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August 25, 2008

My Summer Vacation: NOT

This month's Scientiae, hosted by Lab Cat. is about "My Summer Vacation". This is not a good topic for me this year. Tom, FairerScience's technical guru and my spouse/partner since forever, had his neck broken in early June; so this summer has not exactly been a vacation.

We have, however, learned a lot that we thought we should "share":

• In Massachusetts and a bunch of other states, if you call 911, they are obligated to take you to the closest hospital (even if it is awful). If you drive yourself or call the ambulance service directly, you can chose the hospital to which you go (as long as everyone is breathing).
• If you're not the patient, do whatever it takes to ride in the ambulance with the patient.
• While in the hospital, check and recheck everything. "What is this medication?" "Why are you giving it to me/him/her?" (Sometimes there are assumptions like "Well of course you are on pain medication so therefore you need…."; but if you're not on pain medication; then you don't need the other stuff; but unless you ask you're going to get it.)
• Even in the best of hospitals, once you leave, contacting folks can be hard. Get business cards from everyone. If you can't get business cards- ask for e-mails and cell phone numbers.
• Even if you can't get e-mails or cell phone numbers make sure you get folks' names. You can always google them and with, any luck at all, get contact information and maybe even a connection—wow you were at Woodstock; me too (ok maybe that wasn't a good example but...).
• Write down everything, including your questions and print them out and bring them with you. Check off when you get an answer to each question so you know which questions you haven't gotten answered yet.
• Always bring your laptop when you go to the hospital (all the cool hospitals have free wireless; just remember you may want reinforce your security).
• Acknowledge the wonderfulness of so many of the people you meet, or already know, during these really difficult times

And if you’re lucky enough to have your hospital be Mass General, try the breakfast pizza—we really like it!
PS Tom’s in a halo vest (which isn't fun) but we walk several miles a day, he does the cooking (thank heavens—chocolate chip cookies are all that I cook) and keeps FairerScience and Campbell-Kibler Associates going.

August 22, 2008

Want a job?

Rick McGee, Jill Keller and I have an NIH grant that starts soon (like I think now). Now guess what it is about. Good guess- it is about FairerScience. The project is "Career Decision-Making of Future Minority Biomedical Science Faculty".

We are hiring a Clinical/Social Science Research Associate who would be located at Northwestern). The job description is below-- If you are interested, please send your resume/CV, along with a cover letter indicating four ways you believe you meet the qualifications for this position to Rick

It would be great fun to work with you

This new position is responsible for the coordination and management of a national, interview-based research study of the career decision-making processes of undergraduates in the sciences and biomedical PhD students. In addition to managing the study, there will be opportunity for the individual to participate in analysis of interview data and conduct of phone interviews. Primary responsibilities will include:

1. Coordination of communication and scheduling for onsite interviews by three senior researchers at colleges and universities around the U.S.
2. Management of a large amount of interview, text and quantitative data
3. Communication with individual students participating in the study over a multi-year period
4. Modest financial management, such as travel reimbursement, purchase order processing, etc.
5. Assist with development of reports and descriptions of research results
6. Assist with interview analysis using qualitative research methods
7. Conduct of follow-up phone interviews with study participants

This position requires an individual with the following background, skills and characteristics:

1. A minimum of a masters degree, or its equivalent through extensive work experience with progressive levels of responsibility, or a PhD degree
2. Successful work experience managing a research study or similar ongoing project
3. The ability to communicate effectively with a wide array of individuals, from college students to senior level faculty and university administrators
4. A high level of attention to detail and an understanding for the need to follow strict requirements for research involving human subjects
5. Maturity and the ability to work collaboratively or independently as needed
6. Skill at using basic computer software, such as Word, Excel, and Access, and the ability to learn more sophisticated software for qualitative research analysis
7. Flexibility to adapt to different needs and perspectives of individuals from many different educational, ethnic and social backgrounds
8. Training and/or experience in qualitative research methods would be a plus but not required

This is a grant-funded position of at least four years duration with the hope to continue the study for eight years or more. Salary will be commensurate with background and experience, up to the level of a mid-range project manager or beginning postdoctoral trainee. A full package of benefits equivalent to that of other Northwestern University employees will be provided.

Interested applicants should contact and/or send Resume/CV, along with a cover letter indicating four ways they believe they meet the qualifications for this position, to:

Rick McGee, Ph.D.
Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs
Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine
Chicago, IL 60611

August 20, 2008

What's the opposite of hard wired?

I started today being so excited about Susan's (yes that Susan, FairerScience's coPI) USA Today's opinion piece, "Gender segregation in the schools is not the answer". It's a good, thoughtful piece, co-authored with neuroscientist Lise Eliot.

And I loved their message:

Boys and girls have much to learn from one another, whether it's academic skills, relational styles, or mutual respect. It's an odd logic that says this can happen better in a segregated environment, and odder still to claim that brain research supports it. If anything, neuroscience research has revealed the enormous plasticity — or learning ability — of the brain, especially in childhood.

The day started to go downhill when I read the comments. You can read them to or just trust me-- the commenters didn't get it.

The day went really down hill when I read CNN's Boys will be boys, girls will be girls from birth by Anita Sethi. Now you know when an article supposed to be about science starts "As a good postfeminist-era mom, I certainly didn't push my son toward trucks and my daughter toward tutus." I'm not going to be happy reading the rest. Well I wasn't and of course "Why Don't They Hear What I Say?" kept running through my mind.

It was the last line that made me totally insane: "The truth is, gender is only a part of what makes them who they are. If only science could study, and I could understand, the rest of them so well!"

Ms. Sethi I'm so thrilled that you know gender is only part of what makes your children who they are, that I won't bring up that you were reporting on sex not gender. I'm not so thrilled that as a "psychologist who specializes in early education", you couldn't think of even one other characteristic or influence on children that is being studied.

August 18, 2008

Girls need less storage

I was going to label this post, "You're so not going to believe this", but on the other hand, I can only use that title so many times and it seems every other day or so I learn about something that could be titled "You're so not going to believe this".

So here's the latest:

Do you know about the A-DATA Disney mini COB (chip on board) flash memory Disk? No well, let me tell you about them. There are two-- first there is the Minnie Mouse who is pink, holds 1 gig and sells for $9.99. Then of course there is Mickey Mouse who is, yup blue, stores 2 gigs and sells for $14.99. Hmmm why am I having a flash back to Milli Mole Doll and Plush Mole Toy?

Speaking of flashbacks, all of this might help explain why PBS Design Squad winner Leah French isn't going into engineering. It just might not be worth the crap!

If you want to complain about Minnie and Mickey (oh my who would want to do that?) try Fry's customer service because I'm assuming you will have better luck with them than Disney, especially since I can't figure out from the website how you would contact Disney.

Thanks to FairerScience friends David Mortman and Olga Vasserman for letting us know about Minnie and Mickey

August 17, 2008

It must be update time

So last week, thanks to FairerScience friend Kathryn Campbell-Kibler, we up dated a post about the American Chemical Society.

Now we get to update a post about the search for young people to be on PBS Design Squad.. At the end of the program, one student wins $10,000 for being the most successful in meeting a number of design challenges.

This year's winner is a Wellesley College sophomore, Leah French. Read what she has to say:

“Throughout the summer, I was thinking it would be great to win as a woman. I felt it was important because a boy won last year, and now more than ever, there are more women involved in the sciences. I felt like I became a kind of role model in the end.”

Design Squad itself is concerned about both the shortage of engineers and the lack of diversity in engineering. And Marisa Wolsky, “Design Squad” executive producer and founder says " For our contestants, we look for varied ethnicity, gender and kids who are smart and passionate about engineering.”

The not so good news for women in STEM is that Leah French is planning a combined history and anthropology major. Hey Leah, how about combining engineering with history and anthropology. Now that's a major!

August 14, 2008

I can't make this stuff up! Unfortunately we have an update

Back in April, we posted on the American Chemical Society's (ACS) mascots-- Milli, Milli-Mole Doll, who "is thoroughly modern with her purple T-shirt, white lab coat, goggles and closed-toe shoes, but she’s never pretentious. She will sit for hours on your desk or lab bench hanging on your every word as you explain the permutations of the Schrödinger equation. She gets you - she really does!" and Plush Mole Toy who "is ready for work in his white lab coat and goggles. He even has his own test tube and is sure to keep you company on your desk or lab bench and assist you with your every need."

Well FairerScience friend Kathryn Campbell-Kibler has given us an update:

"It turns out that even though the ACS assumes that its members are males who view women as adoring sex objects, it wants *kids* to believe that its members are a diverse group of men and women. Anyone can be a chemist! (Let's just wait until grad school to disillusion the girls, ok?)

The "for kids" section of ACS's website features "Meg A. Mole" a little girl mole (and "future chemist") who interviews real chemists about their work. The first one listed (with a photo!) is a Black woman.

The earlier post mentioned that Milli was cheaper than Plush Mole Toy. Well the secret to why Milli costs less is revealed! Milli didn't get tenure because she was drowned in service obligations: giving safety tips to children and organizing recycling drives. Hey we believe in service; we believe in it so much that we think that everyone should do it; not just the underrepresented (and/or the untenured)."

August 12, 2008

I know this isn't about science but sometimes.....

So anyone read the CNN update about the opening ceremony of the Olympics, "Olympic girl seen but not heard"? Turns out the adorable nine year old girl who sang, was adorable but not the singer. The "talent" was a seven year old girl who wasn't deemed cute enough to be seen.

Oh wait this may actually be about women in science. It doesn't really matter so much as to how talented you are, what matters is that you be "flawless in image, internal feeling and expression." After all we can always find someone who's incredibly talented and skilled, but not "flawless in image, internal feeling and expression" to sing the song or do the work.


August 09, 2008

Danica's Back or Kiss My Math

No not that Danica, the other one. After all as much as I love racing, this is after all, FairerScience. And by the way we think Danica McKeller is pretty fabulous. She is, I hope you all will remember, an actress, mathematician and author of "Math Doesn't Suck". Check out FairerScience's teen age friend, Rebecca Taylor's review..

Well Danica has a new book out, "Kiss My Math".

It was great to have Rebecca as a reviewer not just because she did such a good job, but because, as a 12 year old girl, she was the target audience.

Are you are a girl between the ages of 12 and 14, who would like to review "Kiss My Math"? Or do you know such a girl?

If you are or know such a girl, please let me know and we will send you a copy of the book and, when you send us the review, send you a small honorarium. If more than two of you respond, we'll select two kids to write the reviews


August 06, 2008

Thanks WEPAN

WEPAN (that's the Women in Engineering Program Advocates Network for you nonengineers out there) is a great source of resources (and is a great organization as well).

Here's one that we at FairerScience love and figure you will to.

The National Academy of Engineering recently released a study "Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering." They conducted focus groups and on-line surveys with kids and their parents and did a nice job looking at gender similarities and differences.

Some of their conclusions:
• Recast communications from personal benefits and skills needed to how engineers make a difference in the world
• Start talking in terms of ideas and impact
• Not a world of challenging math and science…but a world of difference
• Position engineering experience as one of discovery, design, imagination, innovation and contribution

You can get the book for money; or get a 31 page summary for free.

Even better you can get a PDF of the highlights of the study for free here.

The PDF, which is of a powerpoint presentation is fabulous. You get the results and conclusions but even better you get advice with pictorial examples of what we can do to "change the conversation." Their slides about "Great campaigns today" are really useful. I was going write what they said, but then realized you really need the examples to, you should pardon the expression, "get the message".

While the focus is engineering, it generalizes nicely to STEM fields. The powerpoint is so good, I'm going to get the book and write NAE a thank you note.

August 01, 2008

It's the first of the month, it must be time for Scientiae

And it is indeed. Cherish, over at one of the best named blogs ever, Faraday's Cage is Where You Put Schroedinger's Cat has done a great job bringing together a variety of interesting posts on transitions. Not only is it really well done (let's face it, we expect that from Scientiae), but Cherish also introduced me to a bunch of cool new blogs.

Thanks Cherish!