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Spanish professors are sexist

November 19, 2011

Spanish professors hold women back. The system is easier on men. Women have to do significantly more to reach the top.

This is the clear conclusion of the Spanish government’s White Paper on the Position of Women in Science in Spain. Men, the White Paper concludes, are 2.5 times more likely than otherwise identical women to become a Professor. (Libro Blanco: Situación de las Mujeres en la Ciencia Española)

When comparing men and women of the same age, with the same amount of time since their PhD, the same field of knowledge and recent academic production in terms of articles and books published, as well as dissertations or theses directed, we see that the probability of a male Associate Professor being promoted to Full Professor is 2.5 times higher than that of a woman with similar personal, family and professional characteristics.

Many countries have similar problems. In the United States, the National Science Foundation reaches the following conclusion.

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Four crucial steps for hosting a successful write-in

November 15, 2011

Keep writing. Every day. That’s what the experts say.

Maybe you just have time to write a single paragraph. Can you summarize what you wrote yesterday? Can you write a few notes about the next section in your project?

Find your strategy and stick with it. Don’t succumb to Writer’s Block — but if you do, read Seth Godin’s clever piece on Talker’s Block. It helps!

What about your colleagues? How can you help them to write more and better? I tried to do that recently by hosting a write-in. As part of my university’s Promotion Project, I took about 40 academic staff members away for five days of writing.

Here’s what I learned.

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There are only 3 reasons women don’t make it to the top

November 13, 2011

It’s true in higher education, it’s true in law firms, it’s true in hospitals (it’s even true in monarchies!): women can get far, but they can’t get all the way to the top.

In Europe, fewer than 10% of universities are run by women. In Fortune 500 companies, about 17% of lawyers are women. Even in a relatively egalitarian country like Norway, a man in healthcare is much more likely than a woman to achieve a position of leadership.

There are only three possible explanations for the lower numbers of women at the top level of these organizations.

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How I use my blog and Twitter to get on op-ed pages

November 12, 2011

In my short life as a blogger, I’ve had success converting my blog posts into op-ed pieces. Publishing in traditional fora gives increased impact, which motivates me to blog more. It demonstrates that social media and blogging can lead to crossover into traditional media.

I search on Twitter to identify relevant hashtags and to find users with similar interests. That alone led to my 7th blog post being published. I made a posting on Twitter, tagged a user I had identified as potentially interested, and almost immediately received an email asking for a modified version of that essay for their publication.

This led to the development of my blog post 0.01% inspiration: The failure of research into Negative research results are important, which appeared in Research Europe as their View from the Top commentary on July 21, 2011. I have another posting that I think they’ll like, and I’m about to give them “first refusal” on publishing a version of that one.

I used a more direct strategy for the second blog entry I got published.

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Opacity in scientific publication: Do journals discriminate?

November 11, 2011

Watson & Crick’s 1953 article in Nature revealing the double-helix structure of DNA was not peer reviewed. Many scientists claim this paper presents the most important discovery of the 20th century. The peer review system is what gives science integrity. Yet this paper was published based on the evaluation of the editors that it was obviously true.

One great discussion at the European Gender Summit in Brussels gathered editorial representatives from some of the most important scientific journals in the world, including the Lancet and Nature. That’s where I heard this story.

A pervasive theme at the Gender Summit was the connection between transparency and fairness, or between opacity and discrimination. When processes are not clear, open and transparent, prejudice comes into play, and the result can be unjust.

Where do these two topics overlap? Are there senses in which scientific publishing is secretive or opaque? Read more…

Fix this blog!

November 11, 2011

What makes your blog successful? How can you get more readers and more comments? What leads someone to “subscribe” to your blog? How can you use your blog to feed your other activities ?

I’ve been blogging for about 6 months, and these questions become more and more salient for me. I love generating the content, but I know the form could be much better. Can you help?

I’m going to describe here what I think I need to improve my blogging experience, and if you do this kind of work, please get in touch. Indeed, if you think I my description of what I need is incomplete, I’d like to hear about that, too.

Because I so often advocate transparency, I’ll try to give a picture of the facts for this blog of mine, especially regarding the numbers. As of right now (11.11.11), I’ve had 5,829 hits total since my first entry on May 6th, 2011.

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Equality targets as a leadership tool

November 8, 2011

A decision to implement equality targets is a decision to pursue quality.

Equality targets should lead to increased gender balance. And increased gender balance leads to many improvements, such as employee satisfaction and, concomitantly, the productivity of the organization.

The concept of targets is the heir to the concept of quotas. And the claim that quotas feed quality is certainly not a familiar claim.

On the contrary, when I speak about the importance of achieving gender balance in research organizations, I often ask audiences to tell me what they think the most common objections to quotas are.

Can you imagine what kinds of answers I get?

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