Archive for the ‘women’ Category

Overcoming challenges. Being challenged to overcome. This is the topic for April’s edition of Scientiae, and I received an overwhelming response of your varied tales of challenge and triumph. Further proof that all of us are capable of facing our problems head-on and growing into wiser, more competent people.

The carnival is based out of Candid Engineer’s blog : http://candidengineer.blogspot.com/2009/04/april-scientiae-we-rise-up.html

These carnivals are a wealth of inspiration and often thought-provoking – check them out! You may find some kindred souls….


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The South African Mail and Guardian Online just published another article on the “leaky pipeline”:
Leaving the lab
They note that women are still leaving the lab at a rate higher than men:

A study for the United Kingdom’s Royal Society of Chemistry has found that although 72% of the women surveyed intended to pursue a university career in the first year, by their third year this had slumped to 37%.

This was not the case for their male peers. The study found 61% of them wanted to pursue a university research career in their first year; this fell to 59% by their third year.

Some of the reasons are:

Two recently published studies investigate why these women are leaving. About 450 molecular bioscientists (all female) and 610 chemists (male and female) took part. All were either studying for PhDs or had just finished.

More women than men had come to view academic careers as too solitary and the fight for permanent posts too competitive. One in 10 of the men felt “powerless to resolve significant issues” with their supervisors, whereas this was the case for 17% of the women.

More women than men felt isolated or excluded from, and sometimes even bullied by, their research group. When their experiments went wrong, the women were more likely to “internalise failure”. And more women than men were discouraged by the “all-consuming nature of science”.

However, one post-doc claims:

“I don’t see women leaving academia as a defect or as cowardice. I see it as wisdom. With a science PhD, it’s possible to do a host of other rewarding and important jobs. Women now feel they can give up gracefully and go on to do something more fun.”

let’s make lemonade out of the lemons…

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daring book for girls

Finally a book for a girl’s childhood!!
Many years ago a book was written for boys: “The Dangerous Book for Boys” and now a new one for girls, The Daring Book for Girls, has been published – but it is not a girly girl type book although it does have some girl stuff in it. It also has how to build a fort, how to make a volcano, how to canoe, etc.

I bought the other book for my son but I think I just may buy this one for him as well (and for me too!)

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Kate Murashige went from a PhD in chemistry to a very successful patent lawyer:

She was a pioneer in the industry’s patent law. And she continues to help myriad companies, each with vastly different and complicated science, stake their legal ground so they can push ahead and try to bring new drugs to market.

She came to law a bit circuitously:

After earning her doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of California Los Angeles, Murashige knew a career in the laboratory was not for her.

“I was not a good scientist,” Murashige said. “I’m not creative. I’m very analytical. I move from Point A to Point B. People who are successful in science think a different way. They don’t follow a particularly logical path and the goal is much too far away for me.

“I like a more immediate sense of accomplishment: complete a task, and move on.”

For several years, she taught at the College of San Mateo, where she was chair of the physical sciences department. Among her students was J. Craig Venter, winner of the 2007 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest.

Eventually, she tired of teaching introductory courses. She began attending the Santa Clara School of Law at night while also raising a son.

After starting a law firm on her own with a partner, they were eventually absorbed into a larger law frim where she is now a partner who specializes in patent law for the life sciences.

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The Scientist is publishing an article in Jan on how to keep women in science:
They are looking for comments and more suggestions – if you are considering a career change because you don’t feel comfortable in chemistry – why not tell them what would make it better for people who follow you?

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Who says you can’t take a detour for few years or a decade?

Down from the mountains

“Having braved Everest and Annapurna, biochemist Arlene Blum is back on a trail she blazed 30 years ago — conquering the toxic dangers in our living rooms”
By Barry Bergman, Public Affairs | 12 September 2007

Armed with wanderlust and a campus doctorate in biophysical chemistry, Arlene Blum spent the 1970s straddling the peaks of two very different worlds. In 1977, she and noted Berkeley biochemist Bruce Ames warned of significant health risks posed by flame-retardant chemicals in fabrics, plastics, carpets, and other consumer products; their findings, published in the journal Science, laid the groundwork for a federal ban on treating children’s pajamas with Tris, an additive shown to cause cancer in animals. A year later she made history by leading the first all-female team to reach the 26,500-foot summit of Annapurna I, the highest peak in the Himalayas — a feat underwritten by sales of 15,000 T-shirts-cum-manifestos bearing the decree “A Woman’s Place Is on Top,” and recounted in Blum’s bestselling book Annapurna: A Woman’s Place.

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Joanne Ayre used her industry job to learn and find the right niche for her:

When she left school, she opted for a pure chemistry degree at Leeds University, UK. ‘I enjoyed my time there, but realized that working in the lab was not for me,’ she recalls.

She took a job with GLaxoSmithKline in her local area and

During her first year at the company, Ayre started exploring her career options. ‘I realised there were other roles available that would suit my personality,’ she says.

Her advice to others:

She is keen to encourage school-leavers to consider a vocational route to a science career. ‘As I found, industry is a good choice for people interested in science.’

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