Of Schemes and Memes Blog

International Women’s Day 2018 – supporting equity in the physical sciences

This guest blog comes from May Chiao, Chief Editor of Nature Astronomy.

In the 1990s when I was studying physics, women were scarce, and it’s difficult to say who complained more about that, the men or the women! Since then, the proportion of women researchers in science has reached 40% or more in the USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Western Europe. Notably, Brazil and Portugal are near parity. But most of the women work in the life sciences. In the physical sciences, female representation remains below a quarter.

At Nature Research, the diversity of our authors and referees, not to mention our own staff, is very important. Our physical science journals are striving to find ways improve. From selecting a variety of reviewers (concerning gender, experience, geographic location) to asking those reviewers to expand our pool of our referees, we are constantly trying to reach more people.

To celebrate International Women’s Day today, we offer a collection of articles that highlight gender inequity or promote inclusivity in the physical sciences. We hope they will provide food for thought. And for change.

These articles included in this blog are free to access for a limited time.

Quantitative evaluation of gender bias in astronomical publications from citation counts

Nature Astronomy 1, 0141 (2017); doi:10.1038/s41550-017-0141

Gender discrimination is very much an issue in academia generally and in astronomy specifically. Through machine learning techniques, astronomy papers authored by women are shown to have 10% systematically fewer citations than those authored by men.

Considering climate in studies of fertility and reproductive health in poor countries

Nature Climate Change 7, 479–485 (2017); doi:10.1038/nclimate3318

Factors related to fertility such as population size, composition and growth rate may influence a community’s ability to adapt to climate change, particularly in poor countries. This Perspective describes theories and analytic strategies that can link climate to reproductive health outcomes.

A research agenda for a people-centred approach to energy access in the urbanizing global south

Nature Energy 2, 776–779 (2017); doi:10.1038/s41560-017-0007-x

Urban households in the global south face unique energy access challenges. This Perspective outlines a research agenda based on understanding the needs of urban energy users to promote inclusive urban energy transitions.

Gender differences in recommendation letters for postdoctoral fellowships in geoscience

Nature Geoscience 9, 805–808 (2016); doi:10.1038/ngeo2819

Gender disparities in science are well documented. An analysis of 1,224 recommendation letters from 54 countries for geoscience postdoctoral fellowships reveals that women are half as likely to receive an excellent letter as men.

Rethink your gender attitudes

Nature Materials 13, 427 (2014); doi:10.1038/nmat3975

Unconscious biases are a roadblock for gender equality in science.

Obituary: Mildred S. Dresselhaus (1930–2017)

Nature Nanotechnology 12, 408 (2017); doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.90

Mildred (Millie) Dresselhaus, a pioneer and world leader in nanoscience, passed away on 20 February 2017.

Inequality or market demand?

Nature Photonics 5, 639 (2011); doi:10.1038/nphoton.2011.282

A recent salary survey conducted by SPIE indicates that optics professionals working in North America are likely to earn significantly more than those elsewhere.

Physics for a changing world

Nature Physics 6, 828–829 (2010); doi:10.1038/nphys1830

Fifty years ago, Abdus Salam envisaged a ‘world centre’ for theorists. Now the institute that he founded is adapting to a changing world and to changing ways of doing science.

In addition, Nature Astronomy has published a Focus issue on gender equity: https://www.nature.com/collections/wmzzzfjpyz

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