Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

Opening tomorrow, October 1, is the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. The four day event brings together computer scientists from industry, academia and the government for technical presentations, discussions of the role of women in technology fields and networking. This year's keynote speakers are Fran Allen, an IBM Fellow Emerita and Turing Award Winner and Mary Lou Jepsen, the CEO of Pixel Qi and founding chief technology officer of One Laptop Per Child.

This being a meeting of computer professionals, it's not surprising that there are a number of official online tools for presenters and participants to share their experiences with each other and the world at large. If you are interested, you may want to watch the following sites over the next few days:

It's almost as good as being there.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

A Question for Readers Familiar with Girl Scouts: Is there A Code-Breaking Badge?

Reader Sara is a Girl Scout leader who was inspired by a visit to the Cryptologic Museum in Maryland to ask whether there is a related badge program. She says:

Specifically what we are looking for is a council that has a Girl Scout Try-It, Badge, and IP Program on code breaking or very similar type things.
I don't remember any badge programs as cool as that from back when I was a scout, but that was 30ish years ago. Can one of you readers can help Sara out?

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Submit Posts to the October Scientiae Carnival

Jen at deliberatepixel is hosting the October scientiae carnival. She just posted a reminder:

Let me take the opportunity to ask you all to find your best general women in STEM blog posts and send 'em on in!

If you'd like some last-minute inspiration, here's a theme to get you going: being a good example even in a misstep. Personally, I discovered that I piled on way too much work to do this month, and was only partially successful in balancing it with other social and family responsibilities. I love to hold up examples of inspirational, successful STEM women, but do you have a good story about recovering gracefully from a mistake, or teaching yourself or others about how to make even a failure a success?

Please send in posts in the usual way by the end of this week, October 3, and I will post the carnival on the weekend.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Women in Chemistry @ Chemical Heritage Foundation

This week's episode of the Chemical Heritage Foundation podcast focuses on women in chemistry:

Breaking through the glass ceiling can be tough, especially when you are a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field. This week’s episode takes a look at women in chemistry. First, we learn about the brave physicist after whom meitnerium is named. Then we talk with Donna Nelson, a chemistry professor and spokeswoman for women in the sciences. Finally, producer Catherine Girardeau shares an interview with her grandmother, a dietary researcher credited with changing the eating habits of Americans in the mid-20th century. Element of the Week: Meitnerium.
A bit more background information for those of you who don't mind spoilers:
Image: Dr. Donna J. Nelson
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nature Network Looking For Non-North American Non-European Science Bloggers

Nature Network is a networking site for scientists, that includes forums, groups and, of course, blogs. While the scientists who blog there hail from around the globe, the site is dominated by scientists in Boston and London. Not surprisingly, most of the Nature Network bloggers are in North America or Europe.

Matt Brown, one of the editors of Nature Network, has posted that they are looking for science bloggers from Africa, Asia, South America and Central America to provide new perspectives. You can post as frequently as you like, but they would like the blogs to be in English. If you are from one of those regions, it would be great if you chose to join the conversation there.

Here are some of the women currently blogging at Nature Network blogs:

There are a number of other blogs there too, but these are the most recently updated and/or established blogs. As you can see from the list, scientists from the US, UK and Canada are overrepresened, as are life scientists. It would be excellent if a wider diversity of voices joined in the conversation.

If you are interested, read the notice at AuthorAID.

And I suppose this is as good a place as any to plug AuthorAID which is a free program designed to help researchers in developing countries to publish and otherwise communicate their work. They have held a number of workshops in Africa, with the next scheduled for November 12 at The Grassland Society of Southern Africa. Check out their site for resources on how to write papers and make presentations. The AuthorAID blog is written by Barbara Gastel, an associate professor in the Department of Humanities in Medicine at Texas A&M, who specializes in science writing and technical communication.

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Women Scientist win MacArthur "Genius" Fellowships

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation just named the recipients of the 2008 MacArthur Fellows. Twenty-five winners of the so-called "genius" fellowship will receive $500,000 with no strings attached over the next five years. Among this year's winners are several women scientists:

Andrea Ghez is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA who helped provide evidence for the first time that the center of our Milky Way galaxy is an enormous black whole. Since that discovery in 1998, she has continued to study the stars to help understand the evolution of galaxies. She commented on what the award means to her and her research:

"I am really thrilled," Ghez said. "I will be able to take more risks with my research than I could before. The current shortage of federal funding for science can lead scientists to take fewer risks, but my selection as a MacArthur Fellow will allow me to pursue new ideas and take risks."

The mother of two sons -- Evan, 7, and Miles, who will turn 3 in October -- says the MacArthur funding is "particularly exciting" for women in science.

"The MacArthur Foundation funding will allow me to be much more effective and flexible and will definitely help with the balancing act," she said.

Read Ghez's MacArthur Fellow profile.

Plant molecular biologist Kirsten Bomblies is a senior postdoctoral research associate in the laboratory of Detlef Weigel at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany. Her research has focused on how new plant species originate. From her MacArthur Fellow profile:
Her findings provide a surprising molecular genetic mechanism linking developmental and evolutionary biology, and thus may represent a key advance in both disciplines.

Rachel Wilson is a an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, who studies how sensory stimuli such as the sense of smell are encoded in the fruit fly brain. She told the Boston Globe:
"We study fruit flies partly because when you sit back and think about it, a little fruit fly is an amazing little creature," she said. "Nobody in the world can build a robot that does everything a fruit fly does."
According to Wilson's MacArthur Fellow profile her research is groundbreaking:
By developing experimental models that integrate electrophysiology, neuropharmacology, molecular genetics, functional anatomy, and behavior, Wilson opens new avenues for exploring a central issue in neurobiology – how neural circuits are organized to sense and react to a complex environment.
Developmental biologist Susan Mango is a Professor in the department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Her lab studies the development of the pharynx (or foregut) in the nematode C. elegans in order to better understand the formation and physiology of organs. Her research has also uncovered a relationship between calorie restriction and the regulation of genes that may effect lifespan. According to her Fellow profile her research combines approaches from genetics, genomics, ecology and embryology:
Through her multifaceted exploration of the integrative biology of nematode development, Mango provides critical insights into the complex process of organogenesis.
Finally, Sally Temple is the Scientific Director of the New York Neural Stem Cell Institute in Albany, New York. She studies how embryonic neural progenitor cells develop into the diverse types of neurons that form the adult central nervous system. She told the Albany Times Union that being a mother fit well with her scientific career:
Temple said her best creative ideas come to her unexpectedly, when she's relaxed and immersed in her quotidian routine: watching her kids' sporting events, scrambling to put dinner on the table, walking through her neighborhood.

"Being a scientist is a good career for mothers, because you can work at midnight while feeding babies," she said.

Watch her video interview:

Read Temple's official MacArthur Fellow profile.

Two women physicians also were named fellows:
  • Diane Meier is "a geriatrician who is shaping the field of palliative care and making its benefits available to millions of Americans suffering from serious illness.": profile, video
  • Regina Benjamin is the founder of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic. "With a deep, firsthand knowledge of the pressing needs and health disparities afflicting rural, high-poverty communities, Benjamin is ensuring that the most vulnerable among us have access to high-quality care.": profile
(hat tip to Steinn Sigurðsson at Dynamics of Cats for noting the awards had been announced)
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Are you a woman who has left the academic science pipeline?

Shelly Heller, Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Mt. Vernon Campus of The George Washington University, has a request for participants in a study about women scientists who have left the academic career pipeline:

In an effort to understand the pipeline of women professors in science and Engineering we are conducting a NSF-sponsored survey on women in career breaks (voluntary or not). We are starting to interview such women to help us determine better ways for such people to be reintegrated into the pipeline. Of course, replies will be aggregated and no names will be attached to specific replies.

We are trying to reach as many women as we can. Are you such a woman? Do you know of any such women (must have PhD in science/engineering/ math/social science)?
We have a few criteria:
  • PhD attained: yes or no ( we are seeking those who have completed their degrees)
  • Interest in academic employment: yes or no
  • Any employment post-PhD: yes or no -
  • Years in career break: less than 5
Please contact Shelly Heller at wlp (at) gwu (dot) edu
Read more about FORWARD to Professorship.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Marjorie Lee Browne: mathematician and educator

Last week the James Logan High School (Union City, CA) Courier posted* an interesting article about Marjorie Lee Browne, one of the first two African-American woman to receive a doctoral degree in mathematics the United States:

Browne was born in Tennessee in 1914. Her mother died when she was only two years old, and she was raised by her stepmother, Mary Taylor Lee, and her father, Lawrence Johnson Lee. Her father, a railway postal clerk, was also a "math whiz" who shared his passion for mathematics with his children. She attended LeMoyne High School, a private Methodist school started after the Civil War to offer education for African-Americans.
According to an interview she gave shortly before her death, mathematics was a comfort to her when she was growing up:
"I always, always, always liked mathematics. As a child I was rather introverted, and as far back as I can remember I liked mathematics . . . I could do it alone."
After completing her dissertation at the University of Michigan, Browne joined the faculty at North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University), serving as department head from 1951-1970. In fact, for 25 years she was the only instructor in the NCCU math department who had a PhD. Her profile at Biographies of Women Mathematicians notes that she not only pursued her own research, but also was able to secure funding for the university's mathematics program for secondary school teachers.
In addition to her own grants and fellowships to pursue mathematical studies, Browne received several grants to support the teaching of mathematics at North Carolina Central University. This institution became the first predominantly Black institution to be awarded an NSF Institute for secondary teachers of mathematics, a program Browne directed for 13 summers. In 1960, through her efforts, NCCU received a grant from IBM for the support of academic computing. In 1969 she obtained for her department the first Shell Grant for awards to outstanding mathematics students.
That grant from IBM brought her department one of the first computers in academic computing, almost certainly the first at a historically black college. But her devotion to education was more than just bringing in grants. She took a personal interest in teaching, and, in the last years of her life used her own money to help gifted students pursue their education in mathematics.

Despite the discrimination against both African-Americans and women in the world of mathematics, Browne received fellowships to study combinatorial topology at Cambridge University, differential topology at Columbia University, and computing and numerical analysis at UCLA.

Browne died in 1979 at the age of 65. Today there is a scholarship in her honor at NCCU for students in mathematics, and the University of Michigan Department of Mathematics hold an annual Dr. Marjorie Lee Browne Colloquium as part of the universities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.

Additional information:

(via Terra Sigillata)

* Yes, the article is pretty much just copied and pasted from Wikipedia, but I think it's great that high school students are interested enough in the topic of women in mathematics to cover it.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Margaret B. Bailey: Winner of the Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award

"In my younger days when I was pained by half educated, loose and inaccurate ways which we all had, I used to say, 'How much women need exact science.' But since I have known some workers in science who were not always true to the teaching of nature, who have loved self more than science, I have said, 'How much science needs women.'"

-Maria Mitchell (1818-1889)
Most of you readers have likely heard of Maria Mitchell, the 19th century astronomer who became the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was a professor of astronomy at Vassar College, where she was the first director of the Vassar College Observatory, a position she held until the year before her death in 1889. But she was born and raised on the island of Nantucket, where she first learned astronomy from her schoolteacher father, and where she opened her own school in 1835.

Today the Maria Mitchell Association of Nantucket honors her memory every year with the Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award, which is given to "an individual whose efforts have encouraged the advancement of girls and women in the natural and physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, computer science and technology." This year's winner is Dr. Margaret B. Bailey, Kate Gleason Endowed Chair and Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at the Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology. From the award announcement:
Dr Bailey is the founder and executive director of WE@RIT (Women in Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology) where she leads a dynamic organization that aims to improve the retention of current women engineering students, as well as expand the pipeline of future women engineers through the delivery of a series of outreach programs for girls and women in K-12 grades. Mentoring is at the core of the WE@RIT programs from linking first-year with upper-level engineering students, utilizing undergraduate engineering students in the K-12 outreach programs, and a bi-weekly workshop series for RIT female engineering students. Dr. Bailey has also created a two week engineering camp for 4th-9th graders, “Everyday Engineering,” led by RIT women engineering students, and a shadowing program RIT undergraduates with professional engineers. Clearly a catalyst for improving gender diversity at RIT, Dr. Bailey’s programmatic ideas and initiatives are easily replicable at colleges, universities, schools and workplaces. Dr. Bailey plans to use the $5000 MM-WISA cash award, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, to work with a small group of science and math teachers to improve the quality and transferability of the “Everyday Engineering” curriculum to other universities and/or 4th-9th grade classrooms.
Earlier this year the WE@RIT program was awarded the WEPAN Women in Engineering Program Award, as "a model for other WIE organizations demonstrating best practices in comprehensive pre-college outreach, recruitment, and community building initiatives."

Bailey feels strongly that increasing the number of women engineers is an important goal:
The United States needs to double the number of female engineers—to three in 10—in order for the nation to capitalize on the intellectual capital of women and attain its true potential for innovation.

That forceful advice comes from Margaret Bailey, the Kate Gleason Chair and professor of mechanical engineering in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering in remarks on the RIT news podcast Studio 86. The specificity of her call to action—that we need three in 10 women engineers in this country—is what makes it such a compelling point (as opposed to a wishy-washy phrase saying the world needs more female engineers). [...] Bailey says reaching a “critical mass” of 30 percent female engineers (more than twice the current number)—along with achieving other diversity goals—will lead to more and greater technological advances.

The point she seems to be making is not so much that women have special skills that men do not (even though that's the impression given by the article I linked to above), but that the engineering community is missing out on a large pool of potential new ideas and expertise when women chose to pursue careers other than engineering. Listen to the full interview, in which Bailey talks about women in engineering and the university's engineering and mentoring programs for girls.

In addition to directing the WE@RIT program, Bailey also directs graduate students, performs research in the field of energy conservation, and teaches several courses.

Bailey will be presented with the Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award at a ceremony on September 19th.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Olja Finn: Immunologist and Mother

It seems like many of the successful women scientists I've profiled here have careers that follow a fairly straight path, from youthful science fairs to long hours in the lab and field as graduate students and postdocs. I think it's interesting to read about scientists whose careers took a more roundabout route. One such scientist is Olivera "Olja" Finn, Professor and Chair of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Immunology.

A recent profile in Science talks about her non-traditional (at least for a scientist) background. Finn grew up in the former Yugoslavia aspiring to direct plays. That changed when she met American college exchange student Seth Finn. Despite her youth - she was fresh out of high school - they married and moved to the United States.

After briefly attending college in California and Indiana, she ended up in Puerto Rico, where her husband was serving in the Coast Guard. At the urging of her father, a theater manager with geology and biology degrees, Finn had followed the technical track at her Yugoslavian high school. In Puerto Rico, her scientific ambition blossomed. For an undergraduate project at the Interamerican University in San Juan, where she completed her bachelor's degree in biology, Finn figured out missing steps in the life cycle of a hookworm that circulates among humans, birds, rats, and cockroaches. The work involved poking around seedy areas of downtown San Juan and picking up roaches as big as a tablespoon, but she loved it. "The life of research--getting data and making hypotheses--consumed me," she says.
The Finns also started a family, and she entered graduate school at Stanford with an 7-month-old infant. Her husband was also working towards his Ph.D. in Communications at Stanford. After earning her PhD and a two-year postdoc she joined the faculty of Duke University, chosen because her husband already had a position at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Finn and her husband took turns going for advancement. After Seth's job led them to North Carolina, the choice to move to Pittsburgh was hers. For 4 years, Seth commuted every week between Pennsylvania and North Carolina before being hired by Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.
Despite making choices that might seem detrimental to a career in science, such as starting a family before graduate school and letting her husband's career determine where she attended university and started her first lab, Finn has been quite successful.
Nearly 20 years ago, she discovered the first cancer antigen, a tumor molecule that elicits a reaction from immune cells. And despite spending her youth in Communist-run Yugoslavia, Finn has climbed the academic ladder in the United States--she is chair of immunology at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and has served as president of the American Association of Immunologists. She argues that interweaving career and family is essential. "I don't think we live long enough to do things sequentially."

And she thinks that having a family while young was a good deciscion:
If you think you'll have more time for parenting later in life, you are wrong, she says.

Carrie Miceli, who was Finn's first graduate student and is now an immunologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, says she followed Finn's example, although she waited until starting her own lab to have a child. "It was great to see a woman with kids and a family who was not talking about what a compromise it was," says Miceli.

But what I wonder is how much support Olja Finn received from her husband while in graduate school. Having a husband who shares the child-care duties would obviously make a tremendous difference, since graduate students rarely have enough money to hire full-time babysitters and taking care of an infant while working in the lab would be very difficult.

Finn's laboratory is currently working towards developing a vaccine is designed to prevent colon cancer.
"The field has advanced faster because of her," says Martin Cheever, a medical oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. Finn deserves credit not only for her scientific insights, he adds, but also for her devotion to nurturing other scientists' research and fostering cross-disciplinary collaborations. Without such prompting, "cancer biologists and immunologists [usually] sit on their own sides of the fence," notes immunologist Ralph Steinman of Rockefeller University in New York City.
More information:
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Friday, September 05, 2008

Resources on Women in Astronomy

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has put together a collection of resources - both online and off - on women in astronomy. From the intro:

This guide is not meant to be a comprehensive or scholarly introduction to the complex topic of the role of women in astronomy, but simply a resource for those educators and students who wish to explore the challenges and triumphs of women of the past and present. It's also an opportunity to get to know some of the key women who have overcome prejudice and exclusion to make significant contributions to our field. To be included among the representative women for whom we list individual resources, an astronomer must have had something non-technical about her life and work published in a popular-level journal or book. This explains why so many talented women are not covered; their work is mainly known through journals that students cannot read. Suggestions for additional non-technical listings are most welcome, however.
Some of the online resources include:
The Society's web site also has other good resources for astronomy lovers, including topics such as astronomical pseudo-science, science fiction with good astronomy, astronomy in non-western cultures, SETI and web sites for college astronomy instructors.

(via Mike Brotherton)

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Help Needed: Cartoons Portraying Women Scientists?

I got the following request for information from Brita, who is looking for cartoons to illustrate class handouts:

As a new biology teacher certification candidate, I was sad to see my class syllabus covered in cartoons portraying male scientists. I'm having a hard time finding ones with women in the lab coats that aren't hugely offensive. Any recommendations of where to look for some showing us working hard?
She's checked out PhD Comics, but that is more about grad school angst than women working as scientists. What she's looking for is along the lines of cartoons with scientists who happen to be women, rather than jokes about dating or other "female" topics. I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Do any of you readers have suggestions?
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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Where is she now? Susan Landau

Scientific American continues its series on former Westinghouse (now Intel) Science Talent Search finalists with a profile of Susan Landau. When Landau entered the Science Talent Search, she was interested in mathematics and already studying college-level linear algebra, so she chose a number theory problem to work on: determining what an odd perfect number would look like.

A perfect number is a number that is equal to the sum of the numbers that can be divided into it neatly except itself. For instance, 6 is the sum of 1, 2 and 3; 28 is the sum of 1, 2, 4, 7 and 14. She didn't actually find an odd perfect number (in fact, no one has), but she came up with some intriguing ideas about the minimum number of prime factors that perfect number would have to have. "They weren't theorems that would have astounded an established number theorist," she says, but they were good enough to earn her a finalist nod in the 1972 Westinghouse Science Talent Search.
She continued her study of mathematics as an undergraduate at Princeton, but decided to pursue a PhD at MIT in theoretical computer science. Once she graduated, she found faculty positions Wesleyan and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, focusing her research on symbolic computation and algebraic algorithms.
She enjoyed the work. However, her husband was also an academic computer scientist, and for years they faced what academic families ruefully call "the two body problem." Finding one tenure track job is tough. Finding two tenure-track jobs in similar fields in the same geographic area is even tougher, as Landau has described. Branching out to industry promised to alleviate the problem a bit, and eventually, Sun Microsystems "made me an offer I couldn't refuse," Landau says. In 1999 she started working for Sun from home.
In an article Landau wrote in 1988 on the "two-body problem" she pointed out that women scientists and engineers are very likely to have a similarly educated spouse, and that's a problem for universities that have only a single academic research position:
A recent article in Science stated that 69% of married female physicists have scientists as spouses, as do 80% of female mathematicians and 33% of female chemists2. Chairs and deans are not discussing an isolated phenomenon when they say, We wanted to hire [a female scientist], but she was married to [a male scientist], and there wasn't a position for him." I do not think universities are using this problem in bad faith as a way to avoid hiring women. I think departments, chairs and deans do view each occurrence individually. A recent report from the University of Michigan pointed out that female faculty seem to benefit from career services even more than men, because women, based on our experience and interviews, often have a spouse or partner in a position equal to or higher than their own. Almost all female faculty recruited by Engineering have a partner with a Ph.D."3.
She points out several programs which focused on spousal hires, including one at the University of Wisconsin which appears to be still in force. Of course what I suspect is the easiest solution from a university's point of view is a spouse who finds a job outside academia, as Landau ultimately did.

She has also discussed the difficulty in deciding when and if to have children as an academic:

My husband and I married while I was a graduate student in computer science at MIT. ``Don't have children until you finish,'' cautioned a friend, the wife of a history professor. I nodded easily. I was then twenty-five. At twenty-eight I completed my doctoral thesis. ``Don't have children until you get tenure,'' warned a member of the faculty. I was leaving to become an assistant professor at Wesleyan University. This time the nod didn't come so easily. My husband and I wanted a family. I didn't want to wait until I was thirty-five to begin one. Choosing which came first was not hard for me. If I had tenure at thirty-five, but was then unable to have children, the pain would have been unbearable. I knew I could handle the opposite situation. I had my first child at thirty-one, my second at thirty-three. At thirty-four I have my family even if I don't have academic permanence.

All along I felt that the choices were more mine than my husband's. We both raise the children. I'm the one who's pregnant. I have the fuzzy brain for nine months; I'm the one who can't go off to conferences during the late months of pregnancy and the early months of nursing. My work suffers, my energy flags, my batteries fade. I've lost about two years of research in the first five years after my Ph.D. (What I've gained is immeasurable -- but not the subject of this essay.) So I get 51% of the vote. As it turns out, we both voted for children first, tenure second, so it was no contest. But there's a price I may yet pay in my career.

Landau wrote those words 20 years ago. While it's impossible to know how having children affected her career, I don't think there is any argument that she has been successful. Currently she is a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems Laboratories, where she works on problems in digital rights management, computer user privacy, and the timely field of computer security and public policy.

Landau also spends part of her time on promoting women in computer science. She maintains the ResearcHers Email List for women computer science researchers and The Book List: Computer Science Books by Women Computer Scientists. Earlier this year she was named a Women of Vision Award Winner by the Anita Borg Institute in the Social Impact category:
She has profound impact in at least three areas of computer science: as an extensive commentator and advisor on U.S. wiretapping and encryption policy; as a world renowned expert in computational algebra and number theory (mathematics intimately related to cryptography), and in developing numerous programs to benefit women in computer science. A Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer, Landau is a leading scholar in all three areas and publishes widely. Her book, co-authored with Whitfield Diffie, Privacy on the Line: the Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption, attracted immediate international attention and played a significant role in the 2000 loosening of U.S. cryptographic export-control regulations, stimulating the global technology economy and offering protection to consumers in all non-embargoed countries. Her unusual blend of technical expertise, policy insight, industry connections and drive, along with her dedication to the advancement of Women in Computing, make Landau a true Woman of Vision.
Watch her award acceptance speech, where she talks about being a woman in computer science and her influences:

Her important work on computer privacy and security seems a long way from the hypothetical mathematical problem she entered into the Westinghouse Science Talent Search contest back in 1972.

Related Links:
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Women Scientists in Fiction

Helen Merrick, a lecturer in the department of Film and Television at the Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia, has started a project compiling a database of women scientists in fiction. The background:

A significant body of research has examined the factors impeding women's progress in or choice of science, such as: the lack of positive role models; the continued 'double burden' of family and career; and the recalcitrance of cultural images that code science - and scientists - as 'male'. Much attention focuses on girl's early education choices, with the paucity of positive role models (particularly in the media) seen as an important factor.

While we have seen an increase in apparently capable female scientists in film and TV, such representations are often compromised or undercut by their reliance on stereotypes of normative femininity. One space where non-traditional and even feminist re-visions of the female scientist occur is in the literary genre of science fiction. This form has allowed a number of authors to explore the ways in which women might do science differently, or how women's equal participation might result in different models of science.

I think there is the potential for an interesting analysis, but I suspect the list of entries is far from complete. Merrick is asking for character suggestions, so if you know of any be sure to add them to the list.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Scientiae Carnival @ Lab Cat: Reflections on Summer

I hope all of you readers in the US had a nice Labor Day weekend. Mine was an excellent combination of music, mojitos and lounging in the pool. It still feels summery here in inland SoCal, but the temperature is only in the low 90s and the breeze indicates fall is on the horizon.

The September Scientiae Carnival is up at Lab Cat:

At the end of the summer, the Scientiae Labor Day BBQ was held at Lab Cat’s place. After eating mounds of delicious food and drinking a few good drinks, our women scientists came together around the fire holding the last of the marshmallows over the coals for a last bite of smores and summer. Ella Fitzgerald sang quietly in the background.
Head over there, grab a spot by the fire and read some interesting posts.