Safe at Home

In discussion with Dr Zuleyka Zevallos, Associate Professor Jan Breckenridge talks about how various jurisdictions around Australia implement “Safe at Home” programs to mitigate the homelessness and safety impact of domestic violence on women and their children. Professor Breckenridge and her team produced evidence to evaluate and then identify key features and gaps in the programs.

Our discussion focused on the report outcomes for practitioners and policy developers, such as the issues in measuring the programs across different jurisdictions, gaps in delivery, and the outcomes of narrow definitions of domestic violence which do not consider other factors such as economic security and the cultural needs of women from Indigenous, migrant and refugee backgrounds. We end with a discussion of recommendations for practitioners and policy developers.

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Science In Australia Gender Equity

Best Practice from Athena SWAN UK

I hosted a discussion with David Ruebain, Chief Executive of the Equality Challenge Unit in the United Kingdom, for Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE). The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) coordinates the Athena SWAN program in the UK. Athena SWAN is an an evaluation and accreditation program in which science and technology institutions collect and analyse data to address gender equity and diversity issues. SAGE is trialling this program in Australia.

David Ruebain gives good practice tips from his experience of Athena SWAN in the UK and how to best involve staff on gender equity. He also addresses issues of intersectionality and the role of senior leaders.

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Measuring Flexible Work & Equity in STEMM: Lessons from Athena SWAN

I co-hosted this video for Science in Australia Gender Equity. We interviewed Dr Brian Lloyd, Jackie Costello and Dr Joanne Flanagan. They are part of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team.

Athena SWAN is an an evaluation and accreditation program in which science and technology institutions collect and analyse data to address gender equity and diversity issues within their organisations. The UKAEA team discuss how they approached data collection and benchmarking for Athena SWAN as a publicly funded body. They also spoke about addressing the specific challenges they face as an employer in the fields of engineering and physics, and how qualitative data helped them develop an Action Plan to improve flexible work and support for those returning from maternity leave.

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Equity & Diversity in Science: Lessons from Athena SWAN

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.

On behalf of SAGE, I co-interviewed Professor Hazel Hall, Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team Leader for Edinburgh Napier University. We discussed 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 spoke about how her team overcame the challenges of collecting and analysing gender equity and diversity issues for their institution and how they created actions to address areas of inequity and how consultations with staff and students helped this process.

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STEM Women

Women Scientists on Wikipedia

We speak with Bella Counihan,Media Officer for the Australian Academy of Science, about the representation of women scientists on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the world’s sixth most frequently visited websites, yet it hosts a low number of pages on women. In addition, only around 10% of Wiki editors are women. The Academy held a “Wikibomb” in August that led to the creation of 117 new pages on women scientists. Bella talks about their Wikibomb event and how this and other programs increase public awareness about women in STEM. In addition to her role with the Australian Academy of Science, Bella is also Deputy Section Editor for The Conversation. She discusses the organisation of the Wikibomb, why it’s important for women scientists to write Wikipedia articles about other women scientists, and she provides tips for women scientists who wish to promote their research via the media.

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Women in Science Publishing

On this special Ada Lovelace Day, we explore the role of women in Science Publishing. Our exciting panel includes Mariette DiChristina (Editor in Chief and Senior VP of Scientific American), Sara Abdulla (Chief Commissioning Editor for Nature blogs), Fred Guterl (Executive Editor of Scientific American) and Dr Amy Brand (VP of Academic and Research Relations at Digital Science). Our panel discusses the role of science publishers in addressing gender imbalance in science; diversity in science communication; and much more.

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Dr Amy Brand: Digital Science

Amy has a PhD in Cognitive Science, and she is the VP of Academic and Research Relations at Digital Science. She spoke about her career, from conducting research in academia, to an applied role in scientific publishing. She provided advice on how women might improve their publication record using online tools, and she encouraged early career researchers to have a fluid and flexible approach to career planning.

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Kate Brodock: Girls in Tech

Kate Brodock is the President of Girls in Tech, a global non-profit organisation focused on the engagement of women in technology. Kate discussed her interesting and diverse career, beginning with a degree in international relations, to forming her own tech startup company, to joining Girls in Tech. She provided various examples of the practical training and support they provide, including linking male mentors and investors with women in technology.

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100K Celebration: Behind the Scenes of STEM Women

STEM Women surpassed 100,000 members on Google+ and we celebrated by discussing the origins of our network as well as discussing how we manage our growing follower base. In this video we also provide tips for women in the sciences and technology who are hesitant to join social media, including how we deal with difficult topics and negative comments.

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Prof. Chad Forbes: Stereotype Threat

Professor Chad Forbes explains how stereotype threat impacts women and minorities in STEM. Stereotype threat describes how negative ideas about minorities can affect their ability to succeed in science. Negative experiences at school, narrow media images of scientists, lack of role models and other experiences of exclusion can impact on young people’s performance and interest in STEM. Stereotype threat can be triggered by repeating the idea that girls don’t usually do well in maths tests; or alternatively that Black people typically don’t do well in science. In experiments, students who are reminded of their minority status just before sitting a test tend to do poorly, whereas kids who are not reminded tend to do as well as White boys. Chad discusses his research on the unconscious biases that people in STEM have, which can contribute to women and minorities feeling unwelcome. He explains how attention and memory are affected by negative stereotypes, as well as how genetic predispositions, cognitive processes and neurophysiological issues play a role in internalising stereotype threat. He addresses how we can all tackle stereotype threat to improve diversity in STEM.

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Candy Torres: Engineer for the Space Program

Candy Torres overcame racism and sexism to join NASA’s space program at a time when women engineers were rare. Candy is a Bronx-born Puerto Rican software engineer who went from being one of only 10 women in her astrophysics classes at Rutgers University, to getting a job at Princeton University to work on the Copernicus OAO-3C Satellite and later, as a software programmer for NASA. She’s contributed to various Space Shuttle programs including the International Space Station. She’s now dedicated to educating the public about space history, and she promotes engineering and science to Latino youth.

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Dr Inger Mewburn: “The Thesis Whisperer”

Inger runs The Thesis Whisperer, a site dedicated to giving PhD students advice, and she also researches how STEM students navigate academic systems. In a study published in 2014, 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 discussed how these gender differences are linked to institutional processes that prevent women from realising their full potential in STEM. We also covered how we can better support women PhD students navigate the academic system and prevent the so-called “leaky pipeline.” Read a summary on STEM Women.

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Professor Julia Greer: Materials Scientist

Julia took us through her careerpath and work with nanomaterials. She tackled the narrow stereotypes the public sometimes has about scientists. She also spoke about how she manages work/life balance as a working mother and how academia might be more flexible and supportive of STEM parents. Read a summary on STEM Women.

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Google’s IT Residency Program

We spoke to Erin Leverton and Samantha Schaevitz about Google’s Information Technology Residency Program (ITRP). 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 discussed how the ITRP creates opportunities for women in Tech, and hear first-hand how being a part of ITRP has benefited them. Read a summary on STEM Women.

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Erin Kane: Physical Anthropologist

We interviewed physical anthropologist Erin Kane who has recently returned from doing fieldwork in Cote d’Ivoire where she was studying monkey behaviour. She chats about her research and her inspired career path as a woman scientist. She talks about the importance of including local communities in conservation research. We also discussed a recent study that finds 59% of anthropologists face sexual harassment in the field. Women are three times at risk, and over half of the harassment comes from senior researchers on junior women. Erin talked about how we might increase women’s safety in the field. The text summary is on STEM Women.

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STEM Parents

We held a panel discussion with Professor Rajini Rao, Dr Bill Carter and Dr La Vergne Lestermeringolo Thatch about being STEM Parents. Our panellists spoke about how they support and encourage their children in STEM Education through pre-school, high school and college. They also shared their insights about the challenges and rewards that come with encouraging girls to pursue a STEM career in the future. Read an overview on STEM Women.

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Everyday Sexism in Academia

I co-hosted a STEM Women panel discussion with Professor Rajini Rao PhD in Biochemistry who runs her own lab at Johns Hopkins University USA, and Dr Tommy Leung, Evolutionary Biologist with the University of New England, Australia. The video covers five scenarios that arise in early career academic life: sexist comments that undermine women’s confidence; sexism in publishing; “tone policing” how women speak; a mentor who inappropriately asks a junior researcher on a date; and the way in which women scientists are spoken about in stereotypically gendered ways. For example, women are described as mothers and wives first, and scientists second, while men are just “scientists.” In this post I cover the highlights of our discussion. Read a summary of our discussion as well an overview of how sexism works on my research blog, The Other Sociologist.

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Clarissa Silva: From Behavioural Science to Tech-Maker

Clarissa Silva speaks with us about her career as a research scientist on the transmission of HIV to her current role as a start up entrepreneur. Read our summary on STEM Women.

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Dr Yonatan Zunger: Chief Architect for Google+ on How Men Can Help

Yonatan spoke about his personal journey to learn additional leadership skills to support diversity, such as active listening. Read more on STEM Women.

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Professor Jonathan Eisen How Men Can Address Sexism in STEM

STEM Women launched our YouTube Channel with Professor Jonathan Eisen talking about how male academics can help better recruit, retain, and include their women colleagues. Jonathan is a molecular biologist at University of California (UC) Davis. He’s also the Academic Editor-in-Chief for PLOS Biology. Jonathan spoke about increasing gender diversity and participation within academic conferences. Read a summary of our discussion on STEM Women. 

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Science on Google+

Citizen Science: Getting Students into STEM

I co-hosted this discussion with palaeontologists Jason Osborne and Dr Aaron Alford about their efforts to improve citizen science. They co-founded Paleo Quest, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes research and educational projects in Palaeontology for the public. Jason and Aaron also founded SharkFinder, a STEM education program that studies fossil remains of elasmobranch (shark, skates and rays) along the USA Atlantic coastal plain of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina. SharkFinder provides kits and learning modules for citizens and classrooms to participate in data collection. We discussed Jason and Aaron’s outreach to students through data collection, and their focus on providing students from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to participate in practical science, including a chance to publish their findings.

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Explaining Ebola

We speak with virologist Professor Vincent Racaniello and epidemiologist Dr Tara C. Smith about the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We discuss the basics of Ebola, why the epidemic has spread, how it might be curtailed, and debunk some of the myths surrounding this outbreak.

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