Saturday, March 10, 2007

Blogging Against Sexism and More

Once again, some posts on women in science and engineering from around the blogosphere:

There have been several interesting posts on an increasingly common problem: finding science positions for both members of a couple. This discussion was a few weeks ago, but I neglected to blog about it then.

  • The starting point is an article in Nature, Scientists in love: When two worlds collide (subscription required), by Jennifer Ouellette (of Cocktail Party Physics). This is a problem that disproportionately affects female scientists.
    Besides being a minority in their field, female physicists struggle with the two-body problem more often than their male counterparts. A 1998 survey by the American Physical Society found that although only about 6% of its members are women, 43% of these are married to other physicists. In contrast, only 6% of married male physicists have a physicist spouse. Other studies have found that almost twice as many women chemists are married to or partnered with another chemist as compared to their male colleagues, and 80% of women mathematicians are married to other scientists.
  • Retrospectacle comments, with quotes from the original article.
  • Female Science Professor describes her own experience as one half of an academic couple.
Female Science Professor reviews the movie "The Gender Chip"
An aspect of the movie that rang very true was the clear depiction of the dedication and energy of the women, even while plagued with some doubts about what their futures will be like. Such doubts are normal for most undergraduates, but for these and many women, the doubts focus on whether their careers will stop completely when they have kids, perhaps just a few years after they get started with the careers they have worked so hard to achieve

She's Such a Geek writes about a recent article in the New York times about women and the food science-derived field molecular gastronomy .

Physicist Robert Knop writes about the Myth of Meritocracy
There is one simple truth, one simple fact, denied by many, but out there and obvious for many to find. Many, perhaps even most, women in physics experience questions and assaults on their character, on their self esteem, and on their worthiness simply because they are women. Going through grad school and academia, all of us in physics experience a lot of these assaults for a wide variety of reasons. The point is, though, that many or most (or all?) women experience additional challenges that men do not. You could argue, I suppose, that these challenges are insignificant in the face of the assault upon one's sense of well-being represented by (for instance) Jackson's E&M book, but I think you'd be wrong. Talk to some women. Some will tell you that, yeah, they get the assumption they're dumb from other physicists because they're women, but they also get it because they're astronomers. Most women, though, will have hair-raising stories. Either stories of unwanted attention that go beyond the "nerd looking too much," or stories of receiving blatantly differential treatment which is openly as a result of their gender.
Zuska's Joy of Science course continues:
Inkling Magazine reveals the winner of the "She's Such a Geek" photo contest: Mount Hood Community College life sciences instructor Valory Thatcher. See her photo and read her interview at She's Such a Geek.

Around the blogs, International Women's Day (March 8th) is being celebrated as "Blog Against Sexism" Day. Rosa at Fairer Science participates with Blog against sexism (in science) day.
So, my Blog Against Sexism Day challenge to you is this: Whatever research you read today, examine it carefully. Be especially wary of research whose conclusions uncomplicatedly support gender stereotypes or involve overbroad generalizations.

And then do it again tomorrow.
In another Blog Against Sexism Day science-related post Sandra at OmniBrain blogs about Louann Brizendine's Becky Award for "the single most ridiculous or misleading bit of linguistic nonsense that somebody manages to put over in the media" and, as a bonus, links to a free MP3 of Freezepop's "science genius girl".