Not protesting this commencement address: Nancy Hopkins at BU on Gender Bias in STEM

Thank you Paula Olsiewski for pointing me to this: Boston University’s 141st Commencement Baccalaureate Address: Nancy Hopkins.  It is the text of the commencement address that Nancy Hopkins gave at BU on Monday.  And it is really worth reading.  Or watching.

And fortunately BU has posted video of the talk

In the talk Hopkins discusses her work in biology and the subtle and overt gender bias she has seen. Hopkins is quite an amazing person. For more about her see

Also see a talk by Hopkins at U. Chicago from 2011 at a colloqiuium on advancing women in science and engineering. 

Wanted – participants and helpers for a "Women in Science" Wikipedia Editathon at #UCDavis March 4 – UC Davis ADVANCE

I wrote a post on the UC DAVIS ADVANCE Blog recruiting people to participate in a Wikipedia Editathon regarding Women in Science: Wanted – participants and helpers for a “Women in Science” Wikipedia Editathon at #UCDavis March 4 – UC Davis ADVANCE

And Phoebe Ayers from the UC Davis Physical Sciences and Engineering Library has volunteered to host the event there.

See her post about this.   Please consider signing up to participate if you are around UC Davis at that time …

New paper on “Global gender disparities in science” (Crosspost from UC Davis ADVANCE Blog)

I am cross posting this from the UC Davis ADVANCE Blog where I posted it yesterday, since it is of relevance to this project and to the upcoming meeting we are organizing on “Publish or perish? The future of academic publishing and careers.”

There is an interesting new paper in Nature of interest.  The paper is titled “Bibliometrics: Global gender disparities in science” and is by Vincent Larivière, Chaoqun Ni, Yves Gingras, Blaise Cronin & Cassidy R. Sugimoto.  In the paper the authors report a detailed analysis three parameters:

  1. authorship of published scientific papers (which they use as a surrogate for research output)
  2. co-authorship on papers (which they use as a surrogate for collaboration)
  3. citations (which they use as a surrogate for scientific impact)

They then assigned gender to authors using multiple sources and examined the relationships between the 3 listed parameters and gender.  And the findings are pretty striking.

I note – it is worth going to the Nature web cite for this article because some of the figures are interactive and one can click on different fields and change the plots.

The authors state – before digging into the details of their analysis “In our view, the scale of this study provides much-needed empirical evidence of the inequality that is still all too pervasive in science. It should serve as a call to action for the development of higher education and science policy.”  A pretty strong statement that at least to me seems to be worth considering given their analysis.

Among their findings

  1. Globally men make up > 70% of the “fractionalized authorships” of scientific papers.
  2. Countries in S. America and E. Europe have somewhat better (on average) gender equity in authorship
  3. As shown previously, the gender ratio varies enormously between fields
  4. In terms of collaboration women tended to be more “domestically oriented” (i.e., focused on within country collaborations) than men.
  5. And the finding getting the most press — papers for which a woman had a prominent author position received fewer citations (on average) than those in which a man had such prominent position.

The authors then discuss the implications of their findings and make some recommendations for future actions.  Among their conclusions (which I quote directly so as to not alter any implied meaning):

  1. “barriers to women in science remain widespread worldwide, despite more than a decade of policies aimed at levelling the playing field”
  2. “programmes fostering international collaboration for female researchers might help to level the playing field”
  3. “Any realistic policy to enhance women’s participation in the scientific workforce must take into account the variety of social, cultural, economic and political contexts in which students learn science and scientific work is performed”

This paper is definitely worth looking at in detail.  And I note there is also a lot of supplemental material that might be worth downloading and playing around with.  Data is critical for understanding the gender disparities in science and for planning and then testing ways to correct such disparities

UCDavis ADVANCE Reading of the Day: How not to run a women in science campaign

Interesting article in The Guardian the other day that is worth taking a look at: How not to run a women in science campaign | Science |  It is by Alice Bell and discusses, among many things, the European Commission video from last year on “Science: It’s a Girl Thing” (shown below) that sparked a lot of controversy.  The article also discusses many issues of relevance of improving the representation of women and minorities in the sciences including: the leaky pipe, the whiteness of science, and social mobility.  It is definitely worth a read for anyone interested in issues relating to women in science and minorities in science.

ADVANCE Blog Notes: Interesting article by Mary Ann Mason at Slate.Com "In the Ivory Tower, Men Only"

There is a really interesting article at Slate.Com from Mary Ann Mason, the author of “Do Babies Matter” which I have written about here before.  The post is titled “In the Ivory Tower, Men Only“.  The post tells some of the background behind the book and discusses issues about graduate school, post doctoral positions, applying for faculty jobs and more.   The article also has some very good guidance for universities that would like to level the playing field:

We all know what structural changes would help to level the playing field in all of these careers and they are quite similar: paid family leave for both mothers and fathers, especially for childbirth, a flexible workplace, a flexible career track, a re-entry policy, pay equity reviews, child care assistance, dual career assistance. Those universities and corporations who have actively created these policies have found an advantage in recruitment and retention. For instance, at Berkeley, after enacting several new policies to benefit parents, including paid teaching leaves for fathers, job satisfaction scored much higher among parents, and more babies are being born to assistant professors.

Some good guidance for some of the activities at UC Davis as part of the ADVANCE program in which I am involved. And she ends by recommending

It is time for women to “lean in” and demand family policies that will at least give them a fighting chance to have both a successful career and babies.

I agree.  But it is also time for men to do the same.  The more that men also support and demand such policies the quicker things will change.

ADVANCE Reading of the Day: Sylvia Earle, Women in Japan and the Gulf, Spaceflight

Quick post here … Some news stories and posts I am checking out today in relation to the UC Davis ADVANCE project in which I am involved.

ADVANCE Journal Club: Developing Graduate Students of Color for the Professoriate in STEM

As I have posted about before – I am involved in the UC Davis ADVANCE project funded by NSF.  From the project website:

UC Davis ADVANCE is a newly funded Institutional Transformation grant that began in September of 2012. Our program is supported by the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE Program which aims to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers. 

My role in this project is as a member (and now Co-Chair) of one of the “Policies and Practices Review Initiative” Committee.  As part of my work on this committee I am trying to read various papers on related topics.  And I figured I would simultaneously post about these papers as much as I can because it would be great to get a broader discussion going on these topics.

So today I am reading the following:CSHE – Developing Graduate Students of Color for the Professoriate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) which I was pointed to in our Committee meeting yesterday.  It is quite interesting.  It is by Anne MacLachlan from the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley.

The abstract:

This paper presents part of the results of a completed study entitled A Longitudinal Study of Minority Ph.D.s from 1980-1990: Progress and Outcomes in Science and Engineering at the University of California during Graduate School and Professional Life. It focuses particularly on the graduate school experience and degree of preparation for the professoriate of African American doctoral students in the sciences and engineering, and presents the results of a survey of 33 African American STEM Ph.D.s from the University of California earned between 1980-1990. Relationships with thesis advisors and principal investigators are evaluated by the study participants in fifteen specific areas from highly-ranked intellectual development to low-ranked training in grant writing. Deficits in training and socialization are discussed along with the tension between being both an African American and a graduate student. Career choices and outcomes are presented. These findings, in conjunction with current analyses of graduate education in STEM, suggest ways in which graduate training for all could be improved.

Lots of interesting information in there.  Perhaps most important for my current goals is what she describes at the end in terms of a Proposed Development Program.  She starts this section by commenting on the general situation in terms of training scientists in the US today.  She then identifies what she refers to a “discontinuities” in federal and local policy which can hinder “developing faculty of color.”  These include “compartmentalized, externally mandated sets of programs” and the “nature of Ph.D. training”.  Of the 33 Ph.D.s surveyed in the study, nearly all of them recommended diversity training for faculty.  They also recommend better laying out of expectations and requirements for students and more involvement of current faculty in recruiting.  They also made many recommendations for improving the life of current students of color.

Anyway – a lot of this material and the concepts involved are bit new to me so I am still digesting the article.  But I thought I would share it with others in the hope that this will help catalyze more open discussion of issues involved women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

Storified tweets from the #UCDavisADVANCE Symposium on Increasing Diversity of STEM Faculty

I live tweeted a symposium at UC Davis yesterday that was part of the UC Davis ADVANCE project to increase diversity of STEM Faculty. Here are the notes.

  //[View the story “#UCDavisADVANCE symposium” on Storify]

For more on the project see