mamamusings: July 16, 2003

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Wednesday, 16 July 2003

fab five, make over my man!

Last night, Gerald and I watched Bravo’s new show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. What a great show!

If you’ve missed the pre-show hype, the show’s premise is that five gay men are given a mission to makeover the clothes, grooming, behavior, living space, and food of a scraggly straight guy.

I was wondering if they could pull it off, without making the gay men into caricatures, or the straight man into the butt of a nasty joke. They did. It was a perfect balance. The casting was superb, the dialogue was too funny, and the editing was brilliant.

One of the best lines of the first show was when the clothing and grooming guys (Carson and Kyan) returned to the apartment with their charge, Butch. The place has been completely transformed from its original cluttered appearance by Thom, the designer. Carson is delighted, and exclaims “Oh my God, you’ve put a living room where the crack den used to be!”

Another nice touch is how the last part of the show is handled. Once they’ve dressed, groomed, and tutored their charge, they do not accompany him to his evening out. Instead, the five of them sit in a living room, watching the activity on a big flat-screen tv, and providing running commentary—sort of MST3K style. The audience gets to enjoy the jokes, but it doesn’t intrude on the made-over man’s experience.

Towards the end of the evening, I turned to Gerald and said “so, would you kill me if I sent them your name?” He laughed and said “of course not.” Alas, it’s limited to NYC-area men, so we can’t do it.

All in all, the show gets a 5-out-of-5 rating from both me and my husband, which is a rarity. And we’re even dumping the episodes to tape because we expect we’ll want to lend them out occasionally as well as saving them to watch again.

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more like this: humor

did you say twelve?

Got the preliminary numbers for our entering freshman class this fall, in preparation for interviewing the incoming women (and a random sample of men).

Of 210 incoming freshmen, a whopping total of 12 are women. Yes, that’s right. Twelve. Less than 6%. (Hmmm…should that be “fewer”? Not sure.)

That’s down from last year, when we were at about 10%. Which, in turn, was down from closer to 14% the year before. Everyone here I’ve shared that figure with has been aghast. “Twelve?? Are you sure???” Yes, I’m sure.

So yeah, there’s a problem. And it’s getting worse, not better. And yes, I have some theories as to what those problems are. But the reason we’re doing this research is to go beyond the personal theories into something grounded in the experiences of the students themselves.

If you’re interested in this issue, I highly recommend the book Unlocking the Clubhouse, by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher. It describes the process that CMU went through to understand and then address the problem of underrepresentation in their CS program. The number of women in their entering class went from 7 of 95 in 1995 to 54 of 130 in 2000. Pretty impressive. The things they found are important and interesting…it’s well worth a read by anyone who has an interest in women and technology, because (I think) there are generalizable lessons that go beyond educational contexts.

Posted at 3:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (1)
more like this: research
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna