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STEM Women on G+
Supporting the careers of Women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Supporting the careers of Women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).


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Beyond Curie
Enjoy and share this lovely animated video about women in STEM, which starts with the premise that we need to go beyond Marie Curie when acknowledging the contributions of women in science. Features the stories of Lise Meitner; Barbara McClintock; Rosalind Franklin; and Jane Goodall.

HT +Nasser Trad #stemwomen  
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Is the Gender Gap Solved in Liberal Sweden?

Sweden is considered one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede expected no gender problems in Swedish academia when she returned to a full professor position in Sweden after 10 years as faculty in the United States. She was mistaken.

Professor Wittung-Stafshede, who is division head of Chemical Biology at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden speaks out about the casual sexism and gender biases that still exist in Scandinavian countries in a guest blog at Read her story here:
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The system is telling us that we'd rather lose bright, junior women scholars, in order to protect so-called academic "superstars."
How to stop the sexual harassment of women in science: reboot the system
My latest for +The Conversation: There have been several high-profile cases of renowned scientists who have been found to have acted against sexual harassment legislation for up to 10 years. In one case, a prominent astronomer forced students to attend work meetings in strip clubs; in other cases, famous scientists physically groped students or tried to pressure them to reciprocate their sexual and romantic feelings.

For the most part, institutions simply give these men one-off training. One university suspended a serial harasser for one year - he is due to come back to work in July. Meanwhile, nine of his students have left due to his harassment, bullying and erratic behaviour over recent years.

In these cases, the universities involved carried out investigations finding that the professors were in violation of sexual harassment law. These men went from one high profile position to another whilst continuing their abuse of power. One professor was even granted an honorary Emeritus Professorship after the university's investigation was made public.

The system is telling us that we'd rather lose bright, junior women scholars, in order to protect so-called academic "superstars."

I also show that the issue of abuse is broader, with senior scientists attacking vulnerable students of minority backgrounds when they speak out against racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.

It's time to reboot the culture in science. In this article, I discuss strategies that everyone can use to end harassment, including:

* Speaking up when you see someone being harassed
* Leading by example
* Providing easier ways to report, such as through information escrows
* Ensuring anti-harassment policies are working, through confidential consultation and a thorough evaluation of impact
* Making safety a daily priority, especially for managers
* Strategic planning
* Taking a collective stance against harassment.

There are national and regional programs that aim to transform how universities and research organisations make gender equity and diversity a priority, including the program that I'm managing in Australia, +Science in Australia Gender Equity. Half of the higher education sector is involved in making changes to eliminate discrimination, harassment and bias, and creating a more inclusive culture. Ending harassment is one important piece of the puzzle. 

Read more about the issue and solutions in my article.

Commenting Policy
Note that I do not allow abuse, personal attacks, or denialism of harassment. My article and my various other writing details the research showing that sexual harassment is a major problem, particularly for women researchers who feel unsafe at work, and fearful of reporting formally. If you want to contribute to a discussion on solutions in a respectful way, let's have a conversation! If not, I will delete comments that violate my commenting policy.  

Individuals who want to question the definition or severity of harassment are not welcome, because the entire internet is filled with spaces where you can sprout such ignorance. My threads are not such a place. The law is clear: sexual harassment is defined as someone making an “unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, to the person harassed.” Sexual harassment is also legally defined as person engaging “in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed,” including actions or words that lead to offence, humiliation or intimidation. 

My article:

Legal definition of sexual harassment, Sex Discrimination Act, Commonwealth of Australia:

Resources for individuals, managers and workplaces, by the Australian Human Rights Commission: 

Research on the impact of sexual harassment, by the +International Labour Organization

Impact on women who speak out about sexual harassment, by +STEM Women on G+

Investigation on why women in science choose not to report sexual harassment (Part 1 of 3), by Dr +Janet D. Stemwedel

How professional science societies can end harassment, by Dr Erika Marín-Spiotta & colleagues for the +American Geophysical Union (AGU)

#stemwomen   #womeninstem  
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Same Auld Lang Syne: Dearth of Diversity in 2016 American Chemical Society  Awards

Four days into the new year and it’s déjà vu all over again. The American Chemical Society (ACS), which has 158,000 members, just announced its 2016 National Award winners. Once again, gender inequity and lack of diversity are glaringly apparent:  95% of awardees are men, and a higher proportion present as White. The ACS data show that men are overrepresented not only in award nominations, but also in award success whereas women are underrepresented:

In the 2015 nominee pool, 83% are male and 17% are female compared to ACS membership demographics of 71% male and 29% female.

Why is this important? Awards and prizes are widely accepted markers of professional achievement that influence salary, promotion and tenure decisions, to shape and advance careers. The typical explanation for the dearth in gender diversity in award line-ups is that of a pipeline problem, with the prediction being that as more women join STEM fields and make their way up the academic ladder, their share of prizes will concomitantly increase. But this has not happened: contrary to the pipeline hypothesis, women’s share of prestigious awards has fallen in the past decade, compared to the decade before. Closer analysis shows that women receive a disproportionate share of teaching and service awards, at the expense of prizes that recognise research contributions. This is known as The Matilda Effect.

For more on how STEM professionals can implement gender equity and diversity in prizes and awards, read our latest blog post:

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The Two Body Problem for Women in Academia
Research shows that academic women are more likely to be on short-term contracts ("soft money" funded by grants). This creates problems for women in managing their romantic relationships, especially for women who are single and childfree. +Katie Mack shares her experience:

As a single woman with a short-term contract and no idea which hemisphere I’ll be in two years from now, children are not exactly at the forefront of my mind. At the moment, I spend a lot more time thinking about the two-body problem.

In this context, the “two-body problem” is the problem of maintaining a committed relationship between two individuals who are trying to have careers in academia. When the two-body problem proves unsolvable, it’s sometimes called “academic scattering”. It is by no means unique to academia, but the international nature of the field, the frequency of short-term (1-3 year) contracts, and the low wages compared to other similarly intense career paths make it especially bad for academics. In the sciences, the gender disparity adds a further complication for female academics: when women make up a small percentage of the discipline, they are much more likely to be partnered with other academics. 

This is an example of how the academic system structures women's choices. While men also face this dilemma, as Dr Mack notes, the fact that (heterosexual) women are more likely to be partnered with academic men makes these choices tougher on women. Research also shows that heterosexual academic women are more likely to change jobs for their partners, but the reverse is not true for academic men. 

How have you managed the two body problem?

Katie Mack on SAS:

Study on academic women's partnering choices and inequality:

Image: Marie Curie with her husband Pierre, who solved the two body problem by marrying and working at the same lab. Credit:
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Future STEM Woman
That creative, inquisitive girl in your home, classroom, neighbourhood or community group could be the next leading woman in science. Encourage her education, mentor her through the ups and downs of her career, and sponsor her ascend into senior roles.

Above all, manage your own, and other colleagues', unconscious biases that would otherwise hold her back, and knock down the institutional barriers that might inhibit her potential.

"I want to be a physicist and find a unified field theory because it kind of needs to be done. String theory is inadequate because it provides no testable hypothesis."

Photo & quote: +Humans of New York #stemwomen   #girlsinstem   #physics  
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Returning to Science After a Career Break: Dr Hanadi Hassan-Nixon

Dr Hassan-Nixon had a longstanding love of science since childhood. She completed a degree in chemistry but after the birth of a child she decided to take a break from her career. She has returned after a 12 year break with the help of a fellowship that offers other training and mentorship and she is now studying treatments into hay fever and asthma. She says:

"I encourage any person to resume their scientific career even after a long break. It is amazing what the brain retains and what you can contribute from your previous scientific and life experience."

Image and story: #stemwomen
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How I landed a job!

+Joan Schmelz takes us through imposter syndrome, job preparation and negotiation trepidation to her new job as Deputy Director of Arecibo Observatory. Congrats, Joan! 
Astronomy Leadership: Applications, Interviews & Jobs
I applied for a job that I was “not qualified for” – a job in astronomy leadership as an observatory deputy director. Here’s how I overcame my own impostor syndrome, handled the interview questions, and learned to negotiate. I can only hope that this information encourages other women to apply for jobs that they are “not qualified” for!
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Sticking up for STEM Women
Our founder, Dr +Buddhini Samarasinghe spoke with +UCL  Researchers about the history of our community:

"Back in 2012, I think it was on International Women’s Day, someone on Facebook shared a list of female scientists whom you may or may not have heard of. Obviously Marie Curie was in it, and there were lots of other black and white photos of women who were mostly already dead. Great that such a list is being shared, but I figured I should put together a list of more current female scientists to whom people could better relate.

"I used +Google+  which was pretty new at that time and had lots of female engineers and scientists who were posting publicly about their work. So I started compiling a list of their names and ‘shared’ them around, making a group of strong female role models who could inspire people. Off the back of that, I teamed up with two other female researchers and launched a website to celebrate females in STEM, and to comment on the current issues they face."

Learn more about our origins and why we fight for women in STEM, from the microaggressions of everyday sexism, which build up over time, to systemic inequality across institutions.

Read more:

Original image Maia Weinstock, CC 2.0: Adapted by STEM Women.  #stemwomen   #womeninstem  
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Inequality is Mutable
Overcoming Gender Inequality in the Classroom
Stanford law Professors Daniel Ho and Mark Kelman have conducted research showing that larger classes in law schools increase gender inequality. The study has relevance to STEM as the findings support other research about teaching in physics.

The study, published in the Journal of Legal Studies, included almost 16,000 grades given to around 1,900 students. The researchers find that pedagogy (teaching philosophy and teacher-student practice) matters to gender outcomes. The authors conclude that smaller classes where teachers provide more feedback reduce gender differences in grade scores. The researchers found that women outperformed men in small, interactive classes focused on practical exercises. The researchers note that similar results have been found in interactive physics courses.

Professor Kelman argues that the finds go against the "common sense" presumption that gender performance are "fixed":
"Some naïve reactions are that if women get poorer grades at law school, women must be less capable... I think it's surprising to many – and perhaps a confirmation of a more optimistic view that I have – that much of the inequality we observe in the world is mutable, and that the structures that we sometimes take for granted may work to the advantage of some and the disadvantage of others."

The study: Quote: #stemwomen #law #physics
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