RE/VISIONIST staff interviewed at Elevate Difference

The fine folks at Elevate Difference published an interview with the RE/VISIONIST staff this holiday weekend. Lizzy Shramko, reviewer for ED, contacted us over the summer and asked us about our process, our aims as a publication, how we deal with the limitations of academia, our simultaneous celebration and wariness of the term “feminism,” and more. Thank you to Lizzy for asking such great questions, and to Elevate Difference for the opportunity. Please check out their site for more great reviews from a feminist perspective.

Rice University: Recommendation letters costing women jobs

Via Feministing.

A new study sponsored by the National Science Foundation and conducted by Rice University professors—Michelle Hebl and Randi Martin and graduate student Juan Madera—reveals that recommendation letters could prevent women from getting jobs and promotions.  They reviewed 624 letters of recommendation for 194 job applicants and this is what they discovered:

They found that letter writers conformed to traditional gender schemas when describing candidates. Female candidates were described in more communal (social or emotive) terms and male candidates in more agentic (active or assertive) terms.

A further aspect of the study involved rating the strength of the letters, or the likelihood the candidate would be hired based on the letter. The research team removed names and personal pronouns from the letters and asked faculty members to evaluate them. The researchers controlled for such variables as the number of years candidates were in graduate school, the number papers they had published, the number of publications on which they were the lead author, the number of honors they received, the number of years of postdoctoral education, the position applied for and the number of courses taught.

Find out more about this study here.

This Week: Racism & Rush Limbaugh, Paycheck Fairness & more

Paycheck Fairness Dies in the Senate
The Nation: “Women fell two votes short on Wednesday to coming closer to getting paid the same as men for the same work. Senate Republicans decided that equal pay for women should not even be considered, as they blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from moving to the floor.”

Prison Economics Help Drive Arizona Immigration Law
NPR: “That’s because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law.”

For Survivors of Sexual Assault, New TSA Screenings Represent a Threat
Newsweek: “For women and men who have already been sexually assaulted, the new screening rules—or just the threat of these rules—present a very real danger. They can be triggering events, setting off a posttraumatic-stress reaction.”

Is the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal DOA?
Politico: “If Democrats fail to pass the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” next month — before Republicans take control of the House in January — it could be years before they get another shot.”

The Bald Racism of Rush Limbaugh
The Atlantic’s Daily Dish: “Most of all the talk radio host revels in being called a racist so that he can throw up his hands and complain about liberal race-baiting.”

Mad World: Toy Ads and Learning Gender
Bitch Magazine: “These ads not only market toys to children but they also promote and encourage gender-specific values that are very limiting to boys and girls in different ways.” (VIDEO)

Teacher Stands Up for Gay Students, Student Returns the Favor

As someone who stands a pretty good chance of eventually facing censure for the things I say to students, my heart was warmed this week by video of an openly gay student in Michigan speaking out on behalf of a teacher who he felt was speaking up for him, and other students like him.

The Daily Intel writes, “at a school-board meeting on Friday, openly gay 14-year-old high-school student Graeme Taylor came to McDowell’s defense, thanking the teacher for doing “an amazing thing” in a town home to the KKK…”

You can read their full post and watch the video at The Daily Intel.

The video, which has been circulating around the web since the weekend, is of a very articulate and poised young man speaking to a town school board about the temporary suspension of the Michigan High School teacher. What certainly isn’t in dispute here is the passion and grace with which this student feels compelled to defend an educator standing up for the rights of at risk youth.

While I whole-heartedly support teacher Jay McDowell’s solidarity with queer and questioning youth and his zero-tolerence policy for hate speech and symbols of hate (the classroom discussion eventually turned to the question of Mr. McDowell’s ban on confederate flag apparel), I think that his decision to kick a student out of class, based on the coverage I’ve been able to find of the incident, may have done more harm than good.

USA Today quotes ACLU Staff Attorney Jay Kaplan as saying that the “teachable moment” McDowell may have missed, was the chance to start a conversation with the students immediately following the incident. “We believe,” Kaplan said of the comments that eventually got a student kicked out of class, “based on those statements — as offensive and upsetting as they were — they were protected speech.” He went on to suggest that, “the only way we’re going to create a better environment in schools is to start talking about this.”

Can I really fault a teacher like Jay McDowell for doing what he thought was right? No. Do I wish that he’d been able to turn the incident into a meaningful and productive classroom discussion? Absolutely, and I bet he does too. I’m sure that the legality and effectiveness of Mr. McDowell’s actions will be thoroughly debated, politicized and then forgotten. In the meantime, I’m going to just enjoy the fact that Graeme Taylor, a young man with the courage of his convictions, is the future of our nation.

–Victoria Sollecito

ColorLines: 50 Million Went Hungry in 2009

Remember back in August when Congress cut food stamps for struggling families?  Seth Freed Wessler talks about the hunger issue today in ColorLines:

Over 36 percent of female-headed families with children were food insecure. Black and Latino families were more than twice as likely as whites to experience food insecurity.

The food stamp program, which has expanded massively in the recession, has softened what could have become even more grave levels of hunger. The program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, got a significant injection from the stimulus in 2009, which included an increase in the amount of assistance provided to families.

Forty-two million people receive assistance through SNAP. That’s up by 10 million from the same time last year. Thirty million children eat breakfast and lunch through free school lunch programs, and nine million mothers rely on the WIC program to buy food for babies and children.

But in August, amidst a swirling frenzy about the deficit, Congress gutted the benefit hike to offset other needed spending to pay teachers salaries. As a result, a family of four will lose $59 a month in food stamp benefits once the gouging goes into effect at the end of 2014. That loss is sure to drive the number of food insecure families upward, especially since unemployment is expected to remain high for years and jobless benefits may not be extended. After unemployment benefits run out, there’s very little left in the form of income assistance, with what’s left of welfare prohibitively difficult to access.

Find out more and read Seth Freed Wessler’s full piece at ColorLines.com.