Open Thread: Science, It’s A Girl Thing


.
.
Per Carolyn Y. Johnson, in the Boston Globe:

The topic of women in science is an important and complicated one. Things have certainly improved in many respects. But even as more women are getting science degrees, women are still outnumbered by men, when you count the number who become full faculty members. The numbers are improving but remain far from equal in most fields — a National Science Foundation study notes that in 2008, women made up a little more than a fifth of full professors with science and engineering degrees.

This year, a team of scientists from Yale University revealed that subtle, unintentional biases held by other scientists may help reinforce gender disparities. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that science faculty members from research universities evaluating a job application for a lab manager rated applicants with a male name as “significantly more competent and hireable” than the same application with a woman’s name on it. Nature magazine just chose the woman who led that research, Jo Handelsman, as one of its “Ten people who mattered this year.”…

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

31 replies
  1. 1
    BGinCHI says:

    She blinded me.

    With science.

    SCIENCE!

  2. 2
    redshirt says:

    Greenland will soon be green again.

    I don’t mean to belittle global warming, but warming in and of itself will not be an unsolvable problem, and in fact could turn into a long term benefit. However, the transition from this world, to that world, could prove extremely painful and costly, and that’s the issue. Not whether a 2.4C rise in global temperature is going to end humanity – because it won’t, and could indeed prove a long term boon. Hello Canadian/Russian farmland!

  3. 3
    Yutsano says:

    @redshirt: Russia will get their long-sought warm water port. And the Pacific Northwest will turn into an agricultural boom area. Of course sucks to be California and the Midwest as they turn virtually uninhabitable from lack of water resources. Not to mention what this will do to Africa.

  4. 4
    redshirt says:

    @Yutsano: Desalinization is the answer of course, and future technology must be applied towards making it cost effective ASAP. Maybe nukes? Picture a small pebble bed reactor contained within a very thick iron/lead dome that gets very hot, surrounded by seawater which boils off into steam, not only powering turbines, but condensing into potable water. Profit!

  5. 5
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Yutsano: Southern California should have been uninhabitable from a lack of water resources for almost a century. It’s been masked by a heck of a lot of engineering, the theft of water from Owens Valley, and taking more than their fair share of the Colorado River. It will be interesting seeing how things shake out as things get dryer.

  6. 6
    redshirt says:

    Also, if anything – I’d guess California would get more rain in a globally warmed world. Think of the tropic region of Mid/South Mexico pushing Northward – very lush. Of course, who could predict short term weather conditions in a warming world – the weather is bound to be powerful and unpredictable, as it forms from different conditions than before. Think of the Gulf Stream disappearing from the Atlantic – that’s serious global climate ramifications.

    However, longer term, the same patterns will manifest as warmer air is pushed North/South from the Equator and colder air from the Poles pushes in response, creating all the other air patterns.

  7. 7
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @redshirt: I don’t think desalinization will scale up to the level needed. Seems to me it’s a lot like energy. If we cut the waste we can make do with a lot less fresh, pure, drinkable water. We really don’t need to be flushing it down the toilet. Gray water from the shower drain would do that task just fine.

    The technology is proven and it doesn’t suck up energy or need anything radioactive. We may need to train a lot more plumbers, though.

  8. 8
    Mnemosyne (iPhone) says:

    IMO, a huge part of the problem exists in academia as a whole, not just the science departments. Some of the worst stories I’ve heard were from a woman working on her PhD in linguistics, who was informed that she had ruined any chance for tenure because she had a baby while she was a grad student. And this was at UCLA, not exactly a bastion of conservatism.

  9. 9
    redshirt says:

    So I know this is crazy, but play along with me, if you would.

    How to solve the problem of rising ocean levels – the main threat of global warming, as it will destroy many notable cities and countries even – goodbye Bangladesh.

    Dig a huge canal through the Sahara. Have a system of locks and canals. Drain the ocean into the vast desert, and open up beach hotels along the new shores. Profit!

  10. 10
    redshirt says:

    What the heck are the rules for moderation here? I have no idea – and a post in moderation. Haz help?

    Oh, I used the verboten word “ca$ino”. The sin – it’s unforgivable.

    Who creates the moderation filter here anyway?

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne (iPhone) says:

    @redshirt:

    Given what we’ve already started experiencing in So Cal (unusually cool and wet summers), I think yours may be the more accurate guess.

  12. 12
    PeakVT says:

    @redshirt: Leave the armchair climate prediction to the conservatards, okay? You should know better. Also, too, we have this thing called Google now. Try using it.

  13. 13
    PurpleGirl says:

    When I began college I was a chemistry major. A chem major for chemistry, not a pre-med chem major. I was special — a girl who liked chemistry. Unfortunately I only lasted into the spring term of my freshman year. Some in the department were sad when I changed majors.

  14. 14
    Joel says:

    The NPG “10 who mattered” is worth reading, for what it’s worth.

  15. 15
    Punchy says:

    @PurpleGirl: whats the diff tween a chem major and a chem major who also takes bio classes for med skool? Dunt both sheepskins say “BS Chemistry” irregards of ones intent to go the MD route?

  16. 16
    ruemara says:

    As a black woman in a creative field, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am unhireable these days. when it was a boom, I was nearly unemployable except as a temp, now I am as desired as a giant cowturd. and the best results for my resume are when I make my name sound masculine. I’m sometimes surprised I don’t hate everyone, but I am not surprised that scientists have gender bias.

  17. 17
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Punchy: If you come back to see if I answered…

    A pre-med chem major was also taking biology courses and their focus was on pre-med. My focus was on the chemistry and later working with chemistry. I would be more involved with the department, my academic adviser was a chemistry professor, not the pre-med adviser who was a biology department member.

  18. 18
    Schlemizel says:

    @redshirt:

    I know, the rules are stupid. I can say every one of the 7 deadly words you can’t say on tv but I can’t say the word the British use for a cigarette and I am not allowed to name one of the major economic philosophy by its proper name.

  19. 19
    Schlemizel says:

    On thread: I work in IT and it is also a male dominated field. I have worked with very few females. I have, however, seen females promoted and even in positions of leadership over male techies. Don’t know if that is rare and I was just in the right place or if it happens more in IT.

    I know that it is difficult for women in my trade because so many of us are socially maladjusted anyway as well as having our share of misogynists. Currently on out 9 person team we have 1 woman and two African-Americans and that is about as diverse a group as I have worked with in 40 years of IT.

  20. 20
    Walker says:

    @redshirt:

    We are not on track for 2.4C. We are on track for 6C. That means end of modern civilization in 100 years or so.

  21. 21
    Robin G. says:

    “What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?”
    “Well, when I was a little girl, I thought I might like to be a scientist. So I became a scientist.”

    Doctor Who companions, snarking about stereotypes since 1968.

  22. 22
    Schlemizel says:

    @Walker:

    BUT IT SNOOOOWED JUST YESTERDAY!

  23. 23

    naturally, the first comment is from a guy who trivializes the actual inequity of bias against women but is deeply concerned about the possible inequity of an affirmative action program that discriminates against men.

  24. 24
    Amir Khalid says:

    @redshirt:
    If I’m not mistaken, mentioning the things you wear on your feet is also streng verboten. Because there are spammers who tout that stuff. Also forbidden are, among other things, a colloquialism for “cat” often used to mean lady parts; the word your doctor would use for man parts; and the item of furniture you sit at for meals, conferences, and games of chance. I suspect this list was put together by a prude who doesn’t like gambling or online shopping.

  25. 25
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Amir Khalid: I’ve never had a problem mentioning sandals.

  26. 26
    dlwchico says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    I just read the first three Flavia De Luce books, so your comment made me smile.

  27. 27
    Bill Murray says:

    The 2008 study by the NSF was for full professors, so this reflects mostly pre-1998 hiring practices, which is before much of the push to hire more women into science faculty

  28. 28
    imonlylurking says:

    Oddly enough, I have a friend who has seen this happen from both sides. SHE used to be HE, and she says she practically had to tap dance on the table to get anybody to listen to her. Before her surgery he just had to clear (his) throat and everybody at the table would fall silent and wait for (him) to speak.

  29. 29
    Brachiator says:

    The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that science faculty members from research universities evaluating a job application for a lab manager rated applicants with a male name as “significantly more competent and hireable” than the same application with a woman’s name on it.

    Maybe they should do what some orchestras started to do years back. When they could see prospective musicians perform, males were often selected over females. When the musicians performed behind a screen, most bias disappeared.

    Maybe only using the initials on job apps might remove some of the bias.

    Oddly enough, I have a friend who has seen this happen from both sides. SHE used to be HE, and she says she practically had to tap dance on the table to get anybody to listen to her. Before her surgery he just had to clear (his) throat and everybody at the table would fall silent and wait for (him) to speak.

    One of the stupidest, most malicious things I’ve seen done to nonwhites and women in the office is this: ideas will be tossed out, and the suggestions of the woman or the nonwhite staffer will be ignored or even belittled. Then, after a few more rounds, the same idea will be offered by a male (or a favored employee of any gender), and suddenly it will be proclaimed as great and something to be done as soon as possible. And the true originator of the idea is never acknowledged.

    Despite all the noise and stupidity, I’ve seen some kick ass women scientists at Cal Tech and other California schools doing some mighty interesting stuff. I have a bet with a friend that within the next 50 years, every science Nobel will go to a woman scientist.

  30. 30
    cmorenc says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    @Yutsano: Southern California should have been uninhabitable from a lack of water resources for almost a century. It’s been masked by a heck of a lot of engineering, the theft of water from Owens Valley, and taking more than their fair share of the Colorado River. It will be interesting seeing how things shake out as things get dryer.

    Expect to see more fierce political battles over ambitious proposals by not just southern Cal interests, but other metropolises in unsustainably arid areas as well (Hello Phoenix, Las Vegas) to create new water boondoggle infrastructure projects. For example, a recurring feverish dream of southern California is the idea of diverting water from the Columbia River, Las Vegas covets schemes to collect and divert water from the somewhat wetter mountainous areas of northern Nevada, and some municipalities in southern Utah (e.g. St. George) and Arizona are actively scheming to divert water from Lake Powell. Lake Powell btw was ALWAYS an unsustainable boondoggle, not just because of an oncoming period of increased aridity, but because siltation will inevitably clog the lake and Glen Canyon Dam’s intakes within fifty to a hundred years.

  31. 31
    Older says:

    Onlylurking (#28) There’s a guy who used to be a woman who says the same thing. People will come up at conferences and tell him how much better his work is than his “sister’s” — I forget his name just now, sorry.

Comments are closed.