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Wary of the possibility that a population of educated, frustrated women could result in pressure for political liberalisation, Iran's government has moved to preempt this by declared 70 university courses to be for men only:
It follows years in which Iranian women students have outperformed men, a trend at odds with the traditional male-dominated outlook of the country's religious leaders. Women outnumbered men by three to two in passing this year's university entrance exam.
Senior clerics in Iran's theocratic regime have become concerned about the social side-effects of rising educational standards among women, including declining birth and marriage rates.Of course, if women outperform men in academic fields, banning women may make the men feel better about their performance, but it will be less salutary for Iran's economy if half of all potential knowledge workers are prohibited by law from developing their potential.
This is at odds with the arguably more progressive Saudi approach (and "progressive" and "Saudi" aren't two words I expected to write adjacent to each other) of planning segregated women-only cities, where the nation's educated, otherwise frustrated women can work in industry on a “separate but equal” basis. (I wonder how long that will last; eventually, I imagine it'll lead to those invested in the status quo deciding that it's a threat and attacking it; starving it of resources, imposing crippling restrictions on it, and eventually shutting it down and sending the women back to the authority of their male family members, and the city will go the way the the USSR's Jewish Autonomous Oblast did once Stalin found it too threatening.)
And Iran is moving to further remind women of their place under an Islamic theocracy, by moving to legalise the marriage of girls under 10. The current age at which girls can be married in the Islamic Republic is 10, down from 16 before the revolution.
Jude Rogers writes in the Graun about Delia Derbyshire, pointing out that, for her achievements, she wasn't the only woman in early electronic music, not by far:
It's a myth that electronic music is a world populated by stiff-suited, horn-spectacled men, then – especially as Derbyshire wasn't the only female pioneer. Take Daphne Oram, who set up the Radiophonic Workshop in 1958. Last month, Goldsmiths College opened up a public archive of her music, and held a day celebrating her work at the South Bank. Then there's Maddelena Fagandini, who recorded under the fabulous pseudonym, Ray Cathode, and whose work was adored by Beatles producer George Martin. Later on, Glynis Jones created space soundtracks for the Workshop in the 1970s, and Elizabeth Parker was the last composer to leave it when it closed in 1998.
Salma Qureshi, a thirtysomething computer programmer and British Muslim, is studying to become Britain's first female imam:
"I'm quite religious but at the same time I'm quite a liberal person myself," she says.
She said that when she was younger, she could not "differentiate what was religion and what was culture," and that she thought Islam imposed "too many restrictions" on women. "It's only afterwards I realised that this is all cultural - religion doesn't really stop women doing anything," she added.Good luck to her, I say. If she can provide a role model for an Islam that's in harmony, rather than at odds, with the values of liberal society, it should take some of the wind out of the sails of extremists (on all sides).
A US company is building a Mac Mini-based modular synthesizer. No, not a softsynth with rendered clickable cables; an actual hardware modular synth with real patch leads, which happens to have a Mac Mini and touch-screen monitor embedded in it. It is not clear if they have actually built one of these yet, though I imagine that with something like Max/MSP or SuperCollider, it could be interesting.
The company appears to be a cottage industry run by someone named Cynthia Webster, who designs and builds modular synths for a living. The site also has a list of women in synthesis, which is probably longer than you'd expect it to be:
It seems most of the women in synthesis today are hailing from Europe... Why is that ? What does this say about our society lately? Any theories out there?
A new bill in the US state of Virginia's legislature will require women to report miscarriages to the police within 12 hours, or else face up to 12 months in prison.
What would a car designed by women for women be like? Possibly something like a new Volvo concept car, with ponytail ports in the headrests, easily removable non-shrink seat covers and no bonnet:
The project team thought women would never want to look at the engine, so the front end is designed to come off in one piece at the workshop.
Suggestions that did not make the cut included an on-board cappuccino maker and foot supports for high-heeled shoes.
The latest in street fashion: the No-Contact Jacket, a fashionable women's jacket of "exo-electric armour" which, when armed, delivers a powerful though non-lethal electric shock to anyone who touches the wearer.
The jacket is designed for women only. Its small size and narrow armholes are intended to prevent men from using it as an offensive weapon. Whiton conceded that women could use it offensively, and that it would be hard for police to arrest anyone wearing one.
The jackets are expected to cost US$1,000.
(Potential for offensive use? Two words: "dwarf tossing".)
An interesting article about the next generation of female hackers, and how they are challenging stereotypes (like the ones which say that they don't exist, or that they're all web designers or somesuch):
Gweeds, one of Marcelo's male hacker friends, confirms this. He wants to see more women hackers, and he tells me excitedly about an all-female-authored distribution of the operating system Linux called Cervix. "I like the idea of Cervix, because it says that girls can do this," he added. "It's like an all-girl band."
In one last corner of Afghanistan not controlled by the hard-line Taliban, 15 women are studying medicine. But the Taliban are closing in... (via YAWL)
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