New report from the UK on women in scientific careers.
Many attempts have been made to improve the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers in the UK. Yet currently only 17 per cent of STEM professors are women. It is astonishing that despite clear imperatives and multiple initiatives to improve diversity in STEM, women still remain under-represented at senior levels across every discipline. One compelling reason to tackle this problem is that the UK economy needs more STEM workers and we cannot meet the demand without increasing the numbers of women in STEM.
There is no single explanation for the lack of gender diversity in STEM; it is the result of perceptions and biases combined with the impracticalities of combining a career with family. Scientists often consider themselves to be objective and unbiased, yet studies have shown that scientists are susceptible to the same biases as the rest of the population.
Therefore we have recommended that diversity and equality training should be provided to all STEM undergraduate and postgraduate students. It should also be mandatory for all members of recruitment and promotion panels and line managers.
Early academic STEM careers are characterised by short term contracts, which are a barrier to job security and continuity of employment rights. This career stage coincides with the time when many women are considering starting families, and because women tend to be primary carers, they are more likely than men to end their STEM career at this stage. We call on the Government to work with the higher education sector to review the academic career structure and increase the number of longer-term positions for post-doctoral researchers. We have found that what benefits women benefits everyone in the STEM workplace.
Emphasis is often placed on inspiring young girls to choose science, which is commendable, but such efforts are wasted if women are subsequently disproportionately disadvantaged in scientific careers compared to men. The Government recognises the importance of gender diversity in STEM, but its efforts appeared to be largely focused on encouraging girls to study STEM, with little focus on enabling them to stay and progress in STEM careers. We were disappointed that BIS spending dedicated to improving diversity in STEM was virtually halved in the 2010 Spending Review and we recommend that the Government should monitor the effects of its policies on cutting and “mainstreaming” diversity funding.
BBC News Asia has a great profile on Minal Sampath, an engineer working on India’s mission to Mars.
For two years, Minal Sampath, a systems engineer working on India’s mission to Mars, worked flat out in a windowless room, often for 18 hours a day, to be ready for the country’s most ambitious space project to date.
“We had a great team and there [was] an understanding between us that we [had] to get the work done to meet the deadline,” she says. “The launch date [was] fixed and we could not miss it.
That day finally came on 5 November last year when the Mars Orbiter Mission took off at 09:08 GMT from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the east coast of India.
It also marked the moment that India joined the short list of nations capable of launching such a mission…
Ms Sampath is one of the few women working at the Indian equivalent of Nasa.
Despite that, she says she has never felt that she is treated any differently.
“I forget I am a woman sometimes, working in such an organisation,” she says.
“Maybe it’s because we spend a lot of time working in clean rooms with full suits on, so you can’t tell who is male or female,” she says, laughing.
But as only one in 10 of the scientists is female, Ms Sampath says this is something she wants to change. “I want women to imagine that they can do this.”
With her work firmly supported by the traditional extended Indian family structure, the prospect of much higher wages abroad has no appeal for her.
“I want to become the first woman director of a space centre,” Ms Sampath says, and she would love to go into space herself, although she says she is likely to leave that to the next generation.
The above video shows some highlights from last year’s Ada Lovelace Day. Next year should be even bigger when it is hosted at the Royal Institue’s historic lecture theatre.
Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration, sharing stories of women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and maths. The aim is to highlight and create new role models for women, young and old, by highlighting female ambassadors in STEM subjects.
This year it will be held on Tuesday 14 October and we are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a live Ada Lovelace Day event here in the Ri’s historic lecture theatre.
The event’s namesake, Lady Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, is often referred to as the “first computer programmer”.
Daughter of the poet Byron, Ada held a close and lifelong friendship with the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, Charles Babbage, who referred to her as “The Enchantress of Numbers”. Intrigued by his Analytical Engine, she translated a description of it by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, which Babbage then asked her to annotate and expand upon. The resulting notes were the most elaborate and complete programs ever written for his early computing machine.
Ada also had great admiration for one of the Ri’s most eminent scientists, Michael Faraday. She tried eagerly to persuade him to tutor her in maths, once writing that she “entertain[ed] an esteem little short of reverence” for him but, despite a friendly correspondence, Faraday never did acquiesce to her request.
Ada died of cancer at the tragically young age of 36, leaving her great potential unfulfilled. However, whilst Babbage’s Analytical Engine was never built (and her programs therefore never drawn upon), her notes were to become a key inspiration in Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers during the Second World War. Thanks to her remarkable intellectual and passion for her subject, Ada remains a powerful symbol of women in science and technology.
For more information about Ada Lovelace Day please visit the Finding Ada website findingada.com.
Above is the ninth video in GitHub’s series celebrating female role models in the tech community called Passion Projects. readwrite has the story on how this lecture series started and why it’s an important development in the tech world.
Silicon Valley certainly talks a lot about the dearth of women in technology, but relatively few companies seem to do much about it. Here’s one surprising exception: GitHub, the open-source collaboration site for software developers.
GitHub’s atypical experience with diversity owes a fair deal to an unlikely source—a humble lecture series called “Passion Projects” that features female technologists talking about the work that energizes them. As it turns out, by giving women in technology the spotlight, GitHub has also apparently demonstrated that it’s a great place for women to work.
CEO Tom Preston-Werner said that Passion Projects has had a real effect on recruiting. Over the last six months, a quarter of GitHub’s most recent 60 hires have been women, he said. Some hires wouldn’t have happened without Passion Projects. For example, the company hired Rubyist Rachel Myers shortly after her own Passion Projects talk.
It’s not just about the lectures themselves. Passion Projects is about showing the world that GitHub has made hiring women in technology a priority in a very public way. And women have noticed.
craigconnects has a great piece on women run startups. Here, we have grabbed a few to highlight but everyone should check out the full article.
Folks, there are a lot of really good businesses out there, and my team and I want to highlight 10 women run startups that you should really know about. These startups are doing great work and really getting the jobs done in their arenas. We took a little bit from each org’s website to capture what they’re doing in their own words. Make sure to visit their sites, support ‘em, and follow ‘em on Twitter. These women are really changing the world.
CyPhy Works: Helen Grenier, CEO (Pictured above in Adafruit’s coloring book)
CyPhy Works research starts with people -They look to the places where people need empowering technology to reach beyond what they currently can. Then they turn their attention to scouring the market landscape and literature to see what, if any, un-utilized research can be leveraged to enable the people in need. Once they fully understand what people need, and what people have done to address that need, they focus their attention in their labs where their people develop transformational technologies that make it possible for people in need to achieve their goals more efficiently and more effectively than the status quo would allow.
LightSail aims to produce the world’s cleanest and most economical energy storage systems. Compressing air creates heat energy. Until now, this was wasted, drastically reducing efficiency.LightSail isdeveloping breakthrough, high efficiency energy storage systems using compressed air. Our key insight: rapidly capturing the heat of compression with a water spray.
Globally, more than 1.2 billion people live outside the reach of an electricity grid. Consumers in this off-grid world spend hundreds of dollars each year to light their homes and power small electronics, and they do so using expensive sources of energy such as kerosene lanterns and disposable batteries. Modern options such as photovoltaic solar cost far less when amortized over time, but the comparatively high upfront price of these energy alternatives has kept them out of this enormous market.The Angaza Pay-As-You-Go platform enables distributors and manufacturers of energy products to offer pricing that reaches 1.2 billion consumers in the off-grid world.
Pictured here are just 3 of the 10 women highlighted in this moving tribute from scientific american. These women are truly inspirational and deserve to be remembered.
Pioneering scientists and engineers are often overlooked in popular retrospectives commemorating the year’s departed. In particular, women in such fields tend to be given short shrift. To counter this regrettable circumstance, I present here a selection of 10 notable women in science who left us in 2013. Each of these individuals contributed greatly to her field and should be remembered for her exceptional accomplishments.
A dual expert in physics and psychology, Eleanor Adair was a trailblazing American researcher in the field of microwave radiation safety. She carried out numerous controlled studies in which she exposed monkeys and human volunteers—including herself—with microwave radiation. Her conclusions were always the same: environmental microwaves such as those emitted by cell phones, microwave ovens, and power lines have no adverse effects on health. Adair’s work ultimately helped set international standards for microwave exposure. She died on April 20 at age 86.
Austrian-born British immunologist Brigitte “Ita” Askonas contributed many influential works on the nature of the human immune system. She is best known for her groundbreaking studies elucidating the behavior of antibody-producing B cells and determining the role of T lymphocytes in viral infections. Askonas served for 12 years as head of the Division of Immunology at the National Institute for Medical Research in London and was both a fellow of the UK’s Royal Society and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Askonas was 89 when she died on Jan. 9, 2013.
Holder of 55 patents and a 2008 inductee to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Ruth R. Benerito was an American chemist best known for her invention of “easy-care” permanent press cotton, a staple of modern fabrics. Her work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in New Orleans focused on chemically bonding cotton fibers in a way that would prevent wrinkling. Today, many think of her inventions as having saved the cotton industry. Benerito passed away at age 97 on Oct. 5, 2013.
It’s a well documented fact that we here at Adafruit love everything Ada Lovelace and everything LEGO. The two coming together is a treat for sure! Flickr user Andrew Becraft posted this awesome LEGO figurine and we were very excited to share it.
Ada Lovelace was born Ada Byron in 1815. Though she never met him, Ada was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron.
In 1833 (when she was only 17), Ada met Charles Babbage, the inventor of the Difference Engine. They became lifelong friends, and later, scientific collaborators.
In 1835, Ada married William King, who subsequently inherited a noble title, whereupon Ada became “Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace.”
Babbage enlisted the Countess’s help in translating the memoir of an Italian mathematician, and in the process Ada produced copious notes of Babbage’s Difference Engine. It is for these documents, simply titled “Notes,” that she remains famous today (although probably less so than she deserves). Although she is credited as the “founder of scientific computing,” I would also argue that Ada was the first technical writer.
Jamie C. Moore is a photographer that created some really inspirational messages through photographing her daughter dressed as strong women.
So my amazing daughter, Emma, turned 5 last month, and I had been searching everywhere for new-creative inspiration for her 5yr pictures. I noticed quite a pattern of so many young girls dressing up as beautiful Disney Princesses, no matter where I looked 95% of the “ideas” were the “How to’s” of how to dress your little girl like a Disney Princess. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Disney Princesses, from their beautiful dresses, perfect hair, gorgeous voices and most with ideal love stories in the mix you can’t help but become entranced with the characters. But it got me thinking, they’re just characters, a writers tale of a princess (most before 1998)…an unrealistic fantasy for most girls (Yay Kate Middleton!).
It started me thinking about all the REAL women for my daughter to know about and look up too, REAL women who without ever meeting Emma have changed her life for the better. My daughter wasn’t born into royalty, but she was born into a country where she can now vote, become a doctor, a pilot, an astronaut, or even President if she wants and that’s what REALLY matters. I wanted her to know the value of these amazing women who had gone against everything so she can now have everything. We chose 5 women (five amazing and strong women), as it was her 5th birthday but there are thousands of unbelievable women (and girls) who have beat the odds and fought (and still fight) for their equal rights all over the world… so let’s set aside the Barbie Dolls and the Disney Princesses for just a moment, and let’s show our girls the REAL women they can be.
The idea that the 1840s saw the birth of computer science as we know it today may seem like a preposterous one, but long before the Bombe, the Colossus or the Harvard Mark I, long before any computer was actually built, came a remarkable woman whose understanding of computing remained unparalleled and unappreciated for 100 years. Brought up in an era when women were routinely denied education, she saw further into the future than any of her male counterparts, and her work influenced the thinking of one of World War II’s greatest minds.
Lovelace’s ideas found their way into modern computing via Alan Turing. During WWII, as he was working at Bletchley Park on decoding German communications, Turing discovered Lovelace’s Menabrea translation and its attendant notes. They were critical documents that helped to shape his thinking.
Indeed, in his seminal paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence Turing explored the question “Can machines think?”, promptly launching the field of artificial intelligence. He also listed “contrary views” on his position that machines could at least imitate thinking, and discusses what he calls Lady Lovelace’s Objection.
Lovelace had written, “The Analytical Engine has no pretensions to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform”, which might be taken to mean that her position was that machines could not learn, or create anything original. However, Turing points out that “the evidence available to Lady Lovelace did not encourage her to believe” that machines could be so capable.
Were Ada alive today, I think she would recognise the problems faced by her female peers. But she’d also recognise our modern computing machines as the very embodiment of her ideas, and she’d immediately set about learning how they worked and how to program them. She didn’t let the conventions of her day slow her down, and she certainly wouldn’t let modern prejudices get in the way either.
Grace Hopper is one of Adafruit’s favorite people of all time and today we celebrate what would have been her 107th birthday. Google has honored Grace as well with their homepage image. Here’s some information from her wikipedia page for those who don’t know about all of her amazing accomplishments.
Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. She is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (inspired by an actual moth removed from the computer). Owing to the breadth of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she is sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace”. The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) is named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!
David Huerta has been sharing this past year about Brooklyn Museum’s exploration of 3D printing, with a focus on accessibility and new ways to share the collection with the Brooklyn Museum community. Here is one of their projects from early this month: How about a nice game of 3D printed chess?
Earlier this year, we started exploring how 3D printing could enhance the visitor experience and began by introducing it on that month’s sensory tour. In addition to tours, we also host film screenings and as my colleague Elisabeth mentioned, this Saturday, September 28th we’ll be hosting a special screening of Brooklyn Castle, a film about a local school with a talented chess team that crushed more chess championships than any other school in the US. Since the screening also includes some chess playing outside the film, we figured it would be great to tie that into the context of the museum’s collection by curating and scanning our own 3D printed chess set….
Unsung hero Delia Derbyshire was the woman behind the original Dr. Who theme song at the BBC’s Radiophonic studio. She was one of the first electronic musicians and her music was highly influential on the genre. Listening to her work now, it’s hard to believe it came out in the 1960′s.
Delia believed that the way the ear / brain perceives sound should have dominance over any basic mathematical theory, but as with most things in life it is important to know the rules in order to advantageously bend or break them.
Delia’s works from the 60s and 70s continue to be used on radio and TV some 30 years later, and her music has given her legendary status with releases in Sweden and Japan. She is also constantly mentioned, credited and covered by bands from Add n to (x) and Sonic Boom to Aphex Twin and The Chemical Brothers.
A recent Guardian article called her ‘the unsung heroine of British electronic music’, probably because of the way her infectious enthusiasm subtly cross-pollinated the minds of many creative people. She had exploratory encounters with Paul McCartney, Karlheinz Stockhausen, George Martin, Pink Floyd, Brian Jones, Anthony Newley, Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson.
Check out the video below for one of my favorite Delia Derbyshire songs and read more about her incredible work here.
This week, a toy company called Goldieblox ignited a chatterstorm with a video of three girls playing with a Rube Goldberg-type contraption and singing alternative lyrics to the Beastie Boys song “Girls.” Since the video went up on Monday, it has been viewed more than seven million times and fueled discussion about how to get young girls interested in pursuing scientific careers.
But apparently not everyone is thrilled with the viral video.
According to a lawsuit filed on Thursday by Goldieblox, “the Beastie Boys have now threatened GoldieBlox with copyright infringement. Lawyers for the Beastie Boys claim that the GoldieBlox Girls Parody Video is a copyright infringement, is not a fair use and that GoldieBlox’s unauthorized use of the Beastie Boys intellectual property is a ‘big problem’ that has a ‘very significant impact.’ ”