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July 31, 2007

Scientist leading Wellesley College!

Kim Bottomly, a renowned immunobiologist and most recently a deputy provost at Yale University, takes over the reigns today as Wellesley College’s president. The college’s faculty, staff, students, and alumnae are looking forward to working with Dr. Bottomly, and this includes all of us at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). Gender and STEM issues have long held great importance to us and Dr. Bottomly exemplifies what we know to be true: girls—and other underrepresented communities—can achieve tremendous success in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. WCW continues our work in this area through two initiatives funded by the National Science Foundation: the FairerScience and SISTEM (Success in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) projects. It seems we still have a long way to go but individuals like Dr. Bottomly continue to break ground as models, mentors, leaders, and advocates. Not surprisingly, Dr. Bottomly does bring an impressive resume of scientific research, cutting-edge education, academic leadership, and professional advocacy (read about her impressive credentials on the Wellesley College website). We’re excited to have her lead the way as Wellesley continues to educate women who will make a difference in the world and as WCW continues to shape a better world through research and action!

Susan McGee Bailey
Wellesley Centers for Women

July 26, 2007

Balance No: Oobleck Yes

This month's Scientiae Carnival is about "balance". While I think it's a great topic (thank you Twice) it is a tough one for me to write about. I don't have much of a sense of balance; my way of dealing with balance issues is a lot like what you see in this YouTube video . I run as fast as I can and when that doesn't work, I try to sink gracefully.

PS Just to keep up the science part of the blog, you too can make the non Newtonian fluid featured in the video. Oh ok it's

July 25, 2007

AAUW STEM Regional Liaisons Needed

This came across my desktop recently… As many in the industry may know, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the National Science Foundation are working together to find more opportunities for girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). And they’re trying to get programs to work together through the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) . Through the collaborative, there are opportunities for program staff to learn about/from each other, apply for mini grants, and of, course, to promote girls and STEM. Members of AAUW act as “regional liaisons” for the NGCP to help make the connections and identify resources. AAUW is looking for more members to serve in this role, specifically for these regions: Upper Midwest; Great Lakes; Rocky Mountain; Southwest; and Southeast Central. Nominations should be submitted by September 28, 2007. Learn more at the AAUW project website.

Posted for Donna Tambascio, Deputy Director for Communications & External Relations Wellesley Centers for Women by Pat who is supposed to be taking the day off but is spending part of it working (hmmm guess that might be the topic for my blog on balance for the next Scientiae Carnival.)

July 21, 2007

Visual Inspiration

I don't usually talk about websites but this time I'm going to make an exception. I've been so pleased about the number of websites that feature women in science these days. One of my favorites, for the sheer beauty of their photographs, is The Poster Project . I particularly like the poster on mathematics featuring mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck. It includes a beautiful soap film on a wire frame illustrating what negative curvature looks like.

And if you would like audio as well as visual inspiration go to the project's video "Computation, Sound and Vision" .

Let me quote their description:

"The show featured dual installations that visualized natural noise, rhythms in the brain, lifecycle experiences of fruit flies, and insect vision. The exhibition included large-scale multimedia works on paper, projections, and a sound landscape. The conception and origins for the installations were driven by the overarching musical structures that incorporate Bach’s unaccompanied violin sonatas, Debussy's piano piece "Golliwog’s Cakewalk," and music generated from brainwave data and insect neuron activity."

It will blow you away!

July 17, 2007

Women and Children and Work

Thanks to FairerScience friend Carol Muller of MentorNet for letting us know about the Elsevier Foundation's New Scholars Program. Are you ready for this? It gives "priority to the efforts of the academic and research community to address the fundamental challenge of balancing childcare and family responsibilities with the demanding academic careers in science, health and technology" with a "particular emphasis on programs that help with childcare and other family responsibilities when attending scientific gatherings."

Grants range from $5,000-$50,000 annually and doctoral candidates and scientists in the first five years of their post-doctoral careers are their area of focus. Proposals are due Oct 1, 2007 so let's get writing.

And if the news about the Elsevier Foundation's New Scholars Program wasn't enough, the Anita Borg Institute announced today that not only will Grace Hopper Conference offer full-service child care, but that they will be subsidizing "50% of the costs to relieve the financial burden on participants."

Ah it is a good day for women in science and children.

July 13, 2007

FairerScience on the Farm

From FairerScience coPI Susan Bailey

Recently my daughter and I visited our friends, the Fishers, in Virginia. We arrived at an exciting time.... they had just won the American Farmland Trust's Stewards of the Land award for their lifetime of work and devotion to the preservation of their farm, Brookview , as well as other farmland in Virginia. The days on the farm gave me a entirely new sense of science and of farming, for to me both Sandy and Rossie, are as much inventors and biologists and engineers as they are farmers--or perhaps a better way to state it is that farmers are most often all these things and more. From the movable chicken coops that help fertilize the fields to the egg washer Sandy made from an old washing machine, the farm abounds in practical inventions and organic farming techniques that clearly benefit us all. You can read more about Sandy and Rossie and their work in American Farmland. I know it will inspire you as much as it has me to remember that we all have bits of STEM in our lives....and to question the still prevalent stereotype of a farmer as male!

Susan McGee Bailey
Wellesley Centers for Women

July 11, 2007

FairerScience Goes Multi-media!

We are so excited about our first multi-media presentations. Earlier this year, FairerScience friends Kathryn Campbell-Kibler, Annalee Newtiz, Abbe Herzig did a fabulous session on "Miscommunications, Misunderstandings, and Mistakes: Gender, Science and the Press." at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

And now at the FairerScience website you can hear the following excerpts of their presentations and view their slides.
"Why Don’t They Hear What I Say?" with Kathryn B. Campbell-Kibler, PhD
"Reporting Gender" with Annalee Newitz, PhD
"Building Effective Dialog Between Gender Researchers and the Media" with Abbe Herzig, PhD

CDs of the complete session can be purchased from the Lawrence Media Group. We thank them for their permission to use the recorded materials.

By the way you probably noticed that the FairerScience home page looks a little different. There are just so many cool things at FairerScience that we had to update the home page to make sure you could easily access them all. Thanks to Patrick Emmerich for the inspiration and to FairerScience's own Tom for creating the design and making it happen.

July 06, 2007

This just in: conventional wisdom not always wise

Sometimes, a group of researchers put together a study that has a great design, is well executed, and comes up with results that support conventional wisdom, and people out in the world respond with, "Oh, please, they had to have a study to know this? I/ My grandmother/ My neighbor's dog could have told them that!" And researchers around the world sigh with frustration, because we all know that sometimes, research findings support the things "everyone knows" and other times, it turns those things on their head.

This is a good week for turning a particularly popular gender-based stereotype on its head: Are Women Really More Talkative Than Men? (behind a paywall) in the July 6 issue of Science Magazine took up the question that has been under some scrutiny since Louann Brizendine's The Female Brain was published, including these numbers on page 14: "Men use about seven thousand words per day. Women use about twenty thousand."

Popular "science" books often include numbers that make them sound more official, and few readers take the time to examine the footnotes -- if there even are footnotes! -- much less follow them up and verify the data included in the text of these books. We here are FairerScience.org have, therefore, been grateful to Mark Liberman at Language Log for taking on this one over the last few months.

Liberman, among others, is cited in the study published in Science this week, which found:

The data suggest that women spoke on average 16,215 (SD = 7301) words and men 15,669 (SD = 8633) words over an assumed period of, on average, 17 waking hours. Expressed in a common effect-size metric (Cohen's d = 0.07), this sex difference in daily word use (546 words) is equal to only 7% of the standardized variability among women and men. Further, the difference does not meet conventional thresholds for statistical significance (P = 0.248, onesided test). Thus, the data fail to reveal a reliable sex difference in daily word use. Women and men both use on average about 16,000 words per day, with very large individual differences around this mean.

Dare we hope that Brizendine and others who have asserted a large gender difference will change their tune? Well, we can always hope, can't we?

July 03, 2007

Now if they could just do these for cell phones

Things have been way too serious these days at FairerScience. So to change that I would like to introduce you to the solar bikini. Yup using strips of photovoltaic film, inventor Andrew Schneider has created a not bad looking bikini that doubles as a solar charger for an ipod.

Not only that but AirTran Airways now has an on-line game where you can compete against race care driver and FairerScience icon Danica Patrick.

(Posted by Rosa for Pat, who's still in Hawaii. She tells me there's a conference happening, but I'm beginning to have my doubts.)