(A Woman's) Cartographic Perspective

F6e5e326d3e106fe69be330ebba2f69d?s=47 Vanessa KW
October 20, 2018
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(A Woman's) Cartographic Perspective

Women (and minorities) often stay quiet about microaggressions and assumptions made in school and the workplace. These, and moments of impostor syndrome experienced, are often not widely discussed. As such, I wanted to share a few of my personal experiences as a student, professional, and conference attendee, and what, over time, I’ve learned to change in both my internal and external responses. I hope this adds to the many wonderful open discussions NACIS goers have, and encourages others to discuss theirs.

Edit: Anonymous quotes and stories from women/minorities added to this talk

F6e5e326d3e106fe69be330ebba2f69d?s=128

Vanessa KW

October 20, 2018
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Transcript

  1. (A WOMAN’S) CARTOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE Vanessa Knoppke-Wetzel, @run_for_funner

  2. “Feel free to [use]… discreetly. I know that since I

    am in academia, calling attention to these things at such an early stage in my career is potentially a career-ending move.” `
  3. None
  4. Othering is a concept used to define one's 'normal' identity

    by distancing oneself from the Other; where certain groups are excluded that do not fit into what is established as the norm.
  5. “Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs,

    or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership…
  6. APPEARANCE

  7. None
  8. foundations1.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/microaggressions-racial-fetishization-exotic-othering-dear

  9. … In many cases, these hidden messages may invalidate the

    group identity or experiential reality of target persons, demean them on a personal or group level, communicate they are lesser human beings, suggest they do not belong with the majority group, threaten and intimidate, or relegate them to inferior status and treatment.” `
  10. ANONYMOUS

  11. “Recently at a major conference I was presenting at, a

    professor, who I respected and who I considered to be one of the old guards of cartography and someone I had hoped I would possibly have an opportunity to collaborate with one day, came to my talk and even stuck around until the end to chat with me…” [1/3] `
  12. “Why is your English so good?" … [2/3] `

  13. …At that moment, it felt a bit like a punched

    in the gut, like all of my hard work didn't really matter, like no matter how groundbreaking my research was or how many degrees or awards I have, I'd always just be the “OTHER” that didn't really belong.” [2/3] `
  14. JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER

  15. After I was hired (as a cartographer), the owner said

    that he was hoping to open up a map store-front in the work space, and asked if I could run the store because I was “pretty”. `
  16. Master’s student in a geography graduate class: “A (male) classmate

    had to miss class during some presentations, but he discovered who would be presenting when he was back the following week. I was one of the students who would be presenting the following week. In front of the whole class he said, “That's ok. Anonymous is more fun to look at.” And the professor laughed and looked right at me and said ‘Yeah, I know.’” `
  17. “A man at a conference social event ask me who

    I was there with. He said I was “too pretty” to be there for the conference so I must have been at the party with my boyfriend. I presented earlier that day about a workflow I wrote for interpolating river bathymetry… To him, I wasn’t qualified because of what I looked like – hours of work be damned…[1/2] `
  18. …You cannot win as a woman. If you try to

    be trendy or dress up, you are assumed to be unintelligent. If you don’t dress up or don’t care about trends, you are looked over.” [2/2] `
  19. “I had a comment in a conference feedback form explaining

    that my voice was unacceptable.” `
  20. (I re-branded external and internal map designs) “The new maps

    really look amazing! Thank god we finally have someone with feminine touch around here.” `
  21. `

  22. `

  23. (I re-branded external and internal map designs) “The new maps

    really look amazing! Thank god we finally have someone with feminine touch around here.” `
  24. DESIGN AS FEMININE

  25. www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/upshot/why-men-dont-want-the-jobs-done-mostly-by-women.html

  26. None
  27. www.academia.edu/10887738/He_she_it_Women_and_the_problems_of_gender_in_the_history_of_graphic_design

  28. www.jstor.org/stable/1511881?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

  29. “So the bias you rant against is cartography not being

    [perceived as a] science? That is a[n othering] bias I too encounter regularly…” `
  30. Othering: “I also get talked down to and teased [for

    working in the design field], it isn’t just women at all…” `
  31. CARTOGRAPHY AS FEMININE

  32. Design – and cartography – are not feminine or masculine

    fields. But historical and subconscious perceptions in society have affected how some people perceive design-based fields and thus, interactions with and judgements about those that work in it. `
  33. www.jstor.org/stable/1511881?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

  34. Soft vs Hard Decorative vs Complex “Feminine” vs “Masculine” Adjectives

    `
  35. `

  36. `

  37. `

  38. `

  39. `

  40. `

  41. Soft vs Hard Decorative vs Complex “Feminine” vs “Masculine” Adjectives

    `
  42. “Why would cartographers come to FOSS4G? Hahaha” “I don’t know,

    they don’t do anything, just make things look pretty, I don’t know what they are doing. They are just cartographers” *waves hand dismissively* `
  43. None
  44. EXPERTISE

  45. “Why would cartographers come to FOSS4G? Hahaha” “I don’t know,

    they don’t do anything, just make things look pretty, I don’t know what they are doing. They are just cartographers” *waves hand dismissively* `
  46. “I see all my strengths as skills I've worked to

    acquire, and I see the other areas as opportunity for personal growth.” `
  47. I wish people took me more seriously. I wish people

    accepted me as an expert: rather than asking me questions to “make sure” that I am an expert. `
  48. “It does feel like there is a default cartographer -

    or almost any other professional, and anyone who deviates from that has to work harder to prove they belong.” `
  49. Conference Talks If I deviate from [my accepted area of

    expertise], it’s less likely that I’ll get [a talk] accepted. At the talk itself, it’s more common for audience members to make comments or ask questions with the goal of questioning my authority on the topic. “Shouldn’t you do it this way?” “Have you read [insert obscure author/text here]?” `
  50. “For years, my Twitter profile picture was the logo I

    designed for my research brand. My picture wasn’t helpful because it encouraged assumptions. The way my name is spelled, it’s gender ambiguous for the international audience, so quite often people assume I’m male when they just read my name… [1/3] `
  51. …The fact that my last name is a man’s first

    name also helps with the digital disguise. I think it’s helped me get a foot in the door in some cases. It’s also very entertaining when I meet a person for the first time in person at a conference and they suddenly have to shift their thinking… [2/3] `
  52. …Is it bad to masquerade as something I’m not? Nope.

    I feel like everyone should use whatever they can to break down those barriers and let the rest of everyone in.” [3/3] `
  53. “I always work way more than what is required because

    there is always that beneath-the-surface [othering] that I will have to work harder to be taken seriously. I don't know if it is true, but it is how I react to those situations.” `
  54. To people like me, [asking me why my ‘English is

    so good’] and the obliviousness of how he said it struck a major chord in the struggle for recognition. `
  55. IMPOSTOR SYNDROME

  56. …At that moment, it felt a bit like a punched

    in the gut, like all of my hard work didn't really matter, like no matter how groundbreaking my research was or how many degrees or awards I have, I'd always just be the “OTHER” that didn't really belong.” `
  57. `

  58. `

  59. `

  60. Othering options? • 23 years old (age = “young”?) •

    Graduate student (age = “young”?) • Girl (subconscious or conscious assumption?) • Cartographer (design = “soft”?) • (power dynamics??) `
  61. CEO: “Why don’t you have the work you did in

    Mongolia on your portfolio and on your resume?” `
  62. I don’t know. I think I subconsciously thought I was

    not worthy and that it was a fluke, and that it was all not me. Which is stupid. `
  63. SOLUTIONS?

  64. Understand what you can do, what you are capable of.

    Introspection. Really assess your skillsets. Know what you are good at. Know what you aren’t good at. `
  65. Do not let others define you. `

  66. Practice selling yourself and your skillsets. `

  67. Go to amazing conferences like NACIS where you learn and

    grow, and help others learn and grow. You’re surrounded by incredibly supportive people, who love sharing and teaching. `
  68. You see the variety of skillsets and niches at NACIS

    and other conferences. You can compare what you know and don’t know, and understand your level of skill. You can see where you excel, and also see where you have room to grow (which is ok!). `
  69. Cartography/GIS is a constantly growing and shifting field. `

  70. SPEAK OUT. Talk to others. When you feel that something

    is off. Wrong. In the way you are treated, if you feel insulted or dismissed. Talk. `
  71. Don’t internalize. Don’t assume you are the only one. I

    promise, you are not. `
  72. Don’t internalize. Talk to people you trust, your friends. `

  73. If you do not experience this much, or at all,

    or sometimes don’t understand past the surface-level, just ask! `
  74. Defense: “Men get talked down to and dismissed too…” Offense:

    “Grow up. The world is tough. You’re not the only one to experience bad things.” Rude: “The problem is, women are too sensitive.” `
  75. Conversation: “I’ve experienced getting talked down to and dismissed. I

    understand where you are coming from because when this happens to me, it angers/hurts/bothers me. I don’t know if I understand why your experience is different than mine, but I’m open to hearing more to really understand your perspective.” `
  76. WHY THIS MATTERS

  77. “Feel free to [use]… discreetly. I know that since I

    am in academia, calling attention to these things at such an early stage in my career is potentially a career-ending move.” `
  78. “If you do use that, please, no details or anything.

    Always worried about professional repercussions” `
  79. “I also commend your bravery in giving the talk at

    all.” `
  80. “NACIS is a great community, and I trust that your

    presentation will be received very well! Even still, delivering a topic like this takes some guts.” `
  81. I don’t want to be considered brave just for being

    myself. I don’t think it should be brave to discuss things openly. `
  82. 2018 – 1960 = “just” 58 years @run_for_funner