Monday, August 07, 2006

Women in Science Update

Skookumchick offers us a primer on feminist science and technology studies, complete with reading list. She teaches us that ".. people combine feminist theory, sociology (particularly of gender), psychology, and history with the study of science, technology, and engineering. This work ... focuses some attention on how we (women and men) participate in this thing we call science and/or engineering. Scholars ... have argued that, for example, while scientists argue they are studying objects or organisms or processes objectively, they are overlooking how their own culture and the culture of science limits what they are able to see and understand." Thanks for the perspective, Skookumchick, and I hope to hear more from you on this topic!

There is a report in last week's Science on "gender differences in patenting in the academic life sciences." The authors start their paper by acknowleding that the gender gap in terms of employment in the life sciences is smaller than in the physical sciences, but say that little research has been done on gender differences in the commercialization of scientific results, an increasingly important source of non-salary remuneration for faculty." Their study encompassed over 4000 life scientists who earned PhDs between 1967 and 1995 and had at least 5 years of post-PhD academic publishing experiences. Of their sample, 13% of male scientists held patents, but only 6% of female scientists did. They examined non-gendered factors that might contribute to differences in patent rate, but found that "after accounting for the effects of productivity, networks, field, and employer attributes, what is the net effect of gender? There remains a large, statistically significant (P <> effect of being female. The parameter estimate implies that, holding constant productivity, social network, scientific field, and employer characteristics, comparable women life scientists patent at only 0.40 times the rate of equivalent male scientists." The researchers then conducted interviews with women scientists and found that two factors seemed to be holding them back: lack of contacts in industry (which the men had), and concerns that time spent working on the patent process would hold back other aspects of their university careers. What encouraged them? Male coauthors who pushed for a patent and formal institutional support. And the gender gap appears to be closing somewhat, with more younger women holding patents than their more senior female colleagues.

Yami's got pithy summaries of the letters to Nature that appeared in response to Ben Barres' commentary from a few weeks back. (reminder: Barres was the transgendered scientist who saw his treatment improve after he became a man.)

A new-to-me blog Dangerous Ideas, has a post about a soon-to-be released book by Danica McKellar (Winnie from the Wonder Years) called "Math Doesn't Suck" aimed at girls. Apparently, Ms. Keller is not only the author of a theorem, she is an advocate for girls in science.

3Bulls gives us the rundown on salacious new details in the Karapova-Tonegawa fracas. Thanks to Dr. Shellie for the pointer. (reminder: The fracas is over the intimidation of prospective MIT hire by a senior faculty member).

Dr. Shellie unearths an article from a few months ago where the author suggests that while all non-tenured faculty feel pressure to be all work and no play, women faculty may be even less likely display "extracurricular" passions. Perhaps, they are too busy raising a family to have time to indulge other interests. Dr. Shellie asks you to agree or disagree, and presumably explain why.

Featured WiS Blog: Inkycircus is written by three women (Anna, Anne, and Katie) who are trying to start a science magazine for women. In the meantime, they spend their days finding all the interesting science in the news and then giving their readers quick and often funny summaries and context along with a link to the news story. They post multiple times per day (and they are on Pacific time!) but their posts are short and funny. Inkycircus is a definite must-read. Maybe you can even call it work - "staying current." I do.


1 comment:

skookumchick said...

Thanks for the link, ScienceWoman. I will definitely post more on this, and I hope I can live up to your expectations. ;-) Hope the defense prep is going well....