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September 19, 2011

I finally understand the need for the final comma in a list

Thank you language log. Although your visual is kinda creepy, it is very effective.

September 17, 2011

Confessions of a Cook and a Chemist

FairerScience friend Miriam Vishniac is working as an intern at Emily's List. Her first post is an interesting and depressing view of what it means to be (or not to be) a woman in science in today's world.

Some of her thoughts:

But the more I pursued Chemistry, the more I noticed how few other women there were in the lab and in my science classes. Of the eleven professors who taught Chemistry during my first year of college, only two were female. Of the seven labs I was in over the years, I only ever had a female partner once. All the labs I worked in outside of school were mostly male.

I also noticed a difference in the way I was treated by others versus my male counterparts. My professors sometimes seemed almost blind to the gender of their students, but other people I came in contact with always had an opinion. Explaining my major to people usually resulted in the comment, "A woman who likes science, huh? Interesting..."

As soon as I processed these first few differences, it became easier to spot a professor’s look of surprise when they saw the female lab intern, or the patronizing tone other scientists would occasionally use. Science eventually stopped being so much of a refuge for me.

Miriam explained:

I have always been aware of the inequalities in society and the world, but these experiences made me more knowledgeable and passionate than I would have been otherwise. I couldn’t take it anymore. How could I feel comfortable in a world where insurance companies sometimes think of being female as a pre-existing condition? How could so many other people ignore the fact that women are paid less, treated badly and underrepresented in certain fields, and unable to control their own reproductive future? If I can’t control my own body and make my own personal decisions, how can I ever hope to control the other aspects of my life?

So I decided to take a job that would be a part of something with far reaching consequences. I wanted to fight against the restrictions placed on myself and women across America and do everything I could to foster equality.

Thanks Miriam and thanks to Emily's List for helping to make her voice heard.

September 16, 2011

Rip and Read

The Washington DC satirist Mark Russell has said all he has to do to come up with his comic material is “rip and read.” (The term refers to a very risky broadcast news practice of grabbing stories right off the continuous-feed teletype machine from one of the news wire services and reading it on the air without proofreading it first.)

Here we go:

Best Academy Boy Focused Science, Engineering and Technology School Preparing 21st Century Leaders.

Now within Best Academy click on Sisters Academy. You get Sisters Academy: A Best Academy Program [which] "focuses on the positive development of girls".

Are you humming Oscar Brand's "Ladies Auxiliary" yet?

Oh the ladies auxiliary is the best auxiliary
It's the best auxiliary that you ever did see
If you need an auxiliary, call the ladies' auxiliary. It's the ladies auxiliary.

September 13, 2011


Last week I was walking in NYC with my EFF baseball cap on (it was raining). A cool geeky looking guy came over to me and asked if it was an Electronic Frontier Foundation cap. I said yes and he responded "You are a totally awesome human being." Made my day. BTW EFF-- you totally should support them and not just because strangers come up to you in the street and say nice things to you.

PS Well yes it has been a lean summer for posts but I'mmmmm back (the hiatus is a long story-- if I decide to talk about you will be the first to know)

September 12, 2011

Have you read the Microsoft STEM survey?

The findings are not that surprising but they are still interesting and they did a nice job presenting the data.:

More than half (57%) of STEM college students say that, before going to college, a teacher or class got them interested in STEM. This is especially true of female students (68% vs. 51% males), who give “a teacher or class” as the top factor that sparked their interest.

Only 1 in 5 STEM college students feel that their K–12 education prepared them extremely well for their college courses in STEM.

Students who felt less prepared for STEM college courses said that offering more STEM courses and having better/more challenging courses would have helped to better prepare them — and for students who felt extremely/very well-prepared, it was the challenging, college-prep courses that helped to prepare them.

Females in STEM are more likely than males to say they were extremely/very well-prepared (64% vs. 49%) by their K–12 education, and they are slightly more likely than their male counterparts to say that preparing students for STEM should be a top priority in K–12 schools (92% vs. 84%).