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July 31, 2009

Summer days, driftin' away. . .

Summer days, driftin' away. . .is the theme of this month's Scientiae. Since for me (and this month's host, Abel Pharmboy), most of the days are speeding rather than drifting away; this post is going to be short.

Abel asks us to "consider how you balance the demands and pleasures of this season. Have you found ways to make progress on your must-dos while also taking time for your family, friends - and yourself - and being in the moment of this time of year?"

Crazy work person that I am, somehow this summer there is a balance. We're having a very social summer getting to see family and friends from different parts of the country and the world. We're trying to get back into shape-- swam the Hudson, training to do the Tufts 10k and getting ready to get back to bike riding. And we are taking a couple of mini- vacations and eating some wonderful food. Ah that wild mushroom feast at TW Food. Not only was it wow, but after meeting Ben the wild mushroom forager; everywhere we go Tom and I check out the fungus-- I'm sure there is a patch of black trumpets up the road from us; but I'm too chicken to taste them.

And I'm only a little behind at work. Ok so how am I doing it? Hmmm well I'm getting up a little earlier (not so hard to do in the summer, when it is light), the mini-vacations are tied into work travel to nice places and....

Ok the reality is I have no idea how we are doing it and why it is working out so well. I do know that I'm enjoying myself even though I'm feeling a little slammed by work this week. While it's nice to imagine doing this all year around; I don't think I would like it. It is nice to have the summer be different. Thanks Abel for helping me realize this.

July 27, 2009

Micro-inequalities and swimming the Hudson River

Yesterday Tom and I swam across (ok almost across) the Hudson River. Tom ( you will remember this is Tom of the broken neck last year) made it about 3/4ths of the way across the Hudson River and was tiring; so the plan was for him to go in with Nancy the kayaker and for me to swim in. However when I saw he was swimming toward the police boat, (the police said he couldn't go in on the kayak; he had to go in in the police boat) I realized my rule that Tom will never again be an ambulance without me holds for police boats too. So I turned around swimming as fast I as could toward the police boat.

Once we were both on the boat- the police officers told Tom what good shape he was in and kept asking me if I was sure I didn't need medical assistance. I was seen as the one in need of help and Tom was seen as the one to admire. He is indeed a person to admire but I was so not a person in need of help; but that's what they saw/thought/whatever. We're good; it was a lovely day and we will do it again next year. Yet these those micro- inequalities-- they mount up....

July 22, 2009

Encouraging the Participation of Female Students in STEM fields: The Hearing

So remember that Congressional Hearing I was telling you about? Well it happened yesterday morning. Lots of interesting points and explanations. Let me give you a taste.

FairerScience friend Alan Leshner summed the whole thing up beautifully when he said::

Although the story of women in STEM fields is one of tremendous gains over the past 40 years, it is a bittersweet story that is coupled with uneven progress and sometimes loss of ground—a discipline-specific program here, a department there, but seldom an institution-wide effort.
His point that the federal government needs to "provide guidance and assistance to higher education institutions in their voluntary reviews of their practices to ensure that there is full access to study and employment for women as well as men." made me happy too.

And then there was FairerScience friend Barbara Bogue, who critiqued the National Academies study, Gender Differences in Critical Transition Points in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty, pointing out using "only select STEM fields to conclude that there is relatively no problem at critical transition points for women in academic careers." is a real no no.

There were lots of other good points that were brought up but I have to get back to work, so you are going to have to read them yourselves. I did however want to leave you with a though from a commenter on an Inside Higher Ed article:

He said "Where is the concern about the lack of men in psychology, sociology, etc., etc.? Where is the outreach to men in those fields?" The rest of his comment was the regular "everyone chooses freely stuff" but he raises a very good point. If we're looking for parity why aren't we concerned about the fields that are overwhelmingly women? Why aren't we doing outreach to men? Does any of this have anything to do with valuing what men do more than what women do?

July 18, 2009

What would you tell Congress?

So next week Congress will be holding hearings on women in STEM (and/or lack of the same).

I have several questions for you:

What do you want Congress to be told?

What would make your life as a woman (or man) in STEM easier, better, more fun, more productive (you might want to limit your answers to things Congress might be able to deal with but whatever)?

Hmm this sounds like a Scientiae post but if you want your ideas passed on, my time frame is much shorter-- like by Monday night

PS Speaking of a Scientiae , this month's version will be hosted by the always interesting AbelPharmboy.
The theme

Summer days, driftin' away. . .Consider how you balance the demands and pleasures of this season. Have you found ways to make progress on your must-dos while also taking time for your family, friends - and yourself - and being in the moment of this time of year? Or are July and August just another month for you?
If you haven't submitted a post to Scientiae before, this would be a great time to start.

July 14, 2009

I love Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I truly do. I was so jealous when my then baby grandson got to meet her and I didn't. I did say hello on a plane once but I don't think that counts. After reading Emily Bazelon's interview with her in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, I love her even more.

Why? Well keep reading:

On being the "only one":

It’s almost like being back in law school in 1956, when there were 9 of us in a class of over 500, so that meant most sections had just 2 women, and you felt that every eye was on you. Every time you went to answer a question, you were answering for your entire sex. It may not have been true, but certainly you felt that way. You were different and the object of curiosity.

On having more women on the court:

It matters for women to be there at the conference table to be doing everything that the court does.

On the double standard:

Once Justice O’Connor was questioning counsel at oral argument. I thought she was done, so I asked a question, and Sandra said: Just a minute, I’m not finished. So I apologized to her and she said, It’s O.K., Ruth. The guys do it to each other all the time, they step on each other’s questions. And then there appeared an item in USA Today, and the headline was something like“Rude Ruth Interrupts Sandra.”

On the renaming of a dining room at the court in honor of Natalie Cornell Rehnquist, wife of the late chief justice:.

The tribute was O’Connor’s idea. “My former chief was a traditionalist, but he could hardly object,” Ginsburg said with a bit of glee.

Go read the interview. It's worth it.

July 06, 2009

I'm an "innovative oyster restoration vessel"

I'm an innovative oyster restoration vessel and thanks to Sciencewoman I now know this.

You need to know how much I love oysters--At one of the Oyster New Years in Seattle I attended, I actually ate more than 3 dozen oysters. Wanna see my tasting notes (yes I have tasting notes on oysters-- hey I just told you I love oysters)?

Hog Island Flats (Tomales Bay CA) Ostrea edulis interesting flavor
Westcott Flat (San Juan Island WA Ostrea edulis the flavor is very similar to the Westcott Bay without the clam overlay
Westcott Bay (San Juan Island WA) Crassostrea giga lovely, a lot like a clam
Cormoalit (New Zealand) very nice
Sound Fresh Little Skookum Pacific Yearling (southern Puget Sound) Crassostrea giga
Snow Creek Flats (I think I just like the Flats)

Hog Island Atlantics (Tomales Bay CA) Crassostrea virginica meaty and salty
Sound Fresh Olympia Ostrea lurida sweet
Mountain Island Flats (Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia) Ostrea edulis interesting good flavor delicate

Hog Island Kumamoto (Tomales Bay CA) Crassostrea sikamea, small and delicate
Generic Kumamoto- I think I like more flavor
Hama Hama (Hood Canal, WA) Crassostrea giga too mild

Hog Island (Tomales Bay CA) Crassostrea giga big, lots of flavor
Fanny Bay (Vancouver Island Canada) ok not great
Salutes (Prince Edward Island Canada) Crassostrea virginica weird
Generic Olympia- ok not great
Penn cove select- don’t bother

Even though the Patricia Campbell is named after someone else; I love that my namesake is innovative, really cool looking and helping to preserve an important species that I love.

Let's hear it for all the Patricia Campbell's of the world (and just google; there are many, many of us)

They're back

Scienceblogs has removed the offending ads. Isis is back and we expect Zuska will be soon.

Thanks to all for making a difference.

July 04, 2009

Putting your values where your blog is

We all have heard, oh sooo many times; "put your money where your mouth is". And while it is an annoying thing to say, it is true-- if you believe in it, act on it. Well right now two of my favorite ScienceBlog bloggers-- Zuska and Dr. Isis have done just that. Let me just give you their words:


While I've been away from the blogiverse, it appears that you've had the misfortune to be treated to all manner of disgusting ads popping up here at ScienceBlogs. Mail Order Brides, Naughty Singles, and I don't know what all else. Isis has some details here. She says:

...if you've been visiting me for any length of time then you know how I feel about the exploitation of women, especially racial minorities and women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. That's the entire point of the Letters to Our Daughters Project and the Silence is the Enemy Project, right?

That said, I cannot in good faith continue to contribute content here while these ads remain visible. This also makes me sad because I love being at ScienceBlogs. I love my Sciblings (well, most of them) and I believe in the establishment of community for the promotion of science. But, it would not be right for my page views to generate revenue that funds individuals who exploit women. The morality in this matter seems pretty black and white.

I believe the management here at ScienceBlogs when they tell me that they are working to have their ad agency remove the ads, but the traffic generated in the meantime while those ads still appear still puts money in the pockets of those who exploit women. So, until I receive confirmation from the Overlords here at ScienceBlogs that these ads are gone, I'm taking a hiatus.

Well said. Can't think of a thing to add at this point. I'll be back when the ads are gone. In the meantime, I sincerely apologize to those of you who have been offended by the ads, and I hope that someday you'll receive an apology from ScienceBlogs, too.

You've noticed there are no links in this post. Until this is resolved, there will be no links here to ScienceBlogs posts. And thank you Isis and Zuska-- you personify putting "your money where your mouth is" and on this 4th of July I salute you, I'm not very good at salutes; but please know you have my respect and admiration.

Wow this month's Scientiae is good

And it is. I have to say I was a little nervous when I saw that Patchi made the theme of this month's Scientiae

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall...

Think about who you see when you look in the mirror. How do you see yourself? How do you think others see you? Who would you rather see? Some days it might be hard to even face the mirror, other days you might stare at your teenage self looking back at you and wonder what happened since. What do you think that person looking at you is thinking? What would happen if you could step through the looking glass?

I mean I know, I know that she is totally fabulous but that theme-- hmmm. Wow I was so wrong-- academically, personally, intellectually, emotionally, whatever... Patchi has brought together an incredible Scientiae-- this is sooo one of those you laugh, you cry, you learn. Thanks Patchi

PS one small correction on the summary of my Scientiae post-- drag racers are the good gender guys in auto racing; NASCAR- not so much; they may be spending money but since the numbers of women ARE GOING DOWN, perhaps they should rethink what they are doing. And oh yes, this is also a message to those programs to increase diversity in science-- if your numbers are DECREASING- it may be time (or way past time) to rethink what you are doing.

July 01, 2009

Why are there so few women in science (and auto racing)?

People have been asking me this question a lot lately and I'm getting really tired of it. It would have been (and was) a good question 30 years ago. It's not now. Today there aren't so few women in science; there are so few women in some areas of science- like the physical sciences and engineering. There are now lots and lots of women in other areas of science. Ah the life sciences spring to mind—you know an area of science where the majority of students (grad and undergrad) are women.

Today the real question is "Why are there so many women in the life sciences and so few women in the physical sciences and engineering?" and that's the one we should be answering (regardless of what we are asked).

I'm not sure what the right answers are but I am sure know some wrong ones:

Wrong answer 1. "Women aren't interested in physical sciences and engineering." Right just like in the past women didn't go into life sciences, medicine, law or work outside of the home, because we weren't interested. We sure are interested now; what changed?

Wrong answer 2. "Women don't have the abilities to go into physical sciences and engineering." At the risk of being repetitious, right just like in the past women didn't go into life sciences, medicine, law or work outside of the home, because we didn't have the abilities. We sure do now; go read Janet Hyde.

The life sciences—now they're a lot like drag racing (that's sentence that I'll bet has never been written before). In 1976 Shirley Muldowney become the first woman to win an event in the National Hot Rod Association's fastest division (that would be top fuel cars for you not in the know). She went on to win 17 more events and three series championships. She's been followed by dozens of women (over 40 running nationally in the 2007 season alone). And they win. Pro stock bike driver Angelle Sampey has won 41 races and three series championships while Ashley Force Hood is the points leader for this year's funny cars.

If drag racing is the life sciences; Indy cars are the physical sciences. In 1977 Janet Guthrie became the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500; In the 32 years since then there have been only four other women who have run Indy cars. Now I know that Danica won a race in Japan and is fifth in the points standings this year and that Sarah Fisher is a driver owner, but that's not a lot of progress in what's been a lot of years.

And NASCAR, that's got to be mechanical engineering. In 1977 Janet Guthrie ran 19 NASCAR races (yes that would be the same Janet Guthrie; she was pretty busy in 1977). The last time any woman ran a national NASCAR race was in 2005.

So whether it's science or auto racing, the question should be "Why are more women in and more successful in one subfield and not in another?" Now that's a good question; one that we should be asking and doing our best to answer.