Belated Carnival Post
I have been derelict at my post here, forgetting to link to two carnivals that came out on Thursday: Philosophia Naturalis, the carnival of physical sciences, and the first-ever edition of Scientiae, the carnival for women and science. I’m sure I’ve been multiply scooped, but there you have it anyway.
Comments on selected Scientiae entries after the jump.
An old post, but a good post, at Irrational Soapbox lists things individuals can do to reduce the impact of discrimination in science, from the fuzzy-wuzzy:
On Clifford’s thread, Scott mentioned that after grading a exam for his course, he sent a short “good job” email to the top few students. If you can do this (as in many US unis), great. A lot of students, especially women, never get told they’re doing well.
[I can’t tell you how much difference this would have made to my undergraduate experience. Hell, to my graduate experience. –yami]
To the supremely practical:
When you write letters of recommendation for women/minorities, maybe check them against the ones you’ve previously written for white men, and make sure they focus on the same sorts of things. A lot of studies indicate that letters of recommendation for men tend to emphasise lab work, whereas letters for women tend to emphasise character traits.
See also Zuska’s discussion of What’s Good for Women Graduate Students?, which brings up the recommendation issue as well.
Elli at Peanut Butter Cabal writes about being singled out as a woman first and a scientist second. Her post is full of good points – no one asks men what it’s like to be in a male-dominated field, and female underrepresentation is always assumed to be a “woman’s issue” – but I find myself disquieted:
What bugs me is that, if I decide in five or eight or ten years that I am through with academia and decide to quit in pursuit of happiness in another career, I will not only be “a failure”, I will be “a woman failure”, yet another statistic of how women either aren’t cut out for academia or how academia is particularly hostile towards women, when in reality the issues I have the most difficulty with are not gender-specific at all.
As an undergrad, I never thought my problems were gendered at all; now that I look back on my experience, with the clarity of hindsight and a bunch more feminism under my belt, I see many of them as gender-related (though not gender-specific). I would not be surprised if three years from now, I feel the same way about grad school. The line between “individual; not gendered” and “societal; gendered” is not a clear one.
Finally, Sean Carroll posts on sexual objectification in telescope ads. The telescope manufacturer in question defended his decision to show an attractive woman in a short skirt curled coyly beside the equipment as follows:
No need to be embarrassed for the many female science students coming along. Rather, encourage them to celebrate that another smart, young, and attractive female has joined the ranks of women in a technical field, which breaks the pattern of discrimination you describe.
It’s good to know that despite my brains, I can still aspire to have my body displayed for the approval of a male audience. And clearly, if you object, it’s only because you think smart women can’t possibly be fit objects for the male gaze, and how dare you propound such stereotypes!
The same arguments are there in somewhat muted form on the She’s Such a Geek! photo contest, about some of the cheesecakier submissions. And, I’m sure, in about a billion other places. Remind me sometime to complain at length about men who think it’s good feminist practice to tell some random woman at a party that her brains/geekery really turns them on.