Friday links: gender equality vs. gender equality in STEM, Marine Kids Conference, and more

Also this week: Paul Krugman vs. scientist public intellectuals, David Attenborough vs. raves, Freeman Dyson was right about free parameters and elephants, new open ecology blog, and more.

From Jeremy:

Meghan is too modest to share this here, so I will: she has her own Wikipedia page now!ย (ht @jesswade) Wikipedia informs us that

She is one of three lead scientists for the popular science blog, Dynamic Ecology.

๐Ÿ™‚

The word on the street is that the Canadian federal government’s annual budget (to be released next week) is not going to implement the Naylor report recommendations for greatly increased investigator-driven basic research spending. Could be wrong, of course. But if it’s right, the linked post speculates that the budget might drive a wedge between university administrators (who are happy whenever universities get more money for anything, from anywhere) and university scientists (who really liked the Naylor report).

An argument that scientists advocating publicly on controversial, politically-salient issues like climate change and vaccination could learn from Paul Krugman. Very interesting. Compares and contrasts Krugman’s rhetorical techniques and modes of argument with those (puportedly) used by scientists. Particularly curious to hear thoughts on this from Meghan and other commenters who have more public communication training and/or political experience than me. Obviously, not every scientist publicly advocating about politically-salient issues needs to write like Paul Krugman–but do we need somebody to do it? Or are there scientists doing it already but just not having the same success? I ask that last question because I think it would be a mistake to attribute Krugman’s influence solely to his rhetoric, and because the linked article doesn’t actually dig into the rhetoric of any scientist. (ht @noahpinion)

Here’s a puzzling correlation of which I was sort of aware: the more gender-equal a country overall, the lower the percentage of women among its STEM degree holders. It’s not a small effect: women comprise only about 20% of STEM graduates in (say) Finland and Norway, but 35-40% in (say) Algeria, Turkey, and UAE. Not quite sure what to make of that; the linked piece includes some speculation.

I’m a bit late to this, but Rapid Ecology is now open for submissions, and starts posting Monday. Rapid Ecology is the brainchild of Terry McGlynn. It’s an ecology community blog (i.e. by and for ecologists, rather than the general public) that operates like a journal. Anyone can submit a post for consideration by the editorial board. As long as the post meets the submission guidelines (basically, it’s about ecology/ecologists and not offensive) it’ll be published. The idea, as I understand it, is that many ecologists have ideas for one or a few blog posts that are worth sharing. But few have the time or inclination to start their own blogs and post often enough for long enough to build an audience. If all those ecologists post occasionally in one place, the resulting blog will showcase a wide range of voices and post often enough to build an audience. I think it’s a good idea and wish them all the best, it would be great to see it take off.

David Attenborough-themed raves are a thing. A BIG thing. Yes, really. (ht Marginal Revolution)

And finally, this is from 2010 but it’s still great. Proof that Freeman Dyson was right: with four parameters you really can fit an elephant, and with five you really can make it wiggle its trunk. (ht @noahpinion) ๐Ÿ™‚

From Meghan:

The International Marine Conservation Congress is hosting an International Marine Kids Congress, which will include children of delegates as well as local children. This is a way to bring childcare at meetings to a whole new level!

5 thoughts on “Friday links: gender equality vs. gender equality in STEM, Marine Kids Conference, and more

  1. “Hereโ€™s a puzzling correlation of which I was sort of aware: the more gender-equal a country overall, the lower the percentage of women among its STEM degree holders. Itโ€™s not a small effect: women comprise only about 20% of STEM graduates in (say) Finland and Norway, but 35-40% in (say) Algeria, Turkey, and UAE. Not quite sure what to make of that; the linked piece includes some speculation.”

    Removing the few mentioned countries, the rest of the plot shows a fairly diffuse scatter. An additional problem is that the relevant factor here may not be overall gender equality, but relative gender equality in STEM vs. other fields (not saying it would be easy to measure).

    • Well yes, with any scatterplot showing a negative correlation, if you remove enough observations from the upper-left and lower-right the correlation will become less negative. But I don’t think that should make us doubt the reality of the correlation. It’s true that it’s not the tightest correlation ever, but it’s not driven by a single outlier. It looks to me like a real cross-country association that needs explaining, and that the explanation shouldn’t just be “Huh, there must be something weird about Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Turkey, Algeria, and UAE.”

  2. Re the puzzling correlation. I just heard this week yet another hypotheses about this higher proportion of women in countries such as mentioned (and former Russian republics). In these cases, government science positions are often not paid very well, so men tend to go towards other jobs (business etc) that pay better than science, leaving these lower paid positions to women. In western countries where scientists are paid much higher, men dominate by a large proportion, even though women are just as interested. In western societies, women also find themselves in the lower paid positions that men tend to avoid.

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