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…But where, oh where, are the Women?

June 14, 2013

Very early on, before the talks at the Solid Psychology Symposium really started, Bobbie Spellman tweeted in a comment on the fact that all the speakers were Men! I had noted that too. (And, I had noted that in the Brussels presentation there was only one woman, Leslie John). I believe Solid Psych when he/she claimed that it was not intentional. In fact, I wanted to place this in a separate post, both because I thought the symposium was great, and the arrangers did a great job, and the speakers were wonderful, so why end with a complaint? But, also because it does deserve its own post and its own discussion

I have been a bit bothered by this, and tried to scrape up the women I know that tweet and blog about changing science. Bobbie is way up there, perhaps not with the blog/tweet activity, but she clearly is a mover. (I seem to be more of a commentator). There are a whole bunch in the open science project (Rebecca Saxe, Elizabeth Bartmes among others ), who I don’t see tweets from but who frequent the OSF mail group. We have people like Leslie John and Kate Button. We have Anna Dreber Malmenberg who was one of the people behind the reproduction prediction markets. (Hey, got my pay-off. Got myself a pair of cool leggings and a skirt that I actually wore to Holland. Yay!) But, even for me the top of mind is men. I was talking to Anita Eerland for a bit about this. It can’t really be that women are not fond of stirring the pot or go out changing stuff, considering that a whole bunch are feminists, and vocal about having their just place in science and elsewhere.  Women certainly can be reform and revolution minded. I asked Bobbie to enumerate her hypotheses, because this is bothersome.(So, Bobbie, if you read this, please do).

There are a lot of women in Psychology, and in Social Psychology, the Silverbacks really are of both genders. Where are they? Why is this happening? Is it homo-sociality, as one of my colleagues (who studies gender issues in psychology) suggested. No, the guys aren’t out to discriminate and keep the women away. It may very much more be who you think of first when it comes to pulling together, well, whatever, a team, a set of speakers, some collaborators. Is it someone I, we, the women need to think about more? A bit more actively leaning in? I don’t know. But, fixing science is for all of us.

(On edit – As you see, Rolf kindly gave me his wife’s name, so I updated. As lovely as it is to be someones spouse, one should be ones own person first. It was very nice talking to Anita about this, even though it was brief.).

  1. goodwill permalink

    I am tired of all this “feminism”, “silverback”, “male”, “female” stuff. It makes no sense to me, because I reason that it is totally useless to discuss these matters when you have not first made clear, and give priority to, what science should be about, and/or what is needed in science, and why this is so, and in turn how to get there.

    -Why should there be more “women” in science? Should science be about hiring the best scientists, if yes: what characteristics should these scientists posess first, aside from gender?

    -I always find it amusing to read about all these silverback “males” who are apparently so mean to their PhD-students and who are the most likely to commit fraud, etc. You basically are a sad “man” if you cheat to try and get ahead. You basically are an even sadder “man” if you abuse a PhD-student decades younger than yourself. It would be amusing to see all these “males” in science try and chop down a tree or do some real work. The only exercise most of ’em get, is lifting a cup of coffee in yet another higly important and useful meeting. And if you abuse a PhD-student as a “woman”, it’s just as sad. It’s in fact pathetic.

    -Let’s say you have got a couple of “males” working together, the “old boys” network so to say. Isn’t working in groups more of a “woman’s” characteristic? (the same goes for having the all-important “social skills”, networking, etc.).

    The point I am trying to make is the following:

    It should not be: “…But where, oh where, are the Women?”

    It should be: “…But where, oh where, are the Scientists?”

    Here’s something to perhaps ponder about (if nothing else it may provide the reader with a nice movie-option for the coming weekend):

  2. Actually, Rolf Zwaan’s wife is Anita Eerland, herself active at the moment with various replication projects.

  3. Oh, excellent! I updated the blog. (Alas, found out she is not on twitter).

  4. goodwill permalink

    I love all these symposia, they seem like great fun and an optimal way of communication !! Too bad there is always a limited space, people have to be flown in to speak, and people have to pay money to see and hear them.

    They should come up with some alternative way of communicating these scientific thoughts and findings expressed at these symposia. Perhaps the essential things of the topics of these talks could be transcribed (but only the essential things) or something like that, so everyone can read it for themselves and not have to go to these kinds of symposia?

    • goodwill permalink

      Ow, I just found out that they will post videos of the symposium. That’s a great idea !! Now. everyone can see and hear the talks then, and not have to fly to some country and/or pay to see and hear these thoughts and findings.

      Perhaps this could also imply that some symposia could be organised by local universities without even having them let speakers fly in. They could just show these types of videos to their students and professors !!

      Perhaps this could also imply that the speakers themselves wouldn’t even have to fly all over the world to give a talk. They could just make a video, and put it online !!

      Perhaps a transcription of the talk would possibly not even be necessary when the talk is based on a specific article. They could just link the video to the article, and put it in the central database, so everyone can 1) see the video, and 2) read the scientific thoughts and findings in the related article !!

      Maybe someone could set up some sort of central database where all these video-talks are gathered. You could have certain important topics and beneath these topics list links to online videos. You could even match a certain video (concerning a certain specific topic) with a transcription/ article of the talk. That way, everyone in the world, and every student and professor at every university, could just read and watch this information for free.

      • goodwill permalink

        I just saw this video by Geoff Cumming called “dance of the p-values”. This could be such a video that would be in such a central database. You could then link some articles about problems with only focusing on p-values to it, etc. And you could also link symposium videos about (higly) similar talks to it as well.

        I wonder if it would be useful to try and centralise these things, so as to provide a single spot to watch and read related articles about important general scientific topics like interpreting p-values. You could, let’s say, make a top 25 (e.g., power, p-values, confidence intervals, etc.) and start building!!

        Here’s Geoff:

  5. goodwill permalink

    Thank you Ase for 1) twittering, and 2) blogging !!

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