Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Women in Science Update - BofN edition

Although this post is close on the heels of my last "Women in Science" roundup, the extra readership and the quality/quantity of the news merits a special edition. By the way, when I say science on this blog, I generally mean STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine).

First up, Yami over at Green Gabbro has put out a call for women of STEMM to be interviewed for a new book.
"Written in accessible language rather than scholarly jargon, Where the Girls Aren’t will present a real picture of women in STEMM. The author will combine information gathered from research studies with actual women’s experiences. Interviewees will include both women who have become frustrated and left STEMM, as well as women who have made significant contributions to it. The author will also interview students of all ages, from elementary to graduate school, to learn what inspires and encourages them in STEMM–or why they would rather do anything else."
Head over to the excellent, earth science/feminist Green Gabbro for full details.

For more discussion of the Barres' Nature article, check out Janet Stemwedel's Adventures in Ethics and Science. She's got a post titled: "Are we going to keep pretending women who want to do science and math aren't treated differently?" with at least 25 insightful comments. As a followup, she chronicles the tale from MIT where a prospective woman hire was allegedly intimidated by a star scientist. She turned down the job.

From a WSJ article (as reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Dr. Shirley Tilghman, molecular biologist, Princeton president and single mother of 2...

"WSJ: You once wrote that, "Tenure is no friend to women?" Why?
Ms. Tilghman: It comes at exactly the time when women who have gone through Ph.D. programs are most likely to be having children. So we extend the tenure clock a year for every child that you have while you're an assistant professor. (Princeton typically gives junior faculty six years to win a slot as a professor with lifetime job security.)

We do this in a gender-blind way. We think fathers should be taking time with small children, just as we believe mothers should be taking time with small children. We recently adapted that policy because we discovered that people were not taking advantage of the policy partly for fear that they would be perceived as asking for a benefit. So now we automatically extend the tenure clock. You don't ask for it. You get it."

This is a lady I'd like to meet. There are some other good quotes in the article too. I don't read the WSJ on a regular basis, and maybe they are just following convention, but I'd like to see Tilghman titled as Dr. rather than Ms.

For those interested in encouraging the next generation of women scientists, read about summer camps for girls in this profile from the University of St. Thomas.
"Our foundation supports programs like STEPS to influence young women and minorities to pursue career opportunities in manufacturing, science, engineering and technology. Studies show that young people make their scholastic career decisions around sixth or seventh grade and the camps give them an opportunity to explore their interests,” Aslin said. “The ultimate goal is to increase the number of students choosing these careers."
In the program at St. Thomas, 160 girls are building RC model airplanes.

Finally, for those of you who cannot get enough of this stuff. I've got a few blogs to recommend, as the writers regularly talk about issues related to women and science. These are people who are not just talking about personal experiences, but trying to put them in a broader context. This list is arbitrary and I'm trying to keep it small, but feel free to add others in the comments.
I welcome any comments, additions, corrections, suggestions, etceteras. The next edition of the update will occur in t > 1 week.


elizabeth said...

Hi! Nice blog. Like many others who have commented on your blog, I too am a woman in science or at least at the beginning of that path. I started college in my 30's and am now in Japan doing research for five weeks before returning to my senior year as an undergrad. I am currently six months pregnant and am having the time of my life. When I took that first class at the community college I had no idea I would end up where I am now. I plan on continuing on to pursue a PhD and find it inspiring to see the women who have come before me and have not lost their sanity. I am studying structural engineering and have only heard of a few women who have made it to tenure in my field. Thanks for the inspiration and good luck with the dissertation and defense.

Nutbuk Ug Bulpin said...

Thanks for inspiring women to aim higher! I am a newbie to blogging and saw your weblog on "blog on note', and i, too, wanna finish my PhD but it's so expensive here in US. Got both my bachelor and master's in japan though i am orginally from the Philippines. I remember that even in japan/pi universities, there would be only few women who'd take natural sciences as major, and even if they got into teaching and researching, some of them would either quit or retire early from their jobs because they'd gotten married or got kids. So, for you...Gambatte ne! (Goodluck! in Japanese) and Muchas Gracias! (Thank You! in Chavacano dialect)

Shaun said...

Great site -- and well written!

** Shaun **
My awesome blog: ohpunk.blogspot.com


Lisa said...

Unfortunately, stopping (or extending) the tenure clock for women who have children doesn't help the bigger problem, which is how you're percieved in your field (and granting agencies) when you don't produce to the level they think you should.
Also, are women really at prime reproductive age when they're starting tenure-track positions? I'm 31, pregnant, and just finishing my first year of postdoc. I'm lucky because my husband is already a PI, and thus we have more of the financial means to start having kids than if we were both postdocs (which is, of course, common). I sort of thought that more women put it off until they start the tenure track because they can finally afford it, and because they've already got the job they're not trying to pump out big papers so they look marketable when they start their job search. Obviously, they're trying to do it for tenure requirements, but thats not quite as short of a time frams as a postdoc.
I mean, most postdocs don't even get decent health insurance, and would have a very hard time paying for child care, etc. I think if we could support postdocs more as they try to start families, we'd have less of an impact on tenure-seeking women.

lizzylikespie said...

Just scanned through your blog, you write alot! Anyway, wondering, what do you believe in?

Lee Herald said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lee Herald said...

Hi ScienceWoman,

You have an interesting blog, and very active.

You will probably have even more intriguing science to come.

I would appreciate your opinion on one of my blogs.

It is titled, The Missing Link of Quantum Mechanics.

New Thought magazine published the article in the Spring 1994 issue.

Lee Herald

psychgrad said...

I too am a women in science (albeit social science) - working on my dissertation. While there are a majority of female undergraduate and graduate students around, that majority is not reflected among faculty members. Come check out my blog - interested in others' opinions/advice.

pierdolapaciencia said...

hey! I came across your blog, and I happened to love it! I'm a woman pursuing postgraduate education in Japan. As time passes by I've realized I've became more feminist, struggling to outstand in a male business world.

Although I didn't read all of your articles, I agree with you.

I'll add you to my links, or favourites, or whatever this blog have (I'm also a new blogger).

keep posting and encouraging women to pursue their aims.



bobocopy said...

Just found your blog, and I must say I absolutely love it.

I know it's preaching to the choir, but I must say that the evidence is overwhelming that women are given less-than-preferential treatment in math- and science-related fields. Some anecdotal evidence:

Recently, my some fellow students and I attended a student computer programming competition whose first prize was $5000. I served as both the team coordinator and as a competitor.
Before the competition, the two teams discussed with the head of the department what should be done with the money should we win. The general consensus was that the money should be used for a scholarship.
En route to the competition, we all had a discussion in which the eight competitors and the faculty advisor (all white males, mind you) agreed that the scholarship would best be reserved for a woman, and that we would like to give it to a student of minority status.
After we won, however, we had another meeting with the head of our department. When we told him (another white male) the conclusion we had come to, he said, "I'll really have to think about it."
The next day, he reallocated the money to new equipment for our department. When I asked him about the decision, he shrugged it off with, "Do you think there's really a need?"

Frustrating, but typical of the high-level decisions I've noticed throughout my academic career.

Ay┼čem Mert said...
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Mariesaintmichel said...

Hello Science Woman,
I was delighted to read you, and as I have been side by side with hundreds of bright people as you are, trying to survive their PhD, I wish you ALL THE BEST in your defense. I am SURE it will be a success! After so many years supporting researchers, I have an "eye" for academic success, and you are definitely in it. We are also a group of women who recently created a blog, we are just starting. I would love to have your visit and comments here and there and I will visit you once in a while as well: our blog is What Women Think, http://www.blogger.com/posts.g?blogID=31268363
You have made a friend,

ZapperGirl! said...

Great site!



Rachel said...

I love your site! I just added it to my links.

theharrisons said...

My sister, Dr. Lori Polasek, (also published under her maiden name Lori Harrison) is a GREAT woman scientist and I love to hear about the strides women make in these fields.

She's a wife and mother - and fortunately her husband was happy to be a stay-at-home dad with their son for the first year. She'd be a GREAT subject for that book you talked about!

Senor Cheeseburger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gina Grace said...

There is a group in Washington State that puts on an event annually for middle-school aged girls interested in Math and Science- it's called SMART Girls. I volunteered for their event one year and it was great. I don't know much about them, but their URL is http://www.smart-girls.org.

Ron said...

where the heck do u get the time for all dese postings? im an undergra studntim majorin in biotech an i dnt evn hav time to slp. srry i cldnt read ur blog. btw, what is ur thesis on n what was ur major?