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Vive la Difference! Women in Academia Julita Vassileva Computer Science.

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Presentation on theme: "Vive la Difference! Women in Academia Julita Vassileva Computer Science."— Presentation transcript:

1 Vive la Difference! Women in Academia Julita Vassileva Computer Science

2 What is the difference if you are a female in Academia? How you choose a research area –The chance for success is not the main guiding principle –Women tend to pick more risky, innovative, cross-disciplinary areas, where the chances for competent reviewing are lower

3 Unknown K U U U U Known K The “Swiss cheese” model of research Presented on February 5th, 2004, by Dr. Tom Brzustowski, president of NSERC at the 25 YEARS OF DISCOVERY Celebration at the UofS Presentation is available at: high risk, lonely low risk, well populated moderate risk, crowded dead end

4 Lessons from the “Swiss cheese” model (from T. Brzustowski’s presentation, available at: Risk here refers to scientific risk – the risk of not achieving the desired result even though the research is done very well. Peer review is supposed to weed out the risk of research being done badly. There are lots of peers available to assess work at the leading edge, as well as the research that would fill in gaps in knowledge behind the edge. Who can act as a peer reviewer of proposed research that would leap far in front of the leading edge? Innovation is needed to achieve the quality control of peer review, but also avoid the resistance of the established paradigm. Another needed innovation: publishing and giving credit for good research that leads to a dead end. Identifying dead ends might provide new knowledge; at the very least it will steer other researchers away from barren trails.

5 More gender differences When you communicate with others about your research –in your research group, in your department, at a conference When you are evaluated for merit, salary increase, or considered for promotion, research chair position etc…

6 Problems Invisibility –Whatever you say is not noticed –Whatever you do is not praised –Whenever you try to discuss research, conversation slides into chatting Smaller social network –Generally fewer women in your area with whom you can connect –Few, if any of your acquaintances are highly ranked You do the unthankful work, someone else does the work that reaps rewards / recognition Swedish study: Women have to perform twice better than their men colleagues to be *perceived* only half as competent! Student teaching evaluations study: “She is fine if she praised me but incompetent if she criticized me” Weneeras and Wold’s (1997) study showed that women scientists received smaller grants than men with equivalent research records. MIT investigation demonstrated that women faculty had lower salaries, less lab space, and smaller grants than men with equivalent records.

7 Why? A1: Man=Woman, so apply the same rules! If she bends, it is her problem. If she doesn’t fit the rules, so be it (the rules make a fair game). A2: Man <>Woman, perhaps we need to reevaluate the rules? Research shows significant differences: Lower self-esteem, lower confidence, less assertive in communication, often different career path due to accommodating husband, kids etc.

8 Stereotypes In men –“If she is smart she can’t be beautiful” (and reverse), “If she criticizes my idea, she is incompetent”, “If she is assertive, she is aggressive” Sometimes innocent, but sometimes to protect the ego and self-respect and sometimes plain jealousy In women –“If I say “no”, this will spoil the relationship.”; “OK, I will take this job, so that there is peace” –“It is ugly to brag all the time about my achievements, like the boys”, “If I just work harder, somebody will notice and reward me”, –“He is so confident. Maybe he is right and I am wrong; maybe I haven’t thought so deeply about this as he has”.

9 How do we measure performance? The measures were created long time ago when the typical academic was a male dedicating 100% of his time to his career Perhaps we need new rules? –E.g. impact factor rather than just counting publications? –Remove certain age restrictions or “10 years after PhD” for eligibility to certain programs for women. –Consider more individual differences and situation. –Not to compromise quality, but to value diversity!

10 The negative results Accumulation of numerous small disadvantages can slow you down –Missed critical information –Missed or reduced opportunities –Biased evaluations –Lost recognition for ideas and contributions And just realizing this may lead you in a negative loop –Feeling victimized –Reinterpreting every little thing; –Frustration and loss of mental and emotional energy.

11 Solutions may create new problems The “dark side” of affirmative action Never sure if recognition is due to your work or due to your gender –“Oh, you are on one of these “female” positions!” –“Does he talk with me because he liked my presentation or because he is trying to get a date?”

12 So what to do? First approach Play the boys game Talk loud Be confident (or pretend) Never let them interrupt you! Reiterate about what you have done or your ideas Dress like a man and do the man’s things Being feminine is a weakness Manage to do 48 hours of work in a day. But you may end up sacrificing too much –Family, kids, male attention Maria Klawe, Dean of Engineering, Princeton Univ.

13 The other approach Be feminine Be nice Dress well, be charming Let them fight for your attention Make the best out of it –Dine with the big wigs –Accept offers to diversify the environment Live with the advantages and disadvantages But you may wonder whether they respect you as a researcher or as a decoration a Beautiful Mind: how Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr invented spread spectrum technology - and transformed the wireless world

14 And in between Inbetween these two extremes

15 More you can do Connect –ACM Committee on Women in Computing (ACM-W) –Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computer Science and Engineering (CRA-W) –The Institute for Women and Technology (IWT) You will be amazed how much experience there is to be shared…

16 And in the end Whichever approach you choose –You will have your research and all the things because of which you choose to do research –You will go through periods of frustration, of feeling unappreciated and will ask yourself “Were all the sacrifices and all the work worth it?”, but also through triumphs and star-moments. Both of the extremes will be brief. What remains in between is your work. –Hard work is the best cure and the best approach.

17 DO WHAT YOU WANT AND ENJOY IT!


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