Archive for November 2nd, 2009

A One Year Obama Scorecard

By Chris Mooney | November 2, 2009 6:17 pm

obamaWho is pleased with our nearly-one-quarter-of-a-term president? Who isn’t?

I was just watching CNN (a rarity these days) and they were talking about what Obama has so far achieved. Here’s my own take:

I think you have to credit the stimulus for pulling us out of some serious doldrums, even if the recovery is still only lackluster at best.

I also think the president has made stellar appointments, particularly in the science infrastructure; and I have been thrilled at the emphasis on science funding and science education.

But I am less pleased with the relative lack of progress on solving the extremely urgent climate problem. Agency-wise, the administration has made all the right moves at places like EPA; but as Copenhagen approaches, we ought to be able to point to a lot more progress than that relatively easy stuff. Alas, we can’t, and Congress isn’t the only party responsible here.

So overall, I give Obama a B.



Why We Celebrate Darwin

By Chris Mooney | November 2, 2009 2:12 pm

In the history of science class I’m taking at Harvard–Steven Shapin’s HISTSCI 100–we are doing Darwin. For me, it is doing Darwin again. I have read The Origin of Species numerous times. I have read several of Darwin’s other works as well. I have read many of the letters, several bios, numerous scholarly papers, and so on. I have taken several classes in which Darwin has been taught and assigned.

Darwin Darwin Darwin.

The Origin of Species is one of the most brilliant books every written. It has been picked over and studied so much, there is scarcely anything new that one can say about it–although with its 150 year anniversary coming up, on November 24, surely many will try. Read More


Gender Bias Bingo

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | November 2, 2009 10:51 am

Last week, this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education hit my inbox from a reader named ‘Basma’. And then from ‘Jessica’ followed by ‘Cheyanne’. The link continued trickling in over the weekend… Apparently readers are aware I occasionally have something to say about gender bias in academia (and out and somewhere in the space between). My friends ’round these tangled series of tubes don’t put up with that sort of riffraff either. The piece begins like this:

As a female professor, are you called rude and abrasive while your male colleagues who make similar statements are simply labeled assertive? Has your department head discouraged you from taking an assignment, saying that because you have children you might not be able to handle it?

If things like that have happened to you, yell: “Bingo!”

The Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law is unveiling a new online game on Thursday called Gender Bias Bingo. The game is intended for women, although men who have overheard biased statements or have faced bias because they are fathers can also play.

Clicking the link led me to:

Picture 5

Visitors to this site are asked to choose a square and submit a representative story or quote from their experiences. The goal is to teach more of us to recognize gender bias while demonstrating the ways it can push women away from an academic career path. Director Joan C. Williams also explains the noteworthy economic angle:

“It does not make economic sense, particularly in these economic conditions, to keep recruiting women and then keep driving them out,” says Ms. Williams, who points out that a start-up package for a research scientist can cost as much as $1-million. “There had never been built, as far as I could tell, a clear explanation of why it’s cheaper to keep her.”

While it’s too early to tell how the mission of Gender Bias Bingo will play out, it’s certainly a unique new initiative. Not only does the game highlight the myriad of struggles facing women in the ivory towers, but it serves as a kind of tangible record–a visible means to display the ugly marks left across academia by such behavior. In a small way, this might reflect that gender bias is less acceptable than ever. At least, I hope so.

What do readers think?

MORE ABOUT: Gender bias bingo

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