Archive for: February, 2014

Selection Processes

Feb 13 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

In a twitter conversation I mentioned that my department had a decent record bringing in a gender balanced set of speakers. That was silly of me. Since people tend to overestimate diversity I figured it was possible I misremembered. So I checked the last 8 years of speakers in the big department colloquium.


For last year I was correct. About 50/50. For previous years...not so much. That's a pretty dramatic jump towards parity (the talk series is very broad including areas with high % of women researchers. no real excuse).

Related, I highly recommend the quick read There's No Excuse for all White Male Panels. Print it out. Put it in your chairs's mailbox. Email spam it to your society listserv. I'm guessing that the committee here took some of the suggestions to heart (or someone told them to).  Trust me, if the fine fellows here can get their act together and look beyond their golfing buddies, you can too.

Adapted from the linked article:

1. Examine your Selection Process. Who makes the list of possible invites/sources/etc? Do a few grey beards just throw names around during their weekly squash date?
2. Improve you Selection Process. Just because you 'got some good people' last year doesn't mean the process doesn't have room for improvement.
3. Look Beyond the usual suspects. Take Chances. Maybe not every invitation needs to be a known big name.
4. Get Help. Ask for recommendations. Ask widely. Again, step outside of your immediate network.
5. Approach people. You don't need to wait until the perfect opportunity is available to develop connections. Write down names. Keep contact info. Develop a stable of interesting people that's perhaps not as homogenous as the members club at Augusta National. Just a thought. You know depending on your priorities.

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More Science Outreach

Feb 10 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

I was never really a huge public engagement science person. If you'd asked me early on in my graduate career about it I would have said I was perfectly happy sitting in an ivory tower looking at math equations all day. That has changed.

An unexpected (to me) driver of that has been conversations with my favorite non-science folks (ie my extended family). Below is a paraphrased conversation. Keep in mind I've been in science for 10+ years and have had many conversations about it with them.

Fam: so will you need a grant for tenure?

Me: technically not required, but basically yes.

Fam: Well the economy is a bit better now so there must be more money.

Me: Not necessarily. Congress sets the budget for orgs like NIH and NSF. That might not change quickly.

Fam: Congress sets the budget?

Me: Yes.

Fam: oh you are f@%^ed

The funding of science by government (or other orgs) is certainly not obvious to non-scientist. I remember having a "what is an are-oh-1?" conversation as a college student working in a lab. I was Mr. science all the time and I had no idea where the money came from.  Or how the science system worked in general. I suppose it shouldn't' be surprising that others don't know either.

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