Wednesday 25 April 2018

Aggravating stereotypes

It shouldn't have really riled me up when I was invited to proof-read the latest edition of my Research Profile on The Institute's website. There are maybe 100 Research Active people on the Faculty. Half of them, seemingly picked a random, are presented with a thumbnail photograph. The rest of us have a place-holder instead. But weirdly and unforgiveably, the women have hair [see LR], while the men have ears [see LL]. Yes, I know I could keep my anger for saving dolphins from microplastic [and I do!] or deploring the use of Sarin in Syria [and I do!]. But the idea that some functionary should take the time to discriminate the place holder on the basis of sex is, well, unconscionable in these times.
Heck-and-jiminy, if we can go to the trouble of designating a gender-neutral bathroom surely we could have a better gender-neutral generic head-and-shoulders. Gmail can do it [R] why don't we rip their's off? but recolour it in Kelly and Bottle green.

Each year in September, I have to learn the names and put faces to 100+ students whom I've never met before. I was never very good at this: getting to know people requires eye-contact. And getting older and more sieve-brained doesn't help. Since my first September in 2013, I scrape The Institute's website for names and thumbnails for each student contact group. It takes me an hour, or a bit more, but it settles my anxiety. Each class is divided into cohorts of N<18 to accord with health & safety limits in laboratories. I finish up with an A4 page with photo, name and student ID which I then spend some time learning. It takes me till early October. This resource is very much appreciated by my colleagues when I share the pages; but none of them offer to help share the burden of populating each sheet. Inevitably, some students are late to register, so I have no picture.  For a placeholder, I always use this:

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