Required Readings

Why Are There So Few Women In Science?: Required Reading, 3 October 2013

The New York Times today published a long-form essay by Eileen Pollack entitled Why Are There Still So Few Women In Science? The essay is so interesting and thought-provoking, that I’d like to break with form and suggest this as your only required reading today.

What thought did it provoke in me? Certainly the results of many studies presented in the article are not new to me. Systematic bias against women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is well-documented. This bias isn’t as obvious as overt racism, or even classism. Pollack mentions the cumulative effect of all the minute interactions between female students and their teachers, advisers, and other students. I like to think that I am actively conscious of these interactions – with both males and females – but without an outside observer, it’s possible that biases creep in without me even realizing it.

The balance between sincere encouragement to continue and a realistic assessment of performance is difficult to manage, and I think should be applied on a case by case basis. I don’t advise any majors, but I do hold an opinion that a negative experience in my introductory course could be the difference between continuing on in science and being turned off completely to considering it.

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Required Readings are a list of links that you might find interesting! Look for them to appear every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday morning.

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P.E. Robinson

P.E. Robinson

Professor P.E. Robinson teaches astronomy to non-science majors at a 2-year college in the United States. He has a decade of experience teaching science in higher education, and providing professional development experiences to astronomers and other educators. Skepticism and critical thinking are key components of everything he teaches.

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