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gender and science

Diversity in the geosciences and the impact of social media

Cross-posted at Highly Allochthonous

ResearchBlogging.orgOne year ago, Kim Hannula, Pat Campbell, Suzanne Franks, and I launched a survey about women geoscientists reading and writing in the blogosphere. We presented the results at the Geological Society of America meeting, and Kim wrote a great post summarizing and discussing our data. Then I took Kim’s post, polished it up with great wording and thinking suggestions from all of the co-authors and submitted it for publication. It went out to reviewers and a few months later, we were accepted for publication.

In the September issue of GSA Today, you can find our article on The Internet as a resource and support network for diverse geoscientists. We wrote the article with with the idea of reaching beyond the audience that already reads blogs (or attends education/diversity sessions at GSA), with the view that we might be able to open some eyes as to why time spent on-line reading and writing blogs and participating in Twitter might be a valuable thing for geoscientists to be doing. And, of course, we had some data to support our assertions.

GSA Today is an open-access journal, so everyone can and should go ahead and read the whole 2-page paper. But if you want a few highlights, here are some selections from the paper:

The online opportunities for mentoring, networking, and knowledge sharing may be particularly valuable for women and minority geoscientists. Virtual networks offer opportunities to provide support and reduce the professional isolation that can be felt in physical work environments where there are few colleagues of a similar gender, race, or ethnicity. …

Women reported professional and social benefits from reading blogs. We used a five-point scale (1: strongly agree; 3: neutral; 5: strongly disagree) to assess perceived benefits. Of the professional benefits, respondents were most positive about learning things outside their specialty (avg. 1.9), followed by learning within their specialty (avg. 2.3), learning about pedagogy (avg. 2.4), and learning about technology (avg. 2.5). Based on these responses, we conclude that these women blog readers perceive positive professional benefits from their online reading. This suggests that social and other online media could be strategically used to supplement the resources available to all geoscientists, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, geographic location, or employment status. …

Geoscience students perceived the strongest benefits from blog reading, while faculty most strongly agreed that blogs helped them find role models and normalize their experience by finding that many other faculty share their experiences and perspectives. Women in industry perceived less social benefit from blog reading than those in academia, but women in government were the most negative about their blog-reading experiences. In particular, their responses indicated that blog reading had not been helpful to them in finding role models. …

Blogs and other social media may provide a source of community and role models for women geoscientists and help in the recruitment and retention of women from undergraduate education to faculty or industry careers. Our survey results show that blogs are already providing valuable benefits to white, academic women geoscientists, but that existing social media networks could be doing a better job of supporting minority geoscientists and those outside academia. We believe that professional societies, employers, funding agencies, and individual geoscientists should recognize the potential value of social media for supporting a diverse geoscience community. To be effective, such recognition should be accompanied by policies that encourage geoscientists to actively participate in geoscience-related social media opportunities. …

As a white woman geoscientist in academia, I have definitely personally and professionally benefited from my blog reading and writing time. (I even have a publication to show for it!) But I would to love to hear more from minority and outside-of-academia geoscientists about what blogs, Twitter, and other internet-based forms of support could be doing to better support you. As you can see from the paragraph above, what we ended up advocating was that institutional support for blogging and blog-reading would help increase participation. We thought that, with increased participation, more minority and outside-of-academia geosciences voices would emerge, helping others find support, community, role models, and mentoring in voices similar to their own. Meanwhile those of us closer to the white/academic end of the spectrum could learn from all that a diverse geoscientist community has to offer.

One final note, I’m a newbie member of the Diversity in the Geosciences committee for the Geological Society of America. If you have ideas for how GSA could be doing a better job of promoting and supporting diversity off-line and/or on-line, please let me know.

Jefferson, A.J., Hannula, K.A., Campbell, P.B., & Franks, S.E. (2010). The Internet as a resource and support network for diverse geoscientists GSA Today, 20 (9), 59-61 : 10.1130/GSATG91GW.1

Women geo-types on Twitter

This page is an archived version of the women geo-types list that I maintain on Twitter. Women geo-types lists the Twitter accounts of women who tweet about the geosciences or identify as geoscientists in their Twitter bios. The list was originally compiled using the AGU-maintained list of geo-space-ocean scientists on Twitter, which I supplemented with other women tweeting about the geosciences or identifying themselves as geoscientists. The list below was current as of 26 June 2010, but the list on Twitter itself is continually updated as I discover accounts for inclusion.

  • mineralphys. Mineral briefs from a UCLA professor
  • GeologyStudent. I’m a grad student studying geosciences
  • MTHellfire. geophysicist. ranchgirl. antiwar. slave to dogs. music wonk. realist. tweets are mine.
  • perrykid. M.S. student in contaminant hydrogeology, native New Mexican, easily distracted by bright shiny things.
  • stardiver. the geo-scientist as hero
  • highlyanne. Hydrologist, geomorphologist, hydrophillic geologist, whathaveyou.
  • sarahkendrew. postdoc astronomer
  • lunarkatz. Earth-scientist-turned-educator: Sharing Earth and space science with the universe … one child (or inquisitive adult) at a time …
  • mactavish. Love: Astronomy, all aspects of physical geography, and finding ways to be happy.
  • BraveBluewords. Oceanographer, writer, educator, advocate. Focus: oceans, climate change. Writing science and sci-fi. Love books, veggie gardening, yoga, & eating gluten-free!
  • martian1113. I am a Space Station Training Lead at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
  • kaylai. PhD student at Cambridge University. Experimental petrologist/volcanologist studying Mt. Erebus, Antarctica. Science writer for @TrekMovie
  • robinbell. Geek, Scholar, Advocate, Mom, Sailor
  • absolutspacegrl. Space Shuttle Mission Control worker bee until Shuttle goes away. Mechanical Engineer. Geek. Star Wars fangirl. Skeptic. My views are my own.
  • khoney. Marine biologist & interdisciplinary environmentalist. Originally from Maine, now NorCal. Stanford PhD Candidate. Work hard-play hard: sail,surf,ski,trek,travel
  • DrLucyRogers. Author of It’s ONLY Rocket Science – An Introduction in Plain English. Also Engineer, Astronomer and Freelance Science Writer.
  • naoshin. Doing my PhD in plasma physics and intl scientific and humanitarian outreach projects on the side.
  • thevolcanolady. Volcano Hunter,National Geographic Photographer/Explorer, Devoted Wife, If I was a drink I’d be a peppermint hot chocolate.
  • Ele_Willoughby. Marine geophysics Research Associate at the University of Toronto
  • geosteph. science educator, geologist, NASA geek, softball player, aunt, mom to Logan (dog) and Kinsey (cat)
  • sandrift. Planetary geologist, photo hobbyist (Flickr: sandrift)
  • Charlotte_Hird. Graphic Designer Geologist Astronomer Chook fancier Cook Bottlewasher
  • geokaren. amateur foodie, longtime geospatial geek – ok, not so geeky anymore but still a fan!
  • Gabrielse11. UCLA Space Physics grad student always up for adventure!
  • simX. Geologist, Wannabe Bigwig Mac App Programmer, ClickToFlash Developer (one of many)
  • missyleone. This is ponderous, man, really ponderous.
  • bethannbell. I’m a geochemistry PhD student studying the early era of Earth’s history.
  • Monkeyskunk. Figuring out where to go in life….perhaps an active volcano?
  • betsymason. Science editor for Wired.com, geologist, beer snob, calm assertive pack leader.
  • weimang.
  • pehGU.
  • lizzieday. Geophysics PhD student
  • marssciencegrad. I’m a recent PhD in transition between grad school and the real world! I study Mars using visible and near-IR spectroscopy and will soon be working on MSL.
  • kennicosmith. Currently, a NASA scientist…
  • IntrplnetSarah. Lunar geologist
  • CatherineQ. Astrophysicist, over-thinker, autoimmune illness girl, lover of beautiful things in all forms. Kiwi in US. NASA supporter. Dogs rule.
  • h0mes1ice.
  • littlejillyyy. Happy.
  • MeaganMcGrath.
  • iescience. Freelance science writer and editor, non-practicing oceanographer, one-time Alvin diver, hiker, kayaker, crossword puzzler, candy eater
  • hfe.
  • Felsic. Geology student, mountain biker, nature lover, music enthusiast and micro blogger.
  • Geol_G_Arguello. Geóloga de profesión, loca por vocación
  • veronicaholton. I study geology at the College of Charleston.
  • Cannibal_Panda. Geology
  • amandacolosimo. Assistant Professor of Geosciences, Monroe Community College
  • BenderRobot. Oceanography graduate student. Aspiring scientific communicator. Fun times enthusiast. Lover of most things NJ.
  • leanne_erica. I enjoy reading and writing about rocks. Well.. I do most of the time.
  • AnjiSeth. Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
  • NerdyChristie. A marine scientist with an urge to write that turned into all kinds of things…
  • bgrassbluecrab.
  • lyndellmbade. Ecologist, Educator, Grad Student. Researching cownose ray migration, movement, & life history. Model. SCUBA diver. Traveler.
  • blueacoustic. Geology Ph.D. student. If you want to talk tv, I’m your girl (e.g., Buffy, Supernatural, True Blood, Office, Glee, 30 Rock, Greek, Dexter.. oh so many more)
  • MaureenMcCann8. Meteorologist at News 8 Austin; Weather Consultant; Grad Student at UT; Bar Crawl for Scoliosis Founder; Dedicated member of Red Sox Nation; Huey Lewis’ #1 Fan
  • geogjen.
  • sdbikegirl. I love Earth Sciences, Sun, Sand and Snow. Geospatial stuff, minerals and rocks. I am passionate about cycling.
  • SabeanPagan. All-round science nerd. Love to chat about anything and everything. Blog enquiries please contact me on thearmchairscientist@googlemail.com
  • rockstarscience. Female graduate student in astrophysics, apprentice rocket scientist, rebel without a solution set.
  • lizzy_t. I love rocks and rock climbing, especially trad climbing. 1st yr geology grad student at stanford!
  • tigermouse88. Geologist, Germanist, Globetrotter, Musician, Translator.
  • tanyaofmars.
  • Epsigon. Geophysicist/Geodynamicist, Welsh-Londoner, sleepy, loves Vinyl Toys, graphic novels and diet coke
  • sharonkae. Hi! I write specfic, I sniff out earthquakes in the Rhineland. I garden. That’s it.
  • DelphineAby. Oceanographer and modeler in environment. Manager in Natural Risks
  • Julierific. Wife, Mom, Scientist, PhD Candidate, Avid Reader, NPR Junky, Runner, Gardener, GF Cook, Meteorologist, Environmentalist, Baseball Addict
  • kejames. Natural History Museum scientist—Beagle Project directrix (@beagleproject)—Darwin groupie—space geek—telemark skier—teapot agnostic. Tweets are mine all mine.
  • mtkr. Photographer, geophysicist, and NYC girl
  • christierowe.
  • ugrandite. hard rock geology prof currently at University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
  • Chanitacr. Geology student
  • altmenn. Mix of Physics & Music, space based instruments, Earth’s atmosphere observations
  • delenn77. New mom, field geologist, failing optimist
  • snowflyzone. designer, strategist, awkwardness enthusiast, geologist, sneaker aficionado, map maker
  • GeoEntelechy. Geospatial research and development • GIS • I’m passionate about analysis, visualization, and interdisciplinary synergies. Opinions are my own. 
  • maitri. Spoken here: geoscience, tech geekery, new orleans, packer football, wisconsin, project gutenberg, 3.14 and pie
  • inadraw. Urban community environmental planner
  • hanhanbanans. I love animals, geology, GIS, mapping, my Mini Cooper, and geocaching.
  • HeidiHutner. Writer, Professor, Environmentalist
  • GemKeeper. Environmental geologist and mother of two young children.
  • KHayhoe. climate scientist living in a heathen land where no one puts any milk in their tea
  • mcmoots. Geo-interdisciplinary freak, environmental consultant, scavenger, pie fiend.
  • stressrelated. Structural geology professor, mountain enthusiast
  • DNAPL. Scientist, Associate Professor, working on tracking contaminants in the environment, forensic geoscience and general earth science
  • geogirldi. Mother, Geologist, and Music Fanatic. I am a rock, I work with and study rock, I listen to rock. But you can just say I rock.
  • cynthiabarnett. Senior writer, Florida Trend magazine. Water-beat geek. Author, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.
  • aggieastronaut. PhD student in atmospheric science at Texas A&M, Aggie sports fan, Martian by trade, dating @JeffAMcGee, Pastafarian priestess
  • squawky. Planetary scientist at a small univ., teaching geology & astronomy, trying to do research, and keeping sane.
  • morphosaurus. Lecturer, palaeontologist, gardener, wife of the best man in the world, owned by a furious leopard gecko, and mother of none – EVER.
  • coconinoite. Woman geoscientist in the wetland arena living and working in the southwest, with 5-year-old child and SO.
  • Tuff_Cookie. I’m currently a grad student in a volcanology research group at SUNY Buffalo, studying lava dome collapses and pyroclastic flow formation.
  • Colo_kea. Comm. Editor, Geol. Soc. of America. Engaged to Bear. Goals: skydive, photog, blog (http://keagiles.blogspot.com/). kea icon © iantraffordphotos.com.
  • sfoxx. Geologist, meanderer, explorationist
  • geologyclare. Metamorphic geologist, geochronologist, postdoctoral researcher
  • spacegiraffe. UC Davis geology 4th year, rafting guide, interested in hydrogeology, fluvial geomorphology, remote sensing, arm waving at outcrops.
  • oystersgarter. Marine biologist and science blogger
  • NotanEster. Deaf nerd of many trades, but mainly Anthropology and Geology. Also moonlight as certified instructor of Cued Speech.
  • meagenpollock. Geologist, geochemist, basalt-lover, professor
  • Astro_chick.
  • mjvinas. Once veterinarian, now science writer. Expat. Work & tweet @theAGU but thoughts in here are my own. Interested in (surprise!) science and science communication.
  • geographile. I mostly retweet geography-related news and chat about geography.
  • mareserinitatis. Working on PhD in geophysics, also an electrical engineer, sci-fi nut, now with kids and cats!
  • WomenPlanetSci. Women make up half the bodies in the solar system — why not half the scientists?
  • DoodleMommy. Mother. Wife. Geologist. Doodler.
  • geobacka. Geology and astronomy nerd. B)
  • mihaela4021. I am passionate about three things: my family, science and the humanity. I twitter, therefore I am.
  • KatherineBaylor.
  • deepseadawn. Oregon State University GIS prof, cyclist, ocean mapper, geek, Lego maniac
  • mousereusch. Seismologist with interests in earth structure, climate and glaciology. Cyclist & huge tree-hugger.
  • loverivers. Focus on restoring the health of the Penobscot River … also writer, poet, photographer, and all-around nature lover.
  • BoreholeGroup. The Borehole Research Group conducts scientific research by lowering tools into oceanic boreholes.
  • JacquelynGill. PhD candidate studying paleoecology, climate change, and biogeography at UW Madison. Feminist, geek, bibliophile, foodie.
  • rivrchik. Biogeog and fluvial geomorph researcher, science blogger and retweeter of all things eco, bio, geo or fluvio
  • volcanojw. rocks, film, and fine tequila.
  • River_Restore. A NEW online hub for the river restoration community
  • Mary_H. I’m a geographer at Miami University.
  • RockDocWSU. I write the RockDoc syndicated newspaper column and am Director of Major Grant Development for the Agricultural Research Center at Washington State University.

Thanks to Chris Rowan for exporting and formatting this archival list.

Selected Resources for World Water Day

World Water Day 2010
More than one billion people (1 in 6) do not have access to adequate clean fresh water – which is defined as just 20 to 50 liters per day. (In contrast, the average American can use in excess of 400 liters per day indoors.) More than 2.5 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation facilities. Without sanitation, human and animal wastes reach drinking water supplies and illness proliferate. Diarrhea, caused by water-born pathogens, is the leading cause of illness and death in the world. And most of its victims are children under 5 years old.

Today is World Water Day, an annual recognition of the importance of freshwater and an opportunity for focusing attention on advocating for its sustainable management. World Water Day is organized by the UN Environmental Program. Each year has a particular theme, and in 2010 the theme is “Clean Water for a Healthy World.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R_vpNQ0fJc]

The all-around excellent Pulitzer Gateway “Downstream”is focused on water conflict and cooperation, water and economics, water and health, and water and climate. Of particular relevance for this World Water Day is the section on water and health, where I found the video and written account of women in Kakuma daily digging a dry riverbed for water because they couldn’t afford the 5 cents per jerry can fee for the clean, pumped water supplied by aid organizations and the local government.

(One thing you might notice if you watch some of these videos is that it is women and girls who are disproportionately affected by lack of access to clean water. Women are the ones who have to walk miles to fill jugs with water and girls drop out of school in order to do so. Improving access to water would give these women and girls additional opportunities to contribute to their own and their families’ economic well-being.)

In 2000, the UN set out its Millenium Development Goals, one of which is “By 2015, reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.” With five years to go, we haven’t gotten very far towards that goal. There are many organizations working to install wells and establish clean water supplies. There are also organizations working to develop and distribute affordable water purification technologies, some even using entrepreneurial solutions. Just as importantly, there are groups working to improve sanitation conditions. We need to break the taboo on sanitation and recognize it to be a necessary ingredient to preserving clean water resources. Unfortunately, all of these well-meaning organizations face significant limitations because of cost, political instability, hydrogeology, and climate.

No matter how much scientific geek-love I may have for streams and groundwater, mostly I take water for granted. Yet in other parts of the world, access to clean water is literally a matter of life or death. I’m glad for this year’s reminder of how fortunate I am, how far the world needs to go to meet basic human needs, and how many of the solutions are within our grasp, if concerted, adequately-funded efforts were made. Simply put, global health depends on access to adequate clean water and sanitation. It’s time to move water higher on our collective to-do list.

Getting ready for Science Online 2010

On January 16th, I am convening a session on Casting a wider net: Promoting gender and ethnic diversity in STEM at Science Online 2010 conference. Science Online 2010 is an unconference, which means that it is built around audience participation rather than a succession of speakers getting up and giving monologues. I think this is a great format, but it does mean that the conveners have to do a bit of work in advance.

I’ve tentatively set out two goals for the session:

  1. Identify successful online and offline programs, and their commonalities, for recruiting diverse participants into STEM activities; and
  2. Draft a set of recommendations for individuals, employers, and STEM organizations (funders, professional societies, etc.) for supporting women and minority scientists and science students through social media.

I’m also collecting links of recent blogging that supports these two goals. Below are some of things I’ve run across, and I’d appreciate the addition of any other discussions or posts that are relevant to the topics at hand.

Your thoughts are most appreciated. After all, not only is the conference about audience participation, but the session is specifically aimed at increasing participation.

Women geoscientists and blogs: what we found

Just in time for my ScienceOnline 2010 session, Kim Hannula has done a wonderful job writing up the results of our study on how women geoscientists use blogs. She’s got lots of pretty histograms for those interested in the details, but here are the take home messages from our study:

  • Women geoscientists participate in larger blogging communities
  • Blogs can be useful for sharing experiences and finding role models
  • Women-in-science blogging helps academics
  • But what about people whose experiences aren’t reflected? (Minorities, people with disabilities, non-trad paths?)

We’re hoping to convert our work into something in dead-tree format to reach an audience beyond those already engaged in online communities, so you may hear some more about this topic in the future.

GSA Abstract: Blogs as a resource and social support network for women geoscientists

The Watershed Hydrogeology Lab is going to be busy at this year’s Geological Society of America annual meeting in Portland, Oregon in October. We’ve submitted four abstracts for the meeting, I am co-convening a session, and I’ll be helping lead a pre-meeting field trip.

In addition to being a complete water nerd, I have an interest in gender issues in science. The abstract below lets me think outside of my usual box and work with some really great collaborators.

BLOGS AS A RESOURCE AND SOCIAL SUPPORT NETWORK FOR WOMEN GEOSCIENTISTS
HANNULA, Kimberly A., Department of Geoscience, Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, CO 81301, hannula_k@fortlewis.edu, JEFFERSON, Anne J., Dept. of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, 9201 University City Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28223, CAMPBELL, Patricia B., Campbell-Kibler Associates, Inc, 80 Lakeside Dr, Groton, MA 01450, and FRANKS, Suzanne E., 2435 Edgecomb Ave, Glenside, PA 19038

As women geoscientists progress through their careers, they may find themselves working with fewer and fewer other women. For example, although women now receive 40-45% of undergraduate degrees in geosciences, the proportion of women in tenure-track academic positions is much lower (14.2%) (Martinez, 2008). These women may feel isolated or unsupported in their work environment. Increasingly, social networking on the internet is used as a way of building community without geographic constraints. For instance, there are at least 20 blogs written by women geoscientists, and an unknown number of women geoscientists reading blogs. Blogs and other social media may provide a source of community and role models for women geoscientists, and help in the recruitment and retention of women from undergraduate to faculty or industry careers.

Preliminary work has found that women have many different reasons for writing blogs. Some want to improve scientific literacy, discuss science-related policy, highlight interesting research, or show people what it’s like to work in their field. Some want to discuss social issues, including those related to being a woman in science. Some write for personal reasons: to get support, to get feedback on ideas, for catharsis, or because they just enjoy writing. Women geoscientists also read blogs for a number of reasons: to keep in contact with geoscientists while working with non-geoscientists or while taking time off from work, to look at perspectives from related fields, to find mentors and role models, to participate in discussions with interesting women, to be part of conversations about gender or race, or to get advice.

We will present the results of an online survey of blog readers and writers, designed to find the extent to which women use blogs for these goals, and whether reading and writing blogs affects women’s career goals in the geosciences.

Reference: Martinez, C., 2008, Female participation in the academic geoscience community: American Geological Institute Workforce Currents, n. 9.