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I hate it when news outlets and movie production companies focus on individuals and ignore the team effort and dynamic, and it's not because I care about distributing credit. I want them to tell more stories about teams and communities working together to build things, not more lone genius stories.

I get it. I truly do.

But consider the context: This picture of a blackhole is going around along with an iconic picture of a woman with a ton of hard-drives that resembles the iconic picture of Margaret Hamilton with a stack of papers. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who knows little to nothing about this project. What questions do you think people have?

Headlines have to create irresistible questions that lure people in and this one is using the tried and true "Who's this genius?" formula.

Once they've grabbed this casual reader (see headline), they're not going to dive too deep into the project. This isn't serious science journalism, this is a human interest story in the science section.

Why did they pick her? Because she lead the team and was a key figure in conceiving and implementing the algorithm. Because she was already the face, spokesperson and active promoter for this project. Look at her TED talk from 2017.

I get it. Tons of people deserve credit. More importantly, the story of how this team collaborated should be told. But that's not what this profile piece is about.

But let's get serious. You're critiquing the accuracy of a very casual profile piece for average readers. Most of them really don't care what statements are slightly hyperbolic, they just want to understand the gist of the project and her role.






The ironic thing is that this seems to be a case when someone doing the science gets to represent the project and get credit rather than just institutions and senior researchers.

> Margaret Hamilton with a stack of papers.

That was used to say "well women are doing something very important" (If we're truly focused on equality should be yes.. that is normal.. but why is that important to advertise that message)

The feeling that I'm getting from all of this is that the result is showcased to the side and they're trying to make her into a celebrity. I would love to hear her praise "her team" (her team is a subset of people in the whole project) Although, I don't think she has enough experience to realize that it's a good thing to do. (That's something you get from working in teams outside academia)

If you go to the moon, you don't just praise the one guy who did it. You bring the whole group of astronauts who went and did something. If they're smart they're going to admit that there were a ton of people who helped.

EDIT-Update on the comment about the team praise: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19638629


> I would love to hear her praise "her team" (her team is a subset of people in the whole project) Although, I don't think she has enough experience to realize that it's a good thing to do.

She did that in the TED talk. And in the article linked above. And basically everywhere else she's spoken.


Oh.. I had no idea. That's awesome. I made the assumption that she did the academic thing which is "i did this" signed advisor. The assumption was based on the focus of the articles. (editorial bias)

No need to avoid your own responsibility and bias in making that assumption. It's not accurate to blame it on the media coverage alone. Strikes me as more like confirmation bias around what your expectations are for academics, women, or both.

Excuse me?

I admitted that I was incorrect in my impression. I could have deleted the original comment but posted an admission that I was too quick to jump to conclusions.

You should be aware of what the media is trying to say, and how it's presented. This comment section is showing how different countries are presenting the same situation.

Confirmation bias in academics:

It's very common to escalate the work from undergrad->grad->postdoc->professors. (Doing the most work to the least in that order). It's pretty terrible.. but that's how it operates. Does the advisor do much? Do they get their name on the paper, yes. (In many times at the top)

Women- Her gender doesn't matter on this. The work she did for her research is awesome, it's clearly her work. (It's similar to super-resolution) This wasn't a single I just applied my algorithm and everything happened. Lots of people were involved in collecting, cleaning, managing, and adapting her improvement to existing CV algorithms to reproduce what a blackhole looks like.


Not arguing that you didn't admit the assumption was incorrect ... Just that in saying it was based on the editorial bias in the articles you're ignoring your own participation in making the assumption.

You admit you were too quick to jump to conclusions: but I'd argue you were quick because those conclusions "seemed right" based on your own biases. I dunno. Maybe your statement "Although, I don't think she has enough experience to realize that it's a good thing to do." didn't have anything to do with her being a woman and it's just a coincidence that women struggle with being seen as less experienced than their male peers. It just came across to me as a really patronising and insulting thing to say, and hard thing to blame on the reporting of others.


From the article:

> But Dr Bouman, now an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at the California Institute of Technology, insisted the team that helped her deserves equal credit.

> The effort to capture the image, using telescopes in locations ranging from Antarctica to Chile, involved a team of more than 200 scientists.

> "No one of us could've done it alone," she told CNN. "It came together because of lots of different people from many different backgrounds."

> "We're a melting pot of astronomers, physicists, mathematicians and engineers, and that's what it took to achieve something once thought impossible," Dr Bouman says.


I'm going to edit the parent comment to show my response to that:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19638629


Next time, just don't comment if your contribution is to cast doubt on the experience and intentions of a woman based only on your bias.

I don't selectively cast doubts on the experience and intentions of a woman because they are a woman. That would be sexist.

The suggestion that people should avoid casting doubt/criticism due to a person's gender is sexist.


"I don't think she has enough experience"

You see how sexist that assumption is, right? Don't be that guy. Give her the benefit of the doubt you'd give a male researcher.


In the 2 comments you made to me, you're assuming my premise is to criticize her over her gender.

My comment would have remained the same if Dr. Bouman identified as male. The age of an individual when they get their PhD is somewhere around 27-29 (depends on when they start grad school.. it's usually about 5 years) People with more experience realize it's better to work and recognize the team rather than not. Kids fresh out of school just don't have that experience.




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