I’ve had a number of really interesting conversations with Athene Donald, who’s done a lot of important work on women in the sciences. These conversations have led to her doing a blog post on women in philosophy, but also appealing for more information regarding sexual harassment in the sciences. I’m very interested to see what emerges.
I’ve been frustrated by not finding many psychological studies of intersectionality. This study of the intersections of gender and race seems to be one of the first. Let’s hope there are many more to come! (Thanks, TD.)
Racial and gender stereotypes have profound consequences in almost every sector of public life, from job interviews and housing to police stops and prison terms. However, only a few studies have examined whether these different categories overlap in their stereotypes. A new study on the connections between race and gender — a phenomenon called gendered race — reveals unexpected ways in which stereotypes affect our personal and professional decisions.
Sexism at Science Journal Nature November 27, 2012
A pretty striking statement about the underrepresentation of women from the Editors at Nature. A cause for cautious optimism? Might have been nice if they’d said more about what those ‘unconscious factors’ are, but the resulting heuristic is still a promising one:
We believe that in commissioning articles or in thinking about who is doing interesting or relevant work, for all of the social factors already mentioned, and possibly for psychological reasons too, men most readily come to editorial minds. The September paper speculated about an unconscious assumption that women are less competent than men. A moment’s reflection about past and present female colleagues should lead most researchers to correct any such assumption.
We therefore believe that there is a need for every editor to work through a conscious loop before proceeding with commissioning: to ask themselves, “Who are the five women I could ask?”
Science: It’s a girl thing September 30, 2012
Remember that awful video from the EU commission that was supposed to attract girls to science? There’s now a contest sponsored by the European Science Foundation to come up with something better. You can see the other videos from the campaign on the youtube channel. (If you’re on twitter, look for #sciencegirlthing)
Here’s one video from the campaign (she’s a philosophy student too! And she quotes Hume!):
Recommend readings rejecting implicit bias? September 10, 2012
A student asked me for reading recommendations establishing the existence of implicit bias. No prob, I thought of a few just while standing there in the hallway. Then the student asked me for counterarguing material. Err… help?
Finally, Someone Asks How Men Balance a Career & Family September 5, 2012
From Inside Higher Ed: “Male Scientist Balancing Act”
Numerous studies have focused on how women in academic science balance their quest for career advancement with their family responsibilities. A study released here at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (by researchers who have done considerable research on women in science) turns to male scientists, and asks how they balance work and home responsibilities.
The scholars conducted in-depth interviews with 74 physicists and biologists who are graduate students or faculty members at prestigious universities, and the results illustrate options that male scientists have that many female scientists who have or want children lack.
Some of those interviewed expressed awareness of how they benefited [from having stay at home wives]. “For me it’s a little easier because I have a wife that has stayed home and taken care of [the children]. I imagine it would be much much more challenging if I didn’t have a spouse that was planning on staying home,” said one.
But others seemed decidedly less sympathetic to the impact of their choices. Asked, “Do you think that having children then is difficult to manage with being a scientist?” one physicist said, “No, absolutely not. That’s why you have a wife.”
P.S. The title of this post contains at least 25% snark.
“creationism is not appropriate for children” August 29, 2012
From “Bill Nye, the Science Guy.”
I was surprised to find that the argument seems to me at first glance fluffy and question-beginning, but I think it might be fun to analyze it with a class. One might end up with a good sense of what the arguments really are.
Can Pinkification Be Subversive? August 24, 2012
I found myself staring at this picture for a good solid five minutes, because I can’t fully make up my mind about it.
My rambling is after the jump.
Canadian scientists take to the streets July 11, 2012
Several hundred Canadian scientists and their supporters held an unprecedented protest march on Tuesday to demonstrate against the government’s decision to close down major facilities and fire research staff.
The protesters, who say the right-of-center Conservative government dislikes science, walked through central Ottawa behind a woman dressed as the Grim Reaper and a coffin designed to mourn the “Death of Evidence.”
“Evidence is the way that adults navigate reality. To deny evidence is to live in a fairy world … when countries engage in fantasy it’s called state propaganda,” Simon Fraser University professor Arne Moores told a crowd of around 800 people gathered on Parliament Hill.
Canadian readers– tell us more! Fill us in! Send us better links than this! (Please)
“Neuroscience and the public sphere” June 10, 2012
A recent article in Neuron, with the title above, addresses a very important phenomenon: Investigations in neuroscience get absorbed into contexts that are ‘symbolically layered and socially loaded‘. As the article says:
Since the “Decade of the Brain,” the field of neuroscience has expanded dramatically, tackling increasingly complex topics with profound social and policy implications … Neuroscience is now firmly rooted as a basic reference point within the public sphere, drawn into discussion of diverse issues such as antisocial behavior, economic decisions, substance abuse, and education.
However, scientific information is rarely transplanted intact into the public domain. As science penetrates the public sphere, it enters a dense network of cultural meanings and worldviews and is understood through the prism they provide. The cultural context determines which aspects of science travel into public consciousness: knowledge that resonates with prevailing social concerns is selectively “taken up” in public dialogue. For example, the “Mozart effect”—the empirically unsubstantiated idea that classical music enhances children’s intelligence … Furthermore, scientific information acquires new meanings as cultural preconceptions are projected onto it. For instance, Green and Clémence, 2008 demonstrate how over the course of public communication, a study linking vasopressin to affiliative behavior in voles (Young et al., 1999) was reconstituted as a discovery of the “faithfulness gene.” These lay ideas (or “social representations”) of science can have tangible societal consequences.
The article contains an extremely helpful bibliography for anyone wanting to look at the issues in this domain; it appears fairly innocent of feminist analysis, unfortunately. We have in a number of posts discussed some of the work by Cordelia Fine, who works in this area.