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).

Published!

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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:
http://www.digitalityworks.com/Viewers/ViewIssue.aspx?IssueID=114&PageNo=1.

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

Google Diversity Numbers: White, Asian Men Dominate Tech Jobs

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I wonder why Google, as innovative and forward-thinking a company as it is, does not promote diversity in the workplace. I think the diversity is coming in through variations in personality and philosophy, because I love those Google-doodles and the creativity imbued in their image. But diversity could take them even further… Ah, well, another bastion, I suppose…  From the ASEE aggregator:
 
USA Today (5/30, Weise) reports on the low number of women and minorities among the Silicon Valley workforce, calling it “a funhouse mirror image of the American workforce, which is 47% female, 16% Hispanic, 12% black and 12% Asian, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Google released its diversity numbers this week. The numbers show that “1% of its tech staff are black,” 2% are Hispanic, and 34% are Asian, In addition, 83% “of Google’s tech workers internationally are male.” USA Today notes that experts say a reason for this may be that white and Asian men “are more likely to have access and take advantage of technical schooling that leads to jobs at tech firms than historically disadvantaged minorities.”
        The AP  (5/30) reports that Google head of personnel Laszlo Bock cited “a shortage of” female and minority students “majoring in computer science or other technical fields in college,” quoting him saying, “There is an absolute pipeline problem.” However, the AP reports that “the educational choices of some minorities don’t entirely account for the lack of diversity at technology companies,” noting that Google also employs thousands of workers in non-technical fields such as sales.
        The NPR  (5/30, Hu) “All Tech Considered” blog and the Christian Science Monitor  (5/30, Mendoza) run similar coverage.

Policy Development in the US

These two reports seem relevant… I find it interesting that environmental impact assessments have not been voluntarily completed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Seems to me an ethical requirement in this millenium when we are so environmentally conscious. As for the second report, I am curious how this will turn out: will North Carolina support fracking once again? Something I’m interested to follow…  Both are from the ASEE aggregator:

Environmental Groups Sue Army Corps Of Engineers Over Mississippi River Changes.

The AP  (5/23, Suhr) reports that on Thursday, environmental groups “sued” the Army Corps of Engineers “over the agency’s use of man-made structures meant to keep the Mississippi River navigable.” The Federal lawsuit claims “the techniques provoke flooding as seen during historic inundations four times in the last two decades” and asks the Army Corps “to resist building more ‘river training structures’ such as wing dikes, arch-shaped dikes known as chevrons, and rock dikes” until the Corps “comprehensively evaluates their environmental impacts along the vital commerce corridor.”

Bill Ending Fracking Ban Advances In North Carolina State Legislature.

The Washington Post  (5/22, Wilson) reported in its “Govbeat” blog that the North Carolina state Senate on Thursday cleared legislation that “would end the state’s moratorium on shale gas drilling, opening the door for new energy development that supporters say could bring thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars to the state.” The measure “would lift the moratorium on drilling by July 1, 2015, and would allow the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to issue permits to energy companies that want to explore the state for oil and gas.” The state House is expected to pass the legislation in the coming weeks.

Opinion: Students Should Be Dissecting Power Tools Instead Of Frogs

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Interesting idea…I think dissecting power tools in middle school might be better. I would have loved to have had permission to take those things apart – my husband says he always had opportunities to disassemble and [attempt to] reassemble appliances and tools as a kid. As I think about it, I seem to recall my brother did, too. But high school might be too late. AND don’t take away those frogs – we need budding biologists to be supported, too!
From the ASEE aggregator:
In a Bloomberg BusinessWeek  (5/19) op-ed, Harold L. Sirkin, a senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group and Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management professor writes that the key to developing students “who will produce the innovative new products and processes that will enable the U.S. to maintain its standard of living and economic leadership” is through having them “‘dissect’ power tools in high school.” Sirkin writes that although dissecting frogs is useful, “breakthroughs in the lab are not enough. Progress also depends on the tinkerers among us who can find novel ways to apply these breakthroughs to our lives.”

White House Science Fair To Encourage Girls To Study STEM

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I hope there is some way attendance and academic interest is tracked to measure the success of a “specific focus on girls and women” in a science fair like this. From the ASEE aggregator:
 
USA Today (5/20, Jackson) reports that the Administration “is hoping its annual White House Science Fair will encourage more girls to take up science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education,” noting that the May 27 event “will also feature the usual assortment of robots, machines, and other science projects.” The article quotes a White House blog post saying, “With students from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, this year’s Fair will include a specific focus on girls and women who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work.”

Study Links University President Pay, Student Debt, Adjunct Professor Growth

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Fascinating report! I guess those high-paid business-oriented presidents know how to minimize institutional expenditures: place more of the debt on students and faculty! 🙂 From the ASEE aggregator:
 
The New York Times  (5/19, Lewin, Subscription Publication) reports that a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a “left-leaning” group, finds that at the 25 public universities “with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012.” The authors “found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one.”

Navy Nuke Vet Seeks To Inspire Hispanic Students To Study Engineering

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Perhaps another collaborator as I work on diversity. Honestly, when we make the social changes necessary to support more women entering and staying in engineering, we are most likely to be successful if these changes increase accessibility to all: all genders, all cultures. From the ASEE aggregator:

ABC News (5/16) profiles former “US Navy Nuke” Barry Cordero, who “never heard of engineering as a child” when he was growing up “poor in the South Side of Chicago as the descendant of immigrants from both Mexico and Germany.” The article describes Cordero’s Navy service, noting that he “decided to pursue a bioengineering degree” after leaving the Navy, and in July 2013 “was named president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.” The piece quotes Cordero saying, “Engineering is still not that known in the Latino community. We have a very difficult problem with them achieving and becoming an engineer or scientist.”

Survey: New Graduates’ Expectations Don’t Reflect Job Market.

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No, really? 🙂 Actually, I have noticed this but only with some graduates — and not Camosun’s! I think… From the ASEE aggregator:
CBS News (5/9) reports online that according to a new survey from Accenture, “college seniors who will graduate in the next few weeks have unrealistic expectations of the job market they are entering.” The piece reports that while over 41% of graduates from the previous two years are making less than $25,000 per year, only 18% of respondents expect to fall within that range. The article reports that the survey “also uncovered a disconnect in workplace training,” with some 80% of respondents saying they “believe they will receive formal on-the-job training, but only 48 percent of recent grads said they received any.”