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Daily Links 08/21/2017

This Is How Sexism Works in Silicon Valley [Ellen Pao / The Cut ]

Painful to read. Is there any woman who has had a career in Silicon Valley of any length who doesn’t have a similar story she could tell? If not so extreme, but still as discouraging? Yes, in every story we implicate ourselves too, because we’re human and to succeed we must relate, but the structural sexism makes it impossible for us to succeed in the way that men can and do.

Kudos and thanks to Pao for putting herself out there for change.

I Didn’t Complain to HR [Donna Harris / Medium]

I didn’t complain to HR because, like nearly every woman on the planet, I was doing was I was taught my whole life to do. Be nice.

Have you ever been too nice and ended up in a situation that could’ve been avoided if you just would’ve been an asshole?

I’m teaching my daughters they don’t always need to be nice. That may mean going to HR at times, although unfortunately I know like every other woman the perils of going down that particular path.

Women are taught to be nice because that is what works for us, what is allowed in a working environment for women trying to get shit done. When we’re not nice we’re called abrasive or strident — critiques rarely leveled at men who behave similarly.

Women face different rules for success than men do, with far narrower pathways to follow to get to the treasure. Speaking up about problems comes with consequences that not every woman is ready to bear. Do you want to hear that your marriage is a sham, like Pao did? That you were “bad at your job, crazy, and an embarrassment”? Those are all feelings many women (and surely men too) fear about themselves on a daily basis anyway! Why would you want to subject yourself to hearing about them in a meeting, a conference call or worse yet, in court, or in the press?

Walmart’s Customer Dissatisfaction Detection Patent [Anne Zelenka / emotion know]

Just like when we shop with them online, retailers want to identify us and then optimize customer service using analytics when we’re shopping with them in person. This is not the apocalypse, though I agree, if deployed, this customer dissatisfaction detection system could be “invasive, annoying, and prone to errors.” It’s based upon a flawed understanding of how emotions work, assuming that we (and AIs) can detect basic emotions from biomarkers. It can be done, but you need to teach the AI more emotional granularity than described in the patent filing.

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