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October 30, 2008

Trick or Treat

Never let it be said that we at FairerScience arenít trendspotters! Way back in April we highlighted the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. Thanks to freakgirl, I learned that the New York Times has finally jumped on the bandwagon. Through their very fun article, I did learn about another fun site, Hungry Scientist.

This monthís Scientiae Carnival theme, Trick or Treat, offers the perfect opportunity to return to the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. So, in honor of Halloween, hereís some creepy, spooky, and just plain kooky science and technology-related tricks and treats.

*This one probably counts as a trick and a treat - create your own Edible Googly Eyes!

*I havenít carved a pumpkin yet, but I am now seriously tempted to make a mini pumpkin with an embedded LED display. The LED is a scrolling stock ticker and they even include a helpful video. Their comment? ďJack-o'-Lanterns are supposed to be scary, right?Ē

*Ok, on second thought, maybe the stock ticker pumpkin is too terrifying to contemplate. Thereís another LED options: ghost decorations:

There is so much more geek-tastic fun on the special Halloween Projects Page at Evil Mad Scientist. Check out the projects and costumes and let us know if you make any of them.

October 28, 2008

Privacy freak

I must admit that I am a bit of a privacy freak. Ok stop laughing; it's true I am a total privacy freak. Indeed 30 years ago I wrote "Memoirs of an Ex- Social Security Number Giver" . In it I explained the credo of my private revolution, that no one who didn't have a legal right to it would get my social security number. In 1976 I was worried about what would happen if all those people could access all that information about me, using just one number (and those were the days when computers used vacuum tubes-- ok not really, but they sure were a lot bigger, slower and less powerful than they are now).

I continue to worry about privacy, but at least I'm not alone. FairerScience friend David Mortman has a brand new blog on identify theft. It's interesting and a little scary-- like the story of the former PTA president stealing kids' identities.

Speaking of scary I just checked to see if the link to "Memoirs of an Ex- Social Security Number Giver" was still live and found, on the page, google ads for things like "Quick & Easy SSN Files. Get the Scoop on Anyone!" OMG

PS Being paranoid as well as privacy freak I want to point out it's not my fault-- it's not my website, I signed over the copyright for the article over 30 years and I'm really depressed about having those ads on it. Read the article but not the adds-- please.

October 25, 2008

It's all about the ice cream

In the next week or so, I'll be nagging, begging, pleading with and possibly even threatening people to get them to vote, so I thought I would start with a bribe (and it's not even mine). Ben and Jerry's have promised to give anyone who votes a free scoop of ice cream. The details are here.

I don't live close to any Ben and Jerry's Scoop Shops, so if you live by me, after you vote, come to my house and I'll give you a free scoop of Ben and Jerry's.

October 23, 2008

The proposal is in!

I realize postings has been pretty thin here this last week. Thin as in "Where the heck is Pat and why isn't she posting?" The closest I have to an excuse is that FairerScience friend Rick McGee and I submitted a really cool proposal to NIH yesterday (yes many of you know exactly what RFA we were responding to). If the proposal gets funded (hope, hope, hope) I'll let you know more.

While I've been in what is often called "proposal hell", there has been lots of FairerScience type news. My current favorite is about sleep-- Hmmm what does that say about my current life?

Anyway it turns out sleep makes a difference, at least in terms of grades-- "The more days students get adequate sleep, the better GPAs they attain." Ah but it turns out that there are other factors tied to lower GPAs as well-- excessive television, computer screen time, gambling, use of alcohol and tobacco and stress--

Good thing no one is giving me grades (well no actual grades); and hey at least I don't smoke or or gamble.

I think I'll get some sleep, but I need to read some blogs, watch Gray's Anatomy, drink some wine and stress out first.

October 15, 2008

Women in science and the election

Today I'm going to be serious and try really hard not to be snarky. (I'm pretty sure I can do that.)

Anyway, those wonderful folks at AWIS and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) asked the Obama and McCain campaigns to answer 7 questions on issues facing women in STEM.

The questions cover such areas as:

how they would plan to address the need for more women in STEM
how they would ensure that Title IX is evenly applied to all sectors of academia, including STEM departments rather than just athletics (WOOT!) and
what they believe is the responsibility of the federal government with regard to paid family leave.

You can read a side-by-side comparison of their responses here. It's only seven pages and it's full of really important stuff that effects our lives. Please read it and let others know about it.


October 13, 2008

It's the culture stupid

Ok I know that most people are saying "it's the economy stupid", but we at FairerScience have decided the only way to deal with the economy is to follow the advice of our fearless leaders at Go Fug Yourself and say:


So while I'm avoiding listening to people talking about the stock market, I thought I would post about math. A new study, "Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving"; has concluded that when it comes to mathematically talented women not being identified, "it's the culture, stupid."

As the New York Times article about the study explained:

The United States is failing to develop the math skills of both girls and boys, especially among those who could excel at the highest levels, a new study asserts, and girls who do succeed in the field are almost all immigrants or the daughters of immigrants from countries where mathematics is more highly valued.

The study's conclusion is chilling:

There exist many girls [in the United States and Canada] with profound intrinsic aptitude for mathematics; however, they are rarely identified due to socio-cultural, educational, or other environmental factors.

Their first recommendation:

First and foremost, the myth that females cannot excel in mathematics must be put to rest. Teachers, guidance counselors, parents, principals, university presidents, the lay public, and, most importantly, girls themselves need to be informed about the fact that females can excel in mathematics, even at the very highest level. When people believe they cannot do something, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. To quote Henry Ford, ďIf you think you can or canít, you are right.

The study is only 13 pages long, it's good and the recommendations thoughtful. Once you've read it, pass it on. Let's get everybody putting that myth of female math inferiority to rest!

October 07, 2008

The gender gap in wages: The close to ultimate study

Now why didn't I think of that? You want to look at what's behind the gender gap in wages? Check out what happens to men who change their gender to women and women who change their gender to men. Sure is one way to control most of those confounding variables. Actually that is exactly what Kristen Schilt of the University of Chicago and
Matthew Wiswall of NYU did.

According to the Time Magazine article they found "women who become men (known as FTMs) do significantly better than men who become women (MTFs). MTFs in the study earned, on average, 32% less after they transitioned from male to female, even after the authors controlled for factors like education levels. FTMs earned an average of 1.5% more."

And you gotta love the stories: After a female-to-male transgender attorney changed from being Susan to Thomas, another lawyer mistakenly believed that Susan had been fired and replaced by Thomas. The other lawyer commended the firm's boss for the replacement. He said Susan had been incompetent; "the new guy," he added, was "just delightful."

You can find the entire article here. You will need to register as a guest but you can view it for free.

Thanks to FairerScience friend David Mortman for letting us know about this one.

October 06, 2008

Congratulations Susan

Last week, Science Clubs for Girls gave FairerScience partner Susan McGee Baileytheir 2008 Galaxy Award for her "groundbreaking work to raise awareness and promote participation of girls in science, technology, engineering, and math". Congratulations Susan.

October 02, 2008

Being a good example

The theme of this month's Scientiae is being a good example. I can't think of a better way to do that than to join Dr. Susan Love's "Army of Women." Those of us of a certain age owe her big time. We've read her book and sent it on to others who needed it immediately or might need it in the future. One of the must wonderful things about her is that she is not just about curing breast cancer, she is about stopping it.

I am a good example. I signed up to the "Army of Women" and both personally, and now through the blog, am asking others to do as well. You don't have to have had or even to be at risk of breast cancer to do this, you just have to be a woman. Please consider it.