I had a pretty depressing link related to women in science/academia last week; this week I have a link that is a reminder that things used to be much worse for women in academia. This 1961 letter from a Harvard professor to a female applicant is pretty astonishing, saying “our experience, even with brilliant students, has been that married women find it difficult to carry out worthwhile careers” and also asking her to state “specifically how you might plan to combine a professional life in city planning with your responsibilities to your husband and a possible future family”. Wow. I enjoyed her reply. I did not enjoy his.
Continuing on the same theme, here’s a piece by Anne Fausto-Sterling on how she confronted sexism in academia over the course of her career. (She is now the Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Biology and Gender Studies at Brown.) Once again, it’s a reminder that academia has come a long way, but still has a way to go.
How the rich get richer, in rock & roll, economics–and science? This is a very good non-technical talk by economist Alan Krueger on the origins of inequality, illustrated with some fun examples to do with rock music. I link to it here because I’ve been thinking about how the same line of argument might apply to science. For instance, scientific citations are very unequal–most papers garner very few citations, while a few garner many, and the same is true for any “altmetric” you care to name. I have some old posts on this (see here and here). I was pleased to see Krueger refer in this context to the same fun experiment by Salganik and Watts that I’ve referred to. Salganik and Watts showed that people given the opportunity to listen to a bunch of songs and choose which ones they’d prefer to download tend to pick whichever one has been downloaded the most. I’m sure you can see the obvious analogy to, say, the behavior of journal readers deciding which papers to download (and I think it would be really cool to repeat the Salganik and Watts experiment with scientific papers) Krueger also has a nice summary of a standard economics idea I wasn’t aware of, Rosen’s (1981) “superstar theory“. I’m thinking about how that idea might apply to scientific publishing…
This cartoon tells you everything you need to know in order to become a leading blogger like me. Well, the first two panels do. I’ve never tried the advice in the last two panels. 🙂
And finally, the greatest tweet ever:
— Freshwater fELA (@not_Klaatu) June 11, 2013