Talks, Spring 2002
1) Jane Margolis and Alan Fisher: Unlocking the Clubhouse
2) John Canny: Berkeley Institute of Design
3) What the success of open-source means
4) Maria Klawe: the Impact of Technology on Education
5) Maria Klawe: Hard Fun - Mathematical Games
6) Mohammand Yunus: the Grameen Bank and the future of Information Technology

1/28 Unlocking the clubhouse: women in computer science

(**note: david told me about a douglas hofstadter piece that replaced 'man' or male pronouns with 'white' and 'woman' or female pronouns with 'black' - the piece came across as horribly racist! look up **)

jane margolis (student of carol gilligan - "in a different voice"; prof at ucla) and alan fischer (from carnegie mellon)
experience of undergrad women in cs

18-20% women per year in undergrad cs (where?? cmu?)
26-28% nationwide; down from 37% in '85 - why?
(computer science only??) ap tests: 12% female
BUT men and women use internet in equal numbers; number of women rising faster
difference between using and making - little gap in former, large in latter

carnegie mellon - cs undergrad program in late 80s
women - 10% or less (at that time, more women in grad program)
found lots of reports on what people try to find out why; but didn't find conclusions much less analysis of conclusions

fall '95: research project to understand experiences of men and women in cs, learn how those experiences influence attrition, develop countermeasures
jane - qualitative research, women's studies background
4 years of research, interviewing samples of men and women students (followed them through up to four years)
** what about women who start out with an intent to declare cs who change their mind before declaring?? **

CM - students apply directly from high school into cs

attachment to computers began at home for men and women
men - "magnetic attraction" to computers (captivated, very attached); friend groups formed aroud computers; lots of father-son 'internships'; many reported having their OWN computer at an early age
women - into puzzles, problem solving, logic; but early education on computers was often from brother (and HE was the one into it; it was HIS possession) or absent altogether; when women were interested in computers it was one interest among many - not the same captivation as men had, and a more gradual attachment; no friendship groups formed around it: so women came into program with less formal experience, less informal experience, less confidence; BUT if women stuck it through there was no difference between men and women by the end of the program

how they decided to declare
women - enjoyment, employment, can take many directions, encouraged by others, exciting and dynamic, interdisciplinary - all of these roughly equal; women WANTED to take computing to other fields or areas (especially social contexts) - women felt that this was missing from the program because the first CS classes do not include these things
men - about 2/3 said "enjoyment of computing" was the primary reason!

how they describe fellow-cs students
both men and women saw fellow-cs students live and breathe computers all the time! - fit for some, but a pervsive image that all had
cs students seen as socially inept at CM (here too)
many were elated that they found other people with whom they could talk about ONLY computers "geek mythology" - "but that's not me; I have other interests ..." - model cs student seen as a very small subset of males that really DO spend all of their time programming
other males didn't feel inadequate because of this, but women DID (common words in interviews: isolated, unwilling to sacrifice other interests and 'keep a balance', general atmosphere of fear of CS expectations)

interest and confidence
women at CM - after one year, spark of excitement was gone - WHY? professors call them "appropriate switchers" - they found something that they liked more
drop of confidence lead, for many women, to a drop of interest
comments that some received: "the only reason you're here is because you're a girl; you're still working on that?; you're a CS major and you don't know what this is?"
some women: "transfer out because I have to work so much harder - I just don't have the innate ability" (personal weaknesses)
a weakness in teaching affects minorities and women the most - some poor courses (teaching problems, cirriculum weakness) had a higher dropout of women than men
important to persistence: support group of family or friends

based on these findings, they formulated a program:
address differences in EXPERIENCE (women often came in with significantly less experience than men), MOTIVATION (men are more motivated by technology itself, women by applications of the technology for society etc.), CONFIDENCE (men attribute successes to virtues and failures to external factors; women are the opposite! why?)

for experience:
experience before college does not predict academic success - previous experience is often JUST programming which is only a small part of what computer science is about results: select students on talent and promise, not programming

for motivation:
have choices for entry points for incoming students to accomodate those with lots of programming experience and those with none
"immigration course for entering students" - what is cs all about? (before - technology details, programming) - breadth of field, applications in other fields
more interdisciplinary, contextual projects - even in early courses, design assignments to have a purpose, not just for mundane programming exercises

for confidence:
what goes wrong feels MORE wrong for those in a minority position ("outsiders") - a hard assignment or faulty code will have a worse impact on confidence of minorities than majority help build a community among female students (lenore and manuel blum especially helped this - set up a group of undergrad and grad women in cs at cmu)

huge difference in percentage of women in cs!
CM admissions independently changed their methods to include more people who displayed an indications of future leadership during the time of the study; more women exhibited this than men (grades and scores didn't decline because of this, though)

1995: 40% of entering women graduated in cs from cmu; 90% of men did
1996-1999: percentages within 5% of one another (around 85% women, 90% men)
indication that the measures they took were effective!

so ... the research drove changes in recruiting, admissions, and program improvements for a broader group of students, not just white males with a "passion for technology" (something that could have driven even other white males away also), more women meant improved retention of women meant more women; as more bright women were in classes professors asked the program how to cater to them which led to more program changes ... positive feedback loop is set up.

something to think about for profs at ucb: are the best cs students the ones who spend all their time at the keyboard, or the ones with other interests? (experience vs. promise) a general goal should be to make the program better for EVERYONE. because failures are harder on groups in the minority, this will ease their anxiety AND make the experience better for everyone.


why the sudden decline in women in cs after the mid-80s?
don't know; possible ideas: boom then bust in interest in personal computing
then, if you wanted to be a computer expert you had to study in the cs department; now you can do something like computational biology in the biology department instead

how to increase recruitment of women who have yet to decide to be in cs? (like I was)
current efforts also incidentally address women "on the fence"; possibly, one could work with high-school teachers more (for better sensitivity); colleges could have stronger intra-campus recruiting programs

how does computing get 'claimed' by males in high school? how to counter this?: appeal to women in other science to try cs classes; make sure teachers and parents are aware of the issues and assumptions that keep girls away from cs

why has the percentage of women in many engineering and physical science disciplines hovered around 15-20? is it the 'pipeline,' the requirements to get INTO a cs program that have to be started so early? (being a math whiz isn't good enough; need to be a programmer?) they've addressed this in research with different requirements for the amount of experience applicants have to have
some science fields are now more female than male - bio, for example; chem/civil engineering have good percentages of women
cs is one of most recalcitrant - has actually regressed! other particularly bad fields: astrophysics, ME, EE

saying "self-esteem" has yielded to saying "confidence" over the years
one person noticed a dip in 1991 cmu female cs applicants, noted that more women than men work through college, asked how women's confidence was affected by times of economic hardship
answer: in general students work harder and drop out less often during these times (and more so for grad students)
my experience: federal aid and many scholarships available; the microsoft scholarship boosted my confidence in cs hugely (if it weren't for it, I may not be here ...)

comments on cs in high-schools:
east-LA high school, 98% latino, one programming class
one student at this high school learned web design and makes $65/hr; he's the talk of the rest of the high school
rich LA high school - students from 101 zip codes! many programming classes with well-qualified teachers; as the levels increase, classes become more and more white-male

cmu cs developed different "entry points" into their program based on the amount of experience newcomers had - was there a stigma attached to attending the 'inferior' class? they foresaw this possibility and tried to counter it by carefully explaining why they had separate classes and who the classes were for
the 'inexperienced track' began as a gradual intro to the web and to the structure of programming languages; has since developed into a more traditional course that is 'modularized' so people can jump in at any class, as they have to

group projects - if there's only one woman on a team of four or so, she ends up being the 'team secretary' who does lab reports (so this is why harvey demanded women to clump in his class) - professors have to be careful to make roles in groups explicit

what about foreign and minority students - representation?
asians way overrepresented (and indians)
blacks underrepresented in college in general, but for those IN college they're overrepresented in CS
asian women generally have the belief that it's hard work and practice that makes for success (and often they're under family or financial pressure to stay in) - better retention than white women, who often believe that innate ability makes for success in cs
many international women in cmu cs hadn't had much (if any) experience with computers but they liked math and science; had better retention rate anyway

nature vs. nurture for the cause of the gender gap? (some?) feminists reject ALL innate differences. certainly the biggest influences are in the socialization
kindergarten: three 'computer experts' in the class (allowed to turn on computer in the morning) were all boys!
3rd grade, aware teacher: computer experts were girls
if boys don't take over the computer (in one classroom, boys weren't allowed in before school because they were too rowdy), girls DO cluster around it

1/28 John Canny: BID

space has focused on gadgets and interacting with gadgets - has developed in an ad-hoc way

goal of program: well-designed interactive environments that focus on activities and tasks, not technology

scope of program:
- environments for learning to support teamwork, info search, review, discussion; for informal collaboration to support communications, coordination, recording, brainstorming; can also include small devices in regular classrooms (not only high-end, immersive environments)
mobile environments - assistive devices, e.g. - for daily activities including navigation, manipulation of environment
wearable environments fokr personal information management
mobile environments for informational tasks, including text editing and the internet
realistic virtual environments for design, learning, historical inquiry (and a guide for future changes)
- interactivity - implies complex behavior (between people and machines, etc.) that we can't yet model; now, use iterative design practices with an emphasis on rapid prototyping, evaluation, redesign
BID aims for a human-centered program for design in context, because needs drive design, evaluation and teamwork are core skills

expanded to include public spaces (but usually easier to work with interior spaces - for now, at least)
prada store (sp?) in NY - technology in retail?
beginning of cirriculum would be general, focusing on things above; then people would specialize

profile of students in BID:
BS in engineering or CS with a strong background in humanities or social sciences; consummate team player and often a team leader; good at 'thinking out of the box' and envisioning/communicating new products
also some people from humanities, but they're not going to have a 'watered-down' cirriculum for those without engineering training
"surreptitious goal:" many designers NOW are from art school and have had social-science background; often go in and have to "fix" a final product that engineers designed without input from customers, but don't have the background for the technology - result is a lousy product
(xerox parc - forced engineers to listen to ethnographers when computer was just being accepted as a personal device)
what SHOULD designers know? where should they be in a company?

two sides:
engineering is increasinly acknowledging usability over technology etc., art is increasingly acknowledging usability over aesthetics - convergence = BID

why BID at Berkeley? BID involved with VDC from Inst. for Women in Tech.; also CITRIS at Berkeley as well as diversity, rigor (mathematical, empirical, experimental, analytical, etc.), social context

BID goals:
redefine design! unite design disciplines for artifacts that people experience, train designers who have specialties but still understand all aspects of designing interactive environments
"cocktail of materials from different disciplines served at full-strength"
BID is not pure engineering, focused on design in the abstract, a "sampler" program of watered-down material
research topics: improving technologies for interactive artifacts, improving practice of design for these, building tools, educational methods and technologies (but will probably change a lot over time)
rapid prototyping (esp. w/ plastics and other organics to help) - 3D 'printers', printed electronics
design tools for interaction (beyond rapid prototyping)
manufacturing-aware tools (what's easy to manufacture? make design more effective by understanding this for different media)
small-team note-taking ('livenotes')
design patterns for buildings (first), websites, UI; based on Alexander patterns, also from Berkeley

"the best way to anticipate the future is to invent it" - alan kay (then build it and move in :))

resources: polymer printer, 3D printers, reconfigurable partitions and furniture (small-teams space, vertical drawing surfaces, soft/plenary spaces), connectivity/info. access everywhere

others: MIT media lab - good creative space (but not focused on design, maybe not rigorous enough?); CMU design program (good)

BID academic offerings: 30 students/year target for masters program, 30 students in BID space for phd program; graduate group in design; hoping to pilot courses in fall 2002

2-year program - 6 core courses + optional courses
intro 1a, tools 1b, visual design 1c, narrative design 1d, product 2a, product 2b then studio projects each year; also, partnering with phd student

2/13 The success of open-source

how and why a political scientist would be interested in this phenomenon
"self-organizing systems" is a euphemism for "I don't understand how it works" in social science :)
think about open-source as a production process - software product is a "side effect." "The Machine that Changed the World" ... was not a machine! book about auto industry, but focused on the production process of Toyota called (**??) mean production - their process changed the way people made things

open-source is a way of making things that "capitalizes" on human abilities/organization usually accessed by companies
elements of participation, reputation, appreciation
this community is inherently experimenting with a completely different notion of "property rights" (usually the ability to EXCLUDE others based on particular terms - medieval to modern transformation gave rise to this)
world bank's conception vs. open-source
owner's right is not to exclude but to distribute - others have the right to do what they want with the product. the constraint is that you can't restrict the freedom of others.

differences WITHIN open-source - he's using the GPL (**??)

what he wants to understand:
why do individuals contribute? recent survey of "hacker motivations" (presented in linuxWorld, few weeks ago) - some do 10-12 hours a week! non-exclusionary, non-rivalry economic perspective: everyone will be a freeloader; why isn't it this way? people contribute based on CULTURE, what software engineers see themselves as doing: artists, creating something elegant and beautiful - they want to show everyone how good they are. cultural norm for sharing among the programmers
they say it goes back to mainframes; also, it's just a good "trade" (free to distribute, then get other code from others) - but it isn't really: you don't have to contribute to benefit
evaluating a programmer is hard to do from outside. if a programmer is good he wants to SHOW how good he is - open-source is a good way to show talent to an informed audience who knows what they're looking at
reputation can be turned into money in different settings, outside of open-source. (he thinks this does matter, but it's only a small contributor to behavior)
why do people see this as an exchange?
why is there no collective poetry? all the words would add up to nothing. (political science version of brook's law)

how does the group coordinate those contributions and manage the complexity of the process? collective good is different in open-source: if someone doesn't contribute but just takes, he's not TAKING from the "collective good"; in fact, he could be seen as a beta tester who would suggest new features or comment
unix philosophy - source code modularization
social organization within community - what are the norms? how does one get responsibility? what happens when someone breaks the norms?
licenses can give clear expectations for how people relate to each other; others: unix hierarchy, adobe committee

importance of property rights - expands usual notion of exclusion; other conceptions that already exist: stewardship/guardianship (think of the way people treat modern religions - e.g. what does a rabbi own? someone can take ideas of different religions and make their own to "redistribute", just like open-source); digital copyrights (some believe that the right to exclude is a natural consequence of creation - others say exclusion has to be moderated or it gets in the way of distribution ... think of Napster - underlying incentives for creating music? is the copyright bargain underlying record companies faulty? intellectually, there's nothing else that constrains Napster's sharing)

logic of distrubuted innovation

the functions of the Commons - welfare, innovation
you need a social/intellectual commons to fuel creativity and invention
copyright - fair use to use things so we can build on what others have done in SOME ways, without having to ask permission every time
ask for participation for the sake of participation - creativity and collaboration is important whether or not its products contribute to social good
value of end-to-end architecture? allows people to participate, whether or not they are innovators
do we permit this "commons" because we can't stop it (e.g. Napster and copycats)? or is it more purposeful?

Tech transfer and developing economies

varieties of networks:
self-directed (ebay), open, value-driven (linux), other-driven, proprietary (sub-contracting - divide the tasks and get people to do certain parts; group is together 'episodically' only for life of product development), event-driven
transaction costs: kose (**??) theorem (work done in forties; he won the nobel prize for this)
if there are firm property rights and if transaction costs are low, things can be done transaction costs can be 'moved around,' but shifting property rights makes everything really unstable
"it's not a problem because everyone is becoming networked; that will make it easy" - cop-out reason from business schools and even government for how an open organization like linux will "interface" with a hierarchical company
other thoughts about this interface: 1976, kissinger - "when I call the EU who answers the phone?" (when microsoft calls linux who answers the phone?)
how to bargain and negotiate with such a different I/O and authority structure?

2/15 BID: Greg Niemeyer - Oxygen Flute, Chimera Obscura

'discourse on human discovery'
large robot with a large human fingerprint as a maze - people can virtually navigate this maze
"social space for collaboration"

Oxygen Flute: small glass room (Greg played a lot with the shape of the room) with bamboo and small CO2 sensors - breath is converted into flute music, real-time

4/10 Maria Klawe: the Impact of Technology on Education,
Dean of science, UBC; head of CS '88 to '95
IBM Almaden - founded group in discrete mathematics
(tomorrow, 4 pm, 60 Evans: Playing Mathematics - Hard Fun)

"imposter syndrome" :~)
is it beneficial, disruptive, or distracting? all: sometimes beneficial, often disruptive, always POTENTIALLY distracting
underlying beliefs/values:
1- tech. is only another set of resources - can't replace teaching or learning
2- key is students/teachers and face-to-face learning (not distance learning - lacks community)
3- learning styles matter (visual, auditory, haptic) - preferences influence learning

"conflict of interest declaration:" E-GEMS - has done lots of work in math/science games for education
Silicon Chalk (startup) - educational tech: SW to support classes with wireless laptops

computer-based possibilities: specific-content software; tools to support thinking, creation, analysis, communication; source of info
focus on the first and second (I'm most interested in the second ... more flexible)

SW for presenting content: immersive and motivating exploration, visualization, scaffolding/choices, collaborative learning, practice skills (examples and feedback: times tables, spelling, new languages)
lots of research has been put into this the last 40 years, but not widespread: hard to do it right (design/use)
demos: phoenix quest, virtual family
being out in schools isn't a good way to really reach a wide variety of kids - how to show kids how fun games (especially the kinds of "games" of a research mathematician) could be? how to show excitement?
problem: BOYS play more computer games! make a computer game that girls like.
1993 - did a study on 10,000 kids in a science museum - girls like characters, stories, worthwhile goals (not killing bad guy)
boys liked action
both liked good graphics, humor, interactivity
Pheonix Quest: children's book author (good with books for girls) wrote plot of game
(reminds me of a limited Young Lady's Primer, in a way)
Eliza-like characters to communicate with (for emotional value), math games with levels in each game, overarching goal of collecting mathematical Magic-like cards to win over everything
Virtual Family: intro to programming (in Java)
interact with family members, then go into a tutorial to add actions (in Java)
go from beginning to creating an entirely new character
interesting result: some love it (easy and nonthreatening), for others it's boring! many different reasons to enjoy programming (puzzles, creating things, power over others who don't understand ... :~))

content software: can be successful, but can be time consuming and needs care in design AND use
SW often misses learning goals, or there's a limited transfer of learning to other contexts
limited computers, incorrect platforms, no computer support

Silicon Chalk: content-neutral
- class recording (notes, audio, slides)
- multi-way feedback (interactive polling cards ala 61c)
- collaboration
- works anywhere (no infrastructure needed)
- instructor can control content during class (lock applications to avoid web-surfing etc.)
- integrated information system (teacher doesn't need to enter names, has info on assignments immediately, etc.)

integrate text, notes, exercises
complete recording of classes
student collaboration and interaction

loss of eye contact (but just like note-taking), cost of laptops (but it's decreasing ...), clicking, would it really improve anything? (research shows learning gains from this active use of laptops)

challenges: such a change! lots of awkwardness and fear (and contempt for technology crashing etc.)
initial and ongoing investment
why fail? so you don't fear failure, learn more from failure than anything else
why learn to be good at something you're naturally bad at? some students will be naturally bad at the content you're teaching, so it would be beneficial for you to know strategies for approaching things you're not good at
useful to have pen-based input for pictures, math
evolutionary or revolutionary changes? some will be naturals or visionaries, sure, and create radically different systems, but users must then be visionaries too, and so many just don't trust computers the way they are
problems with current system - things that would need to change regardless of what amazing technology comes along:
1- teachers don't get paid enough (low-status position)
2- culture doesn't support learning, from families upward (I think of C. Alexander's design pattern on education: distributed, student-initiated apprenticeships ... it's closer to finding the interest and motivation than the current system)

in 61c, used before-class quizzes, in-class polls, etc. - thinking that I had a say in the content and understandability made me care much more about the class

4/10 Maria Klawe: the Impact of Technology on Education

University of British Columbia research projects
goals of e-gems: increase interest and motivation in math, encourage exploration of math concepts, show math in a variety of contexts, fun for boys AND girls, does NOT replace other math learning (enhances, complements, supports)
methodology: iterative design, classroom studies (focused/short term [days] to longer [months]), lots of logging, questionnaries, etc.
hard to do quantitative measurements over months
goals: engagement with/reflection on content, motivation to go to more difficult levels, make the understanding transferable to other contexts
what makes a game fun? almost NO literature on what makes a game fun in 1992
girls like: characters and story line, worthwhile goals, creative activities, positive social interactions, challenge
boys like: entertainment, action/adventure, challenge, violence (violence provided instant ability to do something that had a lot of feedback - POWER)
so "fun" depends on player (and not only gender), but both liked challenge (otherwise it's drudgery; too challenging is frustrating), interactivity, creative activities and personalization, collaboration or competition, absorption
biggest problem: students don't learn what designers intended (find a way to win that has nothing to do with the concepts) - example: where in the world is carmen sandiego - kids only take the barest amount of information to get to next level, and no more!
important: interface, interaction, feedback/scaffolding, teacher expectations (how SW is used - ended up being best in pairs or triples; if students don't know they're supposed to learn something, they won't)

two examples: prime climb (collaborative tools), super tangrams (manipulation)
prime climb: first Java (crashed a lot), then C++; teaches about relative primacy: two climbers ascend a mountain of numbers, they're attached by a rope, if one climber moves onto a number that's not relatively prime the climber falls (if the climber does it again the OTHER climber falls)
how to measure collaboration? electronic means unnatural
game logs: audio and video recording; results: kids get very involved and do talk about the numbers. girls plan more, are more cautious; boys just move (and lose) more often
what makes them effective?

super tangrams: translation, rotation, reflection
first, manipulated objects directly; then had to manipulate concepts (concepts weren't getting through by manipulation with objects): represented a translation by a vector - start with a wire frame of where the image WILL go, then take it away - then make one end of the vector immovable (so players can't simply line the vector up) - with this scaffolding, understanding went from 25% to 76%
however, maybe a problem was the enthusiasm of the designer, who was present for all the demos! so more studies without designer in Texas with and without the scaffolding, and it had similar (slightly lower) results; another group had scaffolding AND popsicle-stick protractors, and they did a bit higher
period of time between pre-test and post-test: 2 weeks for first study (students played every day in between); other studies - more weeks, play once/week, twice/week, etc.
control group had no classroom instruction (just concerned with learning from the test)

current e-gems projects: multi-user games, intelligent coaches, pheonix quest enhancements (intro levels, intro fractions puzzle, more flexibility for many levels)
free software!

training for teachers? some TEACHERS have helped others, some UBC students have helped teachers, working on a teacher's guide for pheonixquest
how to use this for much higher levels (e.g. calculus and beyond)? used by teacher for visualization, but interactivity and discovery is hard to do effectively at a university level
minorities? worked well in Texas
in Canada - at UBC: native students (very few), asian students (lots, well-prepared)
what about weeks or months after exposure to this software, rather than immediately? computer-based learning should be only supplementary to education; it shouldn't replace it. reinforcement is up to teachers
mostly same-sex pairs - works better (uncomfort between different-sex pairs)
what about these games as exhibits in places like LHS? (they have sections on math games from around the world anyway)

Mohammand Yunus: the Grameen Bank and the future of Information Technology

Professor in Bangladesh
When he started with microcredit, he got into something he knew nothing about. But sometimes knowing about something blinds one, and knowing too much blinds one completely.

Yunus got a Fulbright fellowship to get his PhD in Tennesee. He graduated in 1969, and became a professor of economics in Tennessee. In 1971, Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan (a "military machine"). Yunus resigned and went to Bangladesh to help in rebuilding, and started teaching in a beautiful new university there.

Euphoria from independence soon became a famine - outside of the campus walls was a starving village; he wondered, what good is what I'm teaching? He wanted more to be "just a human being" there to help another person, rather than a professor, elevated above the village around him. He tried to be useful in the village. He saw one problem again and again: people had to go to loan sharks for very small amounts of money. One woman he talked to made only 2 pennies US per day for beautiful bamboo stools she handmakes. She said: "I don't have money to buy bamboo, so I take a loan, but then loan shark forces me to sell the stools back to him, so I hardly make anything." Yunus found out that the amount she needed for bamboo was merely 25 cents. But she didn't have it! Yunus found that many people were in similar situations: lives there are ruined not by millions of dollars but by pennies.

He started by lending HIS money to people in the village - beginning with a mere $27 to 42 people - and told them not to go to the loan sharks anymore. This made such a difference that he went to a bank and asked bank manager to make micro-loans to the poor people in the village. The bank manager scoffed at this, saying, "the poor don't pay back loans; people only pay if they're threatened." Yunus felt such agitation - who was right, the bank or his experience with the poor? Why was there so much emphasis on credit-worthiness?

Finally, Yunus offered himself as a guarantor for micro-loans, and the bank agreed to lend only $300 (1976); the bank officials kept saying, this is the last time you'll see your money! However, everything was repayed. The bank officials said, "this is only because you interact with these villagers every day - they feel obligated to repay, because you can threaten them if they don't. If you expand to two villages, it won't work." So Yunus did expanded to two villages, then 5 villages, then 50, 100 ... still the bankers weren't convinced (here is an example of knowing too much - the bankers were blind to what was working because it differed so much from what they believed was right.) But the simple fact is that it's a lie that the poor aren't credit-worthy.

In other Bangladesh banks, women who wanted to borrow money were asked, "have you discussed this with your husband?" if they said yes, then they were asked, "why not bring your husband around then?" Less than 1% of borrowers were women. Yunus's goal was to make 1/2 of the borrowers in HIS program women. He went to government and asked for a contract for a bank. It took 2 years to convince them to give him a license, and finally his organization became the Grameen bank in 1980.

- 95% of borrowers are women
- loan amounts increase over time
- 1200 branches now, and 12,000 staff

Conventional banks have this philosophy: the more you have, the more you can get. People who have nothing can get nothing. At his bank: if you have nothing, you get top priority. One question that Yunus is often asked is, how did you come up with your lending rules? He says, we just learn what conventional banks do and reverse it. For example, there are no legal instrument/documents between lender and borrower, only accounting documents. Banks ask, what if people don't pay? He replies, think of how much it would cost to take someone to court - is it worth it for a $50 loan? Credit means trust. Conventional banks take "trust" but have built everything on distrust. The grameen bank is not a health organization or a family organization, but child mortality has been reduced by 37% in member families, and 1/3 of members have gotten ABOVE poverty line - and another 1/3 are close.

Poverty isn't created by poor people; they're as good as everyone else. Why are they poor? It's the fault of systems, institutions, and policies - redesign these! You can't solve poverty with the institutions that created it. How can you have a global financial structure like a bank that refuses to serve over 1/2 of the population? These poor people are "not credit worthy" according to whom? Now similar banks to grameen are in other countries: there are 70 banks known, and probably many more. Credit should be a human right, along with food, shelter, work, etc. - how do people get food, shelter, and work without something to start with?

The image in economics is that the only way people can make a living is to prepare to be "chosen" by someone to make a livelihood. This is what many schools are based on - you go to get trained, then present yourself to the working world, and somebody selects you to do something useful for them. Why is it like this? In prehistoric societies, it wasn't like this; people were proactive, and did things for themselves. There are problems with imagining oneself as a working individual in a working society, in some places, because that's meaningless. In third-world countries, people sell things on the street - they employ themselves, and do not wait for someone else to employ them.

Question - he's asked: Why do you give money to women?
Answer: It's wrong of conventional bankers to not loan money to women; his banks have convinced women that they CAN control their future. (They would often say, I'll bring my husband, but that was fear and history talking and not her.) Often, money that went through women to the family was used much better than money through men, because women use the money in a different way. They get very skilled in managing scarce resources and putting so much into their children, that they're well-suited to partitioning it and using it where needed. Men are much more impatient, while women more systematic; they've had such (external) insecurities all their lives, that they've learned to be cautious. All "owners" of the grameen bank now are women, and all managers are women too (the bank is owned and managed by borrowers).

What next? Yunus wants to get involved in information technology. It can change the world, and should be put into the hands of poor people. However, it's going in the other direction: the "digital divide" is dividing people by income, education, quality of life, and more. The potential of people is amazing. Poor people are like bonsai trees: they're not supported or they're even thrust down, so they stay small, but they COULD grow into a huge tree. Information could revolutionize this. [**Sidenote: thinking of the economics nobel prize about systems with inequities of information**]

An offshoot of grameen bank is the grameen mobile phone business, started as a branch of the bank. They got their license five years ago, and now they're the largest phone company in Bangladesh; they would be bigger except for senseless government restrictions (e.g. no calls to landlines - only to other cell phones!). Villages have "phone ladies" that make $50-500/month hiring their phones out for OTHERS to make calls. For these women, it's not just a telephone service, it's a new way of life. When they become a "telephone lady" they're given a list of "important numbers:" starts with prime minister's desk and bedroom telephone numbers, then parliament, then health services, police. These women are told that if they want something changed, they should call these numbers, and if the people on the other end don't listen, just keep calling. Is this civil disobedience? not quite ... there is strength in numbers, and great strength in technology to connect people. 80% of Bangladesh has no electricity, so how do the phone ladies charge their cell phones? A good way to find these phone ladies in a village is by their solar panels (which they buy with a loan from grameen bank) - this also gives them electricity, and makes their home a cultural center (as well as an object of envy) after dark when there is little light elsewhere.

The next step is providing internet facilities. This will give people access to health information and educational resources. Yunus' ideal technology is a digital "aladdin's lamp" - ask your lamp where to sell bamboo stools for the best price, for example, and it will tell you to send them to the next village or to the USA. These technologies connect people to people - they remove the intermediaries that "cause" the poverty. Technology brings information on health, education, skills, marketing, and much more, which people can seek when they're ready.

Why do kids understand information much better than adults do - is it a "freshness in their logic"? Are they not "blinded" by conventions yet? After so much training, our minds work in a "crooked" way, and things become "difficult" when they wouldn't have been difficult when we were children. Yunus proposes an international center for information technology to eradicate poverty and an organization like UC's Citris is perhaps the first step. [This is what Yunus thinks - I think perhaps we're too blinded already ....]

Q: What was reaction of money lenders when you first started giving loans?
A: they started many rumors, for example: we were a religious group that, like so many religious groups before, would bring something to benefit the community before insisting on conversion ... before it was education or medicine. People are wary of proselytizers now.

Q: What was the reaction of men when so many women suddenly could get loans?
A: at first they were insulted, and expressed it in anger to the bank (and to their wives??) - lots of tension in families, and fear of divorce. (In bangladesh divorce is simple: husband must say three times "I divorce you", and that's it.) The bank had to prepare women to take loans: women were given advice for how to handle money and protect their marriage. Then the bank arrange a meeting among men in a town: the bank explained to them that they were still respected. They would ask, "if you're loaning to her, then why not to me? I've never seen her spend money, much less earn it ... would *I* have to pay back?" They were reassured that no, it was the woman's loan, and thus the woman's responsibility to repay it. They needed the help so much that they couldn't say much more - and once the women started succeeding, they could say even less in criticism.

Q: The grameen bank gets a high return rate (95%) - how? [**what is typical for a conventional bank?] A: Women don't borrow individually, but in collectives - they do have individual accountability, but they also have to help others in their borrowing group. If one woman isn't making her payments, it's the responsibility of the group to find out why: perhaps the cow she bought with the money died and she feels too ashamed to admit that she can't pay back the money right away, or perhaps her husband stole the money and left her in which case she sould be consoled and helped. Anger may not be the right response, which is all a large institution can give, really - having small lending groups provides much more of a human relationship. [**my thought - so interesting that most institutions and technologies REPLACE human interaction (ATM, online bill pay/catalogs, banks, even schools), rather than fostering and augmenting it like grameen bank does! what would the world be like if more institutions DID encourage more than superficial connections between people? especially in these small groups, which some say we are inclined by nature to prefer over large cities and universities and such ... **]

Q: Grameen bank empowers women by loaning money to them, but does it also put too much of the burden on them? with responsibilities of family and husband, does it just tie them down more?
A: the woman must take the responsibility to stand up for herself, certainly - and it's often the case that giving them a sense of control in ONE place of their life makes them more confident in other areas. Often, the work she does involves her husband also, but when she's given the loan she's in control: this reverses the usual trend of subservience.

Q: SEWA is the self-employed women's association, which is another micro-credit org. Is grameen bank tied to some outside financial institution for money?
Q: Are others tied to outside institutions?
Q: Do you have a vision of expanding microcredit to loans of more than $100?
A: THERE'S NO SUCH LIMIT IN GRAMEEN BANK. Grameen bank also gives leases, scholarships and education loans, even housing loans. There's no limit on the amount, but you have to work up to it, by first borrowing a little and demonstrating that you can pay it back, then borrowing more as needed. Grameen is known as "the bank of the poor" but it should be called "the bank of the formerly-poor." :~)
How could information technology speed up this process of getting above the poverty line, and improving health and quality of life? That's up to citris to decide ...

Q: what's in the future for grameen?
A: right now government restrictions are in the way. People say they want more services like fax and e-mail. They're experimenting with internet kiosks in towns. If it's only in English it's translated, or e-mails are sent in phonetic bangladesh, spelled with the english alphabet. The constant is that all grameen companies are owned by the poor, collective-style; it's up to the owners and managers to decide what will be done next.

Q: With grameen, gender and class roles are redefined and challenged - do some feel threatened by this? it's a deliberate shift ... what next, they might fear?
A: Yes, there are changes ... get used to it :~) Nothing new can happen in the same staid cultural milieu - emphasize the counterculture to facilitate innovation (parallel to berkeley). One example: there's a bangladesh law that women can't speak loudly: she can't be heard by husband or in public. However, the bank managers (all women) report in front of whole towns and villages now.

Other Grameen links:
"Towards Creating a Poverty-Free World", other talks, and other links (thanks to the Wayback Machine)
Grameen bank links and information, given by the Global Development Research Center
Quick summary of Grameen bank, Grameenphone, and how Yunus is introducing technology by Wired mag.
webcast of (this) Berkeley talk, April 19, 2002
brief explanation by Yunus of poverty-free world, and more links