Women in STEM


Being Female in Science
A great mix of literature review and personal anecdotes.

Minority grad students less likely to submit work for publication
This research comes with a lot of caveats (small sample size is one) but it does look like minority and female PhD students are less likely to try and publish their work.



The Hidden Women in Astronomy Research

A trio of researchers have waded though more than half a century of research published in astronomy journals and found that studies authored by women receive 10 percent fewer citations than similar studies written by men.

The Nature Astronomy study does have some encouraging findings. The number of astronomy papers authored by women has increased over the last 50 years, and the difference between the number of female-led and male-led papers in citations has shrunk, the researchers write. They found that back in the 1950s and 1960s, men received between 50 percent and 100 percent more citations than women did.



More gender disparity in publications,
Gender Gap Persists In Science

… the reported data show that women and men tend to publish in journals with similar impact factors. Indeed, in many disciplines, women were publishing in journals of higher impact factors than their male colleagues. However, within these journals, women’s papers were cited less.

“This gap was particularly pronounced in journals of the highest impact factors. That is, women were making it through the selection process at journals like Science, and Nature, and PNAS, but they weren’t seeing the citation advantage of their male colleagues. This suggests we need to look more deeply at issues of bias when examining gender disparities in science.”



Too many links to individually describe. Hopefully the titles are enough for now.

“Just” Joking? Sexist Talk in Science

When Professors Change Jobs, Sexual Assault Allegations Stay Under Wraps

How science got women wrong

Female academics ‘interrupted more in interviews than men’

Respect Isn’t Enough

(Academic) Housework: The Engine of Science (& Society)

Guest post: The day I broke some twitter feeds: insights into sexism in academia, Part 2

Coding “White Trash” in Academia

Salk Institute Defends Itself Against Sexism by Invoking a Sexist Metric

Widespread harassment revealed in astronomy and planetary science

Double jeopardy in astronomy and planetary science: Women of color face greater risks of gendered and racial harassment

Women of Color Face a Staggering Amount of Harassment in Astronomy

Beards and Gore-Tex: does palaeontology have an image problem?

From Boy Geniuses to Mad Scientists: How Americans Got So Weird About Science

Do we still need to be talking about women in science?

The “Crazy/Bitch” Narrative About Senior Academic Women



Skewed Demographics
Nature Geoscience have done some stats on their author-suggested peer-reviewers and found that they are mostly male and mostly european. They come up with some suggestions to counter this although I’m not sure they go far enough, but it’s good to see journals doing some self-examination on this.

She Was a Rising Star at a Major University. Then a Lecherous Professor Made Her Life Hell.
This article is horrifying in its familiarity and the way the university protects its male staff over its female staff.

One bit that really struck me was this,

In 2007, as Kidd, still an undergraduate, was trying to navigate her relationship with Jaeger, she consulted her mentors and listened when they warned her that there could be exploitative professors at any Ph.D. program she chose. Her undergraduate adviser “convinced me that these things are common and maybe not avoidable,” she says. “The idea was that if it hadn’t been Rochester, it might have been somewhere else.”

That bland acceptance angers me so much. Cultures will never change if people don’t challenge them.

The Academy’s Dirty Secret
Not directly women-in-STEM but definitely an issue for widening diversity. An astonishingly small number of elite universities produce an overwhelming number of America’s professors which means if you didn’t go to an Ivy-league uni as an undergrad your chances of getting a decent position in academia elsewhere are slim.



Women scientists lag in academic publishing, and it matters
A nice summary of the research showing women are discriminated against in many aspects of academic publishing.

Academic career intentions in the life sciences: Can research self-efficacy beliefs explain low numbers of aspiring physician and female scientists?
A PloS One paper

AGU Revises Its Integrity and Ethics Policy
The American Geophysical Union has revised it Integrity and Ethics policy and now considers harassment, discrimination, and bullying in scientific endeavors to be scientific misconduct.

The Week My Husband Left And My House Was Burgled I Secured A Grant To Begin The Project That Became BRCA1
I absolutely love this piece. I have a real problem with the way science is represented as being completely detached from anything else, that you have to be a single-minded ultra-focused, ultra-dedicated person in order to achieve anything. This piece really puts paid to that idea. I have absolutely no doubt that the author worked extremely hard over her entire career but she did so while living a normal, complicated, life. The support from her mentors was clearly important and shows that science is a collaboration in all aspects, not just in the lab.

I think this twitter thread is a nice companion piece as it highlights the danger that the ‘super academic’ mindset can have on people. It’s great if your job is the most important thing to you, but you can still be a good academic and have it just be a job.



Male scientists share more — but only with other men
Male scientists are more likely to share their published work than are women — but only with other men, a study of hundreds of researchers has found.

This year’s Nobel Prizes have been announced and yet again there’s no women in the winners list. The Guardian looks asks why don’t women win Nobel science prizes?

A conversation with friends the other day turned to PPE and we wondered whether the difficulty in getting PPE in women’s sizes could be a reason women would be put off industries that required its use. While we can’t answer that question directly, we did find that more than 2/3 of women don’t have properly fitting PPE.

How Men Can Help Women in STEM: Shut Up, Sit Back and Listen

Why is it that I, a man in STEM, am writing about this? Because to me these statistics also show another thing: men, who are dominating these fields, have an obligation to support women in STEM and help level the playing field. But how can men help to facilitate change and support women in STEM? All the things I try to implement are the result of listening to women—who sacrificed their spare time to educate me—and taking their advice. Thus, maybe the single best, most actionable thing is this: step back, shut up, give women space, and listen to them.



Disturbing allegations of sexual harassment in Antarctica leveled at noted scientist
Yet another case of a male academic using his position of authority to terrorise and sexually harass female students in his care. These men really need to be stopped.



The STEM crisis is a myth
This is a really provocative piece but it makes a compelling argument.



There was a piece in Code Like A Girl recently that created a lot of debate over how to attract girls into STEM. This thread really captures for me a lot of the issues as I see myself and my experiences in those described.

The debate also leads quite nicely to this article,
Where are the women in STEM?

There is also a social aspect that contributes to the unpopularity of STEM with females. The stereotype of a female scientist is not glamorous; it’s bulky glasses, questionable and overly modest outfits, and social awkwardness. In a society that highly values the beauty and sex-appeal of women, many young girls see this inaccurate caricature and turn away.

There are a lot of ‘unfeminine’ girls who want nothing to do with dresses and pink, but looking back over my own childhood with a critical eye I have recently begun to realise that I had no problem with dresses or pink until I realised I wanted to be a scientist. I was happy wearing shorts or skirts until I realised that skirts weren’t ‘sciencey’. I think we need to ask ourselves whether science is something that appeals only to tomboyish girls or whether we are forcing them to choose their femininity or their passion.

Damned If You Do… Banal Gendered Exclusions in Academia, Babies and ‘Dinner with Other Candidates’
This is a really important piece that highlights the gender disparity in having kids while trying to have an academic career.

While being a dad is seen in academia as a sign of maturity, having a bit of that elusive ‘work-life balance’, I would run the risk of provoking anxiety (‘Will she want another one? Will she take time off?’).

My children help my science
This piece shows how having children doesn’t mean you can’t be a good researcher. I like it because it shows that having a life outside of your research doesn’t isn’t the impediment it’s sometimes made out to be.

I don’t dispute that having children can hamper women’s careers in science and that gender bias is alive and well. But I hope that by sharing how my children improve my research practice, I can help change the culture of research institutions. Children are not just career interruptions, and parents can come back to work as more insightful and effective scientists.



Here’s a useful site looking at the gender gap in science, that is an:

ISC-funded project “A Global Approach to the Gender Gap in Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Sciences: How to Measure It, How to Reduce It?”

Looks like there might be some interesting data on there, as well as survey results.