Tech Inclusion

Tech Inclusion

I’ll be speaking on a panel at the first Tech Inclusion conference in Australia, in Melbourne, on 13 February 2018. Tech Inclusion is aimed at various practitioners from the tech industry to discuss issues of diversity. This includes: executives, hiring managers, human resources, data scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers and diversity and inclusion advocates.

I’ll be on the panel hosted by Cory-Ann Joseph, UX Lead at ANZ, and fellow panellist and UX designer Danya Azzopardi. The panel is called: We’ve got a time machine, now what are we going to do with it?

From the event website:

Growing up in Australia came with a sense that we were lagging behind our bigger, ‘cooler’ brother of the USA – movies, pop music, concert tours all took weeks or months to get to us – if at all. But Silicon Valley doesn’t always lead the way. Mistakes were made in the ‘early’ days of diversity and inclusion: centering men at Women in Tech events, a focus on women first instead of race, and the victim-blamey rhetoric of women needing to change their behaviour. And perhaps the biggest mistake of all is that despite a decade since the first D&I efforts – not much has changed.

How can the tech industry in Australia avoid the same and chart a different course for the future?

Date: 13 February, doors open 8.30 am.

Book on the event website below.

#sociology #socialscience #inclusion #equity #diversity #inclusion #technology #stem #woc #melbourne #event #australia #techinclusion #womeninstem #womeninscience

Sociology of Kiwi Foo, an Unconference

Kiwi Foo Baa Camp timetable

On Friday the 11th of March, I travelled to Auckland New Zealand for Kiwi Foo, a two-and-a-half day “unconference” where 150 participants from New Zealand and other parts of the world from a wide range of professional backgrounds self-organise the sessions. This includes people from technology companies, policy and community organisations, as well as academics . The idea behind Foo Camp is to bring together like-minded individuals who might otherwise not meet, and listen to one another and look for ways to connect in our common goal to make the world a better place.

In order to attend, one must be nominated by a previous Foo alumn from Kiwi camp or SciFoo from the UK. You pay for your own travel but all other costs, including food and lodging if you want it, are provided. When you accept the invitation, you nominate three keywords. Upon arrival, in a large hall filled with around three hundred people, each person stands up to introduce themselves by their name, their affiliation and their keywords, without elaboration. It took awhile but it was really fun. I went representing myself (and this blog!) and my three keywords were: gender equity & diversity; science communication; sociology.

Kiwi Foo proved to be one of the most personally challenging but most rewarding experiences I’ve had. It was an insightful sociological weekend. This is part one of two posts. Part one focuses on what I learned, how I was inspired, and why you should jump at the chance to go, should you get  a chance. Part two contains my talk, Informed and practical ways to enhance gender equity and diversity in STEMM. Continue reading Sociology of Kiwi Foo, an Unconference

Gender Bias in Science Hiring

Gender Bias in Science Hiring

I’ve been quoted in this article in the New Scientist concerning the critique of a new study that argues women are not disadvantaged in science hiring. Please read it as Lisa Grossman has included excellent discussion by scientists Katie Mack and Lucianne Walkowicz addressing why talking about inequality in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is necessary for increased equality and diversity.

Psychology professors Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci published a widely-shared opinion piece on CNN ( based on their own study published in PNAS ( On my blog, I show that the researchers have used a flawed methodology to measure hiring practices and they do not address how sexism is impacted by race, sexuality, disability and other socio-economic markers (

Williams and Ceci’s data in this study, as well as their previous research, actually show that women are under-represented, but the researchers argue this is not due to discrimination and bias, but rather because women are “self-selecting” to leave science, or that they choose to not put themselves forward for jobs. This ignores the context in which women are hired, which does not simply begin at the hiring stage.

Flawed Methods

In this most recent study, Williams and Ceci sent out an email survey to a randomised sample of over 2,000 faculty members in the USA. They had a 34% response rate, meaning their final sample was over 700 faculty. As with all survey research, the sample only includes people who are willing to participate in the study, and they may not reflect the broader sub-population of people who actually serve on hiring committees. Williams and Ceci say they have addressed self-selection bias of their sample by conducting two control experiments. In one, they sent out surveys to only 90 psychology faculty who were paid $25 for participation. They had 91% response rate (82 agreed to participate). The rest of the sample was not paid for their time.

Using psychologists as a control group is not a true reflection of gender bias in broader STEM fields as this discipline has a higher level of awareness about gender issues, as gender is a central concept of study. The other control study involved 35 engineering faculty who responded to hypothetical applicants’ CVs. This material is a better simulation for what we usually review when we are considering a candidate pool. Nevertheless, the rest of the sample – over 500 participants – were asked to rate three candidates based on short vignettes supposedly written by a hypothetical hiring committee chair, commenting on the candidates’ credentials and family situation. This is not how academics are hired. 

Academics are hired on the basis of their CV and response to selection criteria, as well as supporting evidence like letters of recommendation, teaching evaluations, publications, grants record and so on. It is the CV and application material that gets a potential candidate an interview; the interviewee sits before a panel; individual panellists make notes which are then deliberated upon; and the committee makes a decision together. To suggest that reading a short narrative that looks nothing like the real-world context in which hiring panels make decisions is flawed logic. 

Gender Bias

Williams and Ceci are both White tenured professors (meaning that their jobs as senior academics are secure, unlike an increasing number of casual roles). This is the second time that Williams and Ceci have published an article claiming that sexism is over in the academy. The first was published in The New York Times. 

In a video for their last study, the authors admit that their research is motivated by a desire to prove the literature on inequality wrong. Williams, a White woman, even says that she thinks sexism impacted her early career decades a go, but that sexism is no longer a factor. That’s an easy thing to say when you are White and you have achieved tenure at a time when tenure was more hospitable.

As I discuss on my blog, a comprehensive 30-year study shows that White women have made the greatest gains under affirmative action policies, and that minority women have reaped very little from historical diversity policies. It’s time for change.

To overcome gender inequality, we need more senior people contributing to increasing the inclusion and participation of not just of White women, but also of women of colour, migrant women, transgender women, queer and lesbian women, women living with disabilities, and every other group in between who is marginalised.


*PNAS, “Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students”

* PNAS, “Elite male faculty in the life sciences employ fewer women”

* Sex Roles, “The Impact of Gender on the Review of the Curricula Vitae of Job Applicants and Tenure Candidates: A National Empirical Study” (study on psychologists)

* Zevallos, Samarasinghe & Rao for Nature Soapbox Science, “Nature vs Nurture: Girls and STEM:

* Zevallos for STEM Women on G+. What is sexism and how does it work in STEM?

For further discussion of the literature, see the references in these articles:

* My current critique of Williams & Ceci:

* My previous critique of their research on STEM Women on G+

* Supplementary critique on Ceci & Williams on DiverseScholar:

* The video by Williams, Ceci and colleagues:

* My comments on Williams and Ceci’s video (scroll through this thread):

#sociology   #stem   #stemwomen   #diversity   #science  

The Myth About Women in Science? Bias in the Study of Gender Inequality in STEM

The Myth About Women in Science? Bias in the Study of Gender Inequality in STEMA new article on CNN by psychology professors, Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci, boldly proclaims that gender bias in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is a myth. Their research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Unfortunately, their work has a flawed methodological premise and their conclusions do not match their study design. This is not the first time these researchers have whipped up false controversy by decrying the end of sexism in science.

Williams and Ceci write on CNN:

Many female graduate students worry that hiring bias is inevitable. A walk through the science departments of any college or university could convince us that the scarcity of female faculty (20% or less) in fields like engineering, computer science, physics, economics and mathematics must reflect sexism in hiring.

But the facts tell a different story…

Our results, coupled with actuarial data on real-world academic hiring showing a female advantage, suggest this is a propitious time for women beginning careers in academic science. The low numbers of women in math-based fields of science do not result from sexist hiring, but rather from women’s lower rates of choosing to enter math-based fields in the first place, due to sex differences in preferred careers and perhaps to lack of female role models and mentors.

While women may encounter sexism before and during graduate training and after becoming professors, the only sexism they face in the hiring process is bias in their favour.

Williams and Ceci’s data show that, amongst their sample, women and male faculty say they would not discriminate against a woman candidate for a tenure-track position at a university. Sounds great, right? The problem is the discrepancy between their study design, that elicits hypothetical responses to hypothetical candidates in a manner that is nothing like real-world hiring conditions, and the researchers’ conclusions, which is that this hypothetical setting dispels the “myth” that women are disadvantaged in academic hiring. The background to this problem of inequality is that this is not a myth at all: a plethora of robust empirical research already shows that, not only are there less women in STEM fields, but that women are less likely to be hired for STEM jobs, as well as promoted, remunerated and professionally recognised in every respect of academic life.

Continue reading The Myth About Women in Science? Bias in the Study of Gender Inequality in STEM

Rethinking the Narrative of Mars Colonisation

Rethinking the Narrative of Mars ColonisationBiologist Dr D. N. Lee has been doing an amazing job educating on how enthusiastic narratives of “colonising” Mars are problematic. On her Twitter, Lee notes that the dominant ways of talking about colonisation add to the marginalisation of under-represented minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). If we want to make science more inclusive, we need to better understand how the stories we tell about STEM may exclude and damage under-represented groups we are trying to support.

Continue reading Rethinking the Narrative of Mars Colonisation

Scholarship Copyright

Scholarship Copyright

Today I found out that one of my publications, a peer-reviewed conference paper which is available free online, was published without my consent on a journal that I’ve never submitted to. The parent publisher is one of the major science publishers, but the journal itself I’ve never heard of; it does not have an editorial team listed; nor direct contact information for the editors.

What makes matters worse is that the journal is charging $48 for access for a paper that is freely available on the original conference website! The university that I’m affiliated with doesn’t have a subscription to this journal so I can’t check what the published piece looks like. I can’t check if my work has been edited in any way.

I’ve written to the original editor of the conference proceedings to see if there was some arrangement with the publishers that the authors were not made aware of. (The issue includes other papers from the conference, but not all of them.) I’ll also chase this up with a copyright agency tomorrow.

Predatory journals are cropping up everywhere. They undermine science by preying on junior researchers and others who don’t know better. Now it appears that they may be stealing content also!

What Can We Do to Protect Our Work?

Here’s some general advice:

* Use Google Scholar: This was how I realised that the journal had poached my content. It works by pulling web content. You can manually add references but can’t add links. You need to upload your papers to one of the services below for Google Scholar to be able to add a link to your work. Here’s some good tips on how to improve your Google Scholar profile:

* Sign up with a copyright agency: Australia’s Copyright Agency offers a free service where they will help you fight copyright infringements. They have helped a friend of mine get royalties for books and teaching materials that republished my friend’s research without payment. Australians can get help here: 

* Join a Researcher Network: I belong to both ResearchGate and I use the former very little, but most of my papers are up there. It is a free membership-based system to share papers and answer academic questions from other researchers. is widely used, and I have my papers on there too (I joined that before ResearchGate). A few years a go there were concerns about their terms and conditions ( I enjoy it as an alternative way to keep up with what researchers are publishing. Both services help your Google Scholar profile, and most importantly help you keep control of your public publishing profile.

Has something like this happened to you? Do you have other tips to help researchers protect their work?

Image: Z. Zevallos.  #scicomm   #science   #sociology   #socialscience   #stem   #research   #googlescholar   #copyright  

Sociology of Gender Bias in Science

A new study by Dr Corinne Moss-Racusin and colleagues has analysed the public’s comments in response to a prominent study on gender bias in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The researchers find that men are more likely to post negative comments in response to scientific findings about sexism in STEM careers. To provide a flipside illustration, I share some examples of what it is like to be a woman moderator of a large, international science community on Google+. This case study will illustrate the recurring arguments used to invalidate the science on inequality in STEM. These arguments are focused on biological (mis)understandings of gender; stereotypes of what motivates men and women; and a desire to police the boundaries of science. Denying that sexism exists is a common tactic to invalidating the science on gender bias in science, and attacking the social sciences is concurrently used to discredit findings on inequality, as well as support the idea that inequality does not exist in STEM.

Sociology of Gender Bias in Science
Sociology of Gender Bias in Science. Photos: Texas A&M University-Commerce, CC 2.0

Continue reading Sociology of Gender Bias in Science

Sociology of Gender Bias in Science

Sociology of Gender Bias in Science

A new study by Dr Corinne Moss-Racusin and colleagues has analysed comments by the public responding to a prominent study on gender bias in  Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The researchers find that men are more likely to post negative comments in response to scientific evidence of sexism affecting women’s science careers (

The researchers find that men are more likely to refute science findings using subjective observations about biology (“women get pregnant and leave their jobs!”). Or men otherwise evoke ideas of personal choice (men are “hungrier” for success and work harder than women). Men are also more likely to deny that inequality exists, or conversely they blamed women for inequality. Some also said that gender bias affects men more than women (“I’ve experienced it in the opposite way so far.”). Men are also more likely to refute the science findings on inequality by stating that they work in STEM (75% of men’s comments) and holding up their personal opinions as authoritative.

The key gender difference is that men use blanket statements and personal opinion to refute scientific evidence about gender bias, while women use personal anecdotes to illustrate the scientific findings. The first strategy – to deny the science on inequality – is used largely by men to invalidate science on sexism in support of the status quo. The other strategy, used mostly by women, supports the science using personal experiences of bias to challenge the status quo. The first approach rejects science evidence, while the other embraces it.

The researchers argue their study is positive as the majority of public’s comments (754) supported the science. The researchers see that sharing science on inequality provides evidence to support change. At the same time, the fact that 95% of the negative comments were made by men is cause for concern, especially as they vehemently insulted, denied or blamed women for any inequality that might exist.

The study presents a useful framework for thinking about, and addressing, why men react negatively to the science of gender bias in STEM.

I have analysed some of my own experiences as one of three women moderators for Science on Google+​, the largest science community on Google+. I show how the loudest and most persistent voices denying the science on gender bias are men. They tend to adopt two strategies, sometimes simultaneously. First they deny inequality exists, arguing social science methods are fundamentally flawed and cannot adequately measure bias. Second, they use other social science studies to refute inequality, saying inequality is rooted in biology.

These men always incorrectly use social science to make either point, demonstrating their lack of familiarity with social science methods, while also exemplifying the subjective idea that one can pick and choose which “bits” of science they want to believe. Other empirical sociological research highlights how inequality is one area of science that people disbelieve when this clashes with their personal belief system. In the case of the public who say they love science, a significant sub-group of men want to gate-keep science, by forcing women to remain silent on inequality.

Read the science on my blog: #sociology   #science   #stemwomen   #stem  

Academic Sexism

This is my latest post for STEM Women, which covers the recent Op-Ed in the New York Times claiming that there is no sexism in academia. There’s been a really great response from scientists speaking out against this article, particularly on social media. The issue is to really get the message out to the rest of the public that gender inequality in science is important and ongoing.

Continue reading Academic Sexism