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Engineering and Mini-Golf January 4, 2013

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What is better than a museum with a mini-golf course inside it? Answer: that museum recognizing an awesome society with a prestigious award. The National Building Museum has honored the Society of Women Engineers with its Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology. The vote was unanimous. Go, SWE!

read the original (longer version) here.

The National Building Museum will award Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology to Society of Women Engineers (SWE), which was chosen by jury in recognition of 60+ years of giving women engineers unique place and voice within engineering industry. Prize will be presented on February 5, 2013 in Washington, D.C., where SWE’s Betty Shanahan will deliver “Diversity Fueling Innovation” lecture and discuss ways to promote under-represented populations in STEM professions.


Shout out for Cancer Research, and an awesome name- Dr. Suetonia Palmer August 24, 2012

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Shout out for cancer research. How do platelets help or hinder the process of treatment?

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University of Otago researcher Dr Suetonia Palmer is one of three recipients of a $25,000 L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellowship, awarded in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The other two are a Melbourne researcher who battled leukemia as a teenager and a scientist recognized for her work in nanotechnology.

Dr Palmer received the award for her work in chronic kidney disease.

Working from temporary facilities as Christchurch rebuilds, she is guiding doctors and policy makers across the world as they attempt to make the best decisions for their patients.

The fellowship will take her work further and help her study what information people receive when their kidney disease worsens and they have to go on dialysis.

That usually requires four hours a day, four days a week in hospital. However, in Christchurch most people have dialysis machines at home.

Dr Palmer will determine what is best practice.

She is also a senior lecturer in the Department of Medicine.

Dr Kylie Mason from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute will investigate ways to reduce the side-effects of new cancer drugs and explore the role of platelets.

She has previously researched ways to extend the life of platelets, the cell fragments that manage blood clotting.

Cancer patients often need platelet transfusions but supply can be a challenge for blood banks because the cells only last five days.

Her work could pave the way to increase the blood bank life of platelets as well as helping cancer patients.

Her battle with leukemia sparked a lifelong interest and career in medicine and research.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute director Dr Doug Hilton said Dr Mason’s personal battle with cancer had not only fueled her passion for medicine and research, but given her a unique perspective as a cancer patient, haematologist, scientist, and mother.

Melbourne scientist Dr Jia Baohua from Swinburne University of Technology was recognized for her role in developing low cost solar energy using nanotechnology to create thin-film solar cells.

RAISE in the News July 11, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Women in Science.
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There is something satisfying about being in a news write-up. Txchnologist covers the implicit biases and some of the figures (including those from RAISE’s own carefully cleaned dataset) regarding women in STEM and female STEM award-winners.

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Are Women’s Scientific Achievements Being Overlooked?

Despite the push in the last decade to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, women are still vastly underrepresented in these careers. But recent research shows the issue runs deeper than just jobs. Compared to men, women receive far fewer scientific awards and prizes than expected based on their representation in nomination pools.

This disparity, researchers found, is likely due to implicit or unconscious biases against women scientists that begin early in life. Numerous studies of school-aged children have found that when they’re asked to draw a scientist, they overwhelmingly depict an older white man working alone. Researchers have found that these biases can be curbed with education.

“I think counteracting these biases is going to be an ongoing process,” says Anne Lincoln, a sociologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas. “If little boys and girls are still drawing scientists that only look like men, I think that’s an indication this is still an issue.”

In 1968, the late sociologist Robert Merton coined the “Matthew effect,” which describes how famous scientists get more credit for collaborative research than their lesser-known colleagues, even if they took the backseat on a project. Twenty-five years later, science historian Margaret Rossiter noticed a similar thing happening to women scientists, whose work was often credited to men or glossed over completely. She called this sociological phenomenon the “Matilda effect.”

“The idea is that scientists strive to be unbiased and objective,” says Lincoln, who is the lead author of a study published in the April 2012 issue of the journal Social Studies of Science. “But if we’re overlooking scientific discoveries based on gender, that’s not a very scientific practice.”

And the implications matter: many female scientists aren’t getting their due recognition and, more important, girls and young women aspiring to enter science and engineering fields aren’t getting a chance to take them on as role models.

The Matilda effect in action

In the mid-2000s, study coauthor Stephanie Pincus noticed something peculiar: Though many female scientists were reaching the pinnacle of their careers, very few of them seemed to be receiving awards or fellowships for their work. Was this an example of the Matilda effect or was something else going on?

To find out, Pincus and her colleagues at the Society for Women’s Health Research developed an immense database of scientific awards and prizes, which noted the year and recipient of each prize. “And, indeed, they found that women tend to not be the winners of the awards,” Lincoln says.

Surely many female scientists were qualified to win the awards, so why were they being snubbed? And did the scientific societies that bestow the awards realize this was happening?

They decided to dig deeper.

The team collected publicly available data on awards given out by 13 STEM societies, such as the Society for Neuroscience and the American Statistical Association, between 1991 and 2010. While awards given to female scientists increased by nearly 79 percent over the two decades, the researchers realized women weren’t actually being recognized for their scientific achievements—between 2001 and 2010, women won only 10 percent of the prestigious scholarly awards. During the same period, they earned 32 percent of service awards and 37 percent of teaching awards.

Women-only prizes further masked the skewed recognition, Lincoln says. In one society, women won 22 of the 108 awards given out in 2001-2010. But 10 of those awards were for women only. So, on the surface it appears as though women won about 20 percent of the awards, but they really only won 12 percent of those that were also open to their male colleagues.

Overall, men were more than eight times more likely than women to win a scholarly award in 2001-2010, the researchers found.

Implicit biases

Lincoln and her colleagues then looked at seven of the professional societies’ award nomination and selection process to discover which factors affected women’s chances of winning. “We asked the societies to collect more information for us — not just who’s in the award committees, but also who’s in the nomination and how they’re picking their winners,” Lincoln says. “We wanted them to paint a picture of the process for us.”

The researchers found that men chaired 94 percent of the committees, which typically had five or six members, and 42 percent of the committees had no female members whatsoever. Women comprised about 17 percent of all nominations for annual awards. They were nominated for more service and teaching awards than scholarly accolades.

Men were twice as likely to win a scholarly award as women, regardless of how many male nominees were considered for the prize. Furthermore, committees chaired by men gave women awards 5 percent of the time, even though women made up about 20 percent of the nomination pools for these particular prizes. Women won the award 23 percent of the time with committees chaired by women — their odds also increased with each woman on the committee.

Lincoln says the results suggest the committee members had implicit biases and were unconsciously subscribing to the culturally held belief that men’s scholarly efforts are more important than women’s.

Making a change

Lincoln and her team approached the presidents of the seven societies with their results. “[The presidents] were very interested and had no idea they were making these discriminatory assessments,” Lincoln says. “They just wanted the best scientific work recognized.”

In 2010, the researchers held a workshop for the societies’ leaders covering their findings. The members were floored. Soon after, the societies drafted workshop summaries for future award committee members to read.

While optimistic about the change, Lincoln would like to see another year of data to tell if the workshop is having an affect. And the next step, she notes, is to approach more STEM societies.

“Since the workshop took place, the percentage of women winning scholarly awards jumped substantially” in these professional societies, Lincoln says.

Go Pam Maynard! July 9, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Award Winners, Featured Prize, Women in Science.
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If blueprints aren’t your thing, it doesn’t mean you should rule out a career in Tech. There are such a wide variety of jobs in the field. Thanks for your insight, Ms. Maynard. And congrats on winning your First Women Award!

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By Pam Maynard

At the very end of last month Real Business announced the winners of the 2012 First Women Awards. Designed to recognize pioneering women whose achievements open opportunities for others, the awards showcase the wealth of career opportunities available for women in the science and technology sectors, aiming to inspire more women into the profession by highlighting the success of leading women in the field.

This year I was one of the lucky ones to be honored with a win in the First Women of Science & Technology category.

I have been in the technology industry for over 15 years and can truly say that I enjoy my work and always look to push myself beyond the boundaries – both real and perceived – of being a female in the sector. The sad fact however is that despite ongoing efforts, technology remains a less-thought of career path for female graduates.

The key misconception out there is that women simply can’t have a successful career in technology. This is absolutely not true and is something that we should all be working to change. We need to get more women into technology at an early age but to do so we need to be able to highlight powerful examples of women who are excelling in their careers. If you look at organizations in the UK like Capgemini, Accenture and Microsoft, and other FTSE 100 companies you can find very successful females with technology-focused careers – the challenge now is to make sure we are raising their profiles as high as they can go.

Another misconception about technology as a career is that it is very narrow in scope. In fact, a career in technology is so much broader – it is not just about developing technology solutions and technology companies do not have to be full of technologists. There is a huge set of different roles that sit around the delivery of a technology solution and require different skillsets. Whether it is project management or business analysis, these types of roles often come with an increased requirement for collaboration – one of the softer skills found more in women than men. If companies want to start bringing in more female talent, they need to get better at recognizing and defining the skillset they require from employees and reflecting this back in their recruitment efforts.

If I were going to use my recent win as a platform to speak to girls considering a career in technology my first piece of advice above all else would be for them to have confidence in their value. Today’s young women need to have more self-belief and recognize the value in the unique skills and experience that they can bring to the sector. Males and females bring different skillsets to any work place and a balanced gender mix is optimal for the success of any business.

Why Female Entrepreneurs Don’t Receive The Recognition Men Do July 5, 2012

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Here at RAISE, we are concerned with STEM women getting the recognition they deserve. But the same reasons that figures remain low cut across fields. Theory: women are less inclined to seek the professional limelight.

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By Mario Schulzke (Founder & CEO, IdeaMensch)

Through interviews and events, IdeaMensch has featured over 800 entrepreneurs. That being said, we don’t just interview traditional entrepreneurs but anyone who has an idea and brings it to life: bloggers, nonprofit CEOs, social entrepreneurs, authors, artists and even a gentleman who runs a rickshaw business in Mumbai.

If I had to make a guess, we have probably featured 650 men and 200 women. And people ask me all the time why we don’t interview more women?

There actually is a reason. One reason I’ve never really shared before.

The reason we haven’t interviewed more female entrepreneurs is because they’re too focused bringing their ideas to life. And unlike their male counterparts (not all, but a fair share of us), women entrepreneurs really don’t care so much about public recognition. Women don’t brag like we do.

For every ten male entrepreneurs we ask to be featured, eight will say yes.

For every ten female entrepreneurs we to be, five will say yes. The other five will be very complimentary and tell me that they’re simply too busy right now focusing on a, b or c.

They usually eventually get to it, but normally my experience has very much been that female entrepreneurs are less inclined to shine the light on themselves.

Prize or Prejudice? June 7, 2012

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OK, so this is about lit, not STEM. But the interesting question is…. are women-only awards a help or hindrance??

Thanks, A.S. Byatt, for today’s ponderance. I wish I possessed the answer. ha ha! .. groan.

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BRITAIN’S prestigious Orange Prize, awarded exclusively for fiction by women writing in English without regard to nationality, has just now completed its 17th year. And while the prize is lauded for its international reach and has never been disparaged for choosing to bar translated work, once again the annual clamor erupts: how can such a circumscribed honor be deemed legitimate? Why only women?

A. S. Byatt, the eminent British novelist who in 1990 won the Booker Prize, and who has determinedly kept her books out of the Orange race, offers a blunt answer: “The Orange Prize is a sexist prize. You couldn’t found a prize for male writers. The Orange Prize assumes there is a feminine subject matter — which I don’t believe in.” Responding to the recent report that Orange, a telecommunications company, will no longer sponsor the award, this principled writer demurs yet again. “I shan’t mourn it. … Women should be allowed to have everything men have, but they shouldn’t be allowed to have their own little sheep pens.”

On one hand, “sheep pen,” “ghetto,” “biologically based self-confinement.” And on the other, the Woolfian ideal of “a room of one’s own,” ultimately culminating in the Orange Prize. Which view is truer, which owns the greater persuasive force?

In the hope of settling this dispute, I ask you to consider the history of literary women. It turns out, oddly, to be also a prolific history of “men,” among whom the most celebrated are Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell (Charlotte, Anne and Emily Brontë), George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin), Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), Vernon Lee (Violet Paget).

The motive behind these necessary masquerades is hardly an urge to hide. Instead, it is a cry for recognition and a means of evading belittlement, or worse yet, the curse of not being noticed at all. The most pointed symptom and symbol of this pervasive fear is the poignant exchange between the 20-year-old Charlotte Brontë and Robert Southey, England’s poet laureate. Humbly and diffidently, she had sent him a sampling of her poems, trusting that he might acknowledge the worth of what she knew to be her “single, absorbing, exquisite gratification.”

His notorious reply, while conceding her “faculty of verse,” is nearly all that remains of his once powerful fame. “Literature,” he chided, “cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure she will have for it, even as an accomplishment and a recreation.” If such condescending sentiments leave a contemporary writer feeling sick at heart, Brontë thought the letter “kind and admirable; a little stringent, but it did me good.”

The Orange Prize, then, was not born into an innocent republic of letters. Nor need we thumb through past centuries to discover the laureate’s enduring principle. After gaining a modicum of notice following an eclipse lasting years, I was once praised, as a kind of apology, by a prominent editor with these surprising words: “I used to think of you as a lady writer” — an inborn condition understood to be frivolous and slight, and from which recovery is almost always anomalous.

So much for the defense of a reparative award dedicated solely to writers who are women. Advocacy of this sort, vigorously grounded as it is in a darker chamber of the literary continuum, is not the Orange’s only defense. We are reminded that there are, abundantly, prizes for regional writers, for black writers, for Christian writers, for Jewish writers, for prison writers, for teenage writers, for science writers, and on and on. Why must a prize for women’s writing be the single object of contention?

Yet this argument will not hold water. Each such category signals a particular affinity, or call it, more precisely, a culture (and in the case of Jews and Christians, a deeper and broader civilization), and women are integral to all of them. To argue for femaleness-as-culture is to condemn imaginative and intellectual freedom and to revert to the despised old anatomy-is-destiny. And to the sheep pen and the ghetto and the circumscribed body of feeling and thought.

In an essay titled “Literature and the Politics of Sex,” I once ventured a definition of feminism. “In art,” I wrote, “feminism is that idea which opposes segregation; which means to abolish mythological divisions; which declares that the imagination cannot be ‘set’ free, because it is already free. I am, as a writer, whatever I wish to become. I can think myself into a male, or a female, or a stone, or a raindrop, or a block of wood, or the leg of a mosquito. Classical feminism,” I concluded, “was conceived of as the end of false barriers and boundaries; as the end of segregationist fictions and restraints.”

And then, lo! To confound this declaration, blind luck landed me on the Orange shortlist. Did I hasten to demand omission from so discriminatory a roster? No. I was, in fact, exhilarated and privileged; I rejoiced in this out-of-the-blue acknowledgment by faraway judges in another country. Where now were my anti-separatist convictions? Was I sunk, after all, in hypocrisy, opportunism, expediency, cynicism? Perhaps all; decidedly all. Yet I failed to feel defined by any of these evils; I felt no bad faith. It came to me then, since a writer is a writer is a writer (“male and female created He them”), it may also be true, for the sake of literature itself, that a prize is a prize is a prize. For readers and writers, in sum, the more prizes the better, however they are structured, and philosophy be damned.

Cynthia Ozick is the author, most recently, of the novel “Foreign Bodies,” shortlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize.

South Africa: Google Accolade for Young Female Techies June 6, 2012

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Anita Borg is an active benefactor for young, mid-level, and senior career women in STEM. We feature their awards in our searchable database. Do YOU qualify? Find out at http://raiseproject.org!


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Recently named the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship recipients, Maletsabisa Molapo (24) and Joyce Mwangama (25) have a bright future ahead in the African Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) landscape.

The scholarship is an international award initiated by Google that seeks to recognise women in ICT who perform with distinction in sciences degrees. It also seeks to encourage and reinforce the presence and leadership of women in technological fields, who currently remain a minority. The scholarship comprises a financial award for one academic year and a networking retreat to Google in Zurich, Germany.

Molapo and Mwangama are two of the three women awarded this prestigious scholarship in South Africa. Both young women are currently enrolled at the university of Cape Town (UCT) pursuing ICT related degrees. Molapo pursues a Masters in Computer Sciences degree as a Mandela Rhodes scholar whilst Mwangama is a candidate for a Doctorate (PhD) in Electrical Engineering in her second year of research.


Citing the genesis of her passion for technology, Molapo reminisces about her undergraduate days at the University of Lesotho (NUL), where she completed a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Computer Systems and Networks in 2009. “I was the only female in my engineering class. I constantly felt the need to excel and be competent as a female in a male dominated class,” says Molapo.

Molapo ‘s interest in the application of ICTs in empowering communities, particularly women and youth, was the catalyst to her founding the National Association of Women in Technology in Lesotho whilst at NUL. The association seeks to cultivate a culture of academic and professional excellence among female technologists in Lesotho. “As students we used to visit high schools, citing our own stories in order to cultivate a culture of positivity towards academic and professional excellence. However, we noticed that girls did not do well in sciences and we challenged ourselves to make a difference,” says Molapo.

Mwangama on the other hand was born in Tanzania and migrated to Botswana at the age of 4. She currently holds a Bachelor of Sciences in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Masters in Electrical Engineering both from UCT. Her interests include Next Generation Mobile Networks and Future Internet architectures and technologies. Talking of her vision for a robust African digital arena, Mwangama says her goals are not restricted by boarders. “The whole African digital and technological landscape is challenged. I believe mobile telecommunication is the next big thing and East Africa has understood how to utilise these for development,” she says. “Africa’s technologists must understand Africa’s difficulties and merge their creativity with technological advancement to solve our energy, internet, climate and social crises.


Both students are set on completing their current degrees and venturing into the tech-world in full force. Molapo’s research in the area of Information Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and focuses on the use of mobile-videos to train low-literate health workers in Lesotho and Sierra Leone. She forms part of the executive leadership of the UCT Chapter of the United Nations Association of South Africa. She has been also been selected as a 2012 fellow of the Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa (MILEAD). Her interests are in ICTs for the promotion of health and education and Data Visualisations.

Mwangama’s PhD research revolves around the concept of the evolution of Mobile Broadband Networks, which is gaining momentum in the communications and networking research field. She also works for the Electrical Engineering Department at UCT as a Research and Teaching Assistant. Outside academics, Mwangama is heavily involved in volunteer and leadership positions within at her university and within the local community. She has run the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) student branch at UCT. She is also the Pre-University Activities coordinator for the Africa region where she is involved in initiatives to promote engineering and sciences to high school learners.

By the looks of things, both young women have a bright future in the industry and are both looking up to the networks created through the Google scholarship and Zurich trips.

2012 Women in Science series features stem cell researcher June 5, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Award Winners, Career, Featured Prize, Women in Science.
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Highlighting Women in Science, a great series run through the University of Wisconsin, which points a well-deserved spotlight on female research.


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June 04, 2012 College News – The Medical College of Wisconsin’s 6th annual Women in Science series will feature Michele Battle, PhD, a stem cell researcher and Assistant Professor of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, at the June 21 luncheon presentation at the Woman’s Club in Milwaukee. This presentation is geared for the lay public.

Dr. Battle will discuss recent scientific advances that make it possible to transform human stem cells into organ-specific cell types. She is using government-approved stem cells in her laboratory to study the formation of the gastrointestinal tract. The ultimate goal of her research is to discover stem cell-based therapies to restore the function of diseased or damaged organs.

Women in Science is an opportunity to meet outstanding female scientists and physicians and learn about their cutting-edge research. Series subscriptions are available for a suggested minimum donation of $250, which includes five presentations, and also supports two annual awards for promising women scientists. Admission, food and parking are included at all of the events in the series.

Dr. Battle’s luncheon presentation is sponsored by Anonymous Donors of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and held in cooperation with TEMPO Milwaukee. The event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin, 813 E. Kilbourn Avenue.

The mission of Women in Science is to showcase outstanding research and provide financial support for women scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Seven Scientists Win Kavli Prizes June 4, 2012

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Seven scientists whose work spanned the outer reaches of the solar system and penetrated the inner workings of brain circuits and nanotubes were named winners of the 2012 Kavli Prizes on Thursday. The $1 million awards, sponsored by the physicist, businessman and philanthropist Fred Kavli, are given every two years by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for work in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience, “the biggest, the smallest and the most complex,” in the words of Mr. Kavli.

Mildred S. Dresselhaus, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, won the nanoscience prize for her research on carbon nanotubes, the chicken-wire wonder cylinders of pure carbon, and how they conduct heat and electricity. She is known around M.I.T. as “the queen of carbon,” according to her colleague Angela Belcher, who noted that she had been working on carbon fibers since the 1960s and had been able to predict the properties of nanotubes, which can be formed by rolling or twisting a sheet of carbon atoms only one atom wide, before they had been discovered in the lab.

Cornelia Isabella Bargmann of Rockefeller University, Winfried Denk of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany, and Ann M. Graybiel of M.I.T. will split the neuroscience prize for work aimed at elucidating how the brain processes information from the environment. Dr. Bargmann has unraveled some of the logic of the neural circuits of C. elegans, a worm with only 300 nerve cells that is used in genetic research. Dr. Denk developed microscopy techniques that allowed researchers to make three-dimensional maps of the internal wiring in brain tissues.

Dr. Graybiel is an expert in the basal ganglia, structures in the forebrain that control movement and have been implicated in diseases like Parkinson’s and addiction. Her work, the academy said, shows how patterns of neural activity change and reorganize themselves as animals develop new skills or habits, both good and bad.

At a ceremony at New York University on Thursday morning, Dr. Bargmann was asked why we should study such a primitive worm. “The worms are our partners and collaborators,” she answered, adding that their systems are simple enough that “you can really try to understand the whole system at once.” Her research had shown, she said, that the brain has innate pathways that link certain signals to certain behaviors. For example, she said, “children are born knowing they like sweet things and reject bitter ones.”

The winners of the astrophysics prize will also split $1 million for exploring a hitherto unknown facet of the architecture and history of the solar system: a cloudy disk of ice and rock known as the Kuiper Belt. It looms outside the orbit of Neptune and contains at least 70,000 objects left over from the formation of the planets. David C. Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Jane X. Luu of M.I.T.’s Lincoln Laboratory discovered the Kuiper Belt in the form of a slow-moving (meaning it was very far away) object in 1992.

The third winner of the astrophysics prize, Michael E. Brown of the California Institute of Technology, has discovered a series of massive bodies in the Kuiper Belt, including, in 2005, Eris, which is more massive than Pluto. His work led to a worldwide debate on the definition of planethood, which resulted in Pluto’s being dumped from the roster of planets and designated, like Eris and others, a dwarf planet.

The awards were announced by Nils Christian Stenseth, president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, as part of a World Science Festival event. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and President Obama’s science adviser, spoke about the administration’s efforts to cultivate a climate of innovation, citing the trip of the private Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Women’s scientific achievements often overlooked and undervalued May 24, 2012

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New study shows award committee chairs inclined to choose men as award recipients.

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Los Angeles, CA (May 8, 2012) A new study from Social Studies of Science (published by SAGE) reveals that when men chair committees that select scientific awards recipients, males win the awards more than 95% of the time. This new study also reports that while in the past two decades women have begun to win more awards for their scientific achievements, compared to men, they win more service and teaching awards and fewer prestigious scholarly awards than would be expected based on their representation in the nomination pool.
The authors wrote, “On the face of them, awards for women may not raise concerns … yet women-only awards can camouflage women’s underrepresentation by inflating the number of female award recipients, leading to the impression that no disparities exist.”
The researchers analyzed the composition of award committees in order to explain why there is such a large disparity between male and female scientific award recipients. They found that committees that were chaired by men awarded 95.1% of their prizes to men despite the fact that women made up 21% of the nomination pools. While having women on a committee did increase the chances that women were awarded prizes, women made up only 19.5% of the average award committee and male chairs trumped any effect of having women on the committee.
Researchers Anne E. Lincoln, Stephanie Pincus, Janet Bandows Koster, and Phoebe S. Leboy studied the dissemination of awards given by 13 societies from the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and medicine (STEM) between 1991 and 2010. They found that while awards to women increased by 78.5 % during these two decades, between the years of 2000 and 2010, men were more than eight times more likely than women to win a scholarly award and almost three times more likely to win a young investigator award. Interestingly, this disparity grew instead of diminishing between the years of 2001 and 2010 – women won 10% of research-based awards while winning 32.2 % of service awards and 37.1 % of teaching awards.
The researchers suggested some possible solutions to this problem such as increasing the proportion of female nominees for all types of scientific prizes, ensuring that women are well represented on prize committees, constantly reviewing award criteria to check for implicit bias, and establishing an oversight committee to maintain standards of equality.
“The fact that women are honored twice as often for service as for scholarship may arise from … the tacit assumption that scientists and rigorous scholars are men, and that women are incongruent with the scientist role,” wrote the authors. “Professional societies must inform leadership and awards committees about such bias.”