Thursday, December 29, 2011

Women in Science

Just a quick post to share the link to a blog I recently found and have spent a bit of time reading.  It is part of a website called Scitable by Nature Education. I'm not sure how truly tantalizing a topic women in science will ever be, but this site makes an effort by covering controversy, tendering trivia, and narrating news. All in all, I think you're bound to find something relevant to you! Even if you're not just interested in women in science issues, there are many many topics covered, so feel free to dive in!

Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Addressing the Cultural Context of STEM Pursuits

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! Today, I'd like to share a blog entry Addressing the Cultural Context of STEM Pursuits | The White House. It provides links to numerous resources that consider race/ethnicity/gender and STEM education, training, and career development. Yes, we must maximize students' abilities and preparedness to take advantage of opportunities, and acknowledging cultural identity is an important aspect of this. But, it is important to remember that opportunity is realized through demand. While students must be aware of career "possibilities", educators and policy makers must also consider the societal and workforce relevance of the degrees they espouse.  Professional Science Master's programs are a relatively new way devised to meet existing workforce demand not met by traditional degree holders, but I know nothing of the demographics of this cohort.

In addition to increasing demand--here is the perspective of someone calling for an increase in expectation. Here is a link to the testimony (in 2008 before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) of Richard Tapia, a Rice University Professor "demanding" that more minority students be directed to and better supported in elite undergraduate and graduate programs. Passively "steering" these students to lesser programs may increase the numbers of minority student, but will likely perpetuate stereotypes that minorities are under-achieving and cannot be leaders in STEM.

Just some food for thought.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Changing perspectives through rooted maps

So, I just ran across this article in the McKinsey Quarterly.  In this article maps of the world are not considered solely in terms of geography. By considering factors such as oil export/import, the film industry, national exposure to European bank loans, the world looks like a very different place. The author says:
Shake up your thinking by looking at the world from the perspective of a particular country, industry, or company. “Rooted” maps can help you unearth hidden opportunities and threats.
I really wonder what STEM would look like through this type of mapping.  I could imagine comparing what brain "circulation" maps with productivity, spending, age demographics, patenting etc. could be really fascinating.  I would love to find out how to produce such maps.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Merry Christmas to me!

Yes, I am a geek for life...and life is bliss!  Today was a great day as two books I ordered arrived!  The first is by Paula Stephan and is called How Economics Shapes Science.  I've followed her work for years and I'm really excited to read her book (I'll post a review on my blog as soon as I'm done reading it). As she's studied the role of postdocs in science, I'm very interested to see how she considers them specifically and the scientific workforce in general. 

The next book titled Science: Bought and Sold actually came out in 2002. It is edited by Philip Mirowski and Esther-Mirjam Sent.  This is quite a tome and will take quite a bit of effort to get through, but I am really looking forward to reading about "The Organization of Cognitive Labor", "Scientists as Agents", and "The Instability of Authorship".  Wish me luck!

On a side note, my next post will be about a NAS meeting that I attended on Monday and Tuesday. COSEPUP is again examining the postdoc experience. After attending the open sessions and chatting with some of the committee members I feel that the resulting report has the potential to be a meaningful one.  I'll write up my notes and impressions ASAP!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Three minute marathon

This is a science video that I felt I HAD to share!  This is a video an octopus who decides s/he wants to go for a walk.   At some points it seemed like s/he was really struggling!  Fun to watch!