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Wom-aceda-medic-eosis! Translation: Burnout. December 5, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
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First: Ohmigosh, wordpress is snowing! Squee!!

Second: On to real business. Do you, like our subject, get tired of being a woman in academic medicine? Longer hours for less recognition, a dismal rate of awards and prizes.. or is that just the nature of the field?

Read the original here. 

By Pauline Chen, M.D.

I recently learned that a doctor friend had seriously considered quitting her job at her medical school to go into private practice. As long as I have known her, she has talked about her love for teaching new doctors and conducting research while still caring for patients. Nonetheless, I wasn’t surprised to hear the reason she wanted to leave.

“I got tired of being a woman in academic medicine,” she said.

She recounted how, much more than her male colleagues, she would be assigned to work during major holidays, cover for others’ absences and sit on administrative committees that took time away from the research required to advance her career. When she spoke to her chairman about the discrepancies, he listened — but never responded to her repeated requests for a raise or more support.

What surprised me, however, was what finally persuaded her to stay. When she described her situation to some male colleagues, they listened attentively, then began relaying their frustrations with how little support they got from superiors.

“It’s hard being a woman here, but I concluded it’s not that great for anyone else either,” she said.

Sadly, her assessment seems to be correct, according to a recent study on the experiences of women and men working in medical schools.

Academic medical centers — institutions that have as their primary mission the training of new doctors, medical research and comprehensive clinical care – have long played a crucial role in how medicine is practiced in the United States. While historically most doctors were men, medical schools began broadening their admissions policies a little over a generation ago, so that women soon made up anywhere from a third to half of all students and trainees and an increasing percentage of the professors.

But in 2000, a landmark national survey of those working in these institutions revealed that gender bias was widespread. More than half of the women professors surveyed reported being discriminated against or sexually harassed, even as most of their male colleagues believed that such disparities in their institutions did not exist. Other studies found that women faculty members continued to make less money than their male peers, were promoted more slowly and even fared worse in academia’s most revered expression of meritocracy, the peer-review process.

Some researchers attributed the persistent issue to a “pipeline problem,” insufficient numbers of senior level women in medicine, particularly in certain specialties like surgery. Other experts postulated that women were more sensitive to unfair treatment because they tended to be more relationship-oriented than their male colleagues. Still others offered up what amounted to a tautological zinger: by choosing not to leave academic medicine, women simply had more opportunities to experience harassment.

The latest study, conducted as part of the National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine and published in The Journal of General Internal Medicine, offers another reason for women’s discontent in academic medical centers: the organizational culture, or the norms of behavior and implicit values of these institutions. And it’s not just women who are feeling demoralized.

The researchers administered a 20-minute questionnaire to over 2,000 faculty members at more than 25 academic medical centers and asked if their work energized them, if they felt ignored or invisible, if they felt pressure to be more aggressive or compromise their values and if their institution promoted altruistic and public service values.

As in earlier studies, more women than men felt marginalized and discriminated against, despite being as ambitious and engaged in work as their male colleagues. Many of the women also described a lack of trust in their institutions or little confidence that the discrimination they were experiencing would ever be addressed.

But both women and men expressed similarly negative feelings about a lack of support from their institutions for their work. And the men were just as likely as the women to feel what experts have termed “moral distress,” a sense of being trapped and forced to compromise on what one believes is right or just.

“We have this dehumanizing organizational culture in academic medicine that doesn’t allow people to realize their potential or be as vital and productive as they can be,” said the lead author, Dr. Linda H. Pololi, a senior scientist at Brandeis University who is also the director of the initiative. “It’s hard to ignore the far-reaching consequences of a work environment that has trouble modeling compassion and care.”

Based on this study and their earlier work, Dr. Pololi and her initiative collaborators have begun offering mentoring programs for faculty members, both female and male, at a handful of medical schools around the country. The program involves reading, writing and regular group exercises and discussions aimed at developing leadership skills and promoting a more open environment. In the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, a preliminary survey has shown that the mentoring program, which has just begun its third year at the school, has already helped to increase the degree of trust among faculty members.

While it remains to be seen whether these changes will endure, it has become clearer that men, as well as women, stand to benefit from any improvement. “It is shocking that the situation for women in academic medicine hasn’t changed that much in the last 10 years,” Dr. Pololi said. “But it’s not always easy to notice the quality of an organization’s culture.”

She added: “That culture is like the air we breathe or the water that fish swim in. It has the potential, for better or worse, to affect everybody in the same way.”

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Techie-in-Chief: But I don’t wanna be a token! November 19, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
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Nobody wants to be the token. It is nice to see a familiar-looking face at your workplace. Is this common desire for homogeneity stunting women who kinda, sorta, maybe are interested in tech fields?

Read the Original Here. 

In fact, the whole article is a light read but fairly lengthy, so you should prob just head on over to Computerworld.

10 Coed Colleges With the Biggest Gender Gap July 18, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Uncategorized.
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An interesting read covering some of the reasons behind gender disparity in university enrollment.

Read the Original Here. Great graphics go along with this article so it’s best viewed on the original site. Thanks @ Anna Miller for the lead.

 

It’s the nerves… July 17, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Women in Science.
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It’s the nerves! In a British study, girls and boys performed equally in math; yet in test scenarios, girls with Math Anxiety scored lower. Read the full study and abstract here.

Behavioral and Brain Functions 2012, 8:33 doi:10.1186/1744-9081-8-33

Published: 9 July 2012

Background

Mathematics anxiety (MA), a state of discomfort associated with performing mathematical tasks, is thought to affect a notable proportion of the school age population. Some research has indicated that MA negatively affects mathematics performance and that girls may report higher levels of MA than boys. On the other hand some research has indicated that boys’ mathematics performance is more negatively affected by MA than girls’ performance is. The aim of the current study was measure girls’ and boys’ mathematics performance as well as their levels of MA while controlling for test anxiety (TA) a construct related to MA but which is typically not controlled for in MA studies.

Methods

Four-hundred and thirty three British secondary school children in school years 7, 8 and 10 completed customised mental mathematics tests and MA and TA questionnaires.

Results

No gender differences emerged for mathematics performance but levels of MA and TA were higher for girls than for boys. Girls and boys showed a positive correlation between MA and TA and a negative correlation between MA and mathematics performance. TA was also negatively correlated with mathematics performance, but this relationship was stronger for girls than for boys. When controlling for TA, the negative correlation between MA and performance remained for girls only. Regression analyses revealed that MA was a significant predictor of performance for girls but not for boys.

Conclusions

The results indicate that, in a British secondary school sample, girls report higher levels of MA than boys. Anxiety experienced by boys may simply reflect general test anxiety, whereas girls experience specific anxiety towards mathematics, which is above and beyond any general anxiety associated with testing situations. Speculatively, girls may have had the potential to outperform boys in maths, but their higher levels of MA may have attenuated their performance. As MA can lead to the development of negative attitudes towards mathematics and drop-out from mathematics classes, MA warrants attention in the classroom.

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.

Read the Original Here. 

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.

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

Posted by The Raise Project in Career.
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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.

Read the Original Here. 

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.

Among Doctors, Too, Women Are Paid Less July 3, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
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Chosen because of their similarity to one another in professional interests, aptitude and ambition, the doctors in the study each had received a highly prestigious research grant early in their careers and worked in academic medical centers.

The study controlled for specialty, publications, academic rank, hours worked and leadership positions…

Result: a man *still* made an average of $12,000 more annually than a woman.

Read the original here.

Dr. Pauline Chen

Brilliant and hard-working, my younger colleague had just returned from delivering one of the main talks at a national medical meeting. All of us viewed the invitation to speak as an acknowledgment of her great potential, so when I asked her about the conference, I expected her to bubble over about the accolades she’d heard and the plum job offers she’d received from competing medical centers.

But she hardly smiled as she recounted her experiences.

“During the question-and-answer session I kept falling back on phrases like ‘maybe,’ ‘perhaps’ and ‘I guess so,’ ” she said. Though she had the experience and data to rebut even the most aggressive or erroneous challenges from doctors in the audience, her tentative manner seemed to leave her vulnerable to doubts and even more questioning.

What’s more, she added, she had noticed that many of the other female speakers responded to their audiences as she had, with wavering and hesitant replies, while most of the men answered “with such confidence and bravado that we women looked pretty amateur in comparison.”

The experience had shaken my colleague’s quiet confidence. “I always thought the strength of my work was all that mattered in medicine,” she said. “Now I can’t help but wonder if other factors are involved.”

This was not the first time I had heard a colleague speculate on how her sex might affect the way others treated her professionally, but we all thought medicine was one of the few careers in which men and women working the same hours and producing comparable results in similar specialties would be paid and promoted equally. While some studies found income disparities between male and female doctors, researchers chalked up their findings to the fact that fewer women worked in higher-paying specialties and more men worked longer hours.

But a study published recently in The Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that medicine may not be so meritocratic after all.

Researchers analyzed the professional trajectories of almost 2,000 midcareer physician-researchers. Chosen because of their similarity to one another in professional interests, aptitude and ambition, the doctors in the study each had received a highly prestigious research grant early in their careers and worked not in private practice but in academic medical centers. The researchers examined a wide range of career factors, including the number of hours worked, professional achievements, leadership positions, marital status, parental status and salary.

As in some earlier studies, the researchers found a difference in income, with a male doctor’s annual salary averaging just over $200,000 and a female’s averaging about $168,000. And like previous researchers, they found that the female doctors tended to be in lower-paying specialties, have fewer publications, work fewer hours and hold fewer administrative leadership positions.

But when these researchers ran the numbers again, this time adjusting for differences in specialty, publications, academic rank, hours worked and leadership positions, they found that the expected average salary for women still fell behind that of their male colleagues. The male doctors made over $12,000 per year more than the women. Calculated over the course of a 30-year career, the income gap based on sex alone amounted to over $350,000.

“We really didn’t expect to find such a substantial unexplained difference,” said Dr. Reshma Jagsi, lead author and an associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan. “In Michigan, that amount buys you a house, your kids’ education or a nice nest egg for retirement.”

There may be several reasons for this income difference. A previous study by a group of psychologists, for example, showed that when presented with identical résumés, one from a man and one from a woman, employers of both sexes were more likely to hire the man. A similar unconscious bias is likely to exist among doctors, influencing how much female physicians are paid and promoted. “It’s not like the medical centers or the department heads are evil,” Dr. Jagsi said. “The problem is that sometimes in medicine we think we are immune to these pervasive biases.”

Male and female doctors may also interact differently with their superiors when talking about payment and promotions. Women in other fields have been shown to negotiate less aggressively than their male peers. In medicine, that would mean women are less inclined to ask for more money and less likely to leverage offers from competing institutions or practices.

While the current study looks at only one small and homogeneous subset of physicians, the findings are probably applicable to many more doctors. “The men and women we studied were the go-getters,” Dr. Jagsi said. “You have to worry that if you see such disparities among this group, you will see at least the same, if not more, differences among other groups of physicians.”

Dr. Jagsi believes that greater transparency would decrease, and even eliminate, the income differences. Currently, it is difficult for most doctors to know if they are being paid fairly “since most institutions don’t have clear policies on how to determine salaries,” she noted. But standardizing the process of compensation and career advancement would make everyone involved more accountable for such decisions and “allow men and women to be paid as much as the work they are doing is worth,” she said.

“Society makes a huge investment in every medical trainee,” Dr. Jagsi said. “If we make that kind of investment, we need to ensure that compensation and advancement are fair.”

She added, “It comes down to a matter of basic fairness.”

What happens when that Highschool senior you look up to is a Techno-geek June 11, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
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It used to be that, quantitatively, the top reasons women cited for staying away from technology fields were:

*it’s not interesting;

*they think they wouldn’t be good at it;

*they think they will be working with a number of people that they just wouldn’t feel comfortable or happy working alongside.

But now that tech is so much more integrated into our daily lives, being technologically illiterate no longer flies. The article finds that the new reasons include:

*not being aware of the economic benefits and impact tech careers can have;

*female students not taking computer science classes, which might spark their interest;

*not having “mentors” who are only a few years older that are into tech. (Remember that Senior in highschool, when you were a freshman, and they were the epitome of cool and the pinnacle of human evolution, with their school savvy and CAR KEYS? Article suggests the more girls get into computers and technology, the more young devotees will follow, and the cycle will continue.)

Read the original here. 

Here’s the Real Reason There Are Not More Women in Technology

Thomas Hawk

Ask someone to tell you the reasons that there are not more women in technology positions and chances are they will point to one of the numerous articles written lately. They usually start with “top 10 reasons why women…” or “break the glass ceiling by…”.  But instead of doing the hard research, they produce the literary equivalent of ‘all flash and no substance’.

To understand the reasons and circumstances of the issue, we must go beyond the pretexts to an examination of the occupational conditions for women throughout their life. And I chose to discuss it with 10 successful women that have all made it to the top of their professions in technical related fields.

Such a view of women’s lives are of course limited by the size of the study, but these successful women each put forth sound, actionable advice for women of all ages. Critical advice during a time where technology has begun and increasingly will permeate every facet of every profession on earth. A career without a technology background is a fatal one.

(more…)

Prize or Prejudice? June 7, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Award Winners, Career.
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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.

Read the original here. 

By CYNTHIA OZICK

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.

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

Posted by The Raise Project in Women in Science.
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New study shows award committee chairs inclined to choose men as award recipients.

See original here.

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.”