wife” since we don’t know Katherine Clerk Maxwell’s gender ID definitively either)).

      (Same issue with that slide that was apparently part of his talk, though. Universities have hiring preferences for “women” and scholarships restricted to “women” or “female” applicants. But what assurance do they have that the person who benefits from the special treatment will continue to identify as female? Maybe that is not as problematic from a logical point of view as what Professor Stumia said. The universities could say that they discriminate in favor of people who identify as women at the time of application and that they don’t care what happens after the hiring or scholarship grant.)

      [Separately, the Wikipedia page provides a good example of why young people should be cautious regarding politicians’ recommendation of a STEM career: “In 1860 Marischal College merged with the neighbouring King’s College to form the University of Aberdeen. There was no room for two professors of Natural Philosophy, so Maxwell, despite his scientific reputation, found himself laid off. He was unsuccessful in applying for Forbes’s recently vacated chair at Edinburgh,” In other words, all that you need to do in order to have a reliable and secure career in STEM is to be smarter and more productive than Maxwell.]

  4. I pretended to leave, hid in the lab, and jumped out scaring the living whatever out of my student. The fact it happened on March 8th is purely coincidental, but it was great fun (for me, for the students less so), so I count it as a celebration.

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