March 31, 2013

Finkbeiner Test

"We Can Do It!" by J. Howard Miller
If there is one thing I can endeavor to accomplish in order to live a better life it would be to recognize my own shortcomings.

In this vein I will freely admit to not understanding feminism on some fundamental level.  I hope part of my shortcoming is simply the fact that I might not "get" some of the issue because I don't believe or think a certain way causing me to be part of the problem. In general I don't see women being unequal because of their gender....

....unless we start talking about women in military combat roles.  That is a whole big mess that I'm not going to get into here.  That discussion is so much bigger and more important than a simple gender issue.

i09 posted a story today about The New York Times EPIC FAIL in the obituary for rocket scientist Yvonne Brill.  Of course, they didn't use the term EPIC FAIL....that's all on me.  The gist of the article is that the obit was sexist and that while they attempted to clean it up, they made some revisions and never posted that they had made the revisions or why.

Now I'm a bit mixed with regards to this story.  I think that an obituary should be a snapshot of the person's life and some of the information that made the article "sexist" needed to be in there.   Some....starting off with the "fact" she made a "mean beef stroganoff" is way over the top.  Of course, if she won some big award for the stroganoff and was ├╝ber proud of that, well by all means lead off with that.  In an obituary it probably is important to note she was a wife and a mother, just as it is traditional to note the surviving family members.

The good part of the i09 post was that it made mention of two other articles, one by Christie Aschwanden at Double X Science, and some supporting commentary from Columbia Journalism Review.  When I was reading the i09 post this "Finkbeiner Test" caught my eye and I did a quick Google search on the subject.  Of course I could have saved myself the effort and just clicked on the links from the article, but I was thinking this Test was a real thing and was looking for some outside information.

Now this Finkbeiner Test isn't a real thing (yet), but it should be.  The whole conversation I've seen on read the original article.
Finkbeiner Test
this point so far has really been regarding writing about women in science occupations, but I don't see any reason why it should be limited to such a small scope.  As much as I'd like to post this test here, I'd rather you go and

Now I think this Test is a great place to start for a couple of reasons.  Expanding this out to other "-isms", would it be important to not that someone was gay, Jewish, or handicapped?  My first guess was "yes", but then I realized that was just my own bias.  If some handicapped Jewish lesbian manages to invent a widget is the news story that the widget was invented or that she managed such a feat?  If it was the former than the handicapped Jewish lesbian part is superfluous information, and if it is the latter, than it is just a bunch of "-ism" that contributes nothing.

I'd like to see the Finkbeiner Test be something taught in school and practiced by authors and writers. It really sounds like a good tool to me.