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Of men, women and chimpanzees June 14, 2009

Posted by Sarah in politics, science, women.
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Holy bananas I got a Hubble fellowship!

Dr. Smith was ectstatic he'd been shortlisted for a fellowship

Last week I listened to an excellent podcast at Slate.com on how to get more women into science. I can’t find the podcast anymore but the transcript is here, with lots of interesting links. In it, Ray Fisman reports results of a study into academic achievement in maths and science at the US Air Force Academy. The study found that replacing male instructors with a female one has a dramatic impact on the performance of the female students in the class, bringing it level with that of the men. Specifically,

women on average obtain scores that are 0.15 grade points lower (half the difference between an A and an A-) than their male classmates, even after accounting for students’ SAT scores. The gap in performance was widest for women taught by men. When a female instructor was put at the front of the classroom, nearly two-thirds of the grade point gender gap evaporated.

Bottom line: hire more women. (more…)

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Gender bias in peer-review: the final word? June 1, 2009

Posted by Sarah in politics, science, women.
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It’s a much-quoted argument by advocates of “equal opportunities” in science that scientific papers written by female authors are consistently ranked lower in peer review than those of their male colleagues. Indeed, several studies (Bornmann et al, 2007; Budden et al., 2008; not exclusively in physics & astronomy) have appeared to indicate that women authors don’t fare as well in peer review, be it for papers, grant applications or fellowship proposals. It’s a popular topic of discussion in the “Women in Science” circles as a clear-cut, proven area where discrimination on the basis of gender takes place. (more…)

Ada Lovelace, Girl Geek #1 March 24, 2009

Posted by Sarah in science, women.
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Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day to celebrate women in in IT and technology. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was Lord Byron’s daughter – yes, that Lord Byron – and she was a truly exceptional woman. In a time when it was unusual, if not frowned on, for a woman to be involved in any serious intellectual pursuits, Lovelace was one of the first people in the world to see the potential of computers and write computer programs. And this all before Charles Babbage even built his “computer engine”.

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Watch Men save the planet March 17, 2009

Posted by Sarah in random, women.
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I saw the film Watchmen last week, the adaption of a classic in the graphic novel genre with the same title by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It’s pretty enjoyable, especially if you’re in the mood for some great visual effects and gore. Lots of blood and bone-crunching. I’ve never been a big comic or graphic novel fan but I decided to read the book and in fact it’s really good! The drawings are beautiful and the writing is very imaginative with lots of depth. So if you want to know what the hype is all about but aren’t a fan of severed limbs and arteries then I recommend the book. I do want to say something about the female characters though.

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Celebrate the XX March 10, 2009

Posted by Sarah in science, women.
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Yesterday, 8 March, was International Women’s Day. I hope many of you enjoyed and celebrated it. A ton of events took place yesterday and throughout the month of March, check out the official website for information.

As it’s also International Year of Astronomy, IWD marked the launch date of one of the IYA’s cornerstone project, She is an Astronomer. The project aims to bring female astronomers into the spotlight, encourage more girls and women to get involved in astronomy, and to remove misconceptions about gender in this great science.

An extra special shout out to fellow women astronomy and space bloggers, Amanda, Nicole, Emily, Pamela, all the women blogging in Cosmic Diary and Cosmic Variance and all the women scientists out there on the internet. And check out an exciting new blog carnival on Diversity in Science.

 


Image credit: IYA2009/She is an astronomer