You Know You Want It...

Mar 01 2012 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

I have finally recovered officially from my stomach bug, tested at a local Mexican eating establishment last night with salsa and margaritas.  I have done actual science in the last 24 hours, and I have caught up on some other stuff.

The big news today is over at Academic Women for Equality Now, my Vision2020 project. I finally have the Female Faculty Friendliness Grade Cards for every US College of Medicine compiled into a single document, along with a bunch of the supporting data and analyses. This material originally appeared as a series of posts over 4 months. Now, you can more easily compare medical colleges by region, by type of position, you name it.

Unfortunately, the size of the document exceeds that of the upload capacity of my site (for now). I have a work-around, as you will see on the site.

Go ahead, click on over and get the know you want it...

I am still looking for collaborators on the site: guest posts, people with other data sets to analyze, etc. If it deals even remotely with gender in the Ivory Tower, I will welcome your participation. Drop me a line!

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Female Blogging Manifesto: #Scio12 In Action

Jan 25 2012 Published by under [Information&Communication]

The Science Online 2012 session on the perils of blogging female generated discussion, both at the conference and on the internet.  Comments to female bloggers are not merely sexist. Many are viscious, some are threatening, and some cross the line into criminal intent. If you don't believe me, search the #mencallmethings hashtag on twitter for examples. Kate Clancy blogged about the need for a posse, a group that gets it and can fight off these, well, douchecanoes when they materialize.

A number of us gathered later that evening, expressing our frustration that the session continues to remain necessary. We cannot believe that we have not moved beyond these blatant displays of sexism and misogyny and hate. We are ready to move forward; why isn't the discussion?

Yup, it's pink.

The answer came at the banquet Friday evening, when Janet Stemwedel took to the stage in The Monti Storytelling event. (This story will eventually be available as a podcast here). In the fall of 2011 the blogosphere exploded with a discussion of "gendered" science kits - you know, pink girl kits for bubble bath and cosmetics, while the boys get microscopes and chemistry sets that look like something an actual scientist might have in the lab. These kits reinforce the overwhelming value of girls' femininity while supposedly encouraging scientific endeavors. Dr. Free-ride, her "nom de blog", related how she heard about this topic and thought, "Not again." She felt tired; she wanted to let someone else fight the battle this time.

Eventually, she sucked it up and posted.

Then, a miracle occurred. Someone at this scientific toy company saw the virtual shitstorm on the internet. Multiple blogs, opinions on Facebook, updates on Google+, and a flood from the Twitterverse were not ignored. The company announced that they would no longer sell gendered science kits. They would simply sell science kits.


Now, I cannot say that without Janet's post that this would not have occurred. Was she the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back? We will never know what the minimal unit of rant is for any given change.

As I look back on our musings in the bar that evening, I realize that we must continue having these same sessions. The conversation and complaints must continue until the appropriate parties notice and act. Yes, we get tired of it. Yes, it is repetitive. Yes, it sucks. But it must be done. If not for us, for our daughters. The real daughters, whether they be tomboys or pretty-pink-princesses, and our daughters in society, those younger than us who want to inquire and write and express their thoughts on an equal footing with the menfolk.

So we will continue to complain and rant and fight and whine and even bitch. Get over it, boys - only then will it stop.

I am in this battle for the long haul. And so is my posse.

5 responses so far

Don't Fix Me; Fix the Problem!!!

Nov 30 2011 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

Today's Little Pink Book explores leadership stereotypes:

“They’re always emotional. They’re great multi-taskers. They don’t promote other women.” Everyone from ourPINK bloggers to Anna Wintour is talking about stereotypes of female leaders.

Unfortunately, when such labels are applied, it can put women’s careers at risk.

“This doesn’t happen to every woman, but a greater percentage of women than men get stereotyped,” says Suzanna Bates, author of Discover Your CEO Brand.

“When this happens, the conversation becomes not how to promote them, but whether they can be ‘fixed.’” Research shows leadership is still seen as a predominantly masculine role, with women viewed as less qualified or natural in these positions.

The piece goes on with advice on how to "overcome" stereotypes:

Bates says female leaders are often labeled as “a bitch, too quiet or politically clueless.” Those in the first category may want to focus more on communicating and listening to employees’ ideas and thoughts.

"You can be results oriented and hold people accountable without leaving bodies in your wake,” she adds. More reserved leaders can take initiative to speak up and give ideas, even writing points down for a meeting beforehand.

We all, male and female, should be self-aware and able to modify our behavior when need be. Good colleagues use such feedback. However, this advice sounds suspiciously like "fixing" the woman's behavior, not correcting the stereotype!

I know the readers of this blog are smart and can help come up with real ways to combat stereotypes. Other than having a fairy godmother magically make the world free of gender-bias, what can be done? What sorts of small stuff would help on a daily basis? Let's find that low-hanging fruit and eat it!



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MegaTrip In Progress

Nov 07 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings

Last Friday I left my home at 7:30 am and arrived in a different time zone before noon. I am still at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges (#aamc11) having a great time. I went to a very interesting session on social media yesterday, and I will share my thoughts in a bit.

Wednesday I fly to Philadelphia (without an interval at home) for Kidney Week (#kidneywk11). More blog fodder will arise from that gathering.

Today I posted over on Academic Women for Equality Now about a Dutch study and the ability of gender bias reminders to elicit queen bee behavior. It's an interesting phenomenon for those of us XX types, and yet one more reason to try to get bias out of our institutions (like we needed another). Click on over and enjoy (or be dismayed) by this research.

Later, Whizbangers, I will post something here.

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Courtesy of Google Ads

Oct 28 2011 Published by under [Science in Society]

I am a little unmotivated today, given the late but favorable outcome of last night's World Series Game 6 (Go Cardinals!). As I read stuff in emails and my feeds, I got directed to a couple of postings over at Free Thought Blogs by Jen McCreight.Once again, a young woman has been told to shut up so she does not offend anyone.

I clicked through to read the edited version of the original "offensive" post, which I found completely inoffensive. Of course, being a liberal scientist-type woman whose life has been spent mostly in the bible belt, I found much to identify with and appreciate. I particularly liked this bit, when someone felt that Jen should not be shocked that biology majors may not accept evolution:

We don’t give chemistry degrees to people who believe in alchemy. We don’t give aerospace engineering degrees to people who think planes are held up by fairies. We don’t give geology degrees to people who think the Earth is made of chocolate pudding.  But we have no problem giving biology degrees to people who think an invisible supernatural being created life, despite it having as much evidence as Puddingology. I should feel shocked that people who reject the fundamental concepts of their field can still successfully earn a degree.

Of course, the side-splitting part of the whole endeavor occurred when I scrolled down toward the comments. Google Ads helpfully placed this at the bottom of the post:

Irony Courtesy of Google Ads

3 responses so far

Get Off of My Corporate Lawn!

Oct 24 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings

The current Harvard Business Review includes a nice visualization of corporate board composition in the US, along with comparisons to stats from 1987. In general, boards have gotten smaller and older over the past 24 years:

Click to Enlarge

Yup, white men still rule.

4 responses so far

Problem Defined, but Cause Unknown

Oct 19 2011 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

So last week I gathered in Chicago with a group of accomplished women who make me feel positively small. Such awesomeness rarely gathers in this large of a group; some of these women even wore snazzier shoes than I did.

We slogged through the work of Vision2020's Second Congress. We all agreed on major strategies for the five national goals, especially the need to communicate problems of inequality. We also agreed that, in many cases, we still need to understand the root causes of inequality. Why do women earn a mere 77 cents for every dollar a man gets, a pay gap that increases with educational level? Why do women leave the workplace before they achieve senior leadership positions?

Over at Academic Women for Equality Now,  I examined the "leaky" pipeline question today. There can no longer be a question that women leave corporate and academic worlds before retirement; the question now becomes the why. Three things have been suggested:

  1. Work-life balance makes mid-career women "choose" to step onto the mommy track, which may also be the elderly parent track
  2. As women evaluate themselves in middle life, they leave to follow their passions
  3. After years of subtle, perhaps unconscious, bias and a few bumps on the glass ceiling, women may take their toys to a sandbox they control

I am sure all of these influence women's choices. I am curious what you believe is the most important reason women leave their career path in mid life. Are there any other reasons they might choose to become a consultant or open a cupcake shop? What have we missed?

12 responses so far

Yes, It Is Friday

Oct 14 2011 Published by under Travel, Wackaloonacy

So my live tweeting from Vision2020 was suppressed by our basement location. The events this week focused on working. Last year we conversed and defined the problems women still face in the US. This year we moved toward solutions.

Since no trip goes unpunished, I returned to the office this morning with a bit of trepidation. My assistant greeted me and then asked to copy my driver's license. As I handed it to her, she explained that the hospital wanted a copy of a government-issued ID. We had sent one of my US passport, but the office clerk in the credentials center did not realize that was "government-issued." It was easier to send a copy of my license than argue.


Next week I will discuss my times in Chicago here and at AWEnow (the project I am doing for Vision2020). In the meantime, try to have a great weekend. And consider giving to DonorsChoose.

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Tying Up Loose Ends

Oct 10 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings

Click to enlarge

Tomorrow I hit the road (more accurately the sky) for the second Vision2020 Congress in Chicago. Last year's event featured a lot of talk about the lack of women leaders in many areas of US life. This year promises more work. We delegates all started action projects in the past 12 months, and we will gather in groups to contemplate our own work and the national goals of the Congress:

  1. Achieve pay equity, so that equal pay for equal work will be the norm in America
  2. Increase the number of women in senior leadership positions in American life to reflect the workforce talent pool and demographics
  3. Educate employers about the value of policies and practices that enable men and women to share fairly their family responsibilities
  4. Educate new generations of girls and boys to respect their differences and to act on the belief that America is at its best when leadership is shared and opportunities are open to all
  5. Mobilize women in America to vote, with particular emphasis on a record-setting turnout in 2020, the centennial of the 19th Amendment

I will live-tweet the events of the Congress; follow @EqualityInSight, the official twitter account for the program for more accounts of the action.

Today I am tying up loose ends. I will get in a work-out before I pack. Most important, I will overnight all the signed and notarized forms for the sale of the old homestead. Yes, we will finally be down to a single house!

Enjoy your week, and please consider giving to my DonorsChoose page. It's heartbreaking that teachers must ask for our support for pencils, chairs, whiteboards, and other basics.

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Good Intentions; Bad Luck

Oct 07 2011 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

I had the best of intentions this morning. My gym bag got packed in the car last night. My knee feels fine. I was ready for another series of hills on that elliptical machine.

Flat tire!

Click for source

Then an alarm binged on my dash as I pulled into the parking garage this morning. Everything had been fine when I left the house, but now it said to "check tire pressure."

"RR 3lbs" and flat as a pancake.

The temporary spare is now on the right rear, ready to take me to the tire shop. Instead of the gym.


So I will pony up $25 for the kids.

Meanwhile, if you want to read something less whiny, head over to AWEnow and learn about ELATE, a new leadership training program for women faculty in engineering and tech fields. I did ELAM, the academic medicine program on which they based ELATE, and it was awesome, one of the things I have done in this life I would absolutely do again.

If you know women in these fields, pass on the word please.

If you can, donate to DonorsChoose. Click the widget in the right column. I hate to think about some of the basic stuff these kids don't have.

2 responses so far

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