Gender stereotypes leave me powerless even in my own home

Oppression, a photo by isabellaquintana, <a href="">Licensed under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication</a>
Oppression, a work by isabellaquintana, Licensed under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

This morning Chris and I decided to call a technician to look at our furnace. I never knew this decision would expose so many other problems.

The vibration of the furnace grew with intensity over the past week, and so had our annoyance with the noise. I felt so relieved when the company could send someone right away. An hour later, the technician diagnosed the problem, and identified the part to be replaced. He explained the cost to me and asked, “Does your husband want to go ahead with the repair?”

I was standing there talking to the technician. My husband never met or spoke to him. But, in that moment, my husband automatically had more power than I did.

I know what some of you are thinking, “Who does that?!

Honestly, the answer is worse than you think:

Nearly everyone.

While we might not outright say it, but in our thoughts and actions, subconsciously, we automatically give men more power. And it’s not only men who act and think this way. Women do too. We are socialized in the same patriarchal society. Women may just recognize it more than men, as it directly affects us. But there again, we also have gotten good at repressing the oppression. It’s complicated.

Whether or not we speak up about it is complicated too.  It puts us in complicated situations – further discomfort, further stereotypes, and further minimization and dismissal. This shows up in perceptions of assertive women as “bitches” or “bossy” and comments that we’re making a “big deal” out of nothing.

I also have to say this is additionally complicated for people with additional identities. For some, their speaking up may marginalize them more. People are perceived differently based upon their identities and the stereotypes that affect them.

Just because we don’t say anything doesn’t mean we don’t mind. It just may be less marginalizing and traumatizing to remain silent.

For more reading, read this UN publication about Gender Stereotypes and the Socialization Process.

For a broader view on gender and women, read some of the content at UN Women.

For some good books and intro into feminism, see Feminist Frequency’s resources.

I celebrated Wikipedia Day with Wikimedia NYC


Wikipedia Day Cake

On January 14, I celebrated Wikipedia’s birthday in New York City. Wikimedia NYC hosted a celebration for the day Wikipedia first went public – Wikipedia Day! There were loads of Wikipedia Day celebrations around the world. These celebrations happen each year around January 15. This just happened to be the first celebration I attended since I started editing Wikipedia.

Lots of amazing circumstances came together to make this trip possible. First, Sherry Antoine from AfroCROWD and I shared a room at the Wikimedia Diversity Conference. We talked about bias and her work with AfroCROWD connecting people with Wikipedia. She said Wikimedia NYC and AfroCROWD focus on showing people how they can use their natural interests on Wikipedia. What a great way to get them hooked! She suggested I come present in New York as part of Wikimedia NYC’s Wikipedia Day celebration. I told her I would love to come! About a month later, one of the Wikimedia NYC Board members, Ryan McGrady, emailed me. Wikimedia NYC was able to provide me with a travel scholarship and another Wikimedia NYC volunteer offered to host me.

Central Park

After a quick airfare panic – the price went up from $270 to $306 overnight! – I booked my flight to New York City. I had never been before, so I was beyond excited. In Sweden, Sherry and I swapped stories about how we always wanted to go to each other’s homes. I had always wanted to go to her home of New York and she always wanted to visit mine of the Midwest. We each got a chuckle as our homes are just home to each of us. Now that I have gone to New York, I will certainly have to figure out a way to get Sherry to the Midwest!

I took an early flight on Saturday morning so I would have a little time to settle in and see the city before the event on Sunday. Due to the tunnel construction, instead of taking the subway, I ended up taking a taxi to the place where I was staying.

The Apple Store at 5th Avenue under construction

Taking a taxi was a little funny in itself. I flew into LaGuardia airport. It was really quiet, and the few people I saw went outside to board busses. I eventually found the taxi signs and eventually a yellow path painted on the ground. I started following the path. After a while of following the yellow path, I started to wonder how long this line gets at busy times. I finally arrived at the taxi stand and there were 3 attendants and 5 taxis sitting at numbered signs. One attendant told me to go to number 3. Another told me to get back in line. Another told me to go to number 4. The second attendant told me to get back in line. The attendant who waved me to number 4 waved me back over and yelled at the second attendant. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I did eventually take the taxi at number 4.

It was neat looking out the window on the way to Brooklyn. I saw pigeons huddled on a sunny rooftop. I observed a lot of graffiti on just about everything. I always find graffiti as an interesting art form.

Where I stayed was a beautiful neighborhood. My hosts told me the history of the neighborhood and how it all came to be. Turns out, my hosts are academics like me! They also have a large collection of books, so I felt right at home.

Sign outside the Central Park Zoo

That evening, I went to dinner with a few fellow Wikipedians. We walked to Numero 28 Pizza. It was great. I learned all about choices of pizza, mozzarella, bakery items, fish, and produce. The New York City version of feeling people out involves asking where they get their pizza/mozzarella/other food item. In St. Louis, this is like the dreaded, “Where did you go to high school?” question.

A view of the MET from Park Avenue

The next morning we all headed to the Ace Hotel, where Wikipedia day was being held. I got to meet loads of new friends and reconnect with old friends. Lots of people were interested in implicit bias. It’s a good topic to talk about.

Jackie Koerner Presents on Implicit Bias at Wikipedia Day 2018, a work by King of Hearts [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
The day was full of great presentations, panels, and lightning talks. My presentation went really well and I was glad to have the group engage with me. The Internet Society was wonderful and recorded and live-streamed the day’s events. If you couldn’t attend, the recording of my session and the slides are available on Commons.

The Vegan Wikipedia Day Cake

Serious thanks and admiration to the organizers. The event went well. Your preparation and planning paid off! Also, the food was good and well-labeled. If you have food allergies, you know how amazing this is. The labels didn’t just have common allergens listed (like “contains peanuts and soy” but they had the actual ingredients listed! There were vegan and regular cake options. The cake was delicious! As illustrated by the picture, everyone else thought so too!

Visible Storage at the MET

After the closing remarks, a few of us Wikipedians headed upstairs to the Breslin for a well-deserved drink. I always get a laugh at the drink names different bars have on their menus. Sometimes I think it’s a contest of who can make up the wildest drink name. An example from the Breslin’s drink menu: Captain Corto Swizzle.

Visible Storage at the MET

During our chat, everyone gave great suggestions on what I should do the following day while touring the city. Ultimately, as I had my heart set on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I decided that would be my main focus. I had orders from my kids to get Pokémon from the Nintendo store, so between the MET and the Nintendo store I planned to check out several of the traditional tourist stops: Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and the Apple Store being built on 5th Avenue.

I have leggings created from photos of Henry VIII’s armor. My leggings-and more importantly the education of others-wouldn’t be possible without the MET’s open policies about photos of their collections.

After we all decided it was time to turn in, I needed to know how to get back to my host family’s home. I really wanted to take the subway. The locals gave a chuckle, but to me, I don’t get to experience mass transit in my home city very much at all, so it was fun. On the train they pointed out all the sights to me, and they’re right: the city is very beautiful at night.

Amiibos in a case at the NYC Nintendo Store

Although I did not get nearly enough time in New York City, I am very grateful for this opportunity. I was able to meet new friends and reconnect with friends I met at Wikimania or earlier with my visiting scholar role. I cannot wait to see where my adventures takes me next!

Easy and Beautiful Christmas Ornaments

Yesterday I was craving some one-on-one time with my youngest. She didn’t get the individual time she is used to getting over holiday break. Now with her cousin and sister back at school, I wanted to do something special with just her.

I had these clear plastic ornaments I grabbed last year during the after Christmas sales. I wondered what to do with them, so of course, I hit Pinterest for some ideas.

I found an idea where you just use acrylic paint and ornaments – that’s it! It’s simple: pop off the top of the ornament, pick some colors of acrylic paint (really, any colors), add a few drops and swirl it around gently until the whole ornament is covered. You might have to add more paint. I used several quarter-sized amounts divided up around the ornament. My ornaments were 100mm in size.

I did set them up to dry, but realized I should probably drain the excess paint. I didn’t have disposable cups big enough to support the ornaments, so I balanced them upside-down on several layers of paper towel. The results after draining them over night were even cooler than when I set them up!

Kori loved picking out the colors and swirling the ornaments around to see what combinations she made.

Personally, I think these are so lovely they would make great gifts from anyone – toddler or adult!