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.
Recently I joined Women in STEM, a group of women researchers committed to addressing gender inequality in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Earlier today Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe and I co-hosted the first of our new fortnightly interview series. We’ll be talking with STEM professionals who want to advance gender diversity in the sciences.
Today’s chat was with Professor Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist and editor-in-chief of the open-access journal PLoS Biology. Jonathan was a fantastic guest who spoke candidly about the need for male academics to be more proactive in addressing inequality. He gave some practical examples of how women’s participation in science can be bolstered by simple measures, such as by: offering childcare as part of academic conference services; through diversity training for hiring panels; and providing better mentorship for young women in science.
I gave a shout out to sociology during the Hangout. I noted that while sociologists still face career barriers regarding race, gender, sexuality and other minority relations, we have a shared language to discuss inequality. Sociology is centrally concerned with addressing disadvantage, so we have the vocabulary and training to start conversations about these issues. Most other disciplines don’t talk about inequality at all. This means that women are expected to suffer in silence and navigate career barriers alone. As Buddhini points out, academia represents a “leaky pipe” where the further up you go in an academic faculty, the less women and minorities there are.
Gender and diversity matters should be central to all academic training, at every level, and for all disciplines.
There is a plethora of studies showing inequality is a fact in science. STEM Women starts off from this position and so we ask: what are going to do to move forward and address this disadvantage?
"We can’t have a female protagonist because girls don’t like comic book movies"
"Well now that a huge percentage of the audience of comic book movies are girls, clearly girls like comic book movies exactly the way they are and we don’t have to change anything"
Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901—November 15, 1978) intended to make a life out of painting. Instead, she became the world’s best-known cultural anthropologist, becoming the discipline’s most revered patron saint.
A 1959 audio interview captured Mead’s deceptively ordinary extraordinariness:Doctor Mead is of small build, she has blue eyes, she’s plain folks — there are no wares about her. You get the impression that she’d be at home anywhere — in an igloo, a native hut, or a Park Avenue penthouse.
And, indeed, she did. Mead dedicated her life to the study of indigenous societies and the translation of those observations into invaluable insights on Western culture. Through her tireless work and its eloquent articulation in her books — including her now-legendary volumes Sex and Temperament and Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilization — as well as in her mass media appearances, she popularized modern anthropology, giving it shape and cultural credibility both as a field of practical study and as an area of intellectual inquiry.
Mead is credited as the originator of the viral aphorism “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Though the authorship of the now-ubiquitous quote has never been ascertained, it endures as a beautiful and fitting meta-testament to Mead’s studies of how ideas spread and are assimilated in a culture.
Mead opposed the over-academization of anthropology and its preoccupation with terminology rather than crisp, plain insight. She wryly admonished in her 1979 volume Some Personal Views:If one cannot state a matter clearly enough so that even an intelligent twelve-year-old can understand it, one should remain within the cloistered walls of the university and laboratory until one gets a better grasp of one’s subject matter.
Both her anthropological observations and her personal experience led Mead to defy a number of Wester conventions, instilling in her the conviction that one’s sexual orientation can evolve over the course of a lifetime and that it is possible for a person to have more than one beloved at the same time. In a collection of Mead’s letters, published in 2006 with her daughter’s permission, she writes:[I believe] that one can love several people and that demonstrative affection has its place in different types of relationship.
Mead also objected to the limiting social structures and labels of Western society, especially those that confined sexual identity and behavior to artificial categories, including those of “heterosexual” and “homosexual.” Mead herself had three marriages to men — all anthropologists — and a daughter with her third husband, the renowned British anthropologist Gregory Bateson. She also had two long-term romantic relationships with women: One with her mentor Ruth Benedict, fourteen years her senior, who died in 1948, and another with the prominent anthropologist Rhoda Metraux, thirteen years her junior, who edited much of Mead’s work and with whom Mead spent the last 23 years of her life.
Several weeks after her death, in January of 1979, Mead was posthumously awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom, which cited her far-reaching and inextinguishable legacy:Margaret Mead was both a student of civilization and an exemplar of it. To a public of millions, she brought the central insight of cultural anthropology: that varying cultural patterns express an underlying human unity. She mastered her discipline, but she also transcended it. Intrepid, independent, plain spoken, fearless, she remains a model for the young and a teacher from whom all may learn.
- Reblogged from thereconstructionists
“In the postindustrial economy, feminism has been retooled as a vehicle for expression of the self, a ‘self’ as marketable consumer object, valued by how many times it’s been bought—or, in our electronic age, how many times it’s been clicked on. ‘Images of a certain kind of successful woman proliferate,’ British philosopher Nina Power observed of contemporary faux-feminism in her 2009 book, One-Dimensional Woman. ‘The city worker in heels, the flexible agency employee, the hard-working hedonist who can afford to spend her income on vibrators and wine—and would have us believe that—yes—capitalism is a girl’s best friend.’”
-Susan Faludi, in The Baffler, on the Lean In movement and the history of feminism and capitalism. Read more on Sheryl Sandberg here.
We need your help to get to 5,000 Longreads Members.
I see problems with a narrow conception of feminism, but I always think it’s worth reading examinations of how feminism is a potential disruption to capitalism.
- Reblogged from longreads
This film tells how women from different countries are working together on visual projects to create support the development of a multicultural network in a rural area of England.
Women from the Cumbria Multicultural Women’s Network have come together as Alien Films and are active participants in Visible Voice.
Just gonna leave this here…
dont forget in the states :
100% of men can be drafted
0% of women can be drafted.
just gonna leave these here for you guys who are getting pissy over my ‘white privilege’ post
Now, I’m not all anti-social justice, but you certainly can’t ignore these facts.
But let’s take a guess as to why women generally are prohibited from serving on the front lines in warzones, and why they are discouraged from working in the industrial sector? Patriarchal expectations of appropriate roles for men and women based on gender.
Who commits the majority of homicides? Men.
Why are men more likely to commit suicide instead of seeking help for their problems? It’s those pesky patriarchal gender roles again, equating emotions with femininity and therefore weakness, which discourages men from talking about their problems.
As for the custody thing, the majority of custody decisions are agreements made between both parents, which again, are probably overdetermined by patriarchal assumptions about gender that paint women as being more nurturing and therefore better parents than men.
So, although the person who made this clearly wanted to argue that male privilege doesn’t exist, what they actually did was make a pretty good graphic illustrating the ways in which patriarchal expectations and structures within a society hurt men as well as women, which, since feminism is actually aimed at dismantling the patriarchy is why men also need feminism.
Reblogging for that comment
PRAISE THAT COMMENT. THIS WAS SAID PERFECTLY.