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June 30, 2010

My hair is on its way to the Gulf

I got a haircut yesterday and today the hair that I left behind is on its way to the Gulf to absorb oil (really). Dale and Rob at DHR Stylists are part of an effort to get hair and fur to the Gulf to be used in the clean up effort.

The non-profit (A Matter of Trust) is asking

all salons, groomers, alpaca, llama, sheep, buffalo fleece farmers, feather donors, individuals, & pet owners to sign up to be a part of this recycling system for hair, fur, fleece, feathers, nylons... and to volunteer to make booms.

Dale and Rob have already sent 10 pounds of hair and are filling another box (and I chose a shorter hairstyple-- hey anything for a good cause).

I signed up and am breathlessly waiting for an address so I can send them all my old pantyhouse (they stuff the hair into pantyhose to make a boom).

So please, if you get your hair cut, ask your hair-cutters to join the effort and if you are like me and have a draw full of pantyhose you don't wear sign up yourself to send them in. Right now there isn't much we can do about the oil spill but this is something (BTW, these folks have been using hair, fur and pantyhose to clean up oil spills since 1998.)

PS Check out some of their You Tubes-- our hair is impressive!

June 22, 2010

Girls and Math: Enough is Known for Action (18 years later)

I wrote this piece 18 years ago. Yes you read that correctly. It's been 18 years since I wrote:

The great preponderance of evidence indicates there is no "math gene." Sex differences in mathematics achievement have become small enough in most areas to become negligible. While society may change fast enough for this to happen, biology doesn't. Genetic differences tend to remain stable, but sex differences in mathematics achievement are decreasing.

Sex differences in such traditionally "masculine" areas as spatial relations have been eliminated by changing teaching practices and providing both girls and boys with opportunities to build their skills. Practice can improve many things, but not genes.

The question we should be asking is not "is there a math gene?" but rather "Why are there so many fewer women than men in math-related fields, when the sex differences are so small?"
Researchers and practitioners, scholars and activists need to join together, to share what we know and to learn from each other. Those whose major interest is in equity must be involved in math reform efforts to ensure that these efforts are equitable, and those whose major interest is in math reform must be involved in equity efforts to ensure that these efforts are effective.

Heck I could probably publish the paper today as "cutting edge." Even more cutting edge is the quote from Senator Paul Tsongas that I used to end the paper:

"Equal opportunity, we have learned, is more than an open gate. It is the appropriate complement of skills and fundamental self-esteem that makes the open gate meaningful. To just open the gate is to engage in a cruel gesture, no matter how innocently it is done."

Those cruel gestures have gone on far too long; they must stop!

An e-mail I wrote to a colleague in the White House

I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you about my concerns about the loss of two National Science Foundation programs Tribal Colleges and University Program (TCUP) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU UP) I am probably one of the few people you know who has works in both Harlem, NY and Harlem, MT. Our work at Campbell-Kibler Associates on broadening participation includes HBCUs and Tribal colleges as well as a number of research one institutions. In many ways our work with these different groups has given me a somewhat unique perspective on broadening participation.

In so many ways there is an unequal playing field for HBCUs and Tribal colleges. They have few resources, little or no endowments, limited infrastructure and faculty with very large teaching loads with little time, and in many cases, little inclination to do research. Yet in spite of that, HBCUs are major producers of African American STEM graduates and Tribal colleges produce the Native students who go on to STEM degrees in the Natural Sciences. The resources that HBCU UP and TCUP provide these colleges have had a major impact on strengthening their STEM programs and producing STEM graduates.

While these colleges may out-produce other colleges and universities when it comes to broadening participation, that is not the case when it comes to the production of proposals. They just donít have the expertise, personnel or heck, the reputation. At this point a grants competition in which say Fort Belknap College and Johnson C . Smith University compete with MIT or even Cal State LA, is not a fair completion.

TCUP and HBCU UP are in great part about capacity building and Iíve been excited to see the progress that is being made. Indeed in some areas these schools can hold their own. However in other areas they still need help. While this wonít always be the case, currently TCUP and HBCU UP are essential tools to help HBCUs and Tribal colleges build the capacity they need to be able to in the future be competitive with any other institution.

Anything you can do to help would be much appreciated.

And anything you all can do to help would be great as well. One thing that comes to mind is to go here and comment on NSF Comprehensive Broadening Participation of Undergraduates in STEM (CBP-US) Draft Concept Paper for Community Review (comments are due by 8/1/2010). And I'm sure you can think of other things to do as well.

June 10, 2010

Hooray for Rebecca!

Some of you may remember the review of Math Doesn't Suck by then middle school-er, Rebecca Taylor. Well last night, almost three years later (hmmm time does fly) that same Rebecca was awarded the Wellesley Education Foundation's Freshman Award for Excellence and Extraordinary Interest in Mathematics.

The certificate she received said

"Rebecca Taylor is a student who loves to give all she has when doing a math problem. Although it was not required work, Rebecca constructed a regular tetrahedron to help her solve a problem concerning dihedral angles. In addition, her comments and questions in class are thoughtful and have been indicative of a deeper level of thinking than one would ordinarily expect from a high school student. Rebecca is a student who strives for and achieves excellence."

So let's hear it for Rebecca and all the kids whose passion and excitement about math and science help give us the energy to keep working toward a better, more equitable education for all.

Thanks to Corri Taylor and Mia Ong for letting us know about Rebecca's award.

June 05, 2010

It's a party!

This month's Scientiae is up, dance on over to Rocket Scoentista's and join the party. She's got some great music and even better posts. Congratulations all!

June 01, 2010


The theme of this month's Scientiae Carnival is celebration. Rocket Scientista asked us to join her in a celebration of our STEM successes.

Well today I got something to celebrate and the best part is that it is totally WIS (women in science*) blogger related. Today Anne Jefferson, Kim Hannula, Suzanne Franks and I learned that our manuscript, "The Internet as a resource and support network for diverse geoscientists" has been accepted. We are virtual buddies and virtually we got together designed a really cool study, did it, wrote it up, and it got accepted.

We did a nice job on it (as soon as it's published I'll tell you much more). Working with these three amazing woman has been, well amazing. If hadn't been for WIS bloggers, it never would have happened. Now that is something to celebrate, especially for a Scientiae Carnival.

Kelly J Cooper yells at me big time if I use an acronym without explaining it first. See Kelly you are having an impact on me! (Full disclosure Kelly doesn't edit my blog posts; all errors here are mine.)