Maine and New Hampshire!

Pow-pow! What a day! Maine’s governor has today signed into law a bill legalising same-sex marriage. And on the very same today, the New Hampshire Legislature have passed their own gay marriage bill, which now awaits a gubernatorial signature.

“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Baldacci said in a statement read in his office. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”

Read all about the state of gay rights in New England on NPR’s web site. (thanks, ARP!)

Women in science and technology: Recruiting and Retaining

We’ve been discussing getting something like “fact sheets” going, and serendipitously I got the following request through my university:

I’m seeking experts who can discuss steps employers should consider to get and keep more women in the pipeline for science- and technology-related jobs. Are there cultural, institutional or other barriers that keep women from pursuing or maintaining science and technology careers? Are there steps colleges and/or employers can take to attract more women into science and technology degree programs? Is there any data available that shows whether men and women in science and technology fields value different things in an employment relationship, such as rewards, advancement opportunities, flexibility, etc.

I asked the writer for permission to post her request here.  I hope people will jump in with their own ideas or ideas from discussions we’ve had here.

Considerations we can bring up may well end up in a publication by a standard news service (if I understand the situation),  so it’s a good time for the discussions here to reach a perhaps different audience.

I’m going to start this off with a few observations.  Please, do join in!

1.  There’s a traditional story that women either aren’t interested in this stuff or they don’t have the aptitude for it.  We have argued against this view quite a bit, including here and here.  There’s good evidence that women also encounter unconscious biases in science and technology; see here, for example.  We’ve looked some at countering such biases, and perhaps someone can find those posts??

2.  One kind of severe problem for women is the sexism in such field.  We looked at one example recently here.  If you follow the links in that post, you might encounter a link to this short article.  It describes some of the culture of techies that makes it less than friendly to women.  The article also draws on the study described in Unlocking the Clubhouse, about the successful attempt to make Carnegie Mellon’s computer science department more women-friendly.

One of the factors we’ve described is the way in which women on research teams can get put into the lower , almost  secretarial positions.  It’s also the case that there’s some evidence that women enjoy less than men do the purely formal work – e.g., undertaking a task that has little meaning outside of itself.

When jj-partner was at a big corporate research lab, scientists were frequently required to undergo sensitivity training, and that made a huge difference, as far as I could tell.

There’s lots  more.   We looked at the childcare issue several times and perhaps someone can suggest our best on that.  There’s more about salaries, motivation, etc.  And there’s lots of room for new suggestions!  Now I have to run to see a dean about a job!