Friday, November 27, 2009

smart is beautiful

So, I invented "smart is beautiful" slogan for attracting women to computer science.
Wow. Some people loved it, and some just hated it.

Here is a conversation with someone smart from MIT who hates "beautiful" and thinks that "smart is superb" is a good slogan. I dislike "smart is superb".

>>>> >>>>> To effectively attract women to CS, a good place to start is to look at reasons why women choose to depart from the technical fields.

Milica: Seems like we all agree - either it's not what we like to do, or it is just too much trouble - unsupportive environment and a job that is meaningless.The second case seems prevalent.

>>>>>>>>> One factor that can be important to choosing a field, is the sort of community one will join, and to that end it is helpful to show very clearly that there is a supportive environment to be found. Additionally, many are motivated in choice of interest by the opportunity to do something quite useful in the world, and I am not sure that a good job is done at the highschool or pre-highschool levels, of conveying that CS is meaningful and rewarding work in that regard.

Milica: **** THIS IS A HUGE THING. **** I TOTALLY AGREE.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> So, from that perspective, I would suggest phrases like "Smart is Superb: you are not alone. Join the smartest women on earth at changing the world. Computer Science."

Milica: Hm, now you are repulsing me :) This sounds like "uncle sam wants you" :)
"Smart is superb" sounds very nazi to me :) the supremacy theory.

>>>>>>> Well, to be sure -- that was also a highly effective slogan. Why do you find it repulsive? I find that slogan repulsive because it was a call to war, which is not the same as a call to computer science.
from Merriam Webster, "superb": "marked to the highest degree by grandeur, excellence,brilliance, or competence" Which I think is fairly spot-on for meaning and connotation.(I don't see any elitism --or nazism-- here; superb is all-welcoming) Feel free to suggest an alternative word you feel more comfortable with


Milica: "Join the smartest women on earth" also sounds very arrogant. As if artists,accountants, house wives and all other women on earth are not one of the smartest. They are. We all are.

>>>>>> Yeah, I spent less time thinking about this part. Let's say it's optional, and I'd welcome your re-write

Milica: Seems like it is back to the drawing board for more slogans :) Thanks for the feedback, M.

=========ROUND 2 ==========

Milica:
from Merriam Webster, "superb": "marked to the highest degree by grandeur, excellence,>>> brilliance, or competence"
** Hm, I disagree. It is saying that everyone who is NOT smart is no good. It is spot-on arrogant.

>>>>>>Wait, not at all -- for example, is saying "Smart is beautiful" the same as saying that "everyone who is NOT beautiful is no good?" It's not even contained in the phrase.


Milica: People are smart in many different ways. What is "smart"? We think it is high IQ. But someone with high IQ can be quite stupid :)

>>>>>>Yep, this is all true! How do you intend to apply these thoughts to the recruitment effort?

Milica: It has to be a word that includes everyone and doesn't make anyone better than others. Also, it should compliment and make people feel good about themselves. It should be a word that includes the heart and the spirit.

>>>>Yeah!

Milica: Smart is something to be proud of? cheesy
Smart is good for you :)
Smart is employable - now that is spot on :)

>>>>>>hmm, also reprehensible. Dreaming only to be one day employed denies the myriad of possibilities of what can do in life -- founding startups, or NGOs and non-profits for example. Additionally, I wouldn't recommend leading one's life with the goal of becoming useful to someone else (e.g. employable).

The idea is to inspire love for computer science, right?


=========ROUND 3===========

Milica:
No, "smart is beautiful" is saying that smart is beautiful, and the word "beautiful" has many shades of meaning.

I walk in beauty
beauty is before me
beauty is behind me
above and below.


We refer to people as "beautiful" when they do good deeds, etc.
Also when they are pretty, when they are graceful, etc.
When a product is elegant, like a nice proof, solution, etc.
"beautiful" is a word that is used for awe, being affectionate, etc. so it has a certain something about it.

There is also "beauty is not skin deep" and so the word "beauty" has a certain depth to it. It is a deep concept, beauty. Beauty of God, beauty of Creation, beauty of human spirit, beauty of our feelings, as well as physical beauty of surroundings, beautiful face, beautiful clothes, beautiful dinner, etc. Beauty has many descriptions. It has a certain Higher quality to it.

If I had used the word "pretty" then it would be dumb and exclusive because it is strictly personal, physical and subjective and makes so many people feel miserable about themselves.

"Superb" is like that when applied to people - arrogant. If you applied to a product/machine/ etc then it would be ok - smart engineering is superb to bad engineering. But this person is superb to that person - is arrogant. It's not possible to judge people like that, unless you are God.

==========
"Employable" is not a good word, I didn't look too far. I did have in mind self employment etc. And I am a big advocate for self employment. The scary part is these corporations employing and deploying people at whim.

So maybe:
smart succeeds - this one sounds very good, actually. It could work for anything.
smart is successful
smart without limits - better to put it into positive
smart is creative
smart is making smart choices - this one sounds good too; for someone it will be working for 200K for some nasty corp monster, and for some it will be staying home with kids or having their own company
==========
Love for comp sci. Hm. The main idea was to make people feel neutral and good about comp sci, to consider is just like everything else - no better and no worse. One more choice to consider.
It's like - hey, you didn't see this choice before, but it is a good and valid choice, check it out.

"Love" for it is a lot bigger goal :)

The first step is not to repulse people who have bad stereotypes in their head.

So, the goal is to break the stereotypes and to project a different stereotype. Sorry, but that's what it all about :) Too many people are rather stupid and WILL WORK ONLY ON STEREOTYPES :) So we have to give them a more palatable stereotype :) :) :)

My 2 cents worth



============ROUND 4 ==========
Milica:
hey, after reviewing what we discussed, things are becoming clearer to me, thanks to your questions.

First, my intent is to just peak their interest. To "open the door" and present Comp Sci as a valid, valuable choice. Then, they are welcome to walk in and explore.

First we need to attract them, saying: hey, we are not monsters in here, this stuff is good, you can join in!
Because, that's what they are thinking when they become a psychologist or nurse or whatever. They can see themselves in that role. But comp sci - first of all, what does it look like???? Is it some nerds in white coats eating pizza over computer keyboards at 2am??? What is it actually, that comp sci thing???

But they won't even ask that question, because their mind already wrote it off, because they have a vague idea it IS some (male) nerds over keyboards at 2am who never used deodorant and should not be seen eating in public and will go on a date with a robot. Something like that. The image is fuzzy in their heads but this is the feel of it.

So, our message is:

It is a good fun group to work with
It has a lot of potential and high rewards
You _can join the group
Overall, it is a good choice.
So - come in and check us out.

So, maybe the slogan is:

smart career choice: computer science

Join many smart women in changing the world through technology

So - that leaves smart women in other fields respected, and says what we do, etc.

----
Then, phase 2: once they are kinda intrigued, then we catch them with "interesting stuff" so that they actually begin to like this kind of stuff and eventually love it.





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