CCL: Meritocracy, and all other things



Dear everyone,
 As far as I understand, the original problem of this discussion (unbalanced
 selection of invited speakers at a workshop) got its solution as good as this
 community can provide - by sending the notification about the concerns to the
 organizers. I sincerely doubt that further heated discussion would be helpful
 considering the staunch positions of both sides. Let me remember Max Planck:
 "An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually
 winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes
 Paul."
 I believe this is applicable to the present discussion, too. Seldom arguments
 are solved by persuading, especially on the Internet. Let us better remember
 that Christmas is approaching and just wish/pray for everyone around us and us
 ourselves to be kinder towards each other.
 With best regards to everyone,
 Igors Mihailovs
 19 декабря 2019 г. 20:45:09
 GMT+02:00, "Matthias Heger heger=-=ualberta.ca" <owner-chemistry :
 ccl.net> пишет:
 >
 >Sent to CCL by: Matthias Heger [heger(a)ualberta.ca]
 >Sebastian,
 >
 >First of all, thank you for that very detailed breakdown of what the
 >meritocracy argument really is: A tool to justify the blatant victim
 >shaming that we're seeing in this discussion.
 >
 >You're asking if you are forgetting anything in your list. I would
 >actually expand on your fourth item - not fostering students from
 >certain backgrounds enough - from the perspective of the current issue.
 >How girls and women are judged in mathematics and science is not just
 >about background, it absolutely is about gender too. This can be very
 >clearly demonstrated. For example, randomized male or female names on
 >otherwise identical resumes lead to drastic differences in how the
 >applicants are rated in terms of competence and hireability for
 >scientific positions. [1] One study found that already in primary
 >school, girls can perform equally as well or even better than boys in
 >math exams, but only if the tests are anonymized - otherwise, there is
 >a distinct bias against them. This has obvious and lasting effects on
 >their academic career choices right from the very start. [2]
 >
 >Gender bias among teachers and professors is an open secret. Putting
 >the "meritocracy" nonsense on top of it is nothing less than
 adding
 >insult to injury. It actually reminds me of the whole "pulling yourself
 >up by your bootstraps" thing.
 >
 >Best,
 >Matthias
 >
 >
 >[1] https://www.pnas.org/content/109/41/16474
 >[2] https://www.nber.org/papers/w20909
 >
 >
 >
 >Am 19-Dec.-2019 um 12:51 a.m. schrieb Sebastian seb.kozuch*o*gmail.com:
 >> Sent to CCL by: Sebastian [seb.kozuch_-_gmail.com]
 >>
 >> Dear CCLers:
 >>
 >> Since the topic of the women "quota" in comp chem has been
 already
 >discussed
 >> here before (see the grand ICQC affair), I won't talk about it.
 >Enough is to say
 >> that I believe that Jim Kress is wrong.
 >>
 >>
 >> However, I would like to talk about the concept of Meritocracy.
 >>
 >>
 >> TL;DR version: Whoever believes in meritocracy is wrong. Horribly
 >wrong. Savage
 >> capitalism style of wrong. "Make America great again" kind of
 wrong.
 >>
 >>
 >> Long version:
 >>
 >> For those that are not familiar with it, there is a concept known in
 >economy,
 >> sociology and obviously in sociology of science called the Matthew
 >effect:
 >>
 >> "For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have
 >abundance; but
 >> from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."
 (Matthew
 >25:29)
 >>
 >> In simple words: "the rich get richer and the poor get
 poorer"
 >> (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_effect)
 >>
 >> We know this from the great inequality that has plagued the world in
 >the 21st
 >> century, but there are many studies that point to something that we
 >all know
 >> here: Whoever received scientific prizes in the past will have a huge
 >advantage
 >> to receive more grants, good students and honors in the future. There
 >are
 >> mathematical models
 >> (https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0219525918500145)
 >already
 >> pointing to the obvious:
 >>
 >>
 >> Success = Talent + Luck
 >>
 >> Great Success = A little more of Talent + A lot of Luck
 >>
 >> (Daniel Kahneman, "Thinking, Fast and Slow")
 >>
 >>
 >> Nobody says that the big names in comp chem are not bright. But there
 >are tons
 >> of other bright and extremely hard working people that never made it
 >to the big
 >> leagues due to a lack of luck. Maybe their PhD project was doomed to
 >fail, but
 >> nobody could know that until someone tries it (a kind of sacrifice to
 >the gods
 >> of science). Maybe their postdoc adviser was an a-hole. Maybe they
 >were born in
 >> the wrong side of the world. And yes, maybe you come from a culture
 >where women
 >> are not accepted as scientists since they will "neglect the family
 >values". If
 >> by a stroke of luck you had a good head-start, your chances of
 >success in the
 >> future grow exponentially.
 >>
 >> In other words: Meritocracy is a myth. A dangerous, unfair myth. Both
 >in the
 >> economic and in the academic world.
 >>
 >>
 >> We are loosing many talents due to the lack of diversity and the
 >belief that
 >> people reached their status only due to their capacity. We are making
 >things
 >> worse each time:
 >>
 >> 1) We do not check that we give enough slots to women.
 >>
 >> 2) We review in a more harshly way a paper if we don't know the
 >authors
 >>
 >> 3) We review in a more harshly way a paper if we don't know how to
 >pronounce the
 >> names of the authors (this is a real thing!)
 >>
 >> 4) We do not put more effort in teaching and forming students coming
 >from less
 >> happy backgrounds or less "academic" cultures
 >>
 >> 5) We give great honors to selected people just because they got
 >honors in the past
 >>
 >> 6) We blindly take the H-index as THE measure
 >>
 >> 7) We applaud the people that published more papers than can humanly
 >write (or
 >> even read!)
 >>
 >> (what am I forgetting in this list?)
 >>
 >>
 >> Of course that publishing more and getting prizes is great. Each time
 >that my
 >> H-index climbs one number I get drunk. But we must acknowledge the
 >luck effect,
 >> and especially the Matthew effect, in our and others successes.
 >>
 >> The fair thing is to see beyond that and give more opportunities to
 >the less
 >> lucky ones, with the hope they will have the same chances of showing
 >their
 >> capacity. Sadly we must include women in this bag, even in the 21st
 >century.
 >> It's not always easy, but we can start by trying to put more women
 >and/or people
 >> whose names we cannot pronounce in the conferences' list of invited
 >speakers.
 >>
 >>
 >> Meritocracy should be one-way: the one who merits, should receive. If
 >you
 >> believe that the ones that received did so exclusively because they
 >merit, oh
 >> boy. Not only you are unfair, you are unscientific.
 >>
 >>
 >> Thanks for listening to my rant,
 >>
 >> Sebastian
 >>
 >>
 >>
 >> On 19/12/2019 0:18, Jim Kress jimkress35_+_gmail.com wrote:
 >>> Sent to CCL by: "Jim Kress" [jimkress35[a]gmail.com]
 >>> So, they need to ensure they have proper representation of all 26
 >genders in their program.
 >>>
 >>>>  From the responses I have seen, including the personal attacks
 by
 >Mr. Seifert, it is obvious the concept of meritocracy is dead.
 >>> That is unfortunate.  It reduces these Workshops to useless
 displays
 >of virtue signaling and mediocre science.
 >>>
 >>> I will not comment further.  I'll have to invoke Mark Twain when he
 >said " "Never argue with a pig. It just frustrates you and
 irritates
 >the pig."
 >>>
 >>> Jim Kress
 >>>
 >>> -----Original Message-----
 >>>> From: owner-chemistry+jimkress35==gmail.com{:}ccl.net
 ><owner-chemistry+jimkress35==gmail.com{:}ccl.net> On Behalf Of Shahar
 >Keinan skeinan : gmail.com
 >>> Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2019 12:43 PM
 >>> To: Kress, Jim  <jimkress35{:}gmail.com>
 >>> Subject: CCL: 8th French-Japanese Workshop on Computational Methods
 >in Chemistry
 >>>
 >>>
 >>> Sent to CCL by: Shahar Keinan [skeinan###gmail.com] I agree with
 >Kathrin here, it is the role of the organizers to make sure that they
 >have a balanced conference.
 >>>
 >>> And it is the role of the community to call them out when they fail
 >to do so.
 >>>
 >>> Shahar
 >>>
 >>>
 >>> On 12/18/19 9:30 AM, zborowsk zborowsk,chemia.uj.edu.pl wrote:
 >>>> Sent to CCL by: zborowsk [zborowsk]|[chemia.uj.edu.pl] W dniu
 >>>> 2019-12-18 11:07, Kathrin Helen Hopmann
 kathrin.hopmann.:.uit.no
 >>>> napisał(a):
 >>>>> Sent to CCL by: Kathrin Helen Hopmann
 [kathrin.hopmann..uit.no]
 >Dear
 >>>>> Organizers of the 8th French-Japanese Workshop on
 Computational
 >>>>> Methods in Chemistry,
 >>>>>
 >>>>> I am sorry that I may have miscounted, it seems there is 1
 female
 >>>>> speaker among the 19 confirmed invited speakers (perhaps I
 have
 >>>>> misinterpreted some of the other name and there are more?).
 >>>>>
 >>>>> I know it is not easy for conference organizers to ensure a
 >>>>> gender-balanced program. But we need to talk about this
 problem
 >>>>> sometimes, so that we can find out how we can improve
 things.
 >>>>>
 >>>>> with best regards,
 >>>>> Kathrin Hopmann
 >>>> Do not only talk about, simply take a part in the conference,
 then
 >the
 >>>> balance will be significantly improved.
 >>>>
 >>>>>
 >>>>> -----Original Message-----
 >>>>>> From: Kathrin Helen Hopmann
 >>>>> Sent: onsdag 18. desember 2019 11:27
 >>>>> To: 'CCL Subscribers' <chemistry^ccl.net>
 >>>>> Subject: RE: CCL: 8th French-Japanese Workshop on
 Computational
 >>>>> Methods in Chemistry
 >>>>>
 >>>>> Dear Organizers of the 8th French-Japanese Workshop on
 >Computational
 >>>>> Methods in Chemistry,
 >>>>>
 >>>>> I counted 19 confirmed invited speakers on your website.
 >>>>> Sadly, not a single of these seems to be a woman.
 >>>>>
 >>>>>
 >>>>> with best regards
 >>>>> Kathrin Hopmann
 >>>>>
 >>>>> -----Original Message-----
 >>>>>> From: owner-chemistry+kathrin.hopmann==uit.no^ccl.net
 >>>>>> <owner-chemistry+kathrin.hopmann==uit.no^ccl.net>
 On Behalf Of
 >>>>>> Francois Berenger mlists(a)ligand.eu
 >>>>> Sent: onsdag 18. desember 2019 06:47
 >>>>> To: Kathrin Helen Hopmann <kathrin.hopmann^uit.no>
 >>>>> Subject: CCL: 8th French-Japanese Workshop on Computational
 >Methods
 >>>>> in Chemistry
 >>>>>
 >>>>>
 >>>>> Sent to CCL by: "Francois  Berenger" [mlists-
 -ligand.eu]
 >>>>> Registration for the 8th French-Japanese Workshop on
 Computational
 >>>>> Methods in Chemistry (FJCMC2020) is open!
 >>>>>
 >>>>> Please consider joining us March 19th and 20th 2020 at
 Kumamoto
 >>>>> university (Japan).
 >>>>>
 >>>>> We will be lucky to have presentations by many prestigious
 >speakers:
 >>>>> http://www.chem.kumamoto-u.ac.jp/~frjp2020/invited-speakers.html
 >>>>>
 >>>>> More information can be found at:
 >>>>> http://www.chem.kumamoto-u.ac.jp/~frjp2020/index.html
 >>>>>
 >>>>> The registration page is:
 >>>>> http://www.chem.kumamoto-u.ac.jp/~frjp2020/registration.html
 >>>>>
 >>>>> We are looking forward to meet you in Kumamoto, The
 >>>>>
 >>>>>
 >organizers.http://www.ccl.net/cgi-bin/ccl/send_ccl_messagehttp-:-//www.
 >>>>>
 >ccl.net/chemistry/sub_unsub.shtmlhttp://www.ccl.net/spammers.txt>>>;
 >Conferences:
 >>>>> http://server.ccl.net/chemistry/announcements/conferences/--
 >>>> Krzysztof K. Zborowski
 >>>> Faculty of Chemistry
 >>>> Jagiellonian University in Krakow
 >>>> 2 Gronostajowa Street
 >>>> 30-387 Krakow
 >>>> Poland
 >>>> email: zborowsk-#-chemia.uj.edu.plConferences:
 >>>> http://server.ccl.net/chemistry/announcements/conferences/>;
 >
 >>>>
 >>> --
 >>> -----------------
 >>> Shahar Keinan
 >>>
 >(919)-357-5319http://www.ccl.net/cgi-bin/ccl/send_ccl_messagehttp-:-//www.ccl.net/chemistry/sub_unsub.shtmlhttp-:-//www.ccl.net/spammers.txtE-mail
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