CCL: Meritocracy, and all other things



CCL members,
 The conversations over the past 48 hours have been instructive, and
 Sebastian's "rant" yesterday about the dynamics of privilege and
 "merit"
 was particularly excellent. However, I think these discussions, while
 valuable, miss some of the important meta-analysis about the dialogue on
 this mailing list.
 My snarkiness in my post a few days masked some of the direct reasons of my
 frustrations. I certainly think the person whom I responded to has
 deplorable views regarding gender equity. He, is, as I am, totally free to
 express his thoughts openly. And, due to the recurring nature over the
 years of these kinds of posts, Jim probably accepts the fact that the
 community will systematically deconstruct his arguably backwards, and
 certainly fringe views about these issues regarding gender representation
 in science.
 However, I think the CCL owner's measured and well-thought response
 regarding civility misses a key aspect of this discussion, as does Mr.
 Mihailovs' most recent post. In at least some small part, they assume that
 both sides are acting in good faith. Civility works in this context, for
 sure.
 The problem is that both sides here are *not* acting in good faith. Mr.
 Kress' posts over the years have exhibited casual formal misogyny (I am
 reminded of his "femninist harpies" rant from a few years ago) and
 transphobia (his most recent comments about "26 genders"). These
 hateful
 comments are not made in good faith. He understands these things are
 offensive and the community has either responded as such or ignored it, and
 yet we continue to have to hear this drivel.
 All respondents are certainly allowed to feel however they will. But no one
 should tolerate such bad faith intolerance and hate, and using excuses of
 "civility" only serve to reduce accountability for that kind of
 disgusting
 language. There is no civility to maintain. His presence here only exists
 to inflame and troll, so we must treat his comments as such. There is no
 interest on his part to have a civil conversation regarding these issues on
 Mr. Kress' part, so we, as powerless users and respondents, are left with
 only a few choices: 1) ignore it, or 2) mock and shame such behavior. I
 will proudly continue to exhibit the latter when necessary, which I do so
 quite sparingly -- I chose not to involve myself during the ICQC
 "discussion", figuring that certain individuals learned their lesson
 from
 the massive outpouring of support on the part of the female respondents and
 their allies across all genders. Unfortunately, from the evolution of this
 discussion, it's clear that such lessons weren't learned.
 With regards,
 Nathan Seifert
 On Fri, Dec 20, 2019 at 12:41 PM Igors Mihailovs igorsm]=[cfi.lu.lv <
 owner-chemistry*|*ccl.net> wrote:
 > 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 thally 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]
 >>
 >>
 >>
 >> 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
 to subscribers:CHEMISTRY() ccl.net  or use:>>
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