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If you're weighing whether you have time to sneak in a quick Barbie before joining the rest of us for Oppenheimer, consider the official statement on the matter by the Nuclear Threat Initiative: 

Hey Maya, super excited to see more people interested in projects like this! For reference, I did this a couple months ago (https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/bTMdEfeaLbGmf9LHn/reading-group-launch-introduction-to-nuclear-issues-march) and we just had our last meeting this week, in case it helps to have another example syllabus. I notice it's very similar already! 

Here are a few takeaways from my experience:

  • Getting participation is even harder than you expect. Of the people who signed up for my course, maybe 1/4 actually came to weekly meetings. If I could try again, I would do more pointed outreach to EA organizations tangentially working in nuclear issues, fellowship groups, and university groups. 
  • Facilitation on this issue needs a lot of preparation. "What was your biggest takeaway?" turned into, more often than not, "there is no political will to do anything about this glaring risk to humanity" and it's actually really hard to turn that into a productive discussion. 
  • My weekly time commitment was too large — it's good that yours is 1-2 hours of reading and 1 hour of discussion. I started providing notes every week with key takeaways from readings to facilitate discussion in case some participants hadn't done all of the reading. 

Would be really interested in talking more about this if you're looking for someone to bounce ideas off of. 

My sense that women in EA are shoved into community building or operations roles comes from most of the women I know in EA having specialist/technical backgrounds but being shoved into community building or operations roles. 

It also comes from conversations with those women where they confirm that they share the sense that EA is known for shoving women into community building and operations roles. 

It also comes from the vast majority of websites of EA organizations featuring men as directors/leaders/researchers/etc. and women disproportionately in operations roles, and from going to fellowships and conferences where women are responsible for the day-to-day operations, and from planning events where women are responsible for the operations. In a community that's roughly 2/3s men, that's kind of insane. 

I'm not pretending to have done a survey on this, but in my experience this has been such a well-known/previously-observed phenomenon that that survey would be a waste of time.

Also, I assumed the idea of quotas for women were why my post's agreement karma is pretty controversial, so I hope you have better luck than I did getting feedback on that idea. 

I once approached a man at an EA social event who I had heard make a misogynistic comment that I found particularly reproachable. He apologized for being "unprofessional." We were playing beer pong; professionalism had nothing to do with it. There is some kind of mental disconnect making the rounds, to the effect that this behavior is only a problem in professional contexts, and men behaving poorly to women in social contexts has no ramifications on the community. 

Have more diversity in outreach officers.

Engaging more women as community builders.


Inviting more female keynote speakers at EAG(x) events.

Not only are these directly contradictory (pigeonholing women into being community builders will preclude greater participation in speaking positions, which usually require a great deal of specialist knowledge), but EA is already known for shoving women into community building/operations roles (hypothesis: because they're not taken seriously as researchers/specialists).


explicitly encourage women to apply for conferences, vacancies and the like to reduce self-doubt.

This is going to get you nowhere without particular seats at those conferences, organizations, fellowships, etc. actually set aside for women. It's very easy to say "No, it's okay, we accept women, too!" and much harder to get a group of men to follow through with that.

Maybe the norms-controlling/moderator team could take into account the millennia-old tradition of male power (as a demographic group) over everyone else (as a demographic group), making the  statement about there (not) being decent men meaningfully different from a statement about e.g. there (not) being decent women...

Molly, this is awesome! After (/possibly during)  scheduling, if everyone's on board, I'm looking forward to finalizing an updated syllabus with resources like these and popular input. I think firsthand accounts are going to be much more valuable than their poor representation on my original syllabus indicates. Thank you so much! :) 

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