Self-perception

April 16, 2013

From Adweek:


Gil Zamora is an FBI-trained forensics artist with over 3,000 criminal sketches under his belt. Dove and Ogilvy Toronto hired him to interview and draw seven different women—two sketches of each. The first sketch was based on each woman’s personal description of herself. The second was based on a description provided by a stranger the woman had just met. Of course, the differences are vast.

dove_sketch_1_final

Of course they are. This stuff has psychology graduate student work written all over it. Imagine the diversity of studies to be done! Me, I bet I’d describe myself in my 20s rather than the way I look now…

Read the rest of this entry »

The general science journal Nature has an interesting editorial up:


Earlier this year, we published a Correspondence that rightly took Nature to task for publishing too few female authors in our News and Views section (D. Conley and J. Stadmark Nature 488, 590; 2012). Specifically, in the period 2010–11, the proportions of women News and Views authors in life, physical and Earth sciences were 17%, 8% and 4%, respectively. The authors of the Correspondence had taken us to task in 2005 with a similar analysis for the authorship of our Insight overview articles, and gave us slight credit for having improved that position.

they then went on to perform some additional reviews of their performance.


Our performance as editors is much less balanced.
Of the 5,514 referees who assessed Nature’s submitted papers in 2011, 14% were women.
Of the 34 researchers profiled by journalists in 2011 and so far in 2012, 6 (18%) were women.
Of externally written Comment and World View articles published in 2011 and so far in 2012, 19% included a female author.

then, after the inevitable external blaming they actually get down to it.

We therefore believe that there is a need for every editor to work through a conscious loop before proceeding with commissioning: to ask themselves, “Who are the five women I could ask?”

Under no circumstances will this ‘gender loop’ involve a requirement to fulfil a quota or to select anyone whom we do not know to be fully appropriate for the job, although we will set ourselves internal targets to help us to focus on the task.

HAHHAHAAH. “We’re going to have quotas but we’re not using quotas!” Good one Nature!

What a load of crap. People in academia and other places that are dealing with representativeness need to just stop falling for this right-wing, anti-affirmative-action, anti-diversity bullshit talking point. Quotas are just fine. Numbers are the way clearly discriminatory and unequal practices are revealed and they are the only way we’re going to know when we’ve improved.

But…regardless. Good on Nature for this one.

For the rest of you, keep the spotlight shining brightly upon them. Because they admit themselves that this gender inequality of their pages has been brought to their awareness as long ago as 2005 and. they. still. haven’t. really. improved. Make no mistake, improving diversity on any measure is not easy. It takes highly sustained attention, effort and force of will to change entrenched, unthinking* cultural biases. Not everyone in the organization will even agree with the goals expressed in this editorial and will work harder to find excuses not to change than they do to make improvements. So I don’t expect miracles.

But Nature, you are a premier venue of scientific publication which gives you a very high platform from which to enact cultural change. I do hope you are not blowing smoke on this one.

__
*which they are for the most part.

Or at least I think that is what this editorial bit in the Yale Daily News is getting at.

Last Wednesday, the pledges of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity issued just such a provocation. As they chanted their way across campus, the rest of us were forced to listen to tasteless jibes involving obscenity, jingoism and necrophilia.

But then came the coup-de-grace: “No means yes, yes means anal.” By making light of rape, the pledges crossed a line. In this newspaper’s view, the chanting was idiotic and offensive, and it should not be repeated.

And yet, as groups rushed to condemn the foolhardy DKE bros, they threw overwrought epithets, some almost as absurd as the chants themselves.

oh noes! not “overwrought epithets”!!!!!

Feminists at Yale should remember that, on a campus as progressive as ours, most of their battles are already won: All of us agree on gender equality. The provocateurs knew their audience’s sensibilities and how to offend them for a childish laugh. They went too far. But the Women’s Center should have known better than to paint them as misogynistic strangers and attackers among us, instead of members of our community; after all, they once partied in the brothers’ basement.

ohh, these poor innocent wittle babies have their fee-fees hurt… “misogynistic strangers”? “attackers”?

please. this is equivalent, nay perhaps even worse, than making light of sexual violence? hoo-kay.

Someone want to remind me again of one fucking positive thing that is accomplished by the fraternity systems on University campuses?

The following is a more casual description of a stream of thought I had about these posts I’ve been writing on the MDMA/PTSD paper.


ok, so there’s this paper that has finally come out. I’ve been bashing away at the project itself on the blog since, oh, forever. I finally had a chance to get around to blogging the paper. no biggie.
takehome message, MDMA is good for treating PTSD if given in the therapy session.
one of the features of such a study is that it is going to get media attention. I was ignoring that all week so that I could blog the paper unmolested.
Trolling around the media coverage I started on a slow burn.
Going through Google hits, there was a great deal of emphasis on PTSD caused by combat stress. Angles on the story which suggested we have a big ol’ problem looming (true dat) and won’t it be great to have some new hope (true dat) and then doing a less than complete cockup of the facts of the paper.
Problem is that it is a small study as it is, 12 MDMA-treated, 8 placebo controls, but only ONE had combat trauma as the index trauma. ONE. The rest were mostly sexual assault, crime (not further specified) and childhood trauma (sexual assault and physical neglect). Me, I was happily bashing away at the overselling of the single combat PTSD case in my draft.
On the way home it hit me.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Sex matters. Sex, that is, being female or male, is an important basic human variable that should be considered when designing and analyzing studies in all areas and levels of biomedical and health-related research. “

Quite some time ago Dr. Isis reviewed the complications associated with doing sex comparisons in scientific research.

This is a particular issue that Dr. Isis, as a vascular physiologist and a woman, is painfully aware of and, yet, the difficulties associated with including women in clinical research can be more pragmatic than simple gender discrimination.

I chimed in (reposted) with an observation about the practical realities of scientists engaging in sex-comparison research. I concluded that:

Promoting special funding opportunities are the only way to tip the equation even slightly more favorable to the sex-differences side. The lure of the RFA is enough to persuade the experienced PI to write in the female groups. To convince the new PI that she might just risk it this one time.

Today I noticed (h/t: @KateClancy) a Program Announcement (with Set-aside funds) from the NIH. PAS-10-226 is titled “Advancing Novel Science in Women’s Health Research (ANSWHR)“.

Read the rest of this entry »

An interesting discussion about the balance of home / work effort on the part of men and women in science blew up recently. Our good blog friend Dr. Isis responded to observations from Jim Austen Austin at ScienceCareers who wrote on Women, Men, Housework, and Science. A vibrant conversation emerged (mostly at Dr. Isis’ blog) and there were followup entries from Janet Stemwedel and Jim Austen.
In the course of the discussion ScientistMother wondered:

Do we ever get a post from DrugMonkey about how he does it? He has kids and a wife (who I think is a scientist) but he rarely talks about balance issues. I’m sure its been an issue. Until the MEN start talking about its not going to change.

to which I responded:

wait..why am *I* getting dragged into this discussion exactly?

Read the rest of this entry »

An Editorial in Nature this week highlights three studies of a sex bias in biomedical research.

And yet, despite the obvious relevance of these sex differences to experimental outcomes, three articles in this issue (see pages 688, 689 and 690) document that male research subjects continue to dominate biomedical studies. Some 5.5 male animal models are used for every female in neuroscience, for example. And apart from a few large, all-female projects, such as the Women’s Health Study on how aspirin and vitamin E affect cardiovascular disease and cancer, women subjects remain seriously under-represented in clinical cohorts. This is despite reforms undertaken in the 1990s, when sex discrimination in human trials was first widely recognized as a problem.

This reminded me of something I wrote a little while back to explore part of the reason for this bias in research models. The post originally appeared December 2, 2008.


The titular quote came from one of my early, and highly formative, experiences on study section. In the course of discussing a revised application it emerged that the prior version of the application had included a sex comparison. The PI had chosen to delete that part of the design in the revised application, prompting one of the experienced members of the panel to ask, quite rhetorically, “Why do they always drop the females?”
I was reminded of this when reading over Dr. Isis’ excellent post on the, shall we say less pernicious, ways that the course of science is slanted toward doing male-based research. Really, go read that post before you continue here, it is a fantastic description.

Read the rest of this entry »