Gender gap closed when this happened at Waterloo

See the whole write-up here. Just two “treatment sessions,” presentations of an hour each, to women and men in their first term, had the effects below. One of the treatments was a panel of  upper-year students offering stories about setbacks and adversity as normal and temporary, the “social-belonging” treatment.  In the other, the “affirmation training” treatment, “upper-year students described how they learned to recognize when they were under stress and then affirm areas of their lives outside of their studies.” Findings from this research and more will be presented on August 13, at the Science, Gender, and Technology conference: 

“The young women studied were those enrolled in engineering programs where fewer than 20 per cent of the students are women – programs like electrical, software and mechanical engineering. Of the study participants in these male-dominated programs, the women’s academic average hovered around 65 per cent while young men had an average of 75 per cent, says Logel. Female students who attended a treatment session, saw their average rise to 75 per cent, equivalent to men, whereas women in the control group finished their first year with a 65 per cent average.”

Iranian mathematician becomes first woman to receive the Fields Medal

Mathematician Maryam Mizrakhani, originally from Iran and now at Stanford, is one of four winners of this year’s Fields Medal – and the first woman to ever receive the award. The Fields Medal is generally considered the most prestigious professional award in mathematics.

Nature reports:

A native of Iran, Maryam Mirzakhani is at Stanford University in California. She won for her work on “the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.”

“Perhaps Maryam’s most important achievement is her work on dynamics,” says Curtis McMullen of Harvard University. Many natural problems in dynamics, such as the three-body problem of celestial mechanics (for example, interactions of the Sun, the Moon and Earth), have no exact mathematical solution. Mirzakhani found that in dynamical systems evolving in ways that twist and stretch their shape, the systems’ trajectories “are tightly constrained to follow algebraic laws”, says McMullen.

He adds that Mirzakhani’s achievements “combine superb problem-solving ability, ambitious mathematical vision and fluency in many disciplines, which is unusual in the modern era, when considerable specialization is often required to reach the frontier”.

Philosophers and Political Theorists boycotting Israel

Lorna Finlayson writes:

I’m emailing on behalf of a group of philosophers and political theorists who, in light of the ongoing violence in Gaza, are expressing our support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This includes our support for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions (not individuals). We believe that as people who think about justice and morality as part of our jobs, we have a particular responsibility to speak out publicly on this issue. We are inviting fellow philosophers and political theorists to express their support by signing our statement. We believe that our action may be of interest to your readers, and so we would be very grateful if you could share the link to our website.

This is obviously an issue on which reasonable feminists can and do disagree. We are posting it because the fact that philosophers and political theorists are organising in this way is News Feminist Philosophers Can Use.