Also this week: gender differences in contributing to classroom discussions, misdiagnosing tragedies of the commons, making fun of the microbiome, and more. Oh, and theoretical ecology, the t-shirt.🙂
Here are two recent studies that relate to gender differences in contributing to discussions. (Note: neither of these is the new Science study that I talked about in my post from last weekend.) The first study found that “conditional on measured ability, individuals are less willing to contribute ideas in areas that are stereotypically outside of their gender’s domain”. (I have a series of posts related to stereotype threat.) A second study, which was conducted by Piazza (a forum platform that many instructors use), found that women asked more questions on the forum than did men, and were more likely to ask questions anonymously. Similarly, they found that women were less likely to answer questions asked by others than men were. This matches my experience with using Piazza in Intro Bio this past fall.
Just found In Due Course, a group blog which is right up my alley–everything from public policy to political philosophy to economics, from sharp, thoughtful people who are good explainers. Some of it may be of interest to ecologists more broadly, for instance this post on how collective action problems such as tragedies of the commons are everywhere, yet often get misdiagnosed. They’re often misdiagnosed as arising from some bad ideology, or from people being uninformed about the consequences of their actions. Misdiagnoses lead to ineffective attempts to solve the problem. The post uses the example of misdiagnosing the reasons for inaction on global climate change, but I can think of lots of other examples just in ecology and academia. Think for instance of Hochberg et al.’s editorial on the tragedy of the reviewer commons, which tries to address the problem in part by exhorting authors to behave differently. Or think of those advocates of publishing solely in unselective open access journals who think that authors who refuse to do this are either uninformed about the consequences of their publishing decisions or are bad people.
Sticking with In Due Course, here’s their discussion of how research universities are like newspapers, and what lessons research universities can learn from this. Interestingly, the lesson is not “research universities, like newspapers, will be disrupted by the internet.” Rather, the lesson is this:
[U]niversity professors have a tendency to forget which side their bread is buttered on, and so imagine that because their research is so fabulous, that society is willing to actually pay them to do research.
Related: a reminder of the many failed predictions that this or that technological advance will kill off universities, which strongly suggests that MOOCs won’t either:
Universities are like cockroaches: they are almost impossible to kill.
One more from In Due Course: why you should not embrace risks (say, risky career decisions) just because that’s what the top people in your field have done. The top people in your field are a very biased sample of all risk-takers.
I would totally buy this hoodie if you replaced the words “political philosopher” with “theoretical ecologist”. Not because the sentence is true, but just because it’s funny. (ht Marginal Revolution)