Actively Excluded

They’re not “male dominated” industries, they’re “industries from which women and non-binary people are actively excluded.”

“Dominated” implies there was, at some point, a fair competition.

Jelena Woehr

A lot of folks justify male-dominated industries by saying bullshit like “women just aren’t as interested in STEM” or “men are just better at coding.” It allows very smart idiots to justify sexism and racism with “science.”

I’ve started using “actively excluded groups” or “people who have been traditionally excluded” instead of phrases of like “marginalized” and “under-represented.”

The first two phrases call the situation what it is. The second two sugarcoat it.

Chris Ferdinandi

It’s Plausible Deniability All The Way Down

Undisclosed private companies analysing facial data from NHS app

Undisclosed companies are analysing facial data collected by the NHS app, which is used by more than 16 million English citizens, prompting fresh concern about the role of outsourcing to private businesses in the service.

Data security experts have previously criticised the lack of transparency around a contract with the NHS held by iProov, whose facial verification software is used to perform automated ID checks on people signing up for the NHS app.

The Guardian now understands that French company Teleperformance, which has attracted criticism in the UK over working conditions, uses an opaque chain of subcontractors to perform similar work under two contracts worth £35m.

The NHS app, which is separate from the Covid-19 app, can be used for anything from booking GP appointments to ordering repeat prescriptions. But one feature has driven rapid take up since travel restrictions were lifted in May: the app is the easiest means of accessing the NHS certificate proving an individual’s Covid-19 vaccination status.

The app requires users to go through an ID verification process to access these services, with some people directed to an automated process powered by iProov’s software.

When that process fails or is unavailable, the NHS app falls back on manual checks, in which users record a short video of themselves reading out a set of four numbers, as well as uploading an ID document.

The video is then sent to a team of identity checkers, who compare the ID photo with the user’s face in the video.

A spokesperson for the NHS said these staff were trained by the Home Office and were all based in England. Some work for NHS Digital directly.

But the NHS later admitted that Teleperformance, which performs much of the work, is permitted to subcontract the ID process to other companies.

It said these companies are subjected to “stringent” checks and that identity checkers must complete specialist training, pass quality assurance, audit and supervisory checks, all managed by NHS Digital.

Both NHS Digital and Teleperformance declined to provide a list naming the subcontractors.

Because of course they can.

Needless to say, I had to jump through several of the above hoops when I registered on the NHS app, so my data will be among the troves outsourced to who-knows-where, and I suspect then funnelled back in the UK to build better databases for surveillance and monitoring. All while proclaiming that “we take privacy very seriously” and “stringent checks are made”.

The sad fact, it seems to me, is that governments won’t crack down on data laundering like this because it gives them an easy way to route around the promises they made to their electorate about privacy.

Women’s Body Parts Named After Men Who ‘Discovered’ Them

Even the G-Spot is Named for a Man

“Pudendum” isn’t the only questionable term slinking around in the female pelvis. Pull out a map to this region and you face an array of unfamiliar landmarks: Alcock’s canal, the pouch of Douglas, Bartholin’s glands, the fallopian tubes. These are all body parts named in honor of the people thought to have “discovered” them. They are relics from a time when the female body was considered terra incognita for great minds of medicine to explore, stake out and claim.

But such terms may be on their way out of medicine. Scientifically, anatomists frown on naming parts after people for several reasons. These terms are useless, offering little information about what any given body part actually does. They’re confusing: Surnames sometimes vie for the same part (for example, the bodies of Arantius are also known as the nodules of Morgagni), and some surnames adorn multiple parts (Gabriele Falloppio lays claim to a tube, a canal, a muscle and a valve, not to mention a flowering buckwheat plant). Finally, they give the unfortunate, off-putting impression that medicine (and the female pelvis) is still an old boys’ club.

Such terms were officially banned from medicine in 1895. Unofficially, they are everywhere. A recent count found at least 700 in the human body, most of which take their names from men. (One of the few women on the body’s map is Raissa Nitabuch, a 19th-century Russian pathologist whose name is attached to a layer of the maturing placenta called the Nitabuch membrane.) They persist because they are memorable, recognizable and — for clinicians, at least — familiar.

I was initially surprised, as I’d always assumed that ‘g-spot’ and ‘fallopian tube’ were the scientific terms. But it makes sense, as the autoimmune condition I was diagnosed with in 2008 was originally called Wegener’s Syndrome, after the German who first documented it. These days it is referred to by its medical term, Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis, but of course the charity here in the UK that works to improve diagnosis and treatment is named after Wegener.

Going Analogue

Two of the four plain A5 spiral-bound notebooks that arrived from Amazon yesterday.

I’ve finally done it. This time I didn’t procrastinate over the decision, I opted to go with something simple, so I now have four A5 spiral-bound notebooks in my possession and have started using the first of them for daily note-keeping.

It will be a bit of a culture shift from doing digital journalling, but the plus side is that it’s always within reach and ready to use. The downside? Well, my handwriting isn’t great, but I’m hoping that daily practice will make it at least consistent, for better or worse.