You must have Power to Stop Discrimination

You must have Power to Stop Discrimination

This is a piece on gender inequity and sexual discrimination (not sexual harassment, which is a different and emotionally more devastating thing). I´m writing this at this time not because of any one thing that´s happened, but because of a culmination of things. Sometimes it just seems like a topic is in the air, building momentum, and this topic has finally found a voice in me. This post had three different triggers. The first was a bad moment I had last semester, when I found out a student in my Physics for Engineers class was making sexually harassing comments on a regular basis. The second trigger came from confronting numbers and statistics on women in physics and astronomy for a pair of talks at Dragon*Con. And the third trigger was this little gem posted...

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Spoofing 3am Commercial

Spoofing 3am Commercial

This is from PhD Comics. Normally I wouldn’t throw the whole thing in my blog, but . . . If you don’t already subscribe, hit up their RSS Feed over here.

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T’was the Astronomer’s Sys Admin’s Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and clouds filled the sky Not an object was twinkling, not even Iota Tri; The telescope was parked in its dome with great care, In hopes of spying a star on which it could stare; My students were nested all snug in their beds While visions of data danced in their heads And I in my office, my Mac at my side, Was Googling for gifts – no bargain could hide. When on the network, there arose a great clatter, I popped up an xterm to ping what’s the matter Ping 74.208.25.93 “CONNECTION FAILED” was all it said back to me. The lamp on the screen of the Mac Book Pro Illuminated too many processes refusing to go. When, on what should my wandering eyes obsess, But a remote client, and eight shared processes!...

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Scientific Dialogue by Journal Article: Coffee maybe required

Today I had two juxtapositions of journal articles. On one hand I had the photo-ready proofs of a journal article on the Astronomy Cast listener survey I submitted to, and had accepted by CAP. On the other hand I had a bunch of journal articles my student was working on data mining for our research (those articles are on the evolution of galaxies in clusters). I have to admit, my own journal article (which I’ll post links to once it is online), would put me to sleep – it is a dry recitation of facts, figures, numbers and a couple charts. Everything is quantified and potential errors are noted. If you want to replicate my analysis, almost everything you need is there, and the only stuff missing is the exact words folks wrote in the fill in the blank...

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The Wizards in the Tower

Somewhere, once upon a time, the metaphor of faculty living in a mystical Ivory Tower entered the vernacular. I don’t know the history of this imagery, but it always conjures images of wizards working their spells while the look out over the common people – the little people – from their vantage on high. These gray-haired men of wisdom sometimes enter the courtyard to educate the young. At their feet the future wise ones absorb knowledge and engage in Socratic dialogue. This image doesn’t have much room for young woman – heck it doesn’t really have room for the young at all. But it’s just a metaphor, right? The problem with stereotypes and metaphors is they are often rooted in a certain amount of truth. One of my favorite...

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An academic life punctuated with bullets

An academic life punctuated with bullets

Every university seeks to convince parents (and itself) that it is a safe place where learning and personal development are fostered in a protective yet stimulating environment. This is part of the myth of the Ivory Tower: we form the intellectual fortress where the knowledge-wealth of a society is stored, and intellectual returns roll in at double-digit rates as papers are published and student sponges absorb the words of the marble and bronze professors we’ve placed on pedestals.

In truth, universities are just places that strive to be more, but often struggle to make their dreams reality. As places run by humans and often open to the public, they aren’t as secure as we may desire. While the majority of crimes are related to random strangers entering campus to thieve, and peep, and sometime grope and rape, the most tragic crimes we see are the ones perpetrated by the students and staff who become broken as they try to run the academic gauntlet.

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