Former Cape Town News Paper Editor Vic Alhadeff reflects on what it was like to be a journalist under South Africa’s Apartheid government.
Happy International Women’s Day! I’ll do a couple of posts on this over the next day to commemorate this glorious day for both my time zone in Australia and the rest of you in other parts of the world. I want to start with the challenges that lie ahead before celebrating the achievements of women social scientists I admire. Our STEM Women community has been publishing a series of posts celebrating women in sciences, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We started with a look at the number of Nobel prize laureates.
We found that in its 113 year history, only 17 women scientists have been recognised amongst 692 Noble Prize winners (though this number counts Marie Curie twice for winning in two different fields). That means that less than 3% of Nobel winners are women. This is not due to women’s lack of scientific contribution, but due to the history and culture of the sciences. No woman has ever won the special Maths prize. While some social scientists have been recognised via the Nobel Peace Prize, only one woman social scientist has won a prize for science: Elinor Ostrom who won in 2009 for the special prize in Economics.
We looked at the way in which women have been used as the symbol of science - two women appear on the back of the Nobel medal - the goddess of natural phenomena (Natura) and the goddess of knowledge (Scientia). So while women can be muses for scientific excellence, our research and innovation remain on the margins of science’s highest organisation.
We had a phenomenal backlash when we shared this to our other science community, Science on Google+ (three of us who run STEM Women are also Moderators for SoG+). Various sexist arguments followed, ranging from: “Women aren’t as smart as men” to “This probably isn’t sexism, it’s something else (but somehow it’s women’s fault still).” None of these people presented evidence, but rather they relied on biased personal anecdotes.This thread was incredibly counter-productive; rather than engaging with the science presented, people wanted to argue that they don’t think that this is an example in sexism.
I’ve previously written why personal observations that refuse gender inequality don’t count as science, and how this is connected to the sociology of beliefs, attitudes, power and culture. For the record, a plethora of studies refute these arguments. Empirical data shows various historical, institutional and cultural reasons why women’s careers and achievements are not recognised in the same way as men.
The second image I’ve attached is a quote from Elizabeth Blackburn, who won a Nobel prize in 2009. She has a timely reminder that ties into why we still need International Women’s Day:
This idea that ‘Science needs women’ is really right on target… The ability to solve complex problems is greatly enriched by having different viewpoints.
Read more of our STEM Women posts commemorating this special day on our Google+ page. I’ll be back with more posts on the women who inspired me and more on diversity in social science.
Never forget: Roe v. Wade wasn’t the beginning of abortion in America. It was the beginning of the end of illegal abortions. If you haven’t read this piece before, I highly recommend it.
Minneapolis Community and Technical College lecturer Shannon Gibney (who is African America) was formally reprimanded by her university after three White male students complained that they were being made to study structural racism. One student interrupted Gibney during her Mass Communications class and asked: “Why do we have to talk about this?”
Another student chimed in: “Yeah, I don’t get this either. It’s like people are trying to say that white men are always the villains, the bad guys. Why do we have to say this?” The students filed a formal complaint. They argued they were forced into a “hostile learning environment.”
After being reprimanded for trying to teach in her role as lecturer, Gibney and six of her colleagues are filing a federal class action lawsuit saying their university is a discriminatory workplace.
This case is exactly why Whiteness and postcolonialism studies are quintessential.
These students feel entitled to evoke discrimination because they were encouraged to explore their own social privilege (see my earlier post on the problems with the idea of reverse racism).
Video link and information on the class action: Salon.
Sudanese Australians use music to reflect on their war experiences. This group performed for the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) in Western Sydney. One performer says:
When you’re happy, you sing it out; when you’re sad, you sing it out… You talk to people, you make an announcement – anything at all, you make a song.
Another singer says:
It looks like fun, but it’s not fun… I’m not a young woman, I’m an old woman. I can’t come if it’s [just] fun. We want the people that doesn’t know what happened a long time in the past, and that is why we are here.
STARTTS Chief Executive says:
Dance brings people together, but also brings people together in a way that turns thoughts and feelings into action, and that’s tremendously therapeutic.
Source: SBS News.
Ancestors have to go back and be placed in the land, their mother, the earth, and that’s all Aboriginal people want.
- Head of the Kamilaroi Land Trust and veteran repatriation campaigner Bob Weatherall.
The remains of 26 Kamilaroi ancestors have been returned to their descendants in Brisbane. It’s estimated that thousands of remains of Indigenous Australians are held by institutions in Australia and around the world. Indigenous activists work tirelessly to recover their bodies.
Source: SBS News.
I’ve been reflecting on some of Australia’s political uproars from last year. This one comes to mind because it makes explicit Australia’s enduring class struggle for power. The Palmer United Party became embroiled in a derogatory exchange about Australian voters who are supposedly “bogans.” An email was leaked where Dr Alex Douglas (former MD), a Queensland MP in the Palmer United Party, calls Australian voters “bogans” who live “empty lives” and survive on a “diet of grease.” He also says of bogans: this is a “world we see daily and quietly hope will disappear.” These words exemplify class derision. Bogan is a colloquial term used on working class and rural Australians who are seen to be uncouth or poorly educated.
After the media backlash to the email, Douglas and Palmer, both wealthy Queenslanders, have attempted to paint themselves as “bogans” - as average Australians. Palmer says of Douglas: ”He’s a bogan for voting for Campbell Newman.” Douglas says:
There’s a little bit [of bogan] in all of us… If we all realised there was a little bit of bogan in us and we weren’t so derogatory about them, we’d probably all just have a better life… [Referencing his love for the film The Castle] You like those people because they have a humanity, they’re real, they’re not fake.
Clive Palmer, a mining magnate and “self-proclaimed billionaire” also says he’s “spent most of [his] life as a bogan.” He says he loves eating chips, and that he used to eat McDonalds. Plus he wears ugg boots and goes four-wheel driving. That’s the most striking evidence of bogan credentials you’ll ever see right there.
Palmer also evokes his party’s alliance with the Motoring Enthusiasts Party (MEP) as further proof of his bogan kudos. He even jokes about the MEP’s infamous video where he throws kangarro poo. He says: “what’s so insulting about that? It’s a lot of fun.” What a larrikin! Palmer just like Real People who Fling Faeces for Fun!
Palmer was elected as the member for Fairfax after a drawn out voting count. He has run into ongoing criticism for his lack of knowledge of Australian policies and his seeming disinterest in political processes. He sent a staff member instead of showing up to his first Parliament House induction briefing.
Australia is uncomfortable with class discussions. Everyone thinks they belong to the middle class, but there is still a cultural soft sport for the “Aussie battler;” a working-class ideal of the hard-working, struggling farmer or struggling family who just wants a “fair go.” Palmer has evoked these ideas by appealing to the “bogan” persona.
Australian sociologists are also uncomfortable with diverging from neo-Marxist analyses of the economy. We collectively prefer to largely critique economic rationalism, but we give little empirical attention to the ways in which markets are a “cultural creation.”
Palmer’s party runs on a platform of redistribution of wealth that appealed to working class Australians in rural regions. In fact, his party opposes carbon tax that would impact on the mining industry in which he is personally invested.
Source of quotes: The Age.
Science on Google+ is a Community that I help to moderate. With close to 230,000 members, our Community is the largest science community on Google+ as well as one of the top 10 biggest communities on Google+. Social Times also named us as one of the fastest growing communities on that social network, noting that Google+ has a more active membership than LinkedIn, Twitter and Tumblr. The fastest growth ha sbeen amongst people interested in science.
Our Moderation team are all qualified scientists encompassing the major branches of the sciences: Applied, Earth, Life, Physical and Social.
Our aim is to elevate the quality of science discussion on social media, so that we’re going beyond surface level science news stories. We encourage our members to write about peer reviewed science in an engaging way to reach a broader audience. We regularly work to debunk junk science and to dispel myths and hype perpetuated by the media. We also have sections to discuss cross-disciplinary issues such as policy and practice, and a dedicated space for the public to ask questions of scientists.
I curate the Social Sciences stream. If you’re interested in reading, writing or chatting about science, join us!
- Reblogged from scienceongoogle