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October 31, 2007

Cool Tools: The Pedagogical Edition

So you may not know that during, and just out of, college I worked at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center writing computer based physic simulations. Now that was a long time ago but until recently I hadn't seen much that was even as good as what I had done (no ego problems here). But now I've found something that is so much better. Interactive Physics Simulations from the University of Colorado. These simulations really are cool tools and there are so many of them just waiting for you to download them.

Among my favorites:

Balloons and Static Electricity

Energy Skate Park .

What does this have to do with FairerScience you say? Well a lot. These simulations are applications of physical science concepts in ways that are accessible, interesting and let you test out your conceptions and misconceptions . They are set up so they can be used at pre college and undergraduate levels. And "Integrating applications into the teaching of fundamental concepts increased women's recruitment and retention at Carnegie Mellon in computer science and at Drexel in engineering." (Give me a yell if you want the references).

October 29, 2007

Sitting in the bad girl row.

This month Scientiae Carnival is over at Green Gabbo with a theme of talking to yourself.

I’m talking to myself less these days deliberately. When it comes to dealing with inaccuracy, unfairness and just plain meanness, talking to myself does little good and sometimes it even makes things worse as I get more and more frustrated and feel increasingly powerless. So at meetings, conferences and workshops I’ve started finding and sitting in the bad girl row.

You know the bad girl row. It’s at the back of the room, close to the doors and the women sitting in it look like they are having entirely too much fun. When you sit in the bad girl row, there are rules. For example, talking to yourself is considered bad form. You are supposed to share whatever snarky or irreverent comment you’re thinking with the person next to you. And when someone shares a particularly apt or funny comment with you, you are supposed to pass it on down the row.

If the presentation is particularly egregious, or the comments particularly funny, several rows may get involved and the mutterings will grow during the breaks. The next thing you know not only are you not alone, you have a movement. And it’s a heck of lot easier, more effective and even safer, to confront sexist, patronizing, stupid and wrong comments and presentations when you’re a movement.

Here’s to the bad girl row; may every group setting have one and may I always get to sit in it.

October 24, 2007

But it's a science meme

and it's for research (well demonstrating evolution in cyber space could count as research) and besides it's from Thus Spake Zuska , so how can I not do it?

So here goes: first, the rules:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:
• You can leave them exactly as is.
• You can delete any one question.
• You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".
• You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".
• You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

My great-great-great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-grandparent is
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-grandparent is
Flying Trilobite.
My great-grandparent is
A Blog Around the Clock.
My grandparent is
Primate Diaries.
My parent is
Thus Spake Zuska .

Ok here are the questions and my answers:

The best time feminist novel in SF/Fantasy is: Wonder Woman

The best scary movie in scientific dystopias is: The Handmaid's Tale .

The best sexy song in pop music is: You Are Too Beautiful by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

The best cult novel in beat fiction is: The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.

The best high-carb food in Slavic cooking is the potato pierogie.

Over to you:


Wayfarer Scientista


October 20, 2007

Women in Space and in Charge!

FairerScience colleague Donna Tambascio from our partner, Wellesley Centers for Women, wants us to be sure to follow next week's space shuttle launch. Why? Well it's not just because space travel is really cool (really, wouldn't you like to do it?)

The flight will be commanded by Wellesley College alumna and member of the Wellesley College Board of Trustees Pam Melroy. Colonel Melroy is the second woman ever to command a shuttle. Not only that, as shuttle commander, she will be bringing Dr. Peggy Whitson to her new post as the first woman to command the International Space Station.

Donna reminds us that NASA’s website is chock full of breaking news, daily reports and updates, and bios on the team. You can even get video feeds. The launch is Tuesday, October 23 at 11:30 a.m. EST. Let's all stop of a minute then and wish the women in charge well.

October 18, 2007

What can men do to help women stay in science?

As we know, there are a number of men who are concerned about issues related to women in science and who do take action. However rarely is the question, "what can men do to help women in science?" explicitly asked, especially in public . Well someone is asking it now. The Scientist will be publishing an article in January outlining suggestions for helping men help women scientists. Their ideas include:

"Call a woman scientist from time to time, to chat about science, a recent breakthrough, your puzzling results, their puzzling results. Even better, call one once a week. "

"If you're on a hiring or tenure committee, don't start reading the files until after you review the primary literature on unconscious bias."

Even better, they want your ideas as well and say that they will publish the best comments in print along with the article. So give them your ideas here . I'm giving them one of my favorites.

"When someone is making comments that could be construed as being sexist, even (or maybe especially) if it is "only in fun", call them on it. If women aren't participating in equal numbers, ask why and be prepared to challenge the results. When men say, "Why aren't there more women here?", it is, in many ways, a lot more powerful than when a woman says it. And if you think this works well for gender issues, wait until you try it for issues of race/ethnicity."

FairerScience friend
Eric Jolly says, we won't have equality until a group's issues are on the table, even when members of that group aren't present. Ok he says it better than I, but you get what he means.

PS Thanks to another FairerScience friend Erika Biga Lee for bringing this to our attention. FairerScience is very fortunate in its friends.

October 15, 2007

Say hi to Jenn

FairerScience (and Campbell-Kibler Associates, Inc) are pleased to introduce you to our new research associate, Dr. Jennifer Weisman. Jenn has just finished her PhD in Counseling and Personnel Services, with a professional concentration in Women’s Studies, at University of Maryland at College Park. She does both qualitative and quantitative research and is a geek and an advocate (all which we love here at FairerScience). She also spends part of her week managing her growing crafts empire,
Weiswomen Creations
. Jenn will be posting from time to time and you will be learning more about her including her love for the Indigo Girls .

PS don't worry all you Rosa fans, Rosa's still here. She's been busy lately but says she is now writing more classic Rosa posts

October 12, 2007

Word Girl vs GendergapGirl

"WordGirl" is, as PBS describes it, "a new animated series that follows the every day life and superhero adventures of WordGirl as she fights crime and enriches vocabulary usage, all in a day’s work. " What's not to like you say?

Well as they often do, the folks from The Language Log , have a different and thought providing take. Here is what they have to say about "WordGirl" or, as they call her, GendergapGirl.

"WordGirl is presented as the champion of English as a literary language. Her super-enemies are almost all adult males, including especially The Butcher, complete with deep voice, five-o'clock shadow, male pattern baldness, and stereotypical working-class accent. So I wonder: how long will it take, after the pilot airs at 4:30 this afternoon, before the first schoolboy with an interest in reading and writing is nicknamed "WordGirl" by his classmates? My bet is on the morning recess at school tomorrow, in those areas where the schools are already in session."

Mark Lieberman goes on to say "If it's not clear to you why WordGirl is any way problematic, try to imagine the reaction to a show where MathBoy defends the world against villains like Ms. BadAd, a PR consultant who doesn't understand percentages, and CheckoutGirl, who is too dim to make change correctly."

It is an interesting piece, you may want to take a look at it.

October 10, 2007

Cool Tool

I'm sorry for being slow in posting this week; things have been a little busy here at FairerScience. I'll try to make up for it in the next couple of days by sharing a couple of tools that you might find of interest. Here is the first one:

Looking for top achieving postdoctoral scholars and Ph.D. students in the sciences and engineering who are predominately women? Check out the Rice University ADVANCE Database. You can search the database by department, research keyword, and/or by name. Each individual has a current CV, a very brief research statement, and contact information. There are currently over 700 female scholars in the database.

For some reason you need a username and password to access the data base, but thanks to the good folks at WEPAN, we have one:

To access the database:

Username: facultysearch

Password: women07

October 03, 2007

It's a good day for stereotypes, a bad day for women

First the "Bionic Woman" is back. If you aren't old enough to have watched the original series you must have watched the reruns and the rereruns and the… well you get the picture. I was curious to see how they would remake her 30 years later and to see the progress we have made. I haven't gotten around to seeing it yet (things have been busy over here at FairerScience; but FairerScience friend Annalee Newtiz has and she is not happy:

"Now ultimate women's lib heroine Sommers is back, all spruced up for the 2000s, and the results are rather strange. Thirty years have passed, and time seems to have gone backwards -- except the bionics, which have been updated to a nanopseudoscience involving something called anthrocites. This time around, Jaime isn't an independent career jock: she's a 23-year-old bartender and college dropout who has just gotten pregnant and is about to marry her surgeon boyfriend. When she asks said boyfriend why he likes her, despite her lack of professional success, he replies, "You're the one thing my father didn't plan for me."

You can read the whole thing here.

And if that is not enough to depress you, FairerScience friend David Mortman sent this one on and it is a pip

This month Ubisoft's Imagine™ series of video games targeted at girls ages 6 to 14 years old is coming out. They say "The Imagine line allows girls to explore their favorite interests and hobbies - as indicated in extensive lifestyle research on this audience." Come on guess what based on their "extensive lifestyle research" they picked.

If you thought scientist, president, engineering, world leader even powerful rich person you would be so wrong: They are releasing "Imagine™ Fashion Designer, Imagine™ Animal Doctor, Imagine Babyz® and Imagine™ Master Chef." And you will be pleased to know even they decided this wasn't enough . Imagine™ Figure Skater will follow in early 2008.

And even Tom, FairerScience's technical guru weighed in. Tom wanted us to know about "Barbie Girls" where a girl "can create a virtual character, design her own room, shop with B Bucks (virtual “money”) she earns, play games, watch videos featuring her favorite Barbie™ movies and products….." In the first 60 days, over 3 million users registered!

Ok I can't take any more. Hey FairerScience friends – how about some good news!

October 02, 2007

She's Geeky: A Women's Tech (un) Conference

FairerScience friend David Mortman sent this on and it sounds like a lot of fun

The She's Geeky (un)Conference will provide an agenda-free and friendly environment for women who not only care about building technology that is useful for people, but who also want to encourage more women to get involved.

It is designed to provide women who self-identify as geeky and who are engaged in various technology-focused disciplines with a gathering space in which they can exchange skills and discuss ideas and form community across and within disciplines.

Our goal is to create an open space forum for women in tech to come together to:
• Exchange skills and learning from women from diverse fields of technology.
• Discuss topics about women and technology.
• Connect the diverse range of women in technology, computing, entrepreneurship, funding, hardware, open source, nonprofit and any other technical geeky field.

This is an unconference so it will have an agenda created by the people who attend.
It's on October 22 and 23rd at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA.

PS they are particularly interested in having Women in Technology groups participate and ask you to contact shesgeeky@gmail.com for more information.