a few more derby girls

I’ve photographed a few more derby girls.

This is Kim Scarsmashian. She also injured herself badly just before I went to visit her:


I tried something different with Spunky Rooster and her new husband:


This is Baroness von Spike:

more stuff on gender bias

So. It’s been more than a month since my post about gender bias. And I couldn’t help but notice a whole lot of articles on the subject, coming from all kinds of fields. Before I get into that, I wanted to follow up on 500 Photographers. After I exchanged emails with the blogger, I kept waiting to see more women. And waiting. Eventually one showed up — I think it was about 12 photographers after my blog post. (That’s less than 10 percent!) Since then, more women have been coming up. In fact, of the last 10 photographers featured there*, five of them are women — that’s 50 percent! Since I first blogged, 31 photographers have been featured and 10 of them were women — that’s only 32 percent. Better than his original 18 or 23 percent (depending on whether you use my or his numbers) but still pretty pathetic. Sure, it’s only one blog, but…

Just the other day, the Globe and Mail covered a recent study that showed that “On average, men were 4.5 per cent more likely to receive promotions at any level than white females, 7.9 per cent more likely to get promoted than minority males and 16.1 per cent more likely than minority women. These results remained true, even when controlled for age, education, years at the company and performance evaluation.”

There’s been a lot of discussion in the literary world recently, started by the critical acclaim for Franzen’s Freedom. This article from Slate is the best I’ve read on that topic. Here is an excerpt that really speaks to what was on my mind in my first post:

“All this is speculative, you might find yourself thinking. I agree. All we can do here is speculate. But one example comes to mind, concerning a New York Times review of Schooling, a poised, ambitious debut novel by Heather McGowan, which made use of stream-of-consciousness and other experimental fiction techniques to tell the story of a precocious girl who has an intense relationship with a male teacher at her boarding school. The reviewer—a man—concluded that such difficult, “fissuring” techniques were justifiable in Ulysses, when Joyce was writing about Leopold and Molly Bloom and a post-war world, but not in Schooling because, “By comparison, the small, private story of Catrine Evans and Mr. Gilbert at the Monstead School has no greater reach. Where is the experiment in this experimental fiction?” To this reader, the reviewer’s outright dismissal of crucial issues in female experience—the way male desire shapes female ambition and sense of selfhood; the way authority is always located in male attention—betrayed a telling assumption about the smallness, the unimportance of women’s experience. Ironically, his very dismissal only underscored the significance of the issues Schooling was exploring.”

I saw a letter responding to a white man (not being in the tech industry I don’t know his name at all, but he’s probably important) who claimed that the tech industry was “more merit driven than almost any other place in the world. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what sex you are, what politics you support or what color you are. If your idea rocks and you can execute, you can change the world and/or get really, stinking rich.” The response to his claim pointed out that it does in fact matter how old you are and what sex you are. She went on to call the guy out for sitting on the sidelines of discussions about how to get women more involved in the industry.

And here is an excerpt from the letter that I thought particularly compelling:
“You are a successful, young, white male who has the ear and eye of many powerful men in the tech industry, and you – like too many of them – have sat on the sidelines over the years scratching your heads or scratching your balls. Not many of you have taken positive actions to make positive changes in the system to create more opportunity for ANYONE who is not white and male.

“I’m not talking tokenism. I’m not talking special “Minority-only” or “Women-only” forums – but tearing down and rebuilding a foundation that truly addresses the inherent and deeply-entrenched barriers that keep women back and to a lesser extent – but no less important – keeps minorities back as well.

“I’m not looking for a handout, however, as long as the foundation under us all favors men – and in the case of tech startups young men – we’ll never get to parity or even a reasonable representation of women helming tech startups. ”

And just in case you’re at all skeptical about the existence of gender bias, I offer this video about the Bechdel test for movies. I saw it first a few months ago and it kind of shattered me.

Getting back to photography, I did find a few competitions that offer hope. Critical Mass is a contest in which photographers pay an initial fee to submit 10 photos. They’re reviewed by an initial small jury, and the best 175 are moved onto the next round, which gets judged by a whole lot of influential and renowned jurors. They announced the top 175 finalists recently and I counted the men and women. There were three I couldn’t figure out from their names or googling whether they were men or women, so I just didn’t count them. But of the other 172 finalists there was a precisely 50/50 split between men and women. I thought this must be the result of a blind judging process, because it’s the highest ratio I’ve counted yet, but they don’t judge blindly. The photographers’ names and biographies and statements are part of the judging process. Kudos to Critical Mass!

*I started this post more than a week ago, so the numbers are at least a week out of date and I’m too tired to update them… He was at 125 I think when I last counted.