Nobel (biased) Prize winners

It’s that time of the year again! What? No, not Halloween – the Nobel Prize winners are being announced! Not surprisingly, all 2016 winners announced are males. This gender gap within the Nobel laureates is not new. Since 1901, there have been 825 male winners of the Nobel Prize, but just 47 female winners. It’s been 53 years since a female has won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Not only that, but Nobel Prize winners are almost all white men. In total, there have been only 15 Black Nobel winners in history. Also, Nobel Prize winners are becoming older, meaning you need to wait longer to be recognized.

Infographic: The Nobel Prize Gender Gap | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista.

One could argue that the Nobel Prize organization was created in the 19th century and only covers “fundamental” science fields. In the current world of less funding, how many of the researchers can afford to do “fundamental” science? Science has evolved, and yet most of the “newer” sciences don’t have a Nobel prize included. Further, the Nobel prizes perpetuate the myth of the lone “genius” scientist, and even when the prize was instituted it just wasn’t true. It’s even less true today. Science progresses due to the efforts of many. The Nobel Prize format clearly needs to be updated.

So why is there this bias in the Nobel Prize? Are women are not being recognized, or are male really doing making the more significant discoveries? Are minorities doing science on “newer” fields that are not currently recognized?

Share your thoughts! Join our next #DiversityJC to discuss Nobel Prize bias, next Friday Oct 21st, 2pm ET. 




#DiversityJC Global.

Doctor_PMS, Emily, and I have been talking about how the DiversityJC can better engage the scientific community. We believe our topics are important for all of us, and we need to hear from as much of the community as we can.

See, all three of us are on the East Coast of the United States and we have the live discussions when it works for us – on Eastern time, 2pm, the 3rd Friday of the month. But. While that may cover most of the US, Canada, Mexico, Central, and South America in day-time time zones… it excludes a lot of the world from participating.

That’s not fully engaging the scientific community. That’s only engaging part of the scientific community.

We’re also a bit language limited; to English. Again – that’s only part of the scientific community.

Image credit:  Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Given that we focus on diversity and inclusion, we aren’t very diverse. We’re pretty biased in the people we reach – and therefore the discussions we have. Especially on our topics here, we need to make sure more of us can participate. We’re pretty sure these issues are global, not just US-centered, but that requires global conversations.

To do something about this, we’d like to expand the DiversityJC to reach other people in different time zones and different parts of the world: we need volunteers to host a DiversityJC discussion on Twitter at a convenient local time and language for participants in your part of the world. This will broaden the discussion about diversity in STEM fields and build the community of people discussing diversity and inclusion topics.

Are you or someone you know interested in diversity and inclusion, and active on social media? Interested in moderating DiversityJC conversations in your community?

We want to make it easy to help. We’ll still write up the topic towards the beginning of each month and send out the newsletter to let everyone know what that topic is (and we’re always open to suggestions/ideas/guest posters, just get in touch with us). We also try to have suggested questions for each discussion in the introductory post.

Your job would be to tweet out our topics when it’s convenient and in the language you’ll use for conversation, and get the conversation started. After, we’d ask you to put together a Storify or description post of your discussion and send it onto us. We’ll post it here on the blog/include it in the newsletter.

If you’re willing to be one of our global facilitators get in touch on Twitter (@IHStreet, @DrEmilySKlein, @Doctor_PMS), email us (, or leave a note in the comments here. Be a part of expanding the discussions about making academia a better, more inclusive community for all.

Ian Street
Emily S Klein

How to deal with ideological diversity? #DiversityJC

I believe we all here agree that diversity in the workplace is desirable and essential for success. A diverse group of people brings many advantages to the workplace: variable points of view bringing increased adaptability and more effective responses to problems. In our second #DiversityJC back in 2014 we discussed what diversity is and why it matters in science and STEM fields (you can read the recap of the discussion here).

However, a diverse group of people can also bring conflict of ideas and interests. In this recent piece published last Sunday on the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof brings to our attention what kind of diversity is desired in academia:

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

Yes, we tend to aggregate around people that think like us. However, in many instances we need to deal with people of different ideologies. Different political views, different religion. This editorial is focused on the humanities/social sciences, but I believe that it can be extended to academia generally, where there are less conservatives and evangelical Christians. Today we had an interesting discussion on different political (and ideological) views with @sciencegurl and @psyoureanidiot: 

Even on Twitter, most of the accounts you follow are probably people/institutions that have similar points of view as yours. How do you interact with those that might disagree with you; or are unfamiliar? Do you try to discuss the issue, or just walk away? Or maybe you just “agree to disagree”? 

This bias on campuses creates liberal privilege.

That’s why it is important to have a frank discussion about ideological diversity. How do those biases develop when politics and religion are not discussed in interviews or in the office/lab? Should universities offer affirmative action for conservatives and evangelicals? 

We would like to thanks Matt Burgess for the topic suggestion and we hope we can hear your opinion in our next #DiversityJC – May 20th, 2pm ET.

@Doctor_PMS, @DrEmilySKlein, and @IHStreet

March Topic: Let’s talk being an ally.

Sometimes it’s important to get back to basics.

Talking about diversity in STEM is critical, but it also involves educating yourself – especially if we want that discussion to turn into action. For that reason, our first topic of 2016 was diversity itself (my take two here).

If we want discussion on diversity to make change, in addition to understanding what we mean when we talk about diversity, and that it can be problematic, we also need to understand what it means to be an ally. Because, the thing is, simply saying we want to increase diversity, in all its forms, is not a good enough answer.


Anne Bishop defines allies as:

Allies are people who recognize the unearned privilege they receive from society’s patterns of injustice and take responsibility for changing these patterns. Allies include men who work to end sexism, white people who work to end racism, heterosexual people who work to end heterosexism, able-bodied people who work to end ableism, and so on.

Nadirah Adeye offers another view:

I, personally, think of allies as people who do the work to examine and question their own privilege. To understand who they are internally, but also how their external appearance or membership in certain groups impacts their societal powers. Being an ally means willing to be uncomfortable, being willing to be wrong (and, unfortunately, doing that ish frequently) and trying again, over and over. It’s not so much about being right as it is about being unwilling to allow wrongs to persist unchallenged.

Again, we aren’t going to talk about studies or journal articles for this Diversity Journal Club twitter chat, but we do want  to explore what ‘ally’ means – are we allies if we talk about diversity? If that’s not enough, do we want to be allies? If so, for whom? And how do we go about that?

A serious mistake is assuming we know how to do this work. Wanting diversity and talking about it aren’t enough – are we non or anti? – but we don’t wake up knowing how to make change. We have to learn that.

To get us thinking, please read up on some of the advice for allies out there in the interwebs. Check the video and links below. Find some resources on your own that speak to you. Have a thought about Ian’s post and his ideas about what he can do. Do we leave STEM if we’re over-represented? Are our abilities to cause change limited? In speaking up, do we silence others, so is it better to stay quiet? How do we know when to speak out, when to listen, and how do we amplify?


So You Call Yourself an Ally: 10 Things All ‘Allies’ Need to Know

How To Be A Better Ally: An Open Letter To White Folks

6 ways allies still marginalize people of color — and what to do instead

8 Steps to Being a Good Ally [for the LGBTQ community]

Anne Bishop’s website, Becoming an Ally

And Nadirah Adeye’s excellent post Being an Ally versus Being a Nice Person


We hope you will join us Friday 18 March at 2pm ET on twitter under #DiversityJC!

Doctor PMS
Ian Street

PS: The DiversityJC now has a newsletter that you can subscribe to. It will come out once a month and include the post introducing that month’s discussion topic, other blog posts we write as well as other diversity relevant links from around the web. Link to subscribe is here.

#DiversityJC discussions on Twitter happen the 3rd week of each month on Fridays from 2-3pm ET.

Is there a time when someone’s ability overrides their behavior? #DiversityJC

I believe everybody read the news about the professor at University of Chicago that resigned after sexual misconduct. His behavior is totally unacceptable, however, it was not something new in his life. Despite having received information stating that the professor had faced allegations of sexual harassment at previous jobs, the hiring committee voted unanimously to hire him.

An important point to add is that the professor has received millions of dollars in federal grants and currently holds three R01s! Really? Is it all about the money now? In these times of scarce funds for research, of course being funded makes a huge difference when a professor is being hired. But that’s not all that matters! (Or at least, it shouldn’t be, right?). Alright, on top of doing great research and being able to get his research funded, it seems that the professor was also an amazing teacher.

So now it seems obvious that hiring the professor despite the allegations against him was a terrible mistake, but how do we measure the success of aspiring professors? By numbers. The number of publications, the number of grants funded, the number of classes taught. Numbers, numbers, numbers – they are all in our CV’s. But what about the non-quantitative requirements. How to know that the person is a decent human being and not an assh**e? Being a professor and a PI means interacting in an influential way with students, postdocs, technicians and other professors. Being able to mentor properly is super important, and it’s also a big responsibility. How do we know that a person with such amazing credentials and incredible record of publications and grants is going to be a good professor and mentor?

We want to discuss those topics and hear what you have to say! Join us in our next #DiversityJC on February 19th 2pm EST.

Welcome to 2016! Our first topic is…


Yep. That’s our first optic.

No, seriously. Think about it.

What is diversity?

It’s a pretty important and fundamental question, but it’s also a tricky one when you stop to think about it.

What is diversity?

Is it always in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation? Are there other categories we should include? Educational level, expertise, geographic origin, socioeconomic background? According to the US Government:

The term “diversity” is used broadly to refer to many demographic variables, including, but not limited to, race, religion, color, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age, education, geographic origin, and skill characteristics

So, yes, diversity is a pretty big word. Do we focus on single aspects of this; could others add to a diverse and more insightful group? What aspects of diversity are important for success? Or are additional aspects of diversity confusing, do they cloud the issue?

To me, such musings us back to another critical and fundamental question: Why is diversity important? 

Why do we care if STEM is diverse? How do we define that diversity? Why do we use those definitions? Is diversity like basic research: critical to societal/scientific progress, but hard to explain its contribution until years after an innovation has become integral to our lives (e.g. The Internet)? How will we know when we’ve achieved ‘enough‘ diversity?

These are interrelated questions, and they aren’t easy. But, hey! Let’s start 2016 off with a bang and get back to basics. For some reading before our discussion, we recommend coming back to a pretty introductory post:

Dr. Kenneth Gibbs on Diversity in STEM: What It Is and Why It Matters

Bring your ideas, thought, comments, questions, and join us for the very first DiveristyJC of 2016 on Twitter under the #DiversityJC hashtag, Friday 22 January from 2-3pm Eastern time*! All voices welcome (we do love diversity – in all its forms!)

A thank you to Mark (@NE14NaCl_aq) for the inspiration for this topic (at long last!)

Til then!

Dr. Emily K (@DrEmilySKlein)
Ian Street (@IHStreet)
Doctor PMS (@Doctor_PMS)

Note: The DiversityJC now has a newsletter that you can subscribe to. It will come out once a month and include the post introducing that month’s discussion topic, other blog posts Doctor_PMS, Emily Klein, and I write as well as other diversity relevant links from around the web. Link to subscribe is here.

*#DiversityJC discussions on Twitter happen the 3rd week of each month on Fridays from 2-3pm ET.

#DiversityJC is on vacation this week and we’d like to hear from you!

Following the discussion on work-life balance last week, we’re taking this week off to relax (really, we’re working on other projects and traveling, so perhaps we’re not so good at work-life balance…we’re trying!).

Instead of a discussion, we’d like to hear from you, the #DiversityJC community! We have a brief survey for you to take that will help us improve the #DiversityJC.

The link to the survey is here:

Google Forms #DiversityJC survey

Thank you for your feedback! #DiversityJC thrives with diverse participants!

We look forward to hearing from you! And #DiversityJC will return to our usual discussion two weeks after this Monday.




Let’s talk about using technology to expand classroom diversity! #DiversityJC by @Drew_Lab

There is an old adage that says, “If the only tool you have is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail”.  We know that we have a diversity problem in academia but what are the tools that we have at our disposal to deal with it?  This is a broad question – one that probably underscores every single discussion we have on this blog.  For the next discussion I’d like to introduce a paper that I gave at the 2015 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology conference as part of a special symposium on “Leading Students and Faculty to Quantitative Biology Through Active Learning” which was organized by Laura Miller and Lindsay Waldrop.

First a little background: Lindsay asked me to give a talk about how we can use digital technology to enhance learning in the class and as I sat down to write it, I realized that the really novel aspect I could explore with this talk was not so much the technology and learning aspect, but rather that by thinking about these topics through the lens of increasing diversity, specifically in STEM fields (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1.001

As a result the paper became a really fun piece to write. I feel like too often we don’t give ourselves permission to read outside of our fields, and with this paper I suddenly had permission to read into educational theory, sociology, media studies and many other fields.  The result, I hope, was a theoretical framework with which to view three worked examples from my lab over the past few years. The first was working with students in high schools in Fiji and Chicago to build an on-line class about marine conservation. The second was an impromptu use of Twitter to teach a class in New York City two days after Hurricane Sandy ravaged most of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Lastly was a project run by Columbia University and the University of the South Pacific to train conservation students and practitioners from Melanesia to use low cost technology to improve marine conservation.

These three examples span the range from high cost, high labor interventions to spur of the moment adaptations of technology, but they’re united by the desire to expand the classroom and to allow new voices to be engaged in learning.

While I freely admit that technology is not going to be the only tool we should have when thinking about improving diversity, I think by adding tools problems become more nuanced and suddenly there are more than just nails.  I want to ask those of us who stand in front of classes to think critically about some points, particularly as we are in the planning phases for next semester’s teaching:

1) Whose do we privilege by gatekeeping authoritative voices into the class?

2) Whose voices do we exclude by making the decisions above?

3) Can we use new tools to give both authentic and recognized self-expression in the classroom to underrepresented groups?

4) How can technology help erode internal and external stereotypes about expectations of what a STEM practitioner looks like?

I’m really looking forward to seeing what you have to say about this. This is one of those papers you write not to get citations but to spur on conversations among the community. I may not have gotten everything right, but I’m willing to  be wrong if it means we can have an honest conversation about how we can do things better.

Here’s the paper:

Drew, J.A. (2015) Using Technology to Expand the Classroom in Time, Space, and Diversity. Integr. Comp. Biol. (2015) doi: 10.1093/icb/icv044

And the link:

#DiversityJC Monday, July 13th, 2pm EST. Hope to see you there!

In the next #DiversityJC let’s talk about vaccine refusal

I am pretty sure you are all aware of the big vaccine debate, and there are tons of articles in the news about the issue. We decided to discuss the issue in our next #DiversityJC, but trying to avoid politics views about it, but scientific view. For that, we are going to discuss the following article:

Neoliberal Mothering and Vaccine Refusal:
Imagined Gated Communities and the Privilege of Choice
Jennifer A. Reich
University of Denver, USA

Abstract: Neoliberal cultural frames of individual choice inform mothers’ accounts of why they refuse state-mandated vaccines for their children. Using interviews with 25 mothers who reject recommended vaccines, this article examines the gendered discourse of vaccine refusal. First, I show how mothers, seeing themselves as experts on their children, weigh perceived risks of infection against those of vaccines and dismiss claims that vaccines are necessary. Second, I explicate how mothers see their own intensive mothering practices— particularly around feeding, nutrition, and natural living—as an alternate and superior means of supporting their children’s immunity. Third, I show how they attempt to control risk through management of social exposure, as they envision disease risk to lie in “foreign” bodies outside their networks, and, therefore, individually manageable. Finally, I examine how these mothers focus solely on their own children by evaluating—and often rejecting—assertions that their choices undermine community health, while ignoring how their children benefit from the immunity of others. By analyzing the gendered discourse of vaccines, this article identifies how women’s insistence on individual maternal choice as evidence of commitment to their children draws on and replicates structural inequality in ways that remain invisible, but affect others.

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, you can still participate by reading the science daily article about it, and/or the author’s blog post by Gender & Society (@Gend_Soc).
I hope you can all join us in our next #DiversityJC, next Monday February 9th, 2pm EST!

Happy new #DiversityJC year!

It’s been a while, but #DiversityJC will be back! After a poll with the participants we decided to change the day to every other MONDAY, at 2pm. I hope it works best for all, and we can have more participants! For our first #DiversityJC of the year we chose this article by Brigid Schulte from The Washington Post discussing the conflict between an academic career and fatherhood.


The post refers to a recent study published in the Work and Education journal and it can be downloaded here. Please, contact us if you don’t have access to the full paper.

Hope to see you then, next Monday January 26th, 2pm EST tweeting under #DiversityJC!