Tag Archives: women

Black and Latina Women in STEM Mistaken for Secretaries or Janitors

 Source: http://mic.com/articles/120138/one-chart-shows-just-how-many-black-and-latina-women-in-stem-are-mistaken-for-janitors?utm_source=policymicTBLR&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=social 

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Women scientists in history

A scary timeline of female education: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_female_education

And some of the very few women scientists in the otherwise enlightened Europe:

Beatriz Galindo (1465?-1534), Spanish Latinist, writer, humanist and teacher of Queen Isabella of Castille and her children http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatriz_Galindo

Juliana Morell (16 February 1594 – 26 June 1653) Spanish nun, first woman to receive a Doctor of Laws degree http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juliana_Morell

Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (1646 – 1684)Venetian philosopher who also studied mathematics, first woman to receive a doctoral degree from a university (Padua) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elena_Cornaro_Piscopia

Laura Maria Caterina Bassi (1711 – 1778): the first woman in the world to earn a university chair in a scientific field of studies. The third woman to receive a PhD from a European university (Bologna, 1732). The first woman to earn an official teaching position, and the first female physics professor at a European university. In 1776, at the age of 65, Bassi was appointed to the chair in experimental physics by the Bologna Institute of Sciences, with her husband as a teaching assistant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Bassi

Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718 – 1799). First woman to write a mathematics handbook and the first woman appointed as a Mathematics Professor at a University http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Gaetana_Agnesi

Stefania Wolicka (1851 – after 1895) – polish historian. Not a mathematician, but the first woman to earn a PhD in the modern era http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefania_Wolicka
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Irish universities’ gender gap: even worse than in the whole UK

“New data from the Higher Education Authority reveals that women are massively under-represented in senior academic positions across virtually all of the country’s third-level institutions.

The figures, gathered late last year, show that in the country’s top universities between just 14% and 20% of professorships are held by women.

It is the first time the HEA has published a detailed breakdown of the gender gap at senior levels in the sector.”

Read more here http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/1203/664255-academic-posts/

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Sexist or not sexist? The debate about academic science

Not sexist:
“Academic science isn’t sexist” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/opinion/sunday/academic-science-isnt-sexist.html?_r=1

Sexist:
“Science isn’t the problem, scientists are” https://chroniclevitae.com/news/804-science-isn-t-the-problem-scientists-are
The “Everyday Sexism in STEM” blog: http://stemfeminist.com/

If you read this, please, add more links and your opinions in the comments!

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Why do (male) academics dress badly, and what about the women?

When I first began to move to and fro between the Social Studies and Maths and Computer Science buildings on campus, and attending various events in both (and occasionally in the hyper-fashionable Arts Faculty), I couldn’t help but notice a relieving and liberating feature of departmental life which is rather different in those different departments: fashion. Going to Maths suddenly meant I was suddenly among others who seemed to think it was ok to wear whatever they are comfortable in. It has also been nice to not have to notice what my interlocutor is wearing (or feeling obliged to pass the usual compliments about their cool new jumper or dress, or feeling rude when forgetting to do so). Fieldwork didn’t quite change the way I myself dressed – but it did made me more likely to wear the more comfortable clothes more often, compared to the slightly more complicated outfits.

However, the interesting point here is that this is a warning sign to never take my own fieldwork judgements at face value. I am clearly in the minority with my reduced appreciation or understanding of fashion, and as anything unreflected, this might cause problems.  I have since come across a number of articles (in newspapers, so far no serious research) bemoaning the state of academic dress and comparing (unfavourably for the sciences) across departments (like this recent one  by Jonathan Wolff in the Guardian), or this one expressing sheer personal anxiety about what to wear at a large anthropology conference by Carole McGranahan et al. There are also advice articles to women working in academia by Francesca Stavrakopoulou. The author refuses “to wear the male uniform” because:

“… a male academic can afford to look scruffy if he chooses: no one will question his intellectual or professional authority. Male academics who wear jeans, hoodies and t-shirts are “lads” to their students, and “good blokes” to their colleagues. Older men who wear scuffed shoes and a fraying tweed jacket, accidentally accessorized with a splodge of egg yolk down their tie, are “eccentric” or “distractedly intellectual”.  But a female academic who looks similarly casual, or scruffy, or unkempt, risks becoming the target of a range of sexist assumptions: she must be a student, or a mother distracted from the job by childcare, or a woman too old to need to bother about her appearance.”

I have to say, I have often been mistaken for a student. But it never occurred to me to think of this as a bad thing, because, well, I do look and feel like one. And because looking like a student is less effort, ergo it leaves more spare energy for work – just like Jonathan Wolff writes, “There we have it. Academics dress badly because we are so fulfilled in our work.” I actually think we are all students of our subjects, although perhaps others prefer to call themselves “academics”. It is helpful for getting to things for free, too, sometimes. Perhaps I’m not well suited to understand the fashion, or social science point of view of things, but as long as I remember that not everyone agrees with me and pay attention to the majority who don’t – for example, already several of my female interviewees in the mathematical sciences find fashion important and find it annoying that they aren’t “taken seriously” when dressed as they like –  it should be ok…

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The slaves-who-are-masters of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: an army of geeks and ‘coders’ shaping our future” (click on the title to read article)

A vivid, if somewhat sensationalist, description of Silicon Valley by a non-coder, highlightting a bunch of interesting issues – the historical importance of the computer revolution, power, the drive to innovation and its directions, gender, age, work ethics…

“An ad in the back of the main San José listings magazine reads: “Computer Systems Analyst, Sunnyvale, CA. Bachelor and five years experience required.” What is this place? […] for all we see and hear about the Valley’s gilded apps and networks, glimpses of the people behind them are rare. Who are they and what does the society they have made for themselves (the template for our own) look like by light of day?”

Andrew Smith, The Guardian, 11 May 2014

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Why there are so few women in tech…

Why are there so few women in technical professions? Are women bad at programming? Do they keep rejecting programming jobs? Do they fail to fit into the culture of tech companies? Actually, all of these reasons aren’t true.

Here’s a nice long (and depressing) article (don’t forget to read the comments, as well as this discussion thread)…

http://valleywag.gawker.com/this-is-why-there-arent-enough-women-in-tech-1221929631

 

What do women think? (some quotes from the article on valeeywag)

“They didn’t want us. Too many still don’t. –spence900

And…

“I no longer touch code because I couldn’t deal with the constant dismissing and undermining of even my most basic work by the “brogramming” gulag I worked for. And that started even when I was in school. I was the ONLY female in my university’s mid-level programming courses and even though I worked to hard to always be in the top 95% of the curve, if a pasty white guy with thin-rimmed glasses and a tee-shirt with an “ironic” phrase doubted me, I was wrong.

I spent my life around midWestern dudes and high school jocks, but there is no misogyny like silicon valley nerd misogynywhoa-disillusionment

And more…

“Dude, I have a Masters in CS, programming certifications, experience in mobile dev, and years of experience. I am also a woman, laid off in January. I have yet to find a job. I’m either too “senior” or “not senior enough.” Sight unseen I’m rejected many times.

I am not entry level so I can’t be one of the token hires to show that a company supports women in tech […]

Somehow women in tech may get the mascot entry level coding jobs, maybe, but there ARE some of us with experience that hit a block as soon as we are out of entry level and remain in tech, not switching to project management or marketing.

I’m quite often the finalist in interviews, never being hired. And their teams remain all dudes. I’m told I’m too senior when I apply down the experience chain. I still do it, because I need the regular gig. The truth is, most places where I live won’t hire women beyond entry level in development groups and if you are beyond that with experience managing dev groups even, with a Master’s degree even, forget it. Perhaps someone who does some html work or marketing, but not in the tech group. I’ll hit the nail on the head perhaps sooner or later, but it’s very ironic they like to say they are begging for talent. But they have to have a certain look. And not be over 35.

I was told to get more education, experience, etc, got it and even then, my progress up the chain had at least a 5-7 year lag to any dude with less education and experience. Why did I get a Master’s in CS, because I had to to prove things. Why did I get certifications? Why do I go the extra mile outside of work? Because on the face of it, a dude is given credit for just looking like a dude in tech. Even with these things, I just may be considered on par with a dude without them most of the time.

Not all places are sexist, not all upper leadership is sexist, but the places that aren’t are so few. […]

Fuck the whole tech business for telling Congress they cannot find talent so give them more H1-Bs. There are people like me out there and most of us are just not the ingenue anymore. I have to say, dudes are always surprised when, after forties, mid-forties, unless they are directors or VPs, they are not hot on the market anymore. It happens to dudes too, and often the most Libertarians of them are shocked when at fifty, they are laid off for just being old. It happened to a dude I know recently. That kind of thing they thought only happened to the unqualified or maybe whiny women or something […]

I do think it’s a load of crap when you see support for getting girls in tech, when there are women in tech. It’s the same crap – as long as you are entry level and no competition for jobs, then it’s okay. That is the case everywhere from Google to Etsy to most hip companies. Seriously, Etsy brags on bringing in da womenz to code. At entry level. Where older dudes can schoolz the womenz on being developers, women far away from threatening the dudes who have real power in their tech. Meanwhile, they had and have higher level jobs in tech that they claim they cannot get women to take – they interview and no woman they like will work for Etsy, so they HAVE to fill all with men. At some point, they just gave up (they wrote this to the public) and put effort into only entry level bringing the women in. I guess bringing them in at a higher level would be quite upsetting. Or just one into tech management. MMMM, how’s about hiring just ONE woman as a tech director from the outside or something, Etsy? Meanwhile they get pats on the back for having a caste system, essentially, institutionally put in place.

Ironically, it can be the older “conservative” businesses where it is less sexist and ageist. Ironically I tell you it’s many times the men older than 45 that have given me my best jobs – those chubby old graying dudes, not the biker, 10% body fat dudes. The hipsters, they are actually more sexist as a group. So you can take that as you will. –ReadyReady

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Why do we (still) need to know more about female scientists?

Seemingly progressive posts such as “Eight women scientists that you need to know about” make my blood boil with anger. True, I had only heard about four of these eight scientists. You should read the article, it’s short, informative, and thought-provoking, and has inspiring historic portraits of the scientists at work – pictures which would have made at least one male relative of theirs mutter “she should be in the kitchen, not in the lab”. Their life histories made for an enjoyable and useful read on a Monday morning (and yes, that counted as research reading, aren’t I lucky). But this article was also a grim reminder of the fact that feminism has frozen in the first mile of a double marathon towards gender equality.

Why do we need to know more about female scientists?

Because of articles like this – how about some more female scientists? Are there really only eight?! And how about trying to read an article about the 800 or more male scientists who have made awesome discoveries that we also need to know about – I’m sure there’s lots that we don’t know about them? But no, that would not make for a nice news item or facebook trending post take because it would take longer than a Monday morning coffee break to read.

Because women who succeed in doing what they like and are good at (scientists or others) are still newsworthy. WTF?! Surely, not the ones who excel in anything related to the home, food or childrearing, that’s not news – women are just naturally good at it, haha.

Because becoming a scientist is a hard thing, and being a woman unfortunately continues to create more invisible barriers to a successful practicing of science than being a man does.

Because, if you take ten minutes to read their bios on Wikipedia, you will notice that most of them were at some point excluded, denied recognition, or discriminated against on the basis of being women. Nothing to do with their research, that was OK – in fact, it was good enough for others to gain credit for it sometimes. WTF?!

Because yesterday, when I heard that some friends have recently had a baby, I instinctively asked “girl or boy?” even though I can’t think of even one reason why the answer to that question should make a difference. But of course it will. (Un)helpful statistics, stereotypes, expectations, images and key words describing the likely life course, appearance, occupation, interests and possible futures open to persons of the male and female genders spring to mind immediately upon determining the sex of a newborn. Will people still care about that when that baby is an adult and wants, for example, to work as an astronomer? I hope not, but I’m afraid that they will.

Oh, just one thing <clambers onto soap box again>. Wikipedia has a special entry on “Female scientists before the 21st Century”. It seems to suggest that it has become easy enough – or at least relatively easier – for women to be scientists in the past couple of decades than it was previously. And it has. But it has not become equally easy to men, and it has not become sufficiently easy. 

And then, intersectionality. Combine class, race, wealth, disability, sexual orientation, and a bunch of other things that also mess up with our futures, making sure that the most talented, hard-working or brilliant people don’t  have a better chance.

We’re still far from a time when a person’s gender will not be the first thing we notice about them. Yes, there are numerous exceptions – but the point is, we have gone far in promoting exceptions, but we have not yet managed to create a world that supports a regularity, a world in which the particular set of sexual organs, secondary sexual characteristics and learned behaviours have no bearing to how well someone does their job.

Now, off that soapbox and back to my research desk before I evaporate in a puff of angry steam.

8-female-scientists

P.S. Maria Mitchell – first American professional astronomer who was female. And another reason why Quakers are cool. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Mitchell

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Is there a life after grad school? The story of a Computer Science PhD

Here’s an interesting interview with PhD student in Die Zeit (my translation)

CAROLA DOERR, 29, gained her PhD from Saarland University and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics. 

A wrong decision

Will I wake up some day and just know it for sure? Do I want to work in science or in industry? This decision gave me stomach ache for a long time while I was doing my PhD. I had previously spent two years working for McKinsey who then funded my PhD. My topic was random algorithms. In addition, I held a post at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics [Computer Science] in Saarbrücken and a grant from Google. I never had to worry about money. But I asked myself: Which lifestyle is right for me? Which goes better with family?

After submitting my PhD, I first worked part time at McKinsey and the Max Planck Institute, because I still couldn’t make a decision. At some point, however, I realised that it would be difficult to reconcile the lifestyle of a consultant with my desire to have children. At the Max Planck Institute, already two colleagues had children. I asked the director how he assessed my chances for a permanent position in science. He was quite confident . These were three signals for me. Now I live in Paris and work at the Pierre-and-Marie-Curie-University. I have a permanent research job and I can decide freely how much teaching I want to do. My husband is a professor at another university in Paris. Our daughter is seven months old.

If you read German, here is the full article with five more stories by PhD students in other subjects:

http://www.zeit.de/campus/2014/02/promotion-doktoranden-angst-stress/seite-2

 

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