Sunday 11 February 2018

International Day of Women and Girls in Science - Today

Charles Darwin casts a long shadow which has occluded the fact that the day before his birthday - Today! - is International Day of Women and Girls in Science IDOWAGIS
aka Международный день женщин и девочек в науке
aka  Dia Internacional de la Mujer y la Niña en la Ciencia
- Irish link - UN link - Official site.

The day was occluded for Darwin-obsessed me but not for my pal Russ who is a little more in tune with the outside world. But really! What ever next will the UN allocate a day for? It's getting as crowded as the Catholic calendar of saints where most days are doubled- and trebled-up with saints you've heard of . . . and a rake of other niche saints of whom only Cardinals have heard.  Today, for example is the feast of Saints: Benedict of Aniane, Blaise, Cædmon, Gobnait, Gregory II and the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Which of these is a UNreal thing?:
  • International Day of potters and weavers
  • International Day of bankers, accountants and actuaries
  • International Day of dowsers and well-diggers
  • International Day of dancers, skaters and acrobats
  • International Day of jugglers and snake-charmers
You are requested and required to celebrate IDOWAGIS this afternoon. If you know any young women then pick a story, any story, from my Women in Science Series - there are 64=2^6 of them - and read it aloud with her. If 1 out of every 10 or 20 girls thinks "I could do that" then it will have been a huge win. To a close approximate nobody pageviews that list: only about 0.005% of my traffic hits that page. Which is a surprise and a shame because some of those stories are ripping and inspirational.

Providentially and with great synchronicity (me and women-of-science must love each other very much) last week, I downloaded & filleted my list of Blobs about Women in Science and converted it into a PDF. My printer driver at work allows you to print PDFs in 2pages/side booklet format, so I converted it to 14pt to take account of the reduction that entails at printing. It runs to 60,000 words or about 100 pages and 2.3 Mb. I'll send an e-copy to the first 20 people who ask at Or by leaving a comment here. You have until 16th Feb 2018.

Here's the introduction:
I started blogging for Ireland about five years ago, when I secured a new job at an Institute of Technology. That first term I was [t]asked to teach classes in Human Physiology, Water Chemistry, Climate Change, Computing, Remedial Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, & Food Microbiology. All of which were a long way from bioinformatics, genome sequence analysis and gene discovery: fields in which I had published some contributions. I got the job through a peculiar combination of retirements, maternity leave and consolidation of part-time appointments. In prepping material to keep one step ahead of the students, I have travelled widely down the by-ways of science. I called my blog Science Matters, because it does. There I have recorded my trials and triumphs in the class room; and with hindsight there was lots of don’t do this at home or at work kids. I’ve also noted interesting stuff along the way; some of the material I come across gets incorporated into the curriculum but much more exists only on The Blob. After several months of following my own interests I realised that I had often been surprised and delighted by the contributions to science by women. So I created an executive summary / index of the pieces I written where women had a starring role and here I’ve filleted The Blob to concentrate in one place those essays. I am disappointed at how little traction that list has gained because I think we need to have better stories and better role models for young women in science. If one of the following stories makes one girl choose to dip her toe in the ocean of science, then it will all have been worth while. There are enough accountants and farmers; pop stars and pilots; commis chefs and waitrons . . . but you can never have enough scientists.

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