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At work we had a meeting where we were discussing how to get people to know about our big project. One of the bosses said:

We were thinking about doing something like ‘Can you survive the freshman year at MIT?’

I remembered a lot of conversations where my friends talked about advertising and what appeals to people of various genders. (One binary stereotype is that most women are more inclined to underestimate their abilities. A study about GSoC advertisements and applications, comparing gender to advertisement types, noticed the positive correlation between the number of applications from women and language focusing on things like “mentorship” and “learning.” There was a negative correlation between applications from women and language like “rockstar” and “world’s best.” I think this was Hanna Wallach, but I might be wrong.)

In the meeting I mentioned this. The majority of the women in the conversation agreed–some citing their personal experiences.

Today one of the bosses (the one who proposed the advertising in the first place) took me aside and showed me how our internal best practices and mission had been changed to state that while most users are men, we strive to reach out to all people (regardless of gender), and have our practices reflect that.

Sometimes I think it’s really cool to work here.

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