Aug. 6th, 2007

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Making IT Work for Women
In her early years as an IT professional, Monique McKeon found that work/life balance was a struggle. Two of her early employers — a large software firm and a Big 6 consultancy — were somewhat unclear on the concept. At the consultancy, her travel schedule kept her out of town more than she was comfortable with. Then, when her first child was born, the bottom fell out. “I heard through the grapevine that one of the partners said I wasn’t as committed as before I had children,” she says. “That was the day I started looking for a job.

McKeon eventually found a welcoming culture at The Chubb Corp., where she is now an application manager, but other women in IT simply leave the industry. And fewer women are embarking on IT careers in the first place. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of women in the IT profession today has dropped to 26.1% from 28.9% in 2001. And the future looks even worse: According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), just 21% of computer science degrees go to women today, compared with 37% in 1985.

So, what’s gone wrong here? Some blame lingering stereotypes of geeky programmers working in isolation; others point at societal messages that discourage women from pursuing math-and science-oriented careers. Once on the job, the peer pressure to put in punishing hours — the “last jacket on the chair wins” mentality that pervades some IT shops — can also be a turn-off, especially for women, says Jenny Slade, communications director at the NCWIT.

And problems for women in IT sometimes extend beyond work/life balance, says Eileen Trauth, professor of information sciences and technology at Pennsylvania State University. “I’ve heard women talk about pinups, not being invited to lunch and the kinds of jokes people tell,” she says, emphasizing that these are anecdotes from her research, not problems that all women have encountered.

I’ve been ready to leave the industry for a long time. Just don’t know where to go.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Bush Signs Law to Widen Reach for Wiretapping - New York Times
President Bush signed into law on Sunday legislation that broadly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants.

Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government’s ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.

They also said that the new law for the first time provided a legal framework for much of the surveillance without warrants that was being conducted in secret by the National Security Agency and outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that is supposed to regulate the way the government can listen to the private communications of American citizens.

“This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington, who has studied the new legislation.

Previously, the government needed search warrants approved by a special intelligence court to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, e-mail messages and other electronic communications between individuals inside the United States and people overseas, if the government conducted the surveillance inside the United States.

Today, most international telephone conversations to and from the United States are conducted over fiber-optic cables, and the most efficient way for the government to eavesdrop on them is to latch on to giant telecommunications switches located in the United States.

By changing the legal definition of what is considered “electronic surveillance,” the new law allows the government to eavesdrop on those conversations without warrants — latching on to those giant switches — as long as the target of the government’s surveillance is “reasonably believed” to be overseas.

For example, if a person in Indianapolis calls someone in London, the National Security Agency can eavesdrop on that conversation without a warrant, as long as the N.S.A.’s target is the person in London.

Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said Sunday in an interview that the new law went beyond fixing the foreign-to-foreign problem, potentially allowing the government to listen to Americans calling overseas.

But he stressed that the objective of the new law is to give the government greater flexibility in focusing on foreign suspects overseas, not to go after Americans.

Yeah - because we all know it’s all about the intent. And the intents are wholly honorable. WTF ever. More fascist power-grabbing. And Congress is going along for the ride.

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