I just noticed something which distresses me, regarding participation by women on Math StackExchange, and perception of us and our contributions here. Please peruse the text of the question. It inquires specifically about Math StackExchange, also known as math.SE. I will highlight the portion that makes that obvious:
"Women on math.SE... our site"
In response to the question, answers were provided by three female users. They were courteous, candid and relevant. Yet this answer which consisted of three brief bullets points, one of which was
"men like to show off, women don't" received more up votes than two of the three womens' answers.
Women DO like to show off! Does the respondent and 20 others believe that female mathematics enthusiasts, academicians, researchers and credentialed working professionals in the field are shy and timid (actively avoiding encomium from peers, and all the associated benefits), whereas MALE mathematicians are bold, boisterous, competitive, proud, thus enjoy public display of prowess and plumage?
Although I may seem irate with the person who answered, I am not. It is the validity accorded to his answer by so many others that I find so sad.
I haven't even addressed my primary concern. Look whose answer received the most up votes, and was accepted as the best by the original poster? The answer was written by a man but more pertinent is the fact that that answer is NOT correct! This is why it is a poor answer and should not have been up voted, and selected (unless women are not especially credible or welcomed on Math SE):
- The answer demonstrated minimal effort, consisting of two (not descriptive) links to blog posts, without any accompanying prose content;
- The central topic of both posts was a different website! Math StackExchange was not mentioned once, in either post, nor in the comments that followed. There is a significant difference between Math SE and Math Overflow.
- Both posts were time stamped two or more years ago.
- The female mathematician who wrote both posts does not participate on Math SE, nor Math Overflow. Yet the question was:
Why do women participate LESS on our site, using their real names?
Good answers should be written by, or about, Math SE users. For this particular question, female Math SE user answers would be more relevant. There were three answers written by female Math SE users, about the Math SE website.
There were also many answers written by male Math SE users, about female Math SE users of the Math SE website. Most were thoughtful, detailed and relevant. They have equal or greater merit than the accepted, most up voted answer, I believe.
I am being excessively precise in order to make a point. In fact, the two posts in the most up voted, selected answer were meaningful and informative. I am grateful to the individual who posted that answer for sharing them with us. I remain distressed that Math SE users are not more objective in their assessments, including assessment of each other (and self-worth, implicitly). "Hero worship" is not conducive to increased knowledge and understanding. That isn't a criticism of QiaoChu Yuan. He didn't up vote himself 31 times and select his answer as best. Others did.