What is feminism today?


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The f-word came up a few weeks ago and now it seems I cannot get away from it…

When I started this doctoral program to research the gender balance in engineering question, I wanted to completely avoid the f-word. In fact, during my final presentation at the end of the first residency period, I said outright that I am not a feminist. A feminist would want to be known as a female engineer but my greatest wish is that I am no longer introduced that way. I’m just an engineer. Continue reading

Science is for everyone – including girls!

Dr. Randy Newman, Professor of Psychology at Acadia University, presents brief overview of the history and barriers leading to women’s underrepresentation in science. This informative talk is humorous and professional … and filled with a great historical reference that I shall be following up with!


Gornick, V. (2009). The History of Women in Science. Feminist Press, The City University of New York. ISBN: 978-1-55861-587-8

Interesting Automated Comments

I have been receiving a number of comments on my blog. Thank you, so much! Nice to know that I am posting something of interest. I try to respond as quickly as I can.

I’ve been getting some, though, that are oddly crafted: supportive but encouraging me to expand my reach by signing up at a particular website. I heard a report on Spark (cbc.ca) about programs that are written to post comments directing people to their sites. Well, I’m glad I moderate the comments here, because this is one of them that I received. Continue reading


Chelsea Clinton Promotes Gender Diversity In Tech Sector



Interesting comments from the past US-presidential family… I will have to find Chelsea’s data. The article gives interesting anecdotes from women who were discouraged in middle school and high school. From the ASEE aggregator:

The Denver Post (6/24, Torres) reports that Chelsea Clinton took part in a panel discussion at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Monday, calling for greater efforts to promote gender diversity in the technology industry. The paper quotes Clinton saying, “There are fewer girls who are aspirational in the math and science fields in the United States than there were 20 years ago. We have significantly fewer women graduating with computer science degrees. We have significantly fewer women graduating with mechanical engineering degrees than we did in the mid and late 1980s.”

UK STEM Gender Gap increasing?


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From my good friend, Gord Stuart, another great and relevant article. I’m curious whether this is simply in response to confusion around a new educational system. Warrants further investigation in my mind…

From ACM TechNews: Female Tech Staff ‘in Decline’ in the U.K. BBC News. The gender gap in the U.K. information technology industry is getting worse, according to a new report from BCS, the chartered institute for IT, and E-Skills U.K. The Women in IT scorecard indicates women account for just 16 percent of the British IT workforce. Moreover, the study found the problem starts early, considering girls consistently outperform boys in computing A-level results, but only account for 6.5 percent of test-takers. Girls also make up only 13 percent of entries for computer science General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs). Meanwhile, the proportion of women working as self-employed IT specialists has doubled over the past decade, and women earn 16 percent less on average than men. “The continuing decline in women entering the IT profession is a real threat for the U.K. and an issue that clearly we need to address,” says BCS Women chairwoman Gillian Arnold. E-Skills U.K. CEO Karen Price also notes “this joint report provides the evidence we need to face the problem head-on, and to develop hard hitting and effective interventions to solve it.”

“Brazuca” World Cup Ball Represents Cutting Edge Technology


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From the ASEE aggregator, a very interesting engineering application:

In a post for LiveScience (6/18, Gupta), Nikhil Gupta, an associate professor of composite materials at NYU, writes that since 1970 Adidas has resigned the official ball of the World Cup, and that it often “incorporated materials and technologies that were innovative advances for their time.” The Brazuca ball for the 2014 World Cup, is no exception and it is an “example of cutting-edge engineering and advanced materials.”

There is video from the lab in the LiveScience article, or view this talkSPORT review by two renown players:

Stanford Hires First Female Dean Of School Of Engineering


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Very interesting… I may have to interview her for my research. Later. From the ASEE aggregator:

Kristin Brown writes in “The Tech Chronicles” blog of the San Francisco Chronicle (6/5), Stanford just hired Persis Drell as its first female dean of its school of engineering. Brown calls this “a small step” but “a big deal” for the field in which “women are vastly outnumbered by men.” It is a movement towards changing the perception of engineering as a masculine field, which is “a major obstacle” to women pursuing it as a career.
The “Tech Chronicles” of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (6/5) also provided coverage of this story.

Massachusetts College Aims To Attract Women To Engineering


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I missed the email from ASEE that included this article. This is very interesting and something I may be able to incorporate into my research. From the ASEE aggregator last month:

WBUR-FM Boston (5/27) reports on line that while statistics show that men greatly outweigh in engineering programs, Olin College of Engineering, “a small school of fewer than 400 students in Needham, founded in 1997,” has “wanted to attract more women to engineering” from its start. The piece reports that Olin President Rick Miller “said the way engineering colleges teach engineering turns women and other students away who might otherwise be great engineers,” and reports that Miller said that he views engineering as “a performing art.”

LEGO Approves Female Scientist Characters


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While I suppose I should be pleased and simply agree that it really is about time they made these toys, I am actually rather offended by Lego’s press release and the media coverage. STOP MAKING THIS SUCH A BIG DEAL!!!  Just add the stupid figurines and get on with it. Sigh…  And a good thing the “minifigures” look trendy so they can still go shopping and do housework, eh? Sheesh! (on the other hand, I will definitely have to buy the telescope and minifigure for my astrophysicist daughter…the hair almost matches, too)
From the ASEE aggregator:

New minifigures from Lego: trendy women in STEM careers

Abby Phillip writes in the Washington Post (6/5) “Style Blog” blog that LEGO approved designs for female scientist, paleontologist, and astronomer characters, giving the company, “at long last…female figurines who do something other than bake and hang out at the beach.” The designs came fro the LEGO Ideas online competition. Ellen Kooijman, who submitted the designs said she sough to address the “stereotypical representation” of women in LEGO figures. The Phillip presents the move as part of the effort to address the low number of women in Science Technology Engineering and Math jobs.
        Boston.com (6/5, Salahi) reports LEGO’s Lego Friends series is aimed at girls, but “the female minifigures were designed in trendy outfits and accessories to go shopping, do housework, style hair, and bake.”
        Also coveirng this story are the Huffington Post (6/6, Samakow) and NBC News (6/6, Wagstaff).




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In print for the first time! (photo courtesy of Jenn Todd, P.Geo., 2014)

Well, my first article has been officially published in a journal! The article, Gender Balance in Engineering: Is this an issue worth pursuing?, was first seen in print today in Innovation Magazine, the trade journal of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC. This article is based on the paper I wrote as an academic writing sample for entry into a doctoral program to research the possible educational reasons why women are not entering engineering. I thought this exploration of the benefits of gender diversity in a profession and how other professions managed to attain gender balance would provide some background to justify (at least to me) doing this research. Please check it out on page 26:

(The full paper with references is in an earlier post in this blog.)