Friday, July 20, 2007

Women in Science Friday Link Roundup : July 20 Edition

Seed magazine has a video showing the work space of Kathleen Kristian, "a snapshot of one chemist's natural habitat."

Vanessa at Feministing posts about's categorization of toys by gender. The toys for girls include play kitchens and dolls, while the boys get cars, building materials, and, of course, science kits.

It couldn't get more obvious when I noticed there was a "Girls' Tech Toys" section, which was a tiny relief for about 2.5 seconds until I went to the page; these "tech toys" weren't much more than a Barbie electronic purse set, a Barbie and MP3 player in one, and a nearly three-hundred dollar electronic pony. (Where, oh where did the girl-pony phenomena originate?
Independent Online reports that the European Commission has appealed to "all males in the bloc" to take on more household chores.
He said men, regardless of whether they worked full or part-time, contributed seven hours a week of unpaid household work.

Women, on the other hand, contributed 35 hours a week if they also had a part-time job and 24 hours a week if employed full-time elsewhere. This made it impossible for them to devote as much time as men to their careers, Spidla said.

"So this is an appeal to men: It is not possible to reduce the pay gap if we do not make a greater contribution at home," he told a news conference.
No big surprise: women often take lower-paid or part-time work because of their responsibilities at home.
"Very often ... they have no option, it's not a matter of free choice at all. Our society all too often is such that women are obliged to take certain decisions and we don't want that to continue," he said.
The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel has initiated the Sara Lee Schupf Postdoctoral Awards for women who completed their science Ph.D. at an Israeli university and have been accepted to a postdoctoral post abroad.
The grants will give women incentives – financial, but also social, personal and professional – to engage in postdoctoral research in leading labs around the world. The long-term goal of the program is to invest resources in women who plan to develop their scientific careers in Israel, and to create a feminine leadership within the Israeli research community.
They are currently calling for applicants for the awards to be presented in October 2007.

Harvard psychologist Stephen Pinker has an article in the The Chicago Sun Times about asking questions about "Dangerous Ideas" - you know, like "Do women, on average, have a different profile of aptitudes and emotions than men?" He bemoans the lack of discourse on such ideas in academia, but he does explain why such questions might really be "dangerous" to society.

Not only can the imprimatur of scientific debate add legitimacy to toxic ideas, but the mere act of making an idea common knowledge can change its effects. Individuals, for instance, may harbor a private opinion on differences between genders or among ethnic groups but keep it to themselves because of its opprobrium. But once the opinion is aired in public, they may be emboldened to act on their prejudice -- not just because it has been publicly ratified but because they must anticipate that everyone else will act on the information. Some people, for example, might discriminate against the members of an ethnic group despite having no pejorative opinion about them, in the expectation that their customers or colleagues will have such opinions and that defying them would be costly. And then there are the effects of these debates on the confidence of the members of the stigmatized groups themselves.

As I see it, a big part of the problem is that there are always going to be individuals who are willing to discuss "dangerous" ideas. If they have authoritative sounding credentials - a PhD, or their own radio show - people will listen and be swayed to their point of view. It seems to me that some ideas should be addressed by interested voices if only to be sure that the discussion does not dismiss their point of view. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Science Summer Camp News

The (Mississippi) Commercial Dispatch reports on a K-6 science day camp hosted by the Mississippi University for Women.
Hannah gave each group a slippery, translucent jellyfish, which the students immediately examined, commenting on its size, smell and tentacles.

“Cut it down the middle and see if you can find the heart, lung and brains,” instructed Hannah.

The gloved students poked, prodded, picked and cut at the elusive jellyfish, inspecting it thoroughly.

“Do you see an intestine?” Chael Williams asked his group.

After a few minutes, Hannah revealed a surprise.

“How many of you think you found a heart, lung or brain?” she asked, pausing for a show of hands. “There's not one! Jellyfish don't have them!”

Hands-on learning

This type of hands-on learning in a fun, upbeat atmosphere is sure to stick with the students for at least the duration of the summer.
Sounds pretty cool.

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reports on the Ohio State University's Women in Engineering summer workshops and other local science programs for girls.

"Girls have often internalized the idea that these fields are not for them," said Christianne Corbett, a researcher for the American Association of University Women's educational council.

"They are not going to gravitate to it. They have to be invited."

The Oshkosh (Wisconsin) Northwestern reports on the EAA Women Soar program for high school girls. The Women Soar 2007 weekend features astronaut Anousheh Ansari.

By connecting young women with successful adult women from a variety of fields including aviation, science, technology and other industries, Women Soar provides concrete role models and demonstrates women can hold jobs most often associated with men. The message to young women: set your goals, work hard, be determined and focused.

6ABC News in Philadelphia reports on the Attracting Women into Engineering summer camp in Glassboro for pre-teen girls.

So today these girls learned to purify water, make bottle rockets and iPod speakers. They also mixed oil, wax and mica into things like bubblegum flavored gloss with silver shimmer.

To reiterate the idea that engineering can be cool and glamorous, the girls had lunch with Miss Delaware, Jamie Ginn. The beauty queen has an engineering degree from Rowan and she works for DuPont.

Today did make some of the girls think about a field that includes everything from making food safe to building jets.

"I'm not very good at math, but I can try and I have been trying. So I might become an engineer," said Kelly Riley of Camden.

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