Another Mostly Male Meeting from UCSD- should be called "Food and Fuel for the 19th Century"

Well, just when I thought meeting organizers from UCSD had learned their lesson regarding mostly male meetings – this comes along.  Check out “Food and Fuel for the 21st Century” (I was pointed to this by a comment on a blog post of mine). The speakers are

That a ratio of 18:2 or 10% female.  
Not that I know the cause of this but here are some other pieces of information to consider.
The Food and Fuel for the 21st Century Program lists 5 people on their Executive Committee.  Any guesses on the # of these that are men?  Well it is 5.
Fortunately they have an Advisory Committee too and that must have some women on it right?  Nope.

Reminds me a bit of the QBio meeting from 2013 organized by many from UCSD which I wrote about last year: Q-Bio conference in Hawaii, bring your surfboard & your Y chromosome because they don’t take a XX.  I note – this years Q-Bio meeting is much better.  But one can ask – does nobody at UCSD think about these issues when planning conferences and Advisory / Executive Committees.  I personally don’t think one should choose women to just choose women.  But as with the Q-Bio meeting from last year, I think there are an enormous number of highly qualified women working on topics directly related to “Food and Fuel for the 21st Century” and thus I am both surprised and disturbed by the gender ratio of this meeting and this organization.

UPDATE 3/4 7:21 AM

It took me a bit but I found details on the 2013 symposium from the same group.  The web site for the 2013 meeting is not active as far as I can tell.  However it is available in the Internet Archive.  For example, here is a snapshot from June 1, 2013.  From that snapshot here are the listed speakers

  • David Kramer, Michigan State University
  • Susan Golden, University of California, San Diego
  • Julian Schroeder, University of California, San Diego
  • Stephen Mayfield, University of California, San Diego
  • Steven Briggs, University of California, San Diego
  • Matteo Pellegrini, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Donald Weeks, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Michael Burkart, University of California, San Diego
  • Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, University of California, San Diego
  • Farzad Haerizadeh, Life Technologies
  • Ben Hueso, California State Assembly
  • Bill Gerwick, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Eric Mathur, SG Biofuels
  • James Van Etten, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Fred Tennant, Heliae
  • David Dunigan, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Xuemei Bai, Cellana
  • George Oyler, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Gerry Mackie, University of California, San Diego
  • Mark Hildebrand, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Lawrence Johnson, Salim Group
  • Craig Behnke, Sapphire Energy
  • Rebecca White, Sapphire Energy

For a ratio of 20:3.

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 …

STEM Women: How Men Can Help, w/ Professor Jonathan Eisen (hey, that’s me)

Just got done with an interview “STEM Women: How Men Can Help, with Professor Jonathan Eisen” done via Google Hangout with Buddhini Samarasinghe and Zuleyka Zavallos.

Video of the chat has been posted to Youtube.

And there is a Google Plus Event Page here.

Pete Seeger, RIP, on women in engineering …

When I was growing up, we went to Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie concerts every year at Wolf Trap. I have loved Seeger since then and thus was very sad to hear he died a few days ago. My mom is visiting right now and she and I have been talking about “Women in Science” issues (and for example she brought me some nice presents which I posted about Monday).

// And in talking to my mom today she reminded me of this song Seeger used to sing every year when we saw the show. It is by his sister. And it is a good rallying cry for “Women in STEM” fields, I think. Here it is:

Kudos to the DOE-JGI for organizing a genomics meeting w/ a good gender ratio – no kudos to BGI – yet again.

Very happy to see the preliminary speaker list for The Annual DOE JGI User Meeting.  As many are aware, I have blogged and posted extensively about gender ratio at conferences and in particular at conferences related to genomics.  And alas, many people running genomics related meetings seem incapable of organizing a meeting with a reasonable gender ratio.  Some of my past posts on this and related topics include

But of course, there are some meetings out there that do a good job in having speakers represent at least some aspects of the diversity of scientists.  I am for example proud of the 2012 Lake Arrowhead Small Genomes meeting I co-organized: Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomes Meeting 2012 Speaker Gender Ratio #LAMG12.  But I do not frequently write about meetings that are doing a good job with gender ratio and I am trying to also give props to such cases here.  And thus I was very pleased when I received an email telling me about the The Annual DOE JGI User Meeting.  From their web site here are the current confirmed speakers:


  • Annalee Newitz, io9 “How humans will survive a mass extinction”
  • Steve Quake, Stanford University “Single cell genomics”

Other confirmed speakers:

  • Martin Ackermann, ETH Zurich – “A single cell perspective on bacterial interactions”
  • Luke Alphey, Oxitec – “Genetic control of mosquitoes”
  • Mary Berbee, University of British Columbia – “Genomes of early-diverging fungi reveal evidence of enzymes for breakdown of plant cell walls”
  • David Berry, University of Vienna (Austria) – “Single cell isotope probing of microbes via Raman microspectroscopy: A new way of in situ functional analyses and cell sorting”
  • Nicole Dubilier, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology “Metagenomic and metaproteomic analyses of symbioses between bacteria and gutless marine worms”
  • Katrina Edwards, University of Southern California – “Genomics and proteomics of zeta proteobacteria”
  • Michael Fischbach, University of California, San Francisco -“A gene-to-molecule approach to the discovery and characterization of natural products”
  • Phil McClean, North Dakota State University -“Uncovering signatures of domestication using genomic resequencing and association mapping”
  • June Medford, Colorado State University -“Making better plants: synthetic approaches in plant engineering”
  • Maria Mercedes Roca, Zamorano University (Honduras) -“Synthetic biology & bioenergy: helping the good guys and stopping the bad”
  • Anne Osbourn, John Innes Centre -“Plant specialized Metabolites – Synthesis, function and mechanisms of metabolic diversification”
  • Pamela Ronald, UC Davis – “Whole genome sequencing of rice mutants to identify genes controlling response to strss and cell wall saccharification”
  • Steve Rounsley, Dow Agrosciences – “Cassava genomics – applying genomic technologies to benefit smallholder farmers in Africa.”
  • Kankshita Swaminathan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign – “Genome biology of Miscanthus”
  • Rytas Vilgalys, Duke University -“Understanding the forest microbiome: a fungal perspective”
  • Dan Voytas, University of Minnesota – “Precise engineering of genomes with sequence-specific nucleases”
So that is a ratio of 9:9 male to female and a ratio of 1:1 for keynote speakers.  Good to see.  Now if only everyone else would do this.  In contrast to DOE-JGI consider the recent BGI organized meeting  “The 8th International Conference on Genomics” that was at the end of October in 2013.  By browsing through the interactive list of Speakers and their Agenda I come up with the following:
Keynote talks: Male 2: Female 0
Session Chairs Male 15: Female 4
Any role:  96 male: 17 female

Pretty painful.  It is even more painful to me to look at the whole list.  The full list with people I have classified as men highlighted in yellow and women in green.  Just look at the overrepresentation of yellow. 

Opening Remarks

  • Jun Wang, BGI
  • Huanming Yang, BGI

Keynote Speech

  • Technologies for Reading, Writing & Interpreting Omes –George Church, Harvard Medical School

Plenary Session 1: Emerging Technology Innovation

  • Chairman: Radoje Drmanac, Complete Genomics
  • Advanced Diploid Genome Sequencing Using Long Fragment Read Technology Radoje Drmanac, Complete Genomics
  • The Application of SmartChip on Target Region Capture Sequencing Hui Jiang, BGI
  • What Happens When Sequencing Becomes Really Cheap, Really Easy, and Really Fast Stefan Roever, Genia Technologies
  • Ion Torrent Semiconductor Technology – Targeted & Exome Sequencing Made Simple Andy Felton, Life Technologies

Plenary Session 2: Human Genome Projects and Big Data Management

  • Chairman: Stephan Beck, UCL Cancer Institute
  • TBC George Church, Harvard Medical School
  • Genomic Medicine in China and HVP-China Database Ming Qi, BGI
  • Population Genomics: Pan Asia Population Genomics Initiative and Korean Personal Genome Project Jong Bhak, Genome Research Foundation/Personal Genomics Institute
  • Gene Discovery and Data Sharing in Genome Wide Association Analyses: Lessons Form AIDS Genetic Restriction Genes Steve O’Brien, St. Petersburg State University
  • Systems Thinking in Clinical Genomics: a Requirements Perspective Sanjay Joshi, EMC

Plenary Session 3: Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding Open-source Genomics, a New Model of Scientific Research

  • Chairman: Scott Edmunds, GigaScience
  • uBiome-Sequencing the Human Microbiome Using Citizen Science Zachary Apte, uBiome
  • Crowdsourcing Analyses of the Emergent Pathogen Ash Dieback Dan MacLean, The Sainsbury Laboratory
  • Parrots of the Caribbean: from One Genome to an Evolutionary Model of Island Evolution Taras Oleksyk, University of Puerto Rico
  • TBC Jacob Shiach, Brightwork CoResearch

Keynote Speech

  • The Omics World: To Explore the Unexplorable – Personalized Health will Depend on Your Gut Flora Jun Wang, BGI

Session 4: Clinical Transomics

  • Chairman: Vince Gao, BGI
  • Clinical Transomics Approaches for 4 P Medicine Vince Gao, BGI
  • Insights Into The Lethal Phenotype of Prostate Cancer Colin Collins, Vancouver Prostate Centre
  • Metabonomics in Clinical Research Jia Li, Imperial College London
  • The Ultimate Genetic Test: Accurate and Affordable WGS for Advanced Reproductive Health and Genomic Healthcare Radoje Drmanac, Complete Genomics

Session 5: Newborn and Reproductive Health

  • Chairman: Yutao Du, BGI
  • Pre- and Postimplantation Aneuploidy Testing in Germany Tina Buchholz, Centre for Reproductive Genetics
  • Metabolomics in Newborn Health: Newborn Screening for the Identification of Metabolic Disorders of Inborn Errors of Metablism (IEM) Enzo Ranieri, SA Neonatal Screening Centre
  • The Application of Molecular Biological Technologies in Prenatal Diagnosis Tze Kin LAU, The Chinese Fetal Medicine Foundation
  • NGS Technology in Clinical Genetic Practice in India – Successes and Pitfalls Ishwar Verma, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

Session 6: Animal Genomics

  • Chairman: Robin Gasser, University of Melbourne
  • The Genomics of Socioeconomically Important Parasites – Recent Breakthroughs and Prospects Robin Gasser, University of Melbourne
  • Strategies for de novo Assembling Complex Genomes Xiaodong Fang, BGI
  • Poultry Genomics: Current Status and Future Trends from Next Generation Sequencing David W. Burt, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh
  • Genomics and Genetic Design of Pigs Lars Bolund, Aarhus University
  • Mining Important Agronomic Trait Genes by Evolutionary Genomics Wen Wang, Kunming Institute of Zoology, CAS

Session 7: Crop Genomics

  • Chairman: Yong Pyo Lim, Chungnam National University
  • Genetics to Genomics : Dissecting Brassica Genome for Applied Breeding Yong Pyo Lim, Chungnam National University
  • The Draft Aegilops tauschii Genome Sequencing and Its Application in Wheat Gene discovery and Breeding Jizeng Jia, Crop Science Research Institute, CAAS
  • Dynamic Changes of Rice Transcriptome Revealed by Large-scale RNA-seq Analysis Takeshi Itoh, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences
  • New Trends in RNA Sequencing and the Emerging Impact on Crop Genomics David L. Delano, Illumina
  • Whole Genome Molecular Marker Assisted Selection—from Concepts to Application Gengyun Zhang, BGI
  • Next Generation Genomics for Hexaploid Wheat Mario Caccamo, The Genome Analysis Centre
  • Using Genetics to Protecting the World’s Cereal Crops from the Rust Diseases Robert Park, The University of Sydney Plant Breeding Institute
  • Enabling Complete Transcriptome Sequencing with SENSE and SQUARE RNA-Seq. Alexander Seitz, Lexogen GmbH

Session 8: Disease Genomics-1

  • Chairman: Lennart Hammarstrom, Karolinska Institute
  • Genetic Analysis of Major Depression in 10,000 Chinese Women Using Low Pass Sequencing Data Jonathan Flint, Wellcome Trust Centre For Human Genetics
  • Integrated Systems Analysis of Schizophrenia Murray Cairns, University of Newcastle
  • Using Gene Expression Data to Help Identify Causal Genes in Inherited Disorders and Its Application to Brain Disorders Melanie Bahlo, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
  • New Functional Genomics Strategies to Find Conserved Regulators of Disease Greg Neely, Garvan Institute

Session 9: Disease Genomics-2

  • Chairman: Jonathan Flint, Wellcome Trust Centre For Human Genetics
  • Genetics of Early Onset Myasthenia Gravis Lennart Hammarstrom, Karolinska Institute
  • Frequent Observation of Human Betaretrovirus proviral Integrations in Autoimmune Liver Disease Gane Ka-Shu Wong, University of Alberta
  • Experience with Cardiogenetics Jumana Yousif Adeeb Al-Aama, King Abdulaziz University
  • Application of Second Generation Sequencing to Transplantation Rejection Arena Brendan Keating, University of Pennsylvania / Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • The Future of Genome Medicine in Patient Care Hakon Hakonarson, University of Pennsylvania / Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

WS1: Science and Society – An Open Discussion on Burning Issues

  • Chairman: Frederick Dubee, United Nations Global Compact; Atsun Guo, BGI
  • TBC Frederick Dubee, United Nations Global Compact
  • TBC Laurie Goodman, GigaScience
  • Ethical Issues Raised by Synthetic Biology Ruipeng Lei, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
  • Genomics and Human Dignity Xinyu Cheng, Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Questions and Answers

  • Atsun Guo, BGI

Session 10: Marine Genomics

  • Chairman: B. Venkatesh, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A-STAR
  • Evolutionary History of the Early Branching Lineage of Vertebrates B. Venkatesh, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A-STAR
  • Whole Genome Sequencing, Assembly, and Annotation of Odontesthes Bonariensis (Pejerrey), a Fish with Temperature-dependent Sex Determination Guillermo Orti, George Washington University
  • How Did Ultrarapid Evolution Remodel the Chordate Genome in the Tunicate Branch Daniel Chourrout, Sars International Centre
  • Turtle also Follows the General Formulation of Embryonic Evolution Naoki Irie, University of Tokyo

Session 11: Personal Genome

  • Chairman: Cliff Reid, Complete Genomics
  • IntroductionCliff Reid, Complete Genomics
  • Personal Genomes, from Beginning to Today Dietrich Stephan, SVBio and Navigenics
  • Interpreting Genomes at Scale for Clinical Relevance Martin Reese, Omicia, Inc.
  • TBC Hai Mi, SB China Venture Capital Limited
  • TBC Brian Gu, JP Morgan

Session 12: Cancer Research-1

  • Chairman: Colin Collins, Vancouver Prostate Centre
  • The Challenges and Promises of Cancer Research: Lessons from the Laboratory Yuzhuo Wang, Vancouver Prostate Centre, BC Cancer Agency
  • Cancer Transcriptome Sequencing Tatsuhiro Shibata, Division of Cancer Genomics, National Cancer Center
  • Whole Genome Sequencing Analysis of Liver Cancer, Forwarding to Personalized Cancer Medicine Hidewaki Nakagawa, RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine
  • Identification of PCDHB3 as a Potential Tumor Suppressor Gene in Colorectal Cancer by Exome Sequencing: A Highthroughput Sequencing Study Wenlin Huang, Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center
  • Biomarkers and Personalised Cancer Treatment — Clinical Validation and Application of ALK Fusion Testing in NSCLC Shuwen Huang, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Session 13: Genomic Evolution and Biodiversity

  • Chairman: Guojie Zhang, BGI
  • Comparative Genomics of Climate Change Adaptation Among Drosophila Species John Oakeshott, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
  • Artiodactyl Genome Evolution Harris A. Lewin, University of California, Davis
  • The Making of Differences Between Fins and Limbs: Developmental Aspects of Fin-to-limb Transition Koji Tamura,Tohoku University
  • Building the Link Between Micro-evolution and Macro-evolution -Lesson from Avian Phylogenomic Study Guojie Zhang, BGI
  • Genomic Hotspots of Adaptation- Reshuffling of Modular Enhancers Underlies Phenotypic Change in Heliconius Butterflies Owen McMillan, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • Sequencing Virus Population, Divergence and Evolution Hui Wang, Centre For Ecology & Hydrology
  • Genomic Revolution in Inset Phylogeny and Biodiversity Studies Xin Zhou, BGI

Session 14: Open Platforms for Biological Data

  • Chairman: Peter Li, GigaScience
  • Using Galaxy for Metabolomics Robert Davidson, Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), Birmingham University
  • The IRRI Genotyping Service Laboratory Galaxy: Bioinformatics for Rice Scientists Ramil Mauleon, International Rice Research Institute
  • DNA Barcoding Illuminates Dark Taxa and Advances Turbo Taxonomy Robert Hanner, University of Guelph/Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
  • A new standard for eukaryotic species description, combining transcriptomic, DNA barcoding, and micro-CT imaging data Pavel Stoev, Pensoft Publishers Ltd.

Session 15: Informatics for Genomic Medicine

  • Genomic Medicine Pauline Ng, Genome Institute of Singapore
  • Research Data Management and Analysis as a Service : Experiences in building Globus Genomics Ravi K Madduri, Argonne National Laboratory Computation Institute, University of Chicago
  • Making a Definitive Diagnosis: On the Path to Realizing the Promise of Genomic Medicine Elizabeth Worthey, Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Genomic Medicine and beyond in IBM Takahiko Koyama, IBM

Session 16: Cancer Research-2

  • Chairman: Qiang Pan Hammarstrom, Karolinska Institute
  • Genetic Identification of Key Pathways in Lung Adenocarcinoma Metastasis Qiang Pan Hammarstrom, Karolinska Institute
  • Probing the Cancer Methylome Stephan Beck, UCL Cancer Institute
  • Making Sense of Cancer Genomes Steve Rozen, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore
  • An Integrative Genomics Study on Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma Sanghyuk Lee, Ewha Womans University
  • Multidiscilinary Role in Molecular/Genomic Diagnostics and Personalized Cancer Medicine Dongfeng Tan, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Session 17: Metagenomics and Health

  • Chairman: Karsten Kristiansen, University of Copenhagen
  • Establishment of the Human Gut Microbiota after Birth Karsten Kristiansen, University of Copenhagen
  • Gut Microbiota—Our ‘Other’ Genome Huijue Jia, BGI
  • Elucidating the Role of Human Gut Microbiota in Diseases: Metagenomics to the Rescue Manimozhiyan Arumugam, University of Copenhagen
  • Deep Metagenomic Sequencing of Multiple Ruminant Guts Reveals Species-specific Microbiomes Mick Watson, ARK-Genomics, Centre for Comparative & Functional Genomics
  • Our Second Genome, Environment and Allergy are Related Petri Auvinen, University of Helsinki

WS2: Human Genomic Data and Society

  • Chairman: Laurie Goodman, GigaScience
  • Translating Scientific Information to the Public Laurie Goodman, GigaScience
  • Genetic Counseling and Genetic Testing in the Genomics Era Thong Meow Keong, University of Malaya
  • Conflicting Open Access data Sharing and Patient Privacy in Genome Association- Can We Fix This Steve O’Brien, St. Petersburg State University
  • Family Genome Analysis When Privacy Issues Are Not A Concern Manuel Corpas, Norwich Research Park
  • Strategies for Engaging the Public on Personal Genetics Ting Wu, Harvard Medical School
I note – I was invited to the BGI meeting that was co-hosted by my own institution – UC Davis last year  – but I turned down the invitation due to the gender ratio of speakers on their preliminary list.  This was certainly awkward for me and who knows if it did some damage to how I am viewed by some people on campus.  But we as a community need to take stands on such issues.  Sure – there are many explanations for why a meeting might have a skewed ratio of genders in the speakers. But given that this is a persistent / consistent pattern at meetings organized by BGI – I think this is at the point where I would definitely recommend people stop paying to attend their meetings.  And I would not recommend speaking at their meetings either.  That is, until they make a serious commitment to doing something about their apparent bias against women.  I would even go so far as to say it is time to consider not working with BGI in any way until they address this issue.

UPDATE – 12:00 PM 1/26 – Here are some of my previous posts about BGI organized meetings

UPDATE 2: 12:30 PM 1/26
Somewhat hard to find information on their past meetings on the web because they use a static web site for the meetings some years but I was able to find some information on their sites:

Important new paper on impact of having women as conveners on gender ratio of speakers

There is an important new paper from Arturo Casadevall and  Jo Handelsman: mBiosphere: Scientific meetings: convening committees with at least one woman boost numbers of women speakers. It was published January 7, 2014 in the open access journal mBio. 

Their abstract

We investigated the hypothesis that the gender of conveners at scientific meetings influenced the gender distribution of invited speakers. Analysis of 460 symposia involving 1,845 speakers in two large meetings sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology revealed that having at least one woman member of the convening team correlated with a significantly higher proportion of invited female speakers and reduced the likelihood of an all-male symposium roster. Our results suggest that inclusion of more women as conveners may increase the proportion of women among invited speakers at scientific meetings. 

IMPORTANCE The proportion of women entering scientific careers has increased substantially, but women remain underrepresented in academic ranks. Participation in meetings as a speaker is a factor of great importance for academic advancement. We found that having a woman as a convener greatly increased women’s participation in symposia, suggesting that one mechanism for achieving gender balance at scientific meetings is to involve more women as conveners.

Basically they conclude that having women serve as conveners for sessions and meetings increases the chance that women will be well represented as speakers.

Much of their key findings are shown in Figure 1

From their paper:  FIG 1  Proportion of women speakers as a function of convener gender composition for the years 2011, 2012, and 2013 at the GM and ICAAC meeting. All comparisons were significant at P < 0.05 by Student’s t test

What to do about this? They have some suggestions at the end of the paper

Whatever the mechanism driving the results, practical actions are suggested by the data. The results suggest that an experiment in which at least one woman is included in every team of conveners might increase the proportional representation of women among the speakers at ASM meetings. An alternative might be to explicitly charge conveners with finding speakers who reflect the diversity of microbiologists. These strategies are worth testing. In the process, we might find that our meetings draw on a fuller arc of talent in microbiology and are enriched by increased gender balance. 

This study suggests a simple mechanism for increasing women’s participation in a critical part of a scientific life. Further research should determine whether discriminatory behaviors contribute to the outcomes and whether the outcomes contribute to the loss of women from academic science.

Some press for this article

Some other things I have written about gender ratio in meetings:

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

PBS Digital Studios Offensive Thanksgiving Special includes Einstein sexually assaulting Marie Curie

Wow.  I just do not know even what to say here really.  My Facebook feed is filling up with discussion about this video “A Very Special Thanksgiving Special | It’s Okay to be Smart” from PBS Digital Studios and I thought it would be important to share this with a wider audience.

The video includes scenes like the following:

Marie Curie is the only female scientist represented who says “It was very nice to be included”.

Later there is a scene of Einstein harassing Marie Curie.

Which ends with Einstein telling Marie Curie he wants her to “wear him like a Parka”

Einstein gets spontaneously naked at the party.
And then Einstein “accidentally” falls on Marie Curie and starts to sexually assault her.

Funny isn’t it?  Really funny no?

What a fu#*@ disgrace from PBS.  They should be ashamed.

UPDATE 11/16/13 9:45 AM

I just wanted to note one extra thing here.  I think this would be offensive no matter what female scientist was used as a character.  But it was extra painful to me that this had Marie Curie in it.  As a child I had one major hero – Marie Curie (yes, I was a bit of a geek – but my mom is a physical chemist so Curie appealed to me in many ways).  Every time there was an assignment to write about a historical figure or a famous person, I wrote about her.  So when I was in Paris for the first time last week I was very excited to go near places associated with Marie Curie.

So this AM, after posting about this awful video,  I went in to my box of old papers and found some of those things I wrote about Marie Curie when I was in elementary and junior high school and I scanned them in.

Here are some of them:


Whole Booklet About Marie Curie

Essay Rough Draft

Notes for one essay

UPDATE 2: 11/17/13 4:52 AM: I made a Storify of some of the discussions of this post.

UPDATE 3: 11/17/13 5:20 AM Producer of the video has issued an apology / explanation.

UPDATE 4: 11/19/13 4:22 PM PBS Responds

The Ombudsperson for PBS has posted some comments about this here.  A key section:

What astounds me is that, while risk-taking is often to be applauded, this depiction of Einstein and Curie is so not funny, so off-the-wall, so not likely to be understood yet virtually guaranteed to anger a huge segment of a viewing audience for no good reason that one wonders how it was decided to show it. On the other hand, in an era where clicks count the most, maybe it is not so dumb.

He also posts what is supposedly an official PBS Response:

Joe Hanson issued a sincere apology on his blog, which is the channel he chose to discuss this issue. It included a detailed explanation of how the video was created, what he was trying to accomplish and the statement, “this video makes a joke to call attention to the sexual harassment that many women still today experience, often from wannabe Einsteins. The joke is uncomfortable because these issues are uncomfortable. To be very clear: that joke is not an endorsement of sexism in science. We aimed to ridicule miscues of science in society, past and present, using dolls, and we failed.” 

He also asks in the post that people form their opinions based on his past videos and writings, such as the video from the previous week, where he examines the fact that the vast majority of Nobel prize winners have been white men and criticizes women’s “Nobel snubbing” as a “symptom of a larger problem,” that “women are under-represented in science in general.” 

There have been a number of comments about “A Very Special Thanksgiving Special” since it debuted that have ranged from critical to laudatory. With this video, Joe has opened up an important, though difficult, debate. We believe we are meeting our public service mission by providing an open forum where this and other conversations about complex subjects can take place.

Are you fu$*## kidding me?  “With this video, Joe has opened up an important, though difficult, debate.”  Are they serious?  Joe opened up an important debate?  By posting an offensive video?  Seriously?  I mean – I have avoided ANY types of personal comments about the people behind this video.  But this response by PBS is awful, condescending, misleading, and, well pathetic.  What a joke.

UPDATE 5 11/21/13 1 AM The producer of the video has removed it from Youtube with the following comments:

I have decided to remove “A Very Special Thanksgiving Special” from the It’s Okay to Be Smart channel. We failed in using satire to shine some light on the problem of women’s under-representation in science and the on-going disrespect and harassment women face in the field. I hope it is clear that I never set out to offend anyone. Harassment is real and unacceptable — I never meant for my work to indicate anything other than that. I am looking forward to continuing what has always been my mission for It’s Okay To Be Smart: Inspiring people – all people – to learn about the beauty and wonder of science

Lovely – Entangled Bank conference not only only includes men, but has obnoxious FAQ about doing that

Just got pointed to this: These men would like you to kindly shut up about gendered conferences | Feminist Philosophers.  It discusses a painful example of Gender Bias associated with Science conferences.  In this example a charity “or, a supposed charity” is organizing a meeting featuring only male speakers.  And they included a FAQ on the meeting website to explain why there were only men:

Wow.  That is just horrendous.

More about this is available now on Jezebel.

Note – the same group organized another meeting also with only male speakers.

Nice show on KQED on Inspiring Girls and Women to Code #Diversity #STEM

Listened to a nice show on KQED this AM on my bike ride in to work (note – I listen with one earplug in, and one ear free to hear the world around me, and I listed on relatively low volume …).  We still need to do so much to make STEM fields and related fields more diverse …

Inspiring Girls and Women to Code: