What is GIN?

GIN is monthly event held by neuroscientists at Stanford University. We gather to discuss gender differences that could affect our careers and focus on brainstorming strategies to overcome challenges that could limit our success.  Our meetings are open to everyone, regardless of gender and professional status (students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty). Check out what’s up for our next meeting.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Men on the verge of scientific breakdown

Over nearly two decades, the Office of Scientific Integrity has documented cases of scientific misconduct associated with NIH-funded research. 90% of these cases involve fraud.  A recent study examined these cases in more detail to learn more about the people involved. Two interesting observations emerge.  First, misconduct is distributed among career stages. Second, the proportion of male scientists committing misconduct exceeds their representation in the scientific workforce. Could this reflect gender differences in risk tolerance?

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Knowledge Cloaks

Maybe you’ve heard news media reports noting that women lag behind men in understanding finances.  What is the evidence for such gender differences in knowledge and understanding of finances.  According to economist Annamaria Lusardi, it depends on how you ask.  In a study of women and men in 8 countries, Dr. Lusardi asked three simple questions about finances.  Here is one:

Buying a single company’s stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.

  •     true
  •     false
  •     do not know
  •     refuse to answer

In many countries (but not all), more men than women choose the correct answer (false). But, more women than men choose ‘do not know.’  Consistent with this finding, men gave themselves higher scores than women, even when their actual knowledge is not higher.

So, it seems that in finance as in other domains, women are aware of their lack of knowledge and men are less willing to admit what they don’t know.

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tip your hand, develop your voice

In April, the GIN group discussed Prof. Grunfeld’s video on ‘Power and Influence’. In our discussion, we considered the wisdom and challenge of acting to maximize authority or approachability and the dangers of feeling or being fake. Last week, Sonoo Thadaney led us in an exercise to illustrate how to work in concert with our values and authentic selves.  It was a positive, uplifting experience.

I think this profile illustrates some of the principles.  In particular, Dr. Anjelica Gonzales describes how her values inform her approach to being a professor and researcher in tissue engineering.  One quote sticks out for me:
“Even though I love my work, there are days when I want to run out of the lab or classroom, too. While not every day at work is the best, I stay for the ‘we,’ just like my mom.” This illustrates persistence and states clearly that for Gonzales, the rationale for persistence is for the ‘we’–her students, collaborators, colleagues.   Go read!

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Visualizing STEM

This slick visualization from Scientific American (STEM degrees) 2008*, more biology degrees were earned by women than men.  Nearly half of all undergraduate degrees in chemistry were earned by women, but only 40% of PhDs. Though much discussion circles around the numbers, there was one trend that has received less attention.  Though the proportion of degrees in computer science awarded to women was less than 30% at all educational levels, women earned a larger proportion of Masters’ degrees than Bachelor’s or PhDs.  Perhaps tech companies could follow these data and actively recruit more Masters in order to diversify their workforce…

*The most recent year for which data are available.

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What do voters want?

Apparently, more female candidates.  According to political consultants who now believe that women make desirable political candidates.  (For more, see A Woman’s Edge).  Why? The argument runs like this: voters assume women are more trustworthy and in touch with everyday life.  They are also viewed as the ultimate outsiders. In a 2009 study, Deborah Jordan Brooks explored this issue by sending out a fictitious newspaper article about a member of congress.  Half the articles described Rep. Karen Bailey and half described Rep. Kevin Bailey.  The two Baileys were judged equally competent and although were inexperienced politicians, “Karen” was viewed as stronger and more compassionate. Interesting…

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Approaching authority

Last week, the GIN group reviewed and discussed Power & Influence with Deborah Gruenfeld, Professor, Stanford GSB.  Gruenfeld makes several key points about the interplay between body language and the dynamics of relationships, interactions and outcomes and proposes actions you can take to be perceived as authoritative or approachable. Both women and men can use body language to act high to project and receive authority or act low to appear approachable. Effective leaders, especially female leaders, are comfortable moving between these states, depending on the situation and specific goal.

Our discussion whirled around differing expectations for appropriate behavior for women and men and a concern that all this ‘acting’ could lead us to behave counter to our authentic selves.  Dear readers, I challenge you to spend one day making notes about situations in which you naturally act high or low.  Send yourself a quick email or text following each encounter, you may be surprised at what you discover about yourself and your co-workers.

Key points

  • People decide how competent you are in less than 1 second.  More than half of this judgement is due to body language.
  • There is a body language of power: who is leading and who is following.
  • Body language can shift the dynamics of relationships, interactions and outcomes
  • Women can find success in knowing when and how to use different power styles
Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

She loves science?

No doubt some of you have heard the roar of the twitterverse and the blogosphere, the shock of discovering that the curator of the “I f*ing love science” page is none other than Elise Andrew, a twenty-something woman with a tremendous passion for communicating and disseminating science.  The revelation that the curator of “IFLS” is female was a shock to many many many readers, underscoring how unconcious gender bias can get in the way of associating science with females.  But, no matter, IFLS page has millions of readers excited about science.  Can’t get cooler than that…

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Portraits in influence

Tuesday April 2 will be the 2013 Katherine D. McCormick lecture at Stanford, making today a good day to say a few things about Mrs. McCormick.  She was the second woman to attend MIT and the first to graduate with a degree in science.  As an undergraduate, McCormick fought for the right not to wear a hat in chemistry lab (the feathers were prone to catch on fire!) and for women to have the right to vote.

Born in 1875 into a wealthy family and married in 1904 into another wealthy family, she had enormous resources to back her philanthropy.  She changed the world by bankrolling the endocrinology research that led to the development of oral contraceptives.

When she died in 1967, she left $5 million to Stanford for the benefit of women medical students and doctors.  (Her gift is the equivalent of $35 million today).  This endowment now funds an endowed faculty chair, seed grants for female faculty, fellowships for postdocs, and the annual Katherine D. McCormick Lecture.

What was McCormick’s connection to Stanford? It turns out that her husband Stanley, who was schizophrenic, received care from Stanford’s School of Medicine at the family estate in southern California.  (Her husband’s illness and his care is another story entirely and is at the center of Riven Rock a novel by T. C. Boyle).

Katherine D. McCormick

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I’ll take risk for $200

Previously, the GIN group read and discussed research by Niederle and Vesterlund suggesting that women and men differ in their risk-taking style and their approach to competition (http://www.jstor.org/stable/25703504). Apparently, this difference persists on Jeopardy! such that the more men know, the more they bet in a Daily Double.  By contrast, women bet the same amount regardless of how much they know  in the category.  Check it out here: (http://www.journals.marketingpower.com/doi/abs/10.1509/jmkr.45.4.414?journalCode=jmkr)

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Dinner with Hilda

Last week, wormsense had dinner with labor economist, Hilda Kahne. During her long academic career, Dr. Kahne worked as both a scholar and an administrator and applied her expertise in economics to work and working women.  As wormsense, her mother, Dr. Kahne and her husband sat down to dinner, Dr. Kahne immediately asked about gender balance in my scientific life and in my academic department.  In my department of 15 faculty, three are women.

The conversation prompted me to read one of Dr. Kahne’s papers from 1973, the same year that Billy Jean King defeated Bobby Rigs in a highly publicized tennis match and that OPEC imposed an oil embargo, driving gasoline prices up four-fold.

A few things stuck in my mind while as I read, but in the interests of keeping this post shorter, I will mention only this one. Kahne predicted that the supply of PhD researchers will likely exceed the demand for academic researchers in the coming decades. But, opined that “this will probably not result in widespread unemployment for doctorate recipients…but will require a reordering of priorities.” Indeed, recent data complied by NIH shows that 98% of PhDs in the life sciences are employed, but that only 30% are employed in academia. Forty years later, her predictions are spot-on!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment