Archive for the ‘Gender Issues’ Category

So few of them…

June 24, 2009

In the latest issue of the respected Scientific American, contributor Katherine Harmon asks (once again) the usual question, namely, Why Aren’t More Women Tenured Science Professors ?
The article expounds a familiar thesis, namely that “Many women get a close look at the academic prospects ahead and say, ‘This job is not designed for me'”. In fact, “With long hours, tight funding and pressure to publish, an academic job may be a less appealing choice today for many doctoral grads, regardless of gender.” The article then goes on to suggest that ” “A woman who is thinking of starting a family [is] seen as a weakness”, and that “we have to change the culture of academic science”.

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Gender bias in academic science

May 10, 2009

Many a male scientist would have you believe that, when it comes to pursuing an academic career in a scientific field, female candidates at various levels enjoy a preferential treatment, often being chosen over equally or better qualified male applicants. This is allegedly due to a concerted effort taking place in many countries in the western world, aimed at increasing academic female representation in fields of science and engineering where women have traditionally been vastly outnumbered by men.
On the other hand, many if not most female scientists take issue with the above contention. They maintain that such actions, if they occur at all, have little or no effect in an environment that is dominated by and strongly biased in favor of men, and where women attempting to establish a career routinely face more or less overt discrimination.

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Happy 100th Birthday, Rita

April 19, 2009
Italian scientist and Nobel laureate Rita Levi Montalcini

Italian scientist and Nobel laureate Rita Levi Montalcini

It does not even seem true. Of course, time does not stop, we all get older but… are you really turning 100 ?
Wow… the way you keep working, advocating for science in Italy and abroad, serving in the Italian senate and articulating your thoughts better than many who could be your great-grand-children… well, I for one surely wish that I could be as sharp as you are at my age, let alone yours.

You have been, are, and will always be an inspiration for all of us, women and men, scientists and non-scientists, in Italy and abroad. Your accomplishments seem all the more amazing considering the odds that you have overcome — a Jewish person living through fascism, a woman in the sciences…
There are very few like you — sure, there are other Nobel prize winners (albeit very few of them are women), many good scientists, good politicians, serious professionals, and generally people of the highest integrity. But very few are capable of eliciting the admiration of everyone, like you.
Thank you for your first 100 years, Rita. I wish you could live 100 more. The world could definitely use someone like you until your very last day.

Science and Sexism

December 10, 2008

"You should look to marry a millionaire, like my son […] With that smile of yours, you could…"
Italian Prime Minister, to a young woman explaining to him how hard it is to find a job, these days.

The subject of women under-representation in the sciences is one of the most hotly (and often bitterly) debated — in public, on the printed press, and of course inside blogosphere. Sexism is often put forward as a plausible, likely reason underlying the infrequency with which women take on leadership positions in the scientific enterprise, be that in academia or in national or private research laboratories.
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