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STEM Women on G+
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Supporting the careers of Women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
We began this Page in 2012, to help the public to connect with women who work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). We want to create a safe place for people of all genders to discuss how we can work together to make STEM more inclusive.

The scientific literature has shown that there are inequalities between women and men in STEM. Denying that a problem exists is the single biggest obstacle in promoting gender equity in science. The way to move forward is to start off from the position that things are unequal; so what are we going to do about it? 

Many women eventually drop out of STEM fields because of organisational barriers to career progression, lack of career guidance and support, and family commitments. The same is not true for men who work in STEM. Although many women scientists successfully balance their careers and family responsibilities, there are still institutional obstacles for women in STEM. Having women role models and good mentors are powerful simulators for change.

Our Aims
  1. Make women in STEM more visible to the public, with a special focus on women scientists on Google+
  2. Promote careers for women in STEM
  3. Highlight issues of gender inequality
  4. Address solutions to improve women’s participation, inclusion, leadership and recognition in STEM.

Our Team

Our site and content managers are women who are actively work in the STEM fields;

Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe, Professor Rajini Rao, Dr Zuleyka Zevallos and Ms Liz Quily.


STEM Women on G+

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Here is a lovely write up of Nobel-prize winner by Rita Levi-Montalcini +Maria Stepanov Sommerfield.

Rita Levi-Montalcini, a remarkable women of science
Rita Levi-Montalcini was an Italian neurologist who, together with her colleague Stanley Cohen, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of nerve growth factor.  She was also an Italian Senator from 2001 till her death in 2012 at the age of 103!   

Rita was born in 1909 to a wealthy Italian-Jewish family in Turin.  She had a twin sister who became a popular artist and also lived a long life.  Her father did not want her to go to college since he believed it would disrupt her life as a wife and mother, but eventually he gave in and let her attend.  She decided to go to medical school after watching a friend die of stomach cancer.  Levi-Montalcini's years in medical school coincided with the rise of fascism in Italy and the imposition of anti-Semitic laws which limited her academic career. Once WWII broke out she built a laboratory in her bedroom to continue her research.  It was in this bedroom laboratory that she began to study the growth of nerve fibers in chicken embryos, which laid the groundwork  for her Nobel Prize-winning work on the mechanism of cell growth regulation.

After the Nazi invasion of Italy in 1943, she worked as a doctor in Allied war camps and after the end of the war, she moved to the U.S.   At the Washington University of St. Louis she discovered the nerve growth factor, a protein which regulates the growth of cells;  This discover was critical to the study of tumor growth and many other medical conditions.  It was for this work that she received the 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine.

If you want to read more about this remarkable lady of science check out her Wikipedia  page:

#Science   #STEM   #Womenofscience   #scienceeveryday   #sciencesunday  
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In The Spotlight, with Annika O'Brien

Starting in 20 minutes time, join us as we chat to +Annika O'Brien about her career as a roboticist! 
Join us for a STEM Women HOA as we speak to +Annika O'Brien on her career as a roboticist. Annika is an engineer who works on robotics and also a passionate STEM educator, teaching kids how to program and build robots through +STEAMtrax. She will talk to us about her exciting career path as a woman in STEM, what inspires her, and why supporting women in STEM is important. 

This HOA will be hosted by Dr +Buddhini Samarasinghe and Dr +Zuleyka Zevallos  and you can tune in on Sunday April 13th at 4.30 PM Central/ 10.30PM UK. The hangout will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel ( after the event.
This Hangout On Air is hosted by STEM Women on G+. The live video broadcast will begin soon.
In The Spotlight, With Annika O'Brien
Sun, April 13, 5:30 PM
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STEM Women on G+

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Reflections on the Past
One of our Managers, +Rajini Rao has written a beautiful piece on three pioneer women in STEM from three different parts of the world. There's a lovely reflection about the personal connection on this history and the present day.

How does this story resonate with you?

On The Shoulders of Giants

♀ A sepia print of an Indian woman, a Japanese woman and a woman from Syria, dated 1885. What do they have in common? Extraordinarily, each was the first licensed female medical doctor in their country of origin. They were trained at the Women's Medical College in Pennsylvania, the first of its kind in the country. This was a time before women had the right to vote. If they did attend college at all, it was at the risk of contracting "neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system” (according to Harvard gynecologist Edward H. Clarke). 

An all-woman medical school was first proposed in 1846, supported by the Quakers and the feminist movement. Dr. Ellwood Harvey, one of the early teaching faculty, daringly smuggled out a slave, Ann Maria Weems, dressed as a male buggy driver, from right outside the White House. With his reward money, he bought his students a  papier maché dissection mannequin. Eventually, poverty forced him to quit teaching, but he still helped out with odd jobs. What a magnificent man!  

Fate and fortune were to buffet Ms. Joshi's life. Married at age 9 to a man 11 years older, her husband turned out to be surprisingly progressive. After she lost her first child at age 14, she vowed to render to her "poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician". She was first offered a scholarship by a missionary on condition that she converted to Christianity. When she demurred, a wealthy socialite from New Jersey stepped in and financed her education. She is believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil. I didn't arrive until 1983 ;)

Times were tough then. The fate of these three intrepid pioneers was a sad one. Joshi died of tuberculosis in India at the age of 21, without ever practicing. Fittingly, her husband sent her ashes back to America. Islambouli was not heard of again, likely because she was never allowed to practice in her home country. Although Okami rose to the position of head of gynecology at a Tokyo hospital, she resigned two years later when the Emperor of Japan refused to meet her because she was a woman. 

Times have changed. My own mother was married at the age of 13 to a man also 11 years her senior. My father recalls helping my mother with her geography homework in high school. She never did attend college, despite being a charismatic woman with quicksilver wit and efficiency. Little wonder then, when I was accepted into graduate school in the US, unmarried and 21 years young, my parents staunchly stood behind me against the dire predictions of friends and relatives ("She'll come back with a yellow haired American!" "Haven't you read Cosmopolitan magazine? They are all perverts there!"). Happily, I escaped perversion, earned my doctoral degree and even gained a supportive spouse of my own. In 2004, I became only the 103rd woman to be promoted to Professor in the 111-year history of the Johns Hopkins medical school, and the first in my department, the oldest Physiology department in the country. If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants

#STEMwomen   #ScienceEveryday  

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Tech Women Activists Should Fund Themselves
The co-founders of the +Ada Initiative Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora, share their insights and interview other activists, on how to get funding for women's open source initiatives. Their advice:
*Be selective on who you approach for funding
*Stay away from large corporate sponsors (they're too conservative)
*Try small, privately companies (they take more chances)
*Seek crowd-funding: small donations from people passionate to your cause
*Offer paid membership, so people can support your cause
*Provide training & consulting to generate income
*Register as a not-for-profit

The article has more great information:

#stemwomen   #women   #technology   #opensource  ZZ
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Diversity Is an Important Conversation in Science
This is a great article that argues diversity issues should be a part of science discussions. In this case, it's about openly supporting LGBTQI scientists. We see similar arguments about discussing gender diversity in STEM. Some people think that by silencing conversations on inequality in STEM, they're doing STEM a favour - that way we can focus on the doing the science. But this denies the reality in which science is practised - and that reality is that markers of social difference are still used to exclude certain groups from fully participating in STEM.

Others may think that by not discussing issues of difference, that this will make us all equal. Claiming that one does not "see" difference does not negate experiences of discrimination and exclusion.

Instead, by shutting down conversations about gender, sexuality, race and other issues of diversity in STEM, individuals ensure that the status quo remains unchanged.

The fact is that a plethora of studies show that minorities, including LGBTQI people, face many obstacles in STEM. They're not only under-represented, they are told, in various ways, to stay invisible, to fly under the radar.

We should always remember that social change doesn't happen by ignoring problems.

HT +Christina Talbott-Clark  via +Slantist. #stemwomen   #lgbtqi   
"Perhaps the worst aspect of arguing that ‘only the science matters’ is that it undervalues all of us as individuals, LGBT or not," argues David Smith. "Scientists work in teams, and teams work best when they understand and support one another. Diverse scientists will have diverse ideas and approaches -- essential for cutting-edge research. And happy, fulfilled scientists will perform better. If we only care about the science, and not the people who do it, we won't achieve the best results. Nor should we be surprised if the public rejects science itself as elite and removed from the realities of life."
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I am hopeful that the recent critical mass of acceptance for gay rights will be beneficial to everyone, and women in STEM fields may be able to ride the wave of success in the LGBT community. But discrimination is not the only problem to be solved here. The entire geek culture is too alpha-male centric, and that needs to change before any lasting positive change can happen.
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How I Became a Computational Biologist

The path from differential topology to computational biology may be tortuous, but it will leave you smiling!

A touching and humorous reflection by Google+'s own Dr. +E.E. Giorgi

I’d set off wanting to do pure math, which is perfect and beautiful, yet “perfect and beautiful” does not apply to real life. That’s why you need statistics: it will never give you a definitive answer, but it can measure uncertainties. The smaller the uncertainty, the happier you are.

Dr Elena Giorgi is a postdoctoral fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, USA. She discusses science (genetics and epigenetics in particular), writing, and photography on her blog, CHIMERAS. She is also the author of the detective thriller CHIMERAS, a modern Philip Marlowe mystery with a premise deeply rooted in epigenetics.

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thank you +David Ratnasabapathy !! let me know what you think! :-)
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In The Spotlight, with Annika O'Brien

Starting in 20 minutes time, join us as we chat to +Annika O'Brien about her career as a roboticist! 
Join us for a STEM Women HOA as we speak to +Annika O'Brien on her career as a roboticist. Annika is an engineer who works on robotics and also a passionate STEM educator, teaching kids how to program and build robots through +STEAMtrax. She will talk to us about her exciting career path as a woman in STEM, what inspires her, and why supporting women in STEM is important. 

This HOA will be hosted by Dr +Buddhini Samarasinghe and Dr +Zuleyka Zevallos  and you can tune in on Sunday April 13th at 4.30 PM Central/ 10.30PM UK. The hangout will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel ( after the event.
This Hangout On Air is hosted by STEM Women on G+. The live video broadcast will begin soon.
In The Spotlight, With Annika O'Brien
Sun, April 13, 5:30 PM
Hangouts On Air

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Caroline Herschel, Astronomer

A tribute to a pioneering #StemWoman via +Jonah Miller . Blogger Becky Ferreira takes the TV series Cosmos to task for omitting to mention Caroline Herschel alongside her famous brother, William Herschel in the "A Sky Full of Ghosts" episode. For more on the personal life and work of Ms. Herschel, check out

Woman's Work

Caroline Herschel was an astronomer in the late 1700s and early 1800s.  She was known for her observations of nebulae, which at the time included comets, galaxies, what we now call nebulae, as they all appeared “fuzzy” in telescopic observations.  She discovered her first comet in 1796, and went on to discover seven more, which was a huge accomplishment at the time.  She was an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Irish Academy (women were not admitted as full members then), and was awarded the Gold Medal of Science by the King of Prussia.  She also did much of her work in the shadow of her brother William.

William Herschel is perhaps most famous for his discovery of Uranus, but this was really just a matter of chance.  William had no reason to suspect there was a planet beyond Saturn, and was not specifically looking for planets at the time.  His real interest was in deep sky objects, and this required careful observations with ever larger telescopes.  Of course this type of work is hard to do alone, which is where Caroline comes in.

Caroline began working with her brother as his housekeeper, but she had skill and interest as an astronomer, and eventually became her brother’s apprentice.  This meant she did much of the skilled tedious work such as grinding and polishing mirrors for William’s telescopes, and doing much of the record work for their observations.  The term “apprentice” doesn’t really match the work that Caroline did.

When William was away on business, Caroline continued with their observations on her own. She was only 4 foot 3, and most of the observations they made were on a 20 foot long telescope that had to be aligned by hand.  They also had a 40 foot telescope, that was particularly unwieldy and not entirely safe.  On one evening after a snowfall, Caroline slipped and fell against a supporting hook, which gouged her above the knee.  The doctor who treated her declared such an injury would put a soldier out of commission for weeks, but she was up and working again in days.

After William’s death, Caroline continued her work as an astronomer.  Toward the end of her life she compiled and catalogued all the discoveries she and her brother made. She presented the work to the Royal Astronomical Society.

At a time when women were often seen merely as the supporters of the work of men, Caroline distinguished herself as a partner in her brother’s more famous work and as astronomer in her own right.  Proving that astronomy is women’s work as well.

Paper:  Caroline Herschel, Account of the Discovery of a New Comet. In a Letter to Sir Joseph Banks
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 86, (1796), pp. 131-134.
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Sexism 101

What is Sexism & How Does it Work in STEM? The word “sexism” is often confused in everyday conversations because its used in different ways by different people, often removed from its scientific and legal definition. Sexism describes the ideology that one gender is superior to another. As sexism is a mental attitude, it is often taken for granted by individuals. Our attitudes are deeply ingrained through socialisation that they are not always explored deeply. People mistake the idea that sexism is something specific that’s said with the intent to physically harm or violently dominate or punish a woman. This is a narrow, individualistic view of sexism.

Benevolent sexism is pervasive, but not readily recognised as sexism. This is where women are expected to put up with sexual advances and comments about their looks as a “compliment” or alternatively as a “joke,” and where men act as if women are too fragile to undertake certain tasks. “He’s only trying to help!” The person is supposedly acting from a place of good will. The lack of malicious intent is supposed to excuse sexism.

Accidental or unintentional sexism work similarly, where people say they believe in gender equality, but perpetuate sexist culture by doing and saying things that undermine gender equality. This includes saying that sexism doesn't exist or acting as if sexism is an inevitable part of life. It also includes otherwise trivialising women’s social position. This includes cases where someone says a person did not intend to be sexist, and so this ipso facto makes their actions non-sexist. This also encompasses times when a woman speaks up about something that made her feel uncomfortable, excluded or demeaned. The typical sexist response is that she should not have taken as an offence or that someone is being “politically correct” or “too sensitive.”

The distinctions between hostile, benevolent, and accidental/unintentional sexism are superficial. There is, in fact, only one type of sexism

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Unfortunately you're right +Laura Turpin This is backed up by various studies in many countries! Though inequality between genders is greater in developed nations with a weak social welfare system, and the reverse is true for countries with stronger social policies such as in Scandinavian nations.

Thanks for another great (but infuriatingly on-point) comic. We'll reshare that one too and credit back to you. 
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We're Hosting #ScienceChat: Equality & Inclusion in STEM
This Wednesday the 9th of April at 2PM PDT on Twitter,@STEMWomen will lead an online discussion on how we can improve women's participation in STEM. We'll talk about how we can address intersections of discrimination in STEM, including gender, race, LGBTQI issues, as well as other forms of exclusion. We'll also focus on the creative ways to improve science outreach to disadvantaged and marginalised groups. Join our discussion on Twitter using #ScienceChat . Our talented guests are all STEM outreach & diversity advocates:

@LaMinda +Mindy Weisberger 
@Julia_SCI +Julia Wilde 
@JessieNYC +Jessie Daniels 
@drisis Isis the Scientist
@Dharlette +Hannah Grimm 
@LlewellynCox +Llewellyn Cox 
@kaythaney +Kaitlin Thaney 
@kejames +Karen James 
@NellieNeutron +Ellen Byrne 
@madamscientist +Rajini Rao 

Thanks to +Javier Noris for the invitation to participate in this exciting event!

#stemwomen   #women   #stem   #science   #twitter   #scienceoutreach   #education   #lgbtqi   #racism  
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