Climate Change

“Women often play a stronger role than men in the management of ecosystem services and food security. Hence, sustainable adaptation must focus on gender and the role of women if it is to become successful,” said U.N. Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“Women, particularly those living in the mountainous regions in developing countries, face disproportionately high risks to their livelihoods and health from global warming,” says a U.N. report on Climate Change.

The above quotes are from an article in The Hindu this week that addresses the idea that women bear the brunt of climate change. Having never thought of climate change as being a burden that some carry more than others with respect to gender roles, I found the piece informative and direct.

I was also driven to wondering, within organizations and fields that deal with ways to handle climate change, how many employees in, say, a company of 100, or graduates within a relevant subject area, are women? Women for Women International, an international organization that is entirely female run,  encourages women to take hold of their own lives and businesses. Should such organizations not also encourage women thinking for/of women? Since it is known that climate change will disproportionately affect women, the minds behind sustainability should at least be somewhat representative of their target benefactor.

This being said, the sciences continue to be heavily male dominant and male run. How do we change this? And how do we ensure that those who need the most support are being spoken for by people with similar voices, if you will?

Siri and Women’s Health

This week, women’s health activists around the Internet drew our attention to Apple’s iPhone virtual assistant, Ask Siri. Siri can tell people where to find local businesses or services; for example, if you need to buy a pair of running shoes in Cambridge, MA, Siri might point you to Marathon Sports or City Sports.

According to this past week’s articles, however, Siri draws a blank on critical women’s health services. Articles on the New York Times’s Bits blog, on Tuesday and Wednesday, described how Siri fails to locate abortion clinics in Manhattan. The same article featured claims from Apple and Siri’s developer, SRI Ventures, that this is an unintentional “glitch.”

One blogger is not so sure. She ran a post featuring numerous screen shots of Siri’s failure to locate places that provide birth control, emergency contraception, or abortion services; meanwhile, screenshots show that Siri can point you to pharmacies that carry Viagra. Perhaps worst of all, Siri responds to “I was raped” with “Really?” or “Is that so?” These are snide responses to a terrible, violent crime. It seems that if, as screenshots on the post show, Siri can direct you to a dentist when you’ve broken a tooth or find nearby hospitals if you say “I am hurt,” the programmers should have ensured Siri could help rape survivors find assistance crucial to their lives and recoveries.

What do you think might be the reason for these discrepancies in Siri’s usefulness? Have you had problems finding products or services on Siri? I think that this inability to help users find women’s health services is a serious black mark against Siri, and a problem Apple and SRI Ventures should fix immediately.