Its not pretty. False statements from so-called journalists, academics actively scheming to get rid of a colleague, further journalists not being impartial, and good old evidence-free pre-judgement, broadly applied.
I could vomit.
I better close the comment section, before someone gets sued under UK libel law.
The (American) press seizes upon every contretemps in academia as if such things were common - they're news, precisely because they aren't all that common. The palaces of the Tudor and Habsburg kings have nothing on academia in terms of scheming, assbiting, flattery and avarice.
Ultimately, what goes on in the faculty lounges is as irrelevant as it is vicious and petty. Want to make money in academia? Stop teaching, get into administration.
Average: 93.6%. Data is for 2013/14.
What is perhaps interesting to note is that several smaller, specialized institutions outperform the big hitters. The Arts University Bournemouth has an employment rate of 97.4%, and the Royal College of Music reports a whopping 100%. Poor Cambridge has only 95.3%. But then Cambridge had 2665 graduates that year, while Arts Bournemouth had 730 and the Royal College had 55.
So, if you can get a place in one of those smaller institutions that are well-known in their respective niches, you have it made. But you need to get in there first.
And he is not the only one in trouble:
"At least half a dozen western academics have been fined or expelled from Russia over visa issues in the past year as tensions with the west have risen. In addition, three employees of the Danish Institute Against Torture taking part in a seminar were ordered to leave Russia in May, and Jennifer Gaspar, an American NGO employee, was deported in August as a “threat to national security”. Earlier in June, Scott Blacklin, the former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, was detained for two weeks and then expelled from Russia for a visa violation. Blacklin came to give a lecture at a technology conference at Lobachevsky University, an activity that migration authorities said was incompatible with the business visa he had received. Laura Sumner, a history graduate from the University of Nottingham, was ordered to leave Russia in April for conducting research in Nizhny Novgorod archives on a business visa, although a pro-Kremlin tabloid suggested she was a spy."
Why? There are three major reasons.
(1) Diverse groups avoid stupid product mistakes. This is in literally every sense of the word "diverse:" if you have people from different groups in your team, they'll notice – and you'll prioritize – problems that you never would have spotted otherwise. If your system doesn't work for the deaf and someone on your team is deaf, or if it requires hitting tiny affordances all the time and you have someone with a motion disability, you're never going to ship it that way, and that means more users. If your system has a price structure, or a branding, or a visual style that would never appeal to users outside of Silicon Valley, you'll catch that if people on your team are from a very different world. If women experience a different kind of abuse on your system than men do, then you'll build entirely different protections into your system if there are women in the room when you're making the design decisions.
The key point is that these are just examples: nobody can predict what an extra set of eyeballs, especially different eyeballs, will catch. The one thing that's reliable is that each set of eyeballs – not just working grunt jobs, but in the core decision-making process – means you don't make a mistake that shuts out a bunch of potential customers.
(2) Diversity interrupts groupthink. It's really easy for a room full of similar people to start to talk in similar ways. Not only do you not make the right decisions, you don't even realize there are decisions that you're implicitly making. More different eyes prevent that.
(3) You get to hire the best people. People who haven't been in this game very long think "Recruit minorities? You mean lower the bar!" People who have played this for a while hear that and think "Sucker."
The thing about structural racism/sexism/etc. is that a lot of people from the various underrepresented groups don't have the "traditional signifiers" of being good. They won't have gone to the top-tier schools, or they won't have any contacts, or their job history will be so-so. What you quickly learn in engineering, though, is that these signifiers are simply signals that you use when trying to find good people – and overall, as signals, they kind of suck. Terribly.
I've lost count of how many people I've interviewed who came from top-tier schools and had a glowing résumé and couldn't think an independent thought or design a system on their own to save their lives. Top-tier schools don't provide a systematically better education in CS; often, CS departments are so mathematically inclined that students that don't actively go the extra mile come out with a degree in theory and no ability to code. They used to claim that they were "filtering out the best of the best," but in practice, they do a lot of that filtering starting from "people with enough contacts to get in."
Job histories are sometimes useful, sometimes not, especially in an era where so many people end up unable to find a job for months or years at a stretch anyway.
References are great, but they're only a positive signal: the lack of references tells you nothing.
And the important thing is, that unless you're a tiny company hiring a temp, or hiring a senior specialist, you shouldn't be hiring for experience: you should be hiring for brains. You can teach CS; you can't teach smart.
What this means is that among these "underrepresented groups," there are a bunch of smart people out there who, lacking these traditional signifiers, aren't getting the right job offers. And that means smart people that you can hire. Lots of them. All you have to do is hire them and treat them with respect.
(As a side note: I attended GHC, the biggest annual conference for women in CS last year, for recruiting purposes. The quality of people looking for jobs there was insane compared to any other CS event.)
But.... if you want to hire and retain these people, you have to make an active effort. This open letter has a bunch of specific suggestions in it which I personally think are all individually excellent: I endorse these ideas wholeheartedly.
I will add: In my groups, people of all genders, races, and backgrounds are not only welcome but actively desired. This is the case now and will continue to be the case in every team I run in the future.
Thanks to for pointing me at this great letter.
[DISCLAIMER: I am writing this post in my personal capacity and am not speaking on behalf of Google. I make no assertions as to the truth or falsity of any of the claims of fact made within the letter, nor of any conclusions of law. Those of you who have been in the field for a while know why I have to state this, too]
I also share stuff that I find interesting or thought provoking, even if I do not always agree with the sentiments of the original share itself.
The focus is usually around Mathematics and Operations Research, Science & Engineering (especially Space Science, Space Engineering and Telecommunications Engineering), Education, the politics of the above fields, and similar issues.
But really, it can get pretty eclectic. Have a look at the stream of posts and +1, and build your own opinion.
- Dortmund UniversityMathematik, 1987 - 1997Undergraduate studies, postgraduate studies, PhD. The whole shebang.
- Dortmund UniversityMathematik, 1998 - 2001Habilitation. (At that time, there still was such a thing.)
World's Most Innovative Patent Troll Sues the Government | Wired Busines...
It’s no surprise when a patent troll sues a big tech company like Apple and Google. We’ve grown accustomed to these tiny outfits that use th
Cameron’s Team Divulges Discoveries in Deepest Trenches on Earth | The A...
It's often said that we know less about the bottom of our own ocean than we do about the surface of Mars. The governments of the ...
Senate Minority Leader Fooled by Report in Military Version of The Onion...
The best parody contains elements of truth. Maybe that's how the Senate's top Republican got taken in by The Duffel Blog, the military versi
Chinese Military Group Linked to Hacks of More than 100 companies | Thre...
A large and complex hacker group connected to China's military has been linked to hacks involving more than 100 companies in the U.S. and th
Oxford University apologises after false claim in 'selection by wealth' ...
University's director of graduate admissions admits it was wrong to say other institutions employ a postgraduate 'wealth test'
Daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner opts for 'moderate dictatorship'
(AFP) – 17 hours ago. VIENNA — Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian parachutist who broke the sound barrier by jumping to earth from the stratosp
Weekly Wrap-up: Google Reader Has No Alternatives and More
Many big stories this week, but the biggest for our readers surrounded the Google Reader changes, and the lack of alternatives therein. Ther
Die fünf Ebenen der Heilung: Esoterik an deutschen Hochschulen – Jetzt a...
Kaum bin ich mal nicht in Jena, machen die Leute dort Unsinn… Dass auch Universitäten immer wieder Mal in die Pseudowissenschaft abgleiten,
Kommentar zur Polizeigewalt : Wenn Polizisten zu Schlägern werden
Derege Wevelsiep wird von deutschen Polizisten krankenhausreif geschlagen und selbst im Krankenbett noch belästigt. Leider kein Einzelfall,
CLAY CHRISTENSEN: Our Obsession With Efficiency Is Killing Innovation
"We are focused on the wrong metrics."
Adam Steltzner: 'I could not imagine the Curiosity landing working'
The leader of a group of Nasa engineers tells how his team on Earth guided a one tonne rover to land safely on Mars
The US Government Today Has More Data On The Average American Than The S...
We've written plenty about how the US government has been quite aggressive in spying on Americans. It has been helped along by a court syste
Drug firms bought East German patients to use as human guinea pigs
Communist East Germany allowed Western drug companies to use its medical patients as unwitting guinea pigs for tests with untried pharmaceut