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Will I be able to compete in the ACM ICPC?

There’s a fairly large chance that I will be taking a masteral degree
in Education at the Ateneo de Manila University. I need to have at
least half-time load in order to be eligible.

7th IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers

In-cooperation with ACM SIGMOBILE (pending)
OCTOBER 21-23, 2003
Crowne Plaza Hotel, White Plains, NY 10601

I really wish I could go, but it’s highly unlikely.

Scenes from the science fiction convention


In painstakingly constructed armor made of styrofoam and satin
airbrushed into forbidding darkness, Sauron (Lord of the Ring and
full-time evil overlord of the Land of Mordor) obligingly posed for
pictures at the science fiction convention. Sauron towered over the
crowd, stark comparison with Frodo (part-time savior of the world,
complete with elven cloak and grubby feet). The speakers blared,
“Kids! Come have your pictures taken with Sauron, the Dark Lord!” A
constant stream of convention-goers talked to him briefly and then had
their pictures taken with him. Occasionally, Nazguls joined the scene.

To one side, a girl stood by, ready to adjust Sauron’s outfit for best
effect. She wore no costume, but had with her a small bag with tape
and pins. From time to time Sauron would bend down and exchange a few
words with her. I wondered if Tolkien’s Sauron ever had such an aide -
rushing forward to polish his mace or mend his cloak, asking him
periodically if he found his armor too hot or he’d like a glass of
water. I can’t imagine an orc being so attentive. It sucks to be a
real overlord, I suppose – an enormous army, sure, but no pampering.

The day was hot. Fortunately Sauron had the foresight to make his
costume jointed enough to sit in comfortably, and I saw him now remove
his helmet and enjoy the breeze. A shock of blond hair and pale skin
formed an incongruously friendly face that seemed to float above the
forbidding armor. His smile was not menacing or grim, but light and
almost goofy. He tucked his spiked helmet under his arm and leaned
back, stretching armored legs tired from a day of posing.

Sheer hilarity


Expect a long rant from me later.

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The largest Philippine IT organization is running a search for

The Philippine Computer Society (largest IT organization in the Philippines)
is running a search for “Digital Pinay 2005.” They’re looking for role models for information
and communication technology. Women who exemplify the qualities
expected of future women leaders of the Philippine ICT industry. Their
application form asks for information like name, paragraph or two why
you deserve the award, IT experience, and such essential information
as height, weight, bust, waist, and hip measurements. I’ve posted the
application form at . Read it
all the way to the end. It’s hilarious. So hilarious that I cried from
fury and humiliation that this is what they think future women leaders
of ICT should have, should be. I am embarrassed that the worth of a
person is bound up in how well she can wear a business suit. I am too
furious to analyze how this objectifies woman, too close to the
problem to see how anyone could have imagined this as having any sort
of positive effect on women in IT.

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Mail sent to Ateneo CS and CompSAt mailing lists

Updated copy at .
Please leave comments there.

Miguel Paraz just forwarded a _very_ interesting contest application
to the CompSAt-EB mailing list, and I’m sending this to you because it
is worth talking about, and that is because it is completely wrong.

The Philippine Computer Society (PCS) is doing a search for “Digital
Pinay 2005″. They’re looking for role models for information and
communication technology, “women who exemplify the qualities expected
of future women leaders of the Philippine ICT industry.”

To help them find worthy candidates, their application form asks for
information like name, paragraph or two about why you deserve the
award, IT experience, and such essential information as height,
weight, bust, waist, and hip measurements.

I put up a copy of the form at . Read it
all the way to the end. You may start out amused, perhaps annoyed. I
hope you end up horrified that such a thing could have been thinkable,
much less thought a good idea. That it was proposed at all could be
chalked up to temporary insanity, but that it reached this point
cannot be attributed to reason.

A beauty pageant does not pretend to be anything but a beauty pageant.
On the other hand, “Digital Pinay 2005″ pretends to define an ideal
woman in ICT, and _that_ is why it is so insulting. Or perhaps our
Atenean curriculum is missing charm classes to help women learn how to
wear business suits and casual clothes well?

Our industry _cannot_ be like this. Until now, I have not come face to
face with such discrimination in what I believe to be such an
egalitarian field. Our industry _is_not_ like this. But the existence
of this contest sends a message to students, to professionals, to
people inside and outside our industry. The message is that ICT in
2005 is about appearance more than substance, that how a woman looks
and how she walks is more important than what she learned and what she
can do. If nothing else, it tells us that our industry thinks this
view is acceptable.

It is a farce that I must denounce in the strongest terms. If the PCS
would like to beautify its meetings with models, it should not pretend
at all to be promoting women in ICT when it is actually doing the
exact opposite. If PCS would like to say that women are valuable
contributors to ICT, it should not attach such values to them. For
what will these women be but stereotypes and living proofs of
discrimination in IT? What is their value? What will they be beyond
a pretty face and a nice body?

(I find it interesting that winners are required to attend all PCS
official functions. Essentially, you can buy a professional woman’s
time for P 25,000. The co-ed winner costs only P10,000 and the
runners-up are free. Why will they grace the PCS functions with their
presence? Who will take them seriously knowing the criteria by which
they were judged? What of this promised visibility in the job market?
Is that really the kind of job markets Ateneans are preparing for?)

The contest insults women by objectifying them, and men for proposing
that such objectification is commonplace and normal. The contest
insults our industry and our society. Will we not discuss it? Will we
not consider how such a situation came to be? Will we not point at it
and say that this is wrong?

Exams are going on and there seems to be no time to talk of things
like this, but these are things that must be thought about. This is
Science and Society. This is the Philosophy of Man. This is, even
without all the subjects you’ve taken up, even if only considering
that still and quiet voice within you—this is a matter of right and

So read, reflect, and be angry, for this is the sort of thing that
should never be complacantly ignored. Realize that this _is_ a
problem, that it _does_ exist, and that we contribute to it with our
silence. Affirm what you believe in. Write. Write your fury, your
shock—or casual indifference, if that is all you experience upon
reading this.

As for me, I believe that just because something _is_ doesn’t mean it
has to be.

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