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Showing posts from April, 2018

Is ‘Disability’ a feminist issue?

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Introduction

Disability rights is a conversation often neglected within Australian policy, culture and academia. Just like intersections of gender and race, disability is another marginalised group which experiences varying forms of disadvantage. Similarly, disability is recognised as a social construct (Frohmader & Salthouse, 2004). [1]

Globally, 1 in 7 people (1 billion) live with disabilities. Although people with disabilities have the same general health needs as people without disability, they are: [6]
2 times more likely to receive inadequate health care3 times more likely to be denied health care4 times more likely to be treated poorly in the health care system
In Australia, 20% of the female population live with disabilities. Due to the intersecting categories of gender and disability (and any others e.g. race, class), women with disabilities are found to experience double-discrimination. This results in women with disabilities as experiencing higher levels of discriminatio…

Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Bias

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When we think of artificial intelligence, we think of it as objective, impartial and unrelentingly logical. But we need to remember that, at one point, AI is programmed to learn by humans. To learn, machines are fed data sets and they can be full of historical or human bias. Machine learning is something we need consider in the wider community, because as forms of AI increasingly thread into our day-to-day lives, if you’re not male, or white, there could be some problems.
A very easy example first. Take Pokémon Go. When Pokémon Go was released, users in New York found the gyms and PokeStops appearing more in predominantly whiteneighbourhoods.  Turns out Pokémon Go was using a crowdsourced dataset from a previous augmented reality game. The people who wrote the algorithms weren’t a diverse group and so their bias ended up in the game. If diverse groups are required to help create unbiased products then it’s worrying when you consider how unwelcoming the tech industry is to women and people…

Louise Lovely: The First Australian to Make it in Hollywood

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In the early 1900s, Australia had a well-established film industry while Hollywood was still in its infancy. Most early American silent films were made in New York by companies such as Biograph and Edison Productions. Hollywood began to be a popular production location in the early 1910s. It didn’t take long for it to become the world’s leading film capital. Australia had made the first feature-length film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, in 1906 but was soon lagging behind. Early Australian actors and actresses made the move across the ocean to try their luck in American movies. Louise Lovely was among the first to have a successful career. She appeared in a handful of films at home before gracing the silver screen alongside other big names of the silent era. She was frequently compared to Mary Pickford, the most famous and highest paid actress at the time. She was even considered a rival.
Lovely was born on the 28th February, 1895, in Paddington, a suburb close to Sydney’s CBD. Her pare…

Transvaginal mesh implant scandal

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To understand what transvaginal mesh is, and why there’s a ‘scandal’ I have to explain what pelvic organ prolapse is, and how common it is for women. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when a pelvic organ (bladder or rectum or uterus) shifts out of place. See this Guardian article for some helpfully explanatory diagrams: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/31/vaginal-pelvic-mesh-explainer

Pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause for POP. Hormonal changes and the physical weight of carrying a baby can weaken the pelvic floor, and vaginal delivery can tear pelvic structures. In fact, POP affects up to half of mothers, but it can also be associated with heavy lifting, menopause or it can just be genetic. So POP is a common health issue for women, and as usual with women-centric health problems, a very quiet epidemic is happening. 
Some women show no symptoms, and for some women the prolapse is debilitating. They can experience symptoms such as difficulty with bowel movemen…