New Resource: Equity and Diversity for Events

Diversity encompasses issues of equity, inclusion, accessibility and intersectionality (the interconnection between gender and racial inequality alongisde other social disadvantages). I’ve created a resource to ensure academic and science events support diversity. Below is a brief version.

Continue reading New Resource: Equity and Diversity for Events

Professor Vera Rubin: Astrophysicist and “Ardent Feminist”

Astrophysicist Professor Vera Rubin, USA National Medal of Science awardee who confirmed the existence of dark matter, died on 25 December 2016.

One of the things I want to highlight especially for this post is the wonderful job Professor Rubin’s institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, did in their press release. They focus on Rubin’s scientific discovery using plain language, but they were bold in also highlighting her gender equity work in science, by calling her an “ardent feminist”. This is so important because women’s advocacy for gender equity is scientific work that is unpaid; it is undertaken on top of research, teaching, and grant work; and goes largely unacknowledged.

This post is dedicated to Professor Rubin’s legacy and all the other ardent feminists in science and elsewhere. Continue reading Professor Vera Rubin: Astrophysicist and “Ardent Feminist”

Structural Barriers for Women in Science

“But the sad fact is it is much easier to say ‘we need more women in science’ than it is to stand up, look the (mostly male) leaders in science and politicians in the eye and say: ‘Your laboratories, hiring procedures, grant-allocating processes and publishing routines are all sexist, and this results in science and technologies that aren’t good for at least half the population. Why have you allowed this to continue for so long?'”

Quote: The Guardian.

Using Data to Improve Gender Equity in STEMM

Using Data to Improve Gender Equity in STEMM

I’ll be co-hosting this Hangout on how institutions can use data and analysis to improve gender equity policies and practices in STEMM organisations.

Join us this Thursday 5.30PM AEST!

#genderequity   #womeninstem   #womeinscience  

Originally shared by Science in Australia Gender Equity

Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) is running a Pilot of Athena SWAN in Australia. Athena SWAN is an evaluation and accreditation program that has had tremendous success enhancing gender equity and diversity in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, especially focusing on science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

Thirty-two Australian institutions have signed up to the SAGE Pilot of Athena SWAN, including 25 universities, five medical research agencies and two government organisations. Athena SWAN seeks to improve the education and career outcomes of all women and to boost the recognition of underrepresented groups (such as transgender scientists, Indigenous Australian researchers and other minority groups). 

SAGE will interview Professor Hazel Hall, Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team Leader for Edinburgh Napier University. We’ll discuss how the university selected its team to support their application for an Athena SWAN application for a Bronze Institutional Award. This Award recognises that an institution has started substantial work to eliminate gender bias and that it is working to create an inclusive culture for all. Professor Hall will speak about how her team overcame the challenges of collecting and analysing gender equity and diversity issues for their institution. Professor Hall will also discuss how they created actions to address areas of inequity and how consultations with staff and students helped this process.

Date: Thursday 5th May

Time: 5.30-6 PM AEST (8:30-9 AM UK), followed by online Q&A from 6-6.15 PM AEST.

Be sure to post your questions for Professor Hall below!

Award application:

You can download a copy of Edinburgh Napier Unviersity’s Bronze Institutional Award application at the SAGE website:

Guest Bio:

Professor Hazel Hall is Director of the Centre for Social Informatics in the Institute for Informatics and Digital Innovation within the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. Her main research expertise and teaching interests lie in information sharing in online environments within the context of knowledge management. She is Edinburgh Napier University’s Academic Champion for Athena SWAN, and led the University’s Athena SWAN bronze award bid in 2014, which resulted a successful outcome (at first attempt) announced in April 2015.

For those unable to watch live, the video will be available to watch after the event on our YouTube channel: 

#stemwomen   #womenintech   #womeninstem  

Stereotypes About Gender and Science

Stereotypes About Gender and Science

Psychologist Linda Carli and her team find that an increased number of women in a particular field improves the perceived similarity between women and scientists but even numbers of men and women don’t necessarily lead to the same effect.

“Common cultural stereotypes about women, men, and scientists lead people to see women as incompatible with science. Men are especially prone to this bias, but everyone shares it. This may result in prejudice (a dislike of female scientists compared with men) and discrimination against them.”


Read the study in Psychology of Women Weekly: #stemwomen   #womeninscience   #womeninstemm  

The Future of Science: Women

The Future of Science: Women

Today I attended an event on how women are the future of science, co-hosted by the Australian Academy of Science at the National Press Club of Australia. It was a truly excellent discussion and historic: the Press Club hosts hundreds of talks every year – but only a minority of women have been invited as speakers. Even more sobering is the fact that women make up less than one percent of the scientists who’ve been invited to address this national media forum. Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) of the University of South Australia Professor Tanya Monro talked about how difficult her early career was because she took time to have children and she had to “bootstrap” funding for her first research centre. She was the first woman professor ever hired in the Physics department at one of Australia’s oldest universities since the University of Adelaide was established in the 1880s. 

Professor Emma Johnston, Director of the Sydney Harbour Research Program, discussed how she “did everything wrong” in terms of her career: she chose to have children (unfortunately, the “motherhood penalty” creates barriers for women researchers); she invested a lot of time in her teaching and pastoral care of students (science careers punish this important but undervalued work); and she was reticent to put herself forward for promotions and grant funds – unsurprising since peer reviewers always took the time to tell her everything that was wrong with her grant applications: too many career gaps (spent looking after family). Professor Johnston had a focus on intersectionality throughout her talk, which was truly wonderful to hear.

Professor Nalini Joshi is the first woman professor of mathematics at the University of Sydney – Australia’s oldest and most prestigious education institution. She was only the third woman mathematician elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Science. She talked about how she chose to wear a white top to today’s televised panel because when she goes to the Academy events dressed in a black suit, with her name tag clearly displaying her name and professorial title, she is mistaken for a waitress by her peers. Professor Joshi talked about how the work we’re doing in Science in Australia Gender Equity will transform science careers, by actively requiring institutions to analyse data to identify gender equity and diversity issues. 

All three scientists discussed some practical solutions – most importantly, all three supported setting institutional targets to increase gender equity.

Watch the panel discussion on ABC Australia  :  

Image: National Press Club: #stemwomen   #womeninstem   #women   #australia   #science  

*Happy International Women’s Day!

*Happy International Women’s Day!

We’re already celebrating today in Australia. Google+ has featured my collection on women in science below. Also check out STEM Women on G+ for excellent posts on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as our video interviews with women scientists from different fields on YouTube

#stemwomen   #iwd2016   #womeninstem  

Originally shared by Google+

Who’s ready for International Women’s Day tomorrow?! We’re kicking things off early this year. ALL week, we’ll be celebrating the inspiring women of Google+ by sharing their Collections. Know a cool Google+ woman you’d like to see featured? Share her Collection(s) with the tag #InternationalWomensDay to let us know!

TODAY: check out this awesome Collection about Women in STEM by creator Zuleyka Zevallos:

How to stop the sexual harassment of women in science: reboot the system

How to stop the sexual harassment of women in science: reboot the system

My latest for The Conversation: There have been several high-profile cases of renowned scientists who have been found to have acted against sexual harassment legislation for up to 10 years. In one case, a prominent astronomer forced students to attend work meetings in strip clubs; in other cases, famous scientists physically groped students or tried to pressure them to reciprocate their sexual and romantic feelings.

For the most part, institutions simply give these men one-off training. One university suspended a serial harasser for one year – he is due to come back to work in July. Meanwhile, nine of his students have left due to his harassment, bullying and erratic behaviour over recent years.

In these cases, the universities involved carried out investigations finding that the professors were in violation of sexual harassment law. These men went from one high profile position to another whilst continuing their abuse of power. One professor was even granted an honorary Emeritus Professorship after the university’s investigation was made public.

The system is telling us that we’d rather lose bright, junior women scholars, in order to protect so-called academic “superstars.”

I also show that the issue of abuse is broader, with senior scientists attacking vulnerable students of minority backgrounds when they speak out against racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.

It’s time to reboot the culture in science. In this article, I discuss strategies that everyone can use to end harassment, including:

* Speaking up when you see someone being harassed

* Leading by example

* Providing easier ways to report, such as through information escrows

* Ensuring anti-harassment policies are working, through confidential consultation and a thorough evaluation of impact

* Making safety a daily priority, especially for managers

* Strategic planning

* Taking a collective stance against harassment.

There are national and regional programs that aim to transform how universities and research organisations make gender equity and diversity a priority, including the program that I’m managing in Australia, Science in Australia Gender Equity. Half of the higher education sector is involved in making changes to eliminate discrimination, harassment and bias, and creating a more inclusive culture. Ending harassment is one important piece of the puzzle. 

Read more about the issue and solutions in my article.

Commenting Policy

Note that I do not allow abuse, personal attacks, or denialism of harassment. My article and my various other writing details the research showing that sexual harassment is a major problem, particularly for women researchers who feel unsafe at work, and fearful of reporting formally. If you want to contribute to a discussion on solutions in a respectful way, let’s have a conversation! If not, I will delete comments that violate my commenting policy.  

Individuals who want to question the definition or severity of harassment are not welcome, because the entire internet is filled with spaces where you can sprout such ignorance. My threads are not such a place. The law is clear: sexual harassment is defined as someone making an “unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, to the person harassed.” Sexual harassment is also legally defined as person engaging “in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed,” including actions or words that lead to offence, humiliation or intimidation. 

My article:

Legal definition of sexual harassment, Sex Discrimination Act, Commonwealth of Australia:

Resources for individuals, managers and workplaces, by the Australian Human Rights Commission: 

Research on the impact of sexual harassment, by the International Labour Organization:

Impact on women who speak out about sexual harassment, by STEM Women on G+

Investigation on why women in science choose not to report sexual harassment (Part 1 of 3), by Dr Janet D. Stemwedel:

How professional science societies can end harassment, by Dr Erika Marín-Spiotta & colleagues for the American Geophysical Union (AGU):

#stemwomen   #womeninstem  

Overcoming Gender Inequality in the Classroom

Overcoming Gender Inequality in the Classroom

Stanford law Professors Daniel Ho and Mark Kelman have conducted research showing that larger classes in law schools increase gender inequality. The study has relevance to STEM as the findings support other research about teaching in physics.

The study, published in the Journal of Legal Studies, included almost 16,000 grades given to around 1,900 students. The researchers find that pedagogy (teaching philosophy and teacher-student practice) matters to gender outcomes. The authors conclude that smaller classes where teachers provide more feedback reduce gender differences in grade scores. The researchers found that women outperformed men in small, interactive classes focused on practical exercises. The researchers note that similar results have been found in interactive physics courses.

Professor Kelman argues that the finds go against the “common sense” presumption that gender performance are “fixed”:

“Some naïve reactions are that if women get poorer grades at law school, women must be less capable… I think it’s surprising to many – and perhaps a confirmation of a more optimistic view that I have – that much of the inequality we observe in the world is mutable, and that the structures that we sometimes take for granted may work to the advantage of some and the disadvantage of others.”

The study: Quote: #stemwomen #law #physics