Media, Universities and Social Movements

Sociologist Dingxin Zhao argues that in an authoritarian society, social movements are radical while in democratic states, social movements are reformist. In his book, The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement, Zhao argues that even though Western societies position the media as an independent agent, Zhao’s research shows that the media tends to portray the views of the dominant culture. By representing the majority, the media are actually conformist.

In an authoritative regime, the media are under state control. Zhao argues that in China in the mid-1980s, the media tried to escape state control by reporting positively on the student protest movement. Similarly, Zhao argues that universities are more radical in an “underdeveloped authoritarian regime” than in Western societies. In China, the university system “over produced” students who then joined radical social movements.

Zhao’s comparative focus on state institutions and social institutions remains ever useful.  


Photo: Dingxin Zhao (University of Chicago) speaking at the Third Chinese Political Sociology Workshop. By UChicago Beijing via Flickr.

Source: The Other Sociologist.

Introduction to Applied Sociology

Here’s a brief visual overview about how sociology is used beyond universities. Applied sociology is the use of sociological concepts and methods to answer specific client questions and to address community concerns.


Students and Postdocs of Colour in American Astronomy

Physics and astronomy are amongst the least diverse sciences in the USA (with biology being relatively more diverse). In 2012, only one PhD in Astronomy was conferred to a Black American scholar and two to Latin Americans; in Physics two were to African Americans and three to Latins.

Continue reading Students and Postdocs of Colour in American Astronomy

STEM Women in Education: Dr Inger Mewburn, The Thesis Whisperer

In 15 minutes, Buddhini Samarasinghe and I will be speaking with Dr Inger Mewburn. Inger is the Director of Research Training at the Australian National University. Her background was in architecture, but she’s specialised in education research since 2006. We will discuss Inger’s research on the gender experiences of PhD students as they negotiate their relationships with their supervisors and administration. She will also discuss her popular blog, The Thesis Whisperer, which provides practical advice for students across STEM fields. Inger will share insights for women research students and also tell us about her career, and provide tips for navigating a successful path in academia.

In a study published earlier this year, Inger and colleagues find gendered patterns in the way postgraduates negotiate their supervisor and administration relationships.  Women are more likely than men to struggle with university bureaucracy. Even filling in progress reports can be fraught with anxiety about how they may be negatively judged. Women are also less likely to report problems with their supervisors, while men find it relatively easy to approach their supervisors for help and support. 

Inger will discuss how these gender differences are linked to institutional processes that prevent women from realising their full potential in STEM. We’ll discuss how we can better support women PhD students navigate the academic system and prevent the so-called leaky pipeline. 

Read a write-up of our discussion on STEM Women.

Training Women Engineers at Google

Training Women Engineers at Google

This morning, I co-hosted a STEM Women on G+ event along with Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe. We spoke with two women who work on Google’s IT Residency Program. We asked them about how women can get involved with this program and how it helps them manage working in a male-dominated field. Erin Leverton manages the program which runs across several cities (including Sydney). They recruit new graduates like Samantha Schaevitz who spoke with us about her experience transitioning from studying computer science and working at the IT helpdesk in her university, to training on the program, and then getting a permanent role at Google as an engineer. 

It was especially interesting to hear that Google recruits people who have strong social skills and training in other fields, rather than simply just for their technical speciality. For example Erin also had a language background (Spanish) as part of her degree and she gave a couple of examples of people hired from the social sciences (psych and neuropsychology). I enjoyed hearing Sam talk about the applied science aspects of her job. Specifically, how working on software engineering projects as part of the program took her in new directions that she would not have otherwise have thought of while studying.

Watch our chat on the video below and look out for a write up on the STEM Women blog!

#stemwomen   #womeninstem   #womenengineers   #engineering   #sociology   #women   #stem   #career   #students   #google

STEM Women in Tech: Google’s IT Residency Program

Join us with 20 minutes – I’ll be co-hosting this Hangout on Air for STEM Women with Buddhini Samarasinghe. We’re chatting with Erin Leverton and Samantha Schaevitz from Google’s IT Residency Program (ITRP), who’ll tell us about how women can get involved in engineering roles with Google!

ITRP is an opportunity for new graduates to jumpstart their careers in IT, and the program is making tremendous strides for women in IT ( We will discuss how the ITRP creates opportunities for women in Tech, and hear first-hand how being a part of ITRP has benefited our panellists. 

A write-up of our discussion is on STEM Women. 

Graduate Careers in Sociology

In this video, I discuss the careers panel that I sat on as part of the annual conference for The Australian Sociological Association (TASA). I focus on the panel discussion about how to translate theory into practice when you’re working outside academia. I also cover workplace ethics in the video, as well issues about managing professional identity outside of academia and the importance of networking. I was asked about how I manage my research consultancy business. I talk about how to market yourself and how to establish a professional reputation with prospective clients using social media.

Read a summary of the video on Sociology at Work.

Citizen Science: Getting Students into STEM

Very excited to be co-hosting this Science on Google+ event along with Buddhini Samarasinghe. We are chatting with paleontologists Jason Osborne and Dr Aaron Alford about their efforts to improve citizen science. In particular, we’ll talk about outreach to students through data collection. I especially love their work that gives youth from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to participate in practical science, including a chance to publish their findings. 

Continue reading Citizen Science: Getting Students into STEM

How Parents Can Support Girls’ STEM Education

Join us on STEM Women in less than 30 minutes as we talk about how parents can support girls’ education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)! We’ll discuss how parents might use experiments, storytelling and other activities to connect with and bolster their daughters’ STEM passion.

Dr Buddhini Samarasinge and I will speak to Professor Rajini Rao, Dr Bill Carter and Dr La Vergne Lestermeringolo Thatch about the challenges and rewards that come with encouraging girls to pursue a STEM career someday!

A write up of the discusison can be found on STEM Women.

Importance of Intercultural Education for International Students

Importance of Intercultural Education for International Students in Australia. (Repost)

International students represent a large economic and international relations investment for Australia. Australian universities are increasingly relying upon overseas students for their revenue, but these institutions are not adequately addressing the special learning, linguistic, cultural and religious needs of these students. Despite their Australian education, international students experience various difficulties in finding work in their field of study after they graduate. Poor English-language, communication and problem-solving skills are the biggest obstacles to securing ongoing and satisfying jobs. Employer biases regarding international students are equally a problem. Below, I provide a demographic overview of the international student population in Australia. I argue that a stronger focus on the socialisation of international students is likely to increase their educational and career satisfaction.  Continue reading Importance of Intercultural Education for International Students