Recent News and studies

Forbes Jan/Feb 2016

In late January/early February 2016, Forbes started a series of articles by Janet D Stemwedel (who writes on ethics and philosophy of science) on sexual harassment in science in the USA. These refer mostly to events in academic settings, but clearly have broader implications.

The first articles feature stories from women in science, focusing on the many reasons for reporting and not reporting incidents:

Deciding whether to Report Harassment in Science Part 1

Deciding whether to Report Harassment in Science Part 2

Deciding whether to Report Harassment in Science Part 3

The next articles focus on solutions

What can be done to address Harassment in Science?

Advice for the Reformed Harasser on Rejoining the Scientific Community

One of the questions not yet addressed relates to resolving the damage caused by lost work and scientific pathways for the women - but there may be more to come.

Nature Dec 2015

The online version of Nature, Vol 528 Issue 7583 includes an interesting review of 2015 by Astronomer Meg Urry entitled Science & Gender: scientists must work harder on equality

Professor Urry reviews various events of 2015, noting that not one of the major publicly covered cases of sexual harassment involved motherhood, indicating that strong family support policies are not the answer. professor Urry then mounts a case and pathway for change.

Stuff.Co.NZ November 2015

In November 2015, the NZ news, current affairs and general interest website Stuff published an opinion piece by Dr Nicola Gaston on sexism in science, trying to answer the question of why science is sexist. One of the underlying issues relating to the trust the community has in science and scientists is the conundrum that the scientific community claims to adhere to an evidence base, yet exhibits sexist behaviours that clearly have no scientific or evidence-based justification.

The article concludes:
"But what a growing number of published studies show is that people who consider themselves to be highly objective might just be the most biased decision makers of all. Until we acknowledge our unconscious biases, we can't address them. This is why we need to think – and talk – about sexism in science."

Sexism is still one of Science's Biggest Issues is an article well worth reading for the thought-challenges it presents.