Are science enthusiasts all men?

Well, no. But you might not know that from this Storify post about the online excitement over the recent Curiosity Rover landing on Mars. Put together by a social media producer for CNN, first we see a collection of tweets regarding the landing that appears to be from a group of all men. A subsequent grouping of tweets, mostly from women, is prefaced by “But the excitement among science and technology enthusiasts quickly spread to all walks of life. People from all walks of life were seemingly dazzled by the feat and it’s [sic] implications for the future.” I’m not quite sure how we ought to interpret this, other than to think the first set of folks are the real science enthusiasts, and the second set are folks who just kind of got wrapped up in that crazy dazzling explosion of Mars-Curiosity-internet joy.

The only thing is, the first group of “science and technology enthusiasts” includes the conductor for the Brooklyn Philharmonic, a design director for a communications company, a staff writer for TED, and a director/producer. Arguably, folks from all walks of life. That second group, mostly women, actually includes an astrophysicist, an astronomer, a consultant for the US Department of Defense, and a social media producer for NASA.  Sounds like a group of science and technology enthusiasts to me. (Not to mention, that some of those women’s tweets were actually posted on twitter before some of those from men in the first group. Maybe there’s a joke about time travel I’m missing here.)

(Thanks L!)

PhD programs for philosophy/ psych of evil?

Philosophers familiar with PhD programs, please advise me if you get a chance and know of a particular program to recommend.  I was contacted by a former student who’s likely finishing her MA soon (elsewhere, not with me), and who’d like to pursue a PhD in a program appropriate to a dissertation on evil character.  Although I enjoy reading/writing on this myself, I really don’t have the best sense as to what program to recommend to her for PhD pursuits.  An Anglophone student, so suggestions in UK, Canada, and USA are all welcome!

Bias and Timing

From the Economist:

In a just published paper in Psychological Science, “Temporal Distance and Discrimination An Audit Study in Academia,” Katherine Milkman of Wharton, Modupe Akinola of Columbia and Dolly Chugh of New York’s Stern school report on their study which set out to see if timing made a difference in bias in the student/professor relationship.

The researchers set up an experiment in which made-up “prospective students” e-mailed 6,548 professors to set up a meeting. The researchers sought to answer a simple question: could something as small as the timing of a meeting increase discrimination against minorities and women? The supposed new students requested ten minutes of the professors’ time. The only details changed from email to email was, first, the name of the student, to signal sex or ethnicity, and second, the time requested for meeting, either later on the day the email was sent, or any time a week later.

For same-day appointments, about a third of professors were willing to set up meetings, and the rate did not differ between purported white male students and purported minority students. But for the appointment a week out, the minorities’ acceptance rate was significantly less; it even took longer, on average, for professors to reply.

The authors call this a “temporal discrimination effect”. It is easier to name than to explain. Previous research has suggested that people might look for more palatable reasons to display discriminatory behavior, such as the cheek of requesting a same-day appointment. But the authors analysed a sample of the reply emails, to find the professors who concentrated on setting up a meeting for the same day were concerned primarily with logistics. Once scheduling meetings well in advance, however, they were more likely to ask what the meeting was for―and, apparently, more likely to think negatively of the requester.

The best explanation Messrs Milkman, Akinola and Chugh can suggest is that pushing the meeting a week forward makes it more abstract, leaving the professor more likely to indulge, however unconsciously, in stereotyping. Being academics themselves, they do not go so far as to suggest that minority students should be more demanding of their professors’ time.

The abstract of the paper is here.