Monday, May 11, 2015

Media and the Path to Leadership

On Friday, I discussed how words can lead to violence. In fact, this process is implicated in last month's death of Grace Rebecca Mann at the University of Mary Washington. I focus this blog more on the ethical and moral aspects of diversity & inclusion, however there are also legal implications for businesses and schools.

The issue of women in STEM has multiple parts. It involves:

  1. Media depictions of women
  2. Women in all phases of education
    • Teachers and mentors have a key role in supporting women and Under-Represented Minorities through an often-hostile process of education.
  3. Women in Academia, Business, and Industry
    • Mentorship doesn't end with graduation, and in fact sponsorship is necessary to ensure that opportunities for advancement are fairly distributed to talent.
    • The data in the three reports referenced indicate that 50% of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields leave the field within ~10-15 years of graduation. In order to retain and promote existing women, there must be a path for advancement.
  4. Women in Leadership, as business leaders, in politics, government, and academia

One of the things that my two years at an all-girl's high school gave me, is that we watched "Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women" in class. We discussed societies expectations, and how imagery and media affects our thoughts and our words.



The work was recently extended in the Miss Representation film. The extended trailer below begins with media imagery that may not be safe for work, and progresses to comments from leaders like Condoleeza Rice.




These issues of media representation, stereotyping, and under-representation in leadership also apply to other aspects of diversity: to race, to ability, to orientation.  The Women In Astronomy offers this valuable post: Diversity 101: Nine Simple Steps to a More Diverse Astronomical Community

I also recommend reading Dr. Prescod-Weinstein's post: Let Astro/Physics Be the Dream It Used To Be for insight into the impacts of not changing. I know I would prefer to be able to just be an engineer.

Intercultural communication can be difficult. When I took Cross-Cultural Communications at Thunderbird, my 70-something professor who had expatriate experience mentioned that he still makes mistakes. Mistakes are a part of life, what matters is how we react to them, how we apologize for our mistakes.


Here are further posts on the Thirty-Meter Telescope, Hawai'i, and decolonization. I noticed that Change The Equation picked up the story, and has promoted the telescope as pro-STEM. I haven't seen anybody opposing scientific learning.

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein, Oops, you did racism a favor

Dr. Johnson: