danah boyd going to MSFT Research New England: Do women hire women?

danah boyd’s just announced that she’s headed to the newly formed Microsoft Research Labs in Cambridge, Mass, not a bad place to think deep thoughts.

 I’m thrilled for danah, but I also wonder if this hire is more evidence that women hire women, and that diversity and creating a woman-friendly environment are inseperable (uh, duh!) Not only have I met extremely successful women researchers from Microsoft in Seattle (the wonderful Lili Cheng comes to mind asap), but it’s obvious that MSFT is making a similar committment to diversity in their new facility.

For one thing, one of the two leads, Jennifer Chayes, is female, and is running the lab with her husband, Christian Borgs(how egalitarian is that?) For another they already have another woman research on board (along with her husband). One of their post-docs and one of their interns are also women. At a time when women’s participation in the hard sciences is plummetting in the US, this is pretty good.

And of course there’s the personal side. danah writes: “Personally, going to MSR will mean a continuation of the good things
that I do and a reduction of the things that exhaust me. I will
continue to publish, go to conferences, and blog. I will keep my
Berkman Center fellowship. I will continue public speaking, political
interventions, and sitting on advisory boards. I will get involved in
the intellectual communities in Cambridge and collaborate with
scholars.”

Who can argue with that?  Here’s to more innovative research and work for the great good of the commons! danah, congrats.