Mind the Gap: Uncovering Gender Bias in the Sciences

— In the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney lamented the fact that all the applicants for his gubernatorial cabinet were men. “Gosh, can’t we find some women that are also qualified?” he asked, requesting what he described as “binders full of women.” This remark generated significant controversy during the campaign, but also brought the “gender gap” back into the national conversation. The term “gender gap” refers to the disproportionate difference in the number of men and women at top level positions of many professions, including government. If this were 1952, we could easily point to overt sexism as the sinister force behind the gap, but in 2012, sexism and gender-based discrimination in the workplace are, supposedly, a thing of the past. Unfortunately, data show that the proverbial glass ceiling is still firmly in place, with men outnumbering women in high level positions in government, business, science, technology, and many other career paths (6, 7). So despite decades of activism, anti-discrimination lawsuits, and legislation to prevent biased hiring practices, why can’t we close the gender gap – particularly in the sciences, which are supposed to be a pure meritocracy based on research output? Continue reading Mind the Gap: Uncovering Gender Bias in the Sciences

Avian Flu and Censorship: When Would Scientists Keep Their Mouths Shut?

Presented by Ann Fiegen, Kevin Bonham, and Tina Liu When a team of scientists discovered in 2011 how to make the deadly H5N1 “Avian flu” virus transmissible through air, it stirred a debate about scientific ethics and national security that has raged for months everywhere from the top levels of the National Institutes of Health to the front page of the New York Times. In … Continue reading Avian Flu and Censorship: When Would Scientists Keep Their Mouths Shut?

A conversation with Dr. Elizabeth Barron

Dr. Elizabeth Barron holds a joint appointment as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, and in the Program on Science, Technology & Society at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Her academic background includes a BS in Anthropology and Biological Aspects of Conservation from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master’s in Forest Resources from University of Massachusetts … Continue reading A conversation with Dr. Elizabeth Barron

Managing biodiversity: Indigenous knowledge, elephants, and the repercussions of intervention

When we think of biodiversity management, or maintaining the species diversity in an area, it’s easy to draw parallels to conservation. However, conservation usually focuses on one or few species at a time. This means that it often doesn’t mesh well with biodiversity maintenance, which requires considering the balance of all species in a given habitat. By managing a system based on the needs of … Continue reading Managing biodiversity: Indigenous knowledge, elephants, and the repercussions of intervention

An interview with Professor George Whitesides, the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor and Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University

Prof. Whitesides is a prolific chemist with a long and distinguished career spanning almost five decades. Over the years he has published more than a 1000 scientific articles and has won multitudes of awards, including the Priestley Medal (2007), the highest honor conferred by the American Chemical Society. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering, an … Continue reading An interview with Professor George Whitesides, the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor and Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University

NTDs: Diseases of the bottom billion

What do the world’s “bottom billion” — the approximate number of the world’s citizens earning less than $1.25 USD per day — have in common? Aside from poor living conditions, malnutrition, and political voicelessness, they are also all more likely to suffer from so-called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), scourges that have become a hallmark of extreme poverty in the world. The World Health Organization has … Continue reading NTDs: Diseases of the bottom billion

A conversation with Ellen 't Hoen, Executive Director of Medicines Patent Pool

Ellen ’t Hoen is the executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool Foundation and was the Senior Advisor on Intellectual Property for UNITAID, a global health funding agency hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. She was also the former Director of Policy Advocacy for the “Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines” by Médicins Sans Frontières What is your general assessment of the global situation … Continue reading A conversation with Ellen 't Hoen, Executive Director of Medicines Patent Pool