Category: Education

Video: Good Day Austin

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 22, 2011 11:17 am

UT: Kissing: MyFoxAUSTIN.com

Women@NASA!

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 21, 2011 1:24 pm

I LOVE the new Women@NASA website encouraging young women to pursue careers in science, math, and technology! It includes 32 videos and essays from women across the agency who contribute to NASA’s mission.

You’ll hear stories of women overcoming almost every obstacle imaginable to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world. In the future, we hope that the website will support a collaborative and supportive community of women at NASA, and serve as the hub of all activity related to women’s issues at the agency. In addition, we hope that these stories will inspire girls everywhere to reach for the stars, and explore the myriad of opportunities available to them through pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Go visit!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Announcements, Culture, Education, Space

Changes and New Challenges for Women in Academia

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 21, 2011 11:18 am

Kate Zernike has an important piece in today’s New York Times entitled, Gains, and Drawbacks, for Female Professors. The article resonates for me and touches on many of the same issues we discussed last Fall at L’Oreal/Discover’s “Women in Science” Capitol Hill Briefing.

While the tremendous accomplishments of women in science speak for themselves, ridiculous statements by those who should know better–like former Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers–continue to echo in the public discourse. For example,  Zernike points out that male undergraduates at M.I.T. tell female classmates they were only accepted because of affirmative action.

Faculty members face new struggles as well. While universities are working to increase diversity, some criticize these efforts because they believe women gain an unfair advantage. Compounding matters, women are frequently sought for committees and panels to satisfy gender requirements. Since there are still not many female faculty members, individuals are overburdened, leaving less time for research, consulting, and other opportunities. But perhaps, most frustrating:

stereotypes remain: women must navigate a narrow “acceptable personality range,” as one female professor said, that is “neither too aggressive nor too soft.” Said another woman: “I am not patient and understanding. I’m busy and ambitious.”

Despite an effort to educate colleagues about bias in letters of recommendation for tenure, those for men tend to focus on intellect while those for women dwell on temperament.

You can read the full piece here. I discuss women in science often, and continue to believe that the system will need to undergo fundamental changes to accommodate more of us. Further, if we are to achieve equal status in the ivory towers, it will take both women and men to get there. So no matter how far we’ve come, we still have a long way to go.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Education

World's First Instant Universal Eyeglasses To Help Children in the Developing World

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 16, 2011 1:58 pm

Over 100 million children in the developing world need–but lack access to–vision correction. Today Dow Corning and the Centre for Vision in the Developing World announced that they have teamed up to do something about it. Through the use of silicones, a new initiative called Child ViSion will provide 100 million self-adjustable eyeglasses to children by 2020, which reportedly correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and age-related difficulty focusing:

The Child ViSion initiative will design, manufacture and distribute a child-specific version of self-adjustable eyeglasses to children in the developing world. The aim is to increase the effectiveness of classroom-based education by improving children’s ability to see the blackboard from which they are being taught.

Read more about this terrific program here.

Climate Change is a Threat to Human Health

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 16, 2011 11:59 am

Unfortunately, not a single Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee seems to agree. The Hill reports that all 31 House Republicans rejected amendments calling for “Congress to accept the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, it is caused in large part by human activity and it is a threat to human health.”

H/T Political Wire

The Future of Nuclear Energy?

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 14, 2011 9:04 am

I’ve been thinking a great deal about nuclear energy lately in preparation for last week’s Energy at the Movies event at UT. We included clips from 1979′s The China Syndrome followed by real news reports immediately following the Three Mile Island accident–which took place just 12 days after the film premiered. Some energy experts believe that movie contributed to halting nuclear development in the U.S.

Thirty-two years have passed, so I became interested in whether attitudes on nuclear energy may have changed. A few days before the earthquake, I conducted this poll via facebook and twitter:

Within hours, I had 71 response: 63 yes, 2 no, and 6 undecided. How do you think the same question would fare now?

It’s too soon to speculate how U.S. energy policy will be influenced by the weekend’s tragic events in Japan, but regardless of advances in technology and safety measures, public sentiment will likely play a tremendous role in what happens next.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Education, Energy, Environment

The Fourth Annual Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 10, 2011 1:41 pm

One of the most inspiring events I’ve attended in past years was the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative meeting. It’s a unique environment where heads of state, government and business leaders, scholars, and NGO directors come together “to analyze pressing global challenges, discuss the most effective solutions, and build lasting partnerships that enable them to create positive social change.” Members at last years meeting made close to 300 new commitments on issues involving economic empowerment, energy and the environment, education, global health, and more. Since launching CGI, they have put $63 billion toward improving nearly 300 million lives in over 170 countries. In other words, CGI demonstrates that we are truly becoming a global community.

Today President Clinton announced the Fourth Annual Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting, which will take place at the UC San Diego from April 1-3. Approximately 1,000 students will come together from all over the world to meet with non-profit leaders, entrepreneurs, and celebrities engaged in efforts to create positive change. Each student will make a Commitment to Action – a detailed plan for improving lives within one of CGI U’s focus areas: education, environment & climate change, peace & human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. Since 2008, this university event has brought together more than 2,500 students from 575 schools in 99 countries.  As Clinton explains:

“Their work has improved the lives of thousands of people around the world. I am looking forward to convening the next generation of global leaders once again, so they can learn from each other and gain practical skills that will help them turn their ideas into real change.”

What comes out of CGI U? Read More

The Coming Classroom Climate Conflict

By Chris Mooney | February 16, 2011 8:31 am

My latest DeSmogBlog item is about the growing likelihood of climate science controversies and battles in schools. It starts like this:

I’ve just completed a trip out to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado—a town that’s in many ways the chief hub for our country’s climate scientists, as well as for a variety of other researchers (especially on weather and renewable energy) and many science education specialists. My visit was focused on science communication, but another theme kept coming up: climate science education, and the conflicts arising therein.

A lot of people out here seem worried about growing resistance to climate science teaching in schools. It was a regular topic of conversation, and at the end of my public talk, one audience member asked whether there needs to be an equivalent of theNational Center for Science Education for the climate issue. (The National Center for Science Education is the leading organization defending the teaching of evolution in the U.S.). And no wonder: This state has already seen one of the most direct attacks on climate education yet—although it seems to have fizzled.

You can read the full post here.

Actual Creationism (and Ample Cowardice) in US High School Biology Classes

By Chris Mooney | February 8, 2011 4:37 pm

Yesterday the New York Times reported on this survey, published in Science, of high school biology teaching practices with respect to evolution across the country. The results can only be called dismal.

Yes, there are about 28 % of teachers who present the science unabashedly and accurately. But then there are the unapologetic creationist teachers:

At the opposite extreme are 13% of the teachers surveyed who explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design by spending at least 1 hour of class time presenting it in a positive light (an additional 5% of teachers report that they endorse creationism in passing or when answering student questions). The boldness and confidence of this minority should not be underestimated. Although 29% percent of all other teachers report having been “nervous at an open house event or meeting with parents,” only 19% of advocates of creationism report this.

But neither the good science teachers, nor the bold creationist science teachers, are a majority. That honor goes to the wishy-washy middle of the road teachers, who comprise 60 %: Read More

will.i.am, Science Fan

By Chris Mooney | February 8, 2011 11:20 am

will.i.am, of the Black Eyed Peas, was one of the original stars featured in the 2009 Rock Stars of Science campaign.

During the SuperBowl halftime on Sunday, meanwhile, he added lyrics to a song so as to extol President Obama’s new science education push:

In America we need to get things straight/

Obama, let’s get these kids educated/

Create jobs so the country stays stimulated.

I get the sense that will.i.am gets it.

And why wouldn’t he: He’s also “director of creative innovation” for Intel.

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