CVG 2018 Day 1 - Part 2

CONvergence 2018 was July 5-8, 2018, 2 months ago now. I had meant to write these posts shortly after CVG ended, but as I’ve explained in previous posts, I have been dealing with broken technology, depression, and other things that have been occupying my time. This year, the theme was “Natural Twenty: Celebrating The First 20 Years Of CONvergence” - for the full archive of all twenty years of CONvergence, click here.

On Thursday the 5th, I attended the following panels: “Deep Space Nine Fan Panel,” “Breaking the Holographic Ceiling: Female Leadership in Star Trek,” “Speculative Biology 101,” “Women in STEM - The Road Not Taken,” “Flirting 101,” and “Misogyny in the Geek Community”. Here is part two of my notes from the panels - I plan on providing my thoughts and analysis of my notes in the near future.

Women in STEM - The Road Not Taken

Women in STEM fields who got to where they are by taking the long way around. What advantages and hardships did they run into along the way? What advice can they give people who are on a similar path? What struggles do they face as women in their field? Panelists: Sarah Molasky, Heather Dickinson, Kris Coulter, Melanie Galloway, Sarah O'Connor (mod)

This panel had a lot of great information -  I hope to be able to catch up with the panelists one day and ask them to help me fill out these notes more into a more coherent post(s).

There has been a lack of women in science on panels since Skepchic left.
If I got my notes right (I will do my best to confirm):

  • Sarah Molasky is in Pharmacy

  • Heather Dickinson is a Mechanical Designer

  • Kris Coulter has a MD/PhD and practices Family Medicine in Urgent Care

  • Melanie Galloway has an Astrophysics PhD and is an Adjunct Professor in Physics & Astronomy

  • Sarah O’Connor is in Microbiology

Lots of women in the field of biology. Pharmacy is about 66% women, but upper management is majority white men. Starting to get more Hmong and Somali persons in the field.
Astronomy has a high percentage of women in the field, but is below 50%. 10% of women in grad school for physics. Women get cut off by moderators and men don’t.
At the time, medical school was over 50% female. University of Michigan Ann Arbor was below 25%. Academia is not as representative in gender representation. Urgent Care may have more male MDs, but more NPs/PA-Cs are doing it now.
Where Heather worked, was only female engineer, rest were designers. Very much a white male dominated field.
R&D - get in as contract tech as an avenue if you don’t have higher education or are non-traditional.
Academia needs the piece of paper; otherwise, you need to have the skills.
“Women aren’t being assertive, but rather being bitchy.” Lots of dismissive stuff from white dudes about race, sex, poverty, et cetera.
Part of hard lab science is disproving the hypothesis.
“Why aren’t you including more information about women?” -a question asked of medical schools. Medical schools used pictures of men (minus genitalia) for talking about the perineum.
Even the birth control didactic portion was short. 5-7 minutes after lunch bell on elective termination of pregnancy. There was a lot more experience in artificially induced pregnancy than in termination. “How dare you question the curriculum?” -when questioning the professor/school on this.
The University of Minnesota Physics School requires groups that have 1 woman in it have at least 2 whenever possible, lest the lone woman in the group gets talked down to and ignored.
One panelist was called “Good Girl” and took it to HR. Is now treated like a “super-bitch” (her words).
Speak with confidence. Don’t start sentences with “I feel…”
If there’s a woman in the office whom you want to be treated like, go to her and ask her how she does it.
Men can use “I feel,” “I think.”
We’re living in two different worlds, working in the same table & chair.
Code-switching is very important.
Advice for STEM high schoolers:

  • If you don’t try, the answer will always be “no.”
  • Fucking work in the field.
  • Start learning to program ASAP. Doesn’t matter what language.
  • Informational Interviews.
  • Shadow a person at the type of job that you are interested in.
  • Find a mentor. If you can’t find one, create one.

Flirting 101

Flirtation is just one part of human interaction, but so many of us don't understand it. We interact so much more than just vocally. Recognizing body language and facial expressions can not only help with romance but also in the rest of your life. Panelists: Michelle Farley, Catherine Buechner, Sonni de Soto, Harris O'Malley, Rakhi Rajpal

There was a question bucket in the back for those who were embarrassed and didn’t want to speak up during the panel. A wonderful idea.


  • Implicit

    • History, norm, body language, et cetera

  • Implied

  • Enthusiastic

    • Yes means Yes

    • Looking for enthusiastic & eager yes, or even hell yes.

  • Explicit

Creep Factor. “Why does everybody think I’m a creep?”

  • Male, flirting & following someone

  • Female, “OMG, he’s in love with me!”

  • Females - sometimes overly aggressive not noticing “no” signals, hitting people with the clue-by-four and not paying attention when not being engaged back.

  • Friends are great! Use communication skills.

If you want to flirt with someone, compliment choices made. Be interested! Don’t stare off into space. But avoid gatekeeping - ask what they’re into, not what they know. Don’t overwhelm with geeky knowledge.
Engage! Don’t try to impress.

Some signals:

  • Body posture

  • Eye contact

  • Protected/unprotected core

    • Come at me bro

    • I like you and trust you not to hurt me

  • Rule of 3 - any one thing doesn’t mean anything.

Playing with hair or could be self-stimulation.
Look for 3+ signals, clustered signals.

There’s no such thing as “The One.”
Don’t make it about yourself.
Beware the “Broken Stair” - instead of warning people about the predator, fix the problem.
Emotional responsibility. It’s not your problem if you say “no” to someone and it hurts them. It’s not your fault. If they say “why” and you answer, you’ve opened the door to negotiation. It’s a dangerous slope.
While at CVG, keep the OPS line and the OPS Text Number on hand.
Elegance is overrated.
Be sure that you’re safe.
Do not assume anything on the dance floor is the same as off of the dance floor.
You cannot ask someone out if they cannot flee from you.
“Is it okay if I’m flirting with you?” NOT “I’m not making you uncomfortable, am I?”

Misogyny in the Geek Community

Casual misogyny is a huge problem in our nerd/geek world. This panel will be about how our culture has become more mainstream, how the sexism in our communities has become more noticeable, and what we can do to fight back. Mansplanning denied! Panelists: Lara Richardson, Harris O'Malley, AlysshaRose Jordan, Michelle Farley, Cat Choy (mod)

Geeks bond together because they get bullied, but still bully.
“No geek girls” is a recent phenomenon due to a marketing decision made in the 80s & 90s.
No Girls Allowed” - read this Polygon article.
Yale geeks complaining about “girls invading our space.”
Social media is amazing & terrible.
White males being considered the norm.
We’re told “they’re trolls,” “boys will be boys,” “dude in mom’s basement.” That’s a dangerous mindset - they’re really dangerous people.
Ironic trolling, sexism, racism, et cetera, is still trolling, sexism, racism, et cetera.
The Pop Culture Detective” is a great YouTube channel. Watch the following videos:

Watch The Big Bang Theory without a laugh track.
The growing realization of white male nerds that they’re no longer being catered to.
Casting not unaware, but conscientious. The Inclusion Rider - Frances McDormand
Building that network.
Acknowledging own privilege and step aside.
“Don’t feed the trolls” doesn’t work. They will stay assholes (likely). Point out that they’re assholes for others.
Promote others!
There is something about checking yourself. Why are you trying to impress them? They’re not going to impress you.
How the narrative can change. Software used to be a women’s field as it was “easy” while hardware was a “man’s field.”

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