Friday, July 13, 2007

Women in Science Weekly News Roundup: July 13th Edition

Blog posts and news reports about women in science from the past week:

Karmen at Chaotic Utopia writes about how poor math teachers in high school made her assume that she couldn't learn math and science.

I gave up on math back in high school, in the middle of algebra. A few lousy teachers managed to convince me that I was ’bad’ at it. Looking back, I think I asked more questions than they were used to. The pure numbers and rote memorization didn’t satisfy me; I wanted other ways of looking at the formula. Instead of having a genuine curiosity about it, I came across as having struggles. I was frustrated, no doubt, but not for the reasons they assumed. By the time I graduated, that feeling had spread to the rest of my education. I felt out of place.
Based on the comments, she is far from the only one who only returned to science long after graduating from high school.

Naturejobs reports on the recent seminar organized by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology
Wendy Faulkner, of the Science Studies Unit at the University of Edinburgh, told delegates that the ways in which different individuals come to belong to the group may affect whether women are accepted. She suggested that workplace culture included styles of interacting, topics of conversation, humour and social circles. Crucially, said Faulkner, facets of masculine culture (such as football discussions and macho attitudes) mesh well with the culture of SET workplaces. Anecdotes from women she has interviewed suggested that they found it hard to fit in, whether because they couldn't take part in a joke or because they weren't seen as 'real' engineers. In some cases, male colleagues made inappropriate remarks. One woman said she wanted to report a culprit, but felt she had neither the confidence nor the support. Delegates at the meeting mutely mouthed recognition.
Sandra Porter at Discovering Biology in a Digital World writes about the "Life Science Centra" web site for people interested in biotechnology, but wonders why only one out of ten video profiles is a woman, since it's been her experience "that there are probably more women working in the biotech industry than males."

The Working Dad blog at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes about the University of Michigan study that shows the gender gap begins when "parents offer more math to their sons than daughters."
"They found that girls' interest in math decreases as their fathers' gender stereotypes increase, whereas boys' interest in math increases as their fathers' gender stereotypes increase," the University of Michigan said in a statement about the research.
CORDIS News reports that women professors at German universities has increased from 8% (in 1995) to 15% in 2006.
"Supporting excellence in science must not mean leaving behind half of our talent. Highly qualified women must be adequately integrated into the science system. We do not want to, and cannot afford to, relinquish their talent," the minister [Annette Schavan] added.
Meanwhile Austrian universities are setting aside 40% of government funding for research projects involving women.
'I am no fan of quotas, as quotas do not replace quality. But in this case it makes sense to put this nest egg at the disposal of young women researchers, as only when we give them the opportunity to prove what they can do will they have a chance to compete with men,' says Mr Hahn.
There was a press release from the government of the Republic of Botswana about the recent 35th Mathematics and Science Fair held at the University of Botswana.

[Former Education Minister] Dr [Gaositwe] Chiepe said the myth that Africans, particularly African women, are inherently incapable of understanding maths and science should be discarded.

Maths and Science, she said, are practical subjects, which do not depend on memory, guess work or wishful thinking.

"They require a critical, questioning mind that revels in the adventure of life and leaves no stone unturned to find out what, where, how and why."
Back around the world to the U.S.:

The Auburn Journal reports on Tech Trek Science Camp for Girls at California State University, Fresno.
The girls got a taste of college life while learning that math and science can be fun and good career choices. The students live in dormitories on campus during the camp and attend classes and mini-labs. Instructors include credentialed middle school teachers as well as women currently engaged professionally in science, math, and technology fields. The girls attended evening programs and field trips covering areas of study such as astronomy, engineering, marine biology, and environmental studies. AAUW volunteers serve as camp directors, nurses and chaperones.
The only comment left on the article was one complaining that it was "sexist" to only allow girls.

The San Jose Mercury News also has a bit about local girls sent to the Tech Trek program at Stanford University with the support of the local AAUW chapter.

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