Friday, March 3, 2017

Make Your Voice Heard for Gender Equality and Science on March 8 and April 22


I have no data to work on this week for the blog.  I have two new articles posted on Data Driven Journalism on odds ratios and on confidence intervals for your statistical reading pleasure.  I did have some commentary on these strange times in which we are living.

I hadn't heard of Milo Yiannopolus before I saw this article on Breitbart calling for a limit in the number of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields because they can't handle the pressure.  These views should have been discredited decades ago but apparently they still linger.  Yiannopolus cites the opinions of of a few Nobel prize winners who said that women are too delicate to complete advanced degrees in STEM fields.  As someone who has pursued in advanced degrees in science and technology, women are well represented in the biological, medical, and biostatistical fields.  Some of them handled the pressure of pursuing a doctoral degree better than I did.  According to the national science foundation, 60% of all master's degrees in science given out in 2011 were to women.  Women make up 46% of all graduates in science fields.  You can look up other numbers on women in STEM fields here.

I was tempted to say that Yiannopolus' ancient Hellenic ancestors would be very disappointed in him but then I remembered that his ancestors, for all their achievements in math, science, the arts, and democracy, were sexist snobs.  Women were not permitted to attend the quadrennial games at Mount Olympus.  When the Athenians colonized territories in southern Italy they were asked about democracy for them.  Their reply was "for us there is democracy."  They would have had no problem with his comments about 13 year old boys and older men that got him fired from Breitbart and disinvited as the keynote speaker at the CPAC conference.  He would've found a following on the Athenian Acropolis.

In these times where the rights of transgender rights are under attack, where almost half of the US public does not believe in climate change caused by humans or in evolution, where millions of Americans wrongly believe that vaccines cause autism and where some even do not believe that the earth is a sphere.  It's time to speak up for those who do believe in these things and to reach out to those who aren't sure.  Two events are coming up where you can do just that.  

On March 8 there will be a rally and march for equal rights for transgender and other LGBT groups in Johnstown, PA at 4:45pm in Central Park.  March 8 also happens to be International Women's Day with many other events throughout the world.  The City Council in Johnstown will be considering adding transgender women to the non discrimination ordinance.  


Earth day will be on April 22.  To commemorate this, there will be a March for Science in Washington, DC and other cities throughout the US. It's about time we spoke up for the field to make it less ivory tower.  Donald Trump, Milo Yiannopolus, Jenny McCarthy, and their ilk are symptoms of a much larger disease.  

It's time to start counteracting it not with angry protests but with educating the public about what science is.  I'm personally a fan of another one of Yiannopolus' Hellenic ancestors, Socrates (sexist and snooty though he may have been).  He traveled around the Acropolis in Athens by asking a lot of unpleasant questions that needed to be asked.  By working within the frame work of what people know he was able to get people to think.  Eventually, he did endure the scorn of his fellow Yiannopolus' and was forced to choose either expulsion or drinking hemlock but he is most remembered and admired for sticking up for his beliefs.

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