Affirmative action: Class, race, place and the future of STEM Driving Force August 5, 2014 Time to take stock. Since the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the use of race in college admissions in Fisher v. University of Texas, what are the prospects that race-conscious affirmative action will prevail in higher education? Lifting the curtain on graduate admissions Driving Force July 29, 2014 Among the mysteries preserved by American universities is the process of review and selection of candidates for admission to graduate programs. A new study of how this process unfolds in 12 fields (including three STEM disciplines) within three highly-competitive research universities affords us a rare glimpse of—and raises red flags about—faculty committee dynamics in the interpretation of evaluative criteria. Bluntly put, two stages of review yield two categories of candidates, systematically disadvantaging one. Grant opportunity for early-career women in chemical sciences Tuesday, July 1, 2014 The objective of the Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences, is to kick-start the research career of promising future senior investigators. The Marion Milligan Mason Fund will provide three grants of $50,000 every other year to women researchers engaged in basic research in the chemical sciences. Awards are for women who are starting their academic research careers. In addition to research funding, the program will provide leadership development and mentoring opportunities.  Silicon Valley workplace biases mirror sins of the past Driving Force July 8, 2014 Surprise! Silicon Valley’s tech industry is your father’s Chevrolet after all. You would not have guessed that another generation of innovators would replicate the white- and male-dominated workforce—top to bottom—that has characterized science and engineering in the U.S. for decades.  Can female LEGO figures attract more girls to science? Can female LEGO figures attract more girls to science? Driving Force June 11, 2014 LEGO, the famous building-block toy company, recently made an exciting announcement. They will soon release a new LEGO set called ‘Research Institute,’ which will contain all-female scientist minifigures—an astronomer, paleontologist and chemist—with accompanying science props. To LEGO, releasing this set will mean getting more money from science-obsessed collectors, but this move may have even broader ramifications. By explicitly providing girls with examples of female scientists as toys, LEGO could be planting seeds for future career choices. NIH holds contest for fixing bias in peer review (with cash prizes) Capitol Connection May 27, 2014 Recent studies have demonstrated that African American researchers are less likely to receive NIH grant funding than are white researchers. The NIH wants to know if grant-reviewer bias is causing this disparity and wants to improve the overall fairness of peer review. With these aims in mind, the NIH is issuing two challenges for improving the grant review system. Should I stay or go? Faculty perceptions of institutional climate Driving Force May 20, 2014 I have occasionally used this column to report on lessons derived from studies I personally conducted on university campuses in recent years. Typically, these reports feature interventions that influence student choices, experiences and outcomes in STEM. With the Supreme Court ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (Michigan) still fresh, it is timely to present findings from a faculty study I helped to facilitate at a flagship campus in the Southeast (which I refer to below as “SE”). Describing and Measuring STEM Teaching Practices Describing and Measuring STEM Teaching Practices Download April 18, 2014 This new book "Describing and Measuring STEM Teaching Practices," is the result of a AAAS/NSF meeting that drew participants from nearly 50 institutions to identify tools and techniques that can be used in describing teaching practices. It discusses five techniques that individuals or organizations can use to measure STEM teaching: faculty and student surveys, interviews, classroom observations and teaching portfolios. The best descriptions of STEM teaching typically involve the use of multiple techniques, the book concludes. Impostor Syndrome: What it is and what you can do about it Impostor syndrome: What it is and what you can do about it Driving Force April 7, 2014 Marie Klawe is a talented computer scientist and president of elite Harvey Mudd College, but in a recent article she admitted to feeling like a failure despite all of her accomplishments. How could such a successful scientist harbor such self-doubt? The answer is that Klawe suffers from "impostor syndrome," a surprisingly common ailment among scientists and academics. National conference shows underrepresented researchers making strides National conference shows underrepresented researchers making strides Wednesday, March 12, 2014 There is some serious brain power going on here. More than 650 student researchers from around the nation have poured into a Washington, D.C., hotel to network and show off their work. Rows of posters celebrate undergraduate research on cancer, robotics—even underwater communication. There are 70 graduate students giving oral and poster presentations on topics from hairy nanoparticles to quantum turbulence.