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Women, academia, science

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More women on selection committees ‘may reduce chances of success’ for female academics. Oxford University to appoint first female vice-chancellor. The University of Oxford is to appoint its first female vice-chancellor since its records began nearly 800 years ago, after Prof Louise Richardson was nominated for the university’s most senior office.

Oxford University to appoint first female vice-chancellor

Richardson, currently the principal and vice-chancellor of St Andrews University, is an expert on the growth of terrorist movements. She held a succession of high-profile positions at Harvard until she was appointed to lead St Andrews in 2009. Editor’s note. The unseen women scientists behind Tim Hunt’s Nobel prize. This week, Professor Tim Hunt shocked the scientific community, and pretty much everyone else, with his outrageous comments about his “trouble with girls” and his backwards endorsement of gender-segregated laboratories, which are apparently needed because women are impossibly attracted to him.

The unseen women scientists behind Tim Hunt’s Nobel prize

Understandably, commenters have slammed both his sexist comments and his apology. But the most important people in the story have been drowned out: the women scientists who are living proof of just how wrong Hunt is. The field Hunt partly created, as well as his own scientific career, have both flourished due to his intellectual collaborations with women, as well as countless other academic partnerships between men and women, notably in the lab of Sir Paul Nurse. Infographic: 133 university leaders, 20 women. As things stand, only 20 of the UK’s 133 universities will be led by women from September.

Infographic: 133 university leaders, 20 women

The University of Derby recently announced that Kathryn Mitchell is to succeed John Coyne as vice-chancellor of the University of Derby, briefly bringing the total to 21, before Leeds Beckett University revealed that Peter Slee, currently deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, will succeed Susan Price when she retires at the end of August. The Royal Society's lost women scientists. In December 1788, the astronomer royal, Dr Nevil Maskelyne FRS, wrote effusively to 38-year-old Caroline Herschel congratulating her on being the "first women in the history of the world" to discover not one, but two new comets.

The Royal Society's lost women scientists

The "Lost Women": science popularizers and communicators of the 19th century : bioephemera. Today’s Guardian has a very interesting (though long) article by Richard Holmes, author of The Age of Wonder , about the unsung women of science.

The "Lost Women": science popularizers and communicators of the 19th century : bioephemera

In the Guardian piece, Holmes shares some of his research for his forthcoming book, The Lost Women of Victorian Science: [M]y re-examination of the Royal Society archives during this 350th birthday year has thrown new and unexpected light on the lost women of science. I have tracked down a series of letters, documents and rare publications that begin to fit together to suggest a very different network of support and understanding between the sexes. It emerges that women had a far more fruitful, if sometimes conflicted, relationship with the Royal Society than has previously been supposed. Six Ways to Keep Women in Science. First the good news: More women are getting Ph.D.s than men, capping a decades-long march toward parity.

Six Ways to Keep Women in Science

And it's not just in the humanities and social sciences. They also outnumber their male colleagues in the biological and health sciences. But the bad news is that they're less likely to enter and remain in scientific careers. Beyond the doctoral level, the ratio of women to men starts to dip below one. A new report tries to explain why that's happening. But back to the good news: A panel of scientists who discussed the report yesterday in Washington, D.C., offered some advice about how women could improve their career prospects. Search for a mentor. Boat Race becomes 'the Boat Races' as women and men's university events are combined for 2015.

Some reasons gendered science kits may be counterproductive. We want kids to explore science and get excited about learning (and doing) it.

Some reasons gendered science kits may be counterproductive.

Given that kids learn so much through play, rather than just by trying to sit still at a desk and to pay attention to a teacher who may or may not convey enthusiasm about science, you’d think that science kits marketed as “play” would be a good thing. Women: want to become a writer, artist or academic? Don't bother. Leo Tolstoy: what David Gilmour calls a 'real guy-guy'.

Women: want to become a writer, artist or academic? Don't bother

Photograph: Keystone/Getty Images It's been a bad week for sexism. Women in science: A new study on how male professors discriminate against women in scientific labs. Photo by Andrei Malov/Thinkstock A few years ago, Jason Sheltzer and Joan Smith were at a dinner party, chatting with a physics graduate student.

Women in science: A new study on how male professors discriminate against women in scientific labs.

When she offhandedly mentioned that she was the first female student her adviser had graduated in 20 years, they were appalled. “We thought that that was amazing,” Sheltzer told me. “Twenty years without a single woman!” So Sheltzer, a biology graduate student, and Smith, a software engineer at Twitter, decided to take a more comprehensive look at the gender balance of American science labs to see if the physics student was part of a wider trend.

The finding isolates just one stage in what researchers call “the leaky pipeline problem”: Though women are well-represented in undergraduate science courses, fewer and fewer women appear at each subsequent level of study. Why are the media so obsessed with female scientists' appearance? The Observer has an interview with Susan Greenfield this weekend.

Why are the media so obsessed with female scientists' appearance?

There are lots of questions it might prompt. Why, for example, has she still not answered Dorothy Bishop’s 2011 question about cause preceding effect when it comes to comments about autism, ADHD and internet use? Is the climate change analogy really all that helpful? Or why are scientists who claim to “march to the beat of their own drum” always a bit annoying? Women scientists take to their soapboxes on London's South Bank. On Sunday, London’s South Bank will be flooded with scientists: quantum physicists, large carnivore experts, cancer researchers, climate scientists … They will all be wearing the stereotypical scientist’s lab coat, but only so you can spot them in the crowds – because these scientists won’t look like your "typical" scientist. They won’t have shaggy grey beards, sock-clad sandalled feet or Einstein-esque hair. In fact, they will be so normal-looking you’d probably swear you’d seen them the other day in the park, at the cinema, or perhaps on the school run.

They won't be some new breed of scientist. They will just be women. Soapbox Science takes some of Britain’s top female scientists and puts them on upturned crates on busy urban streets to share their passion with the public. We agree.