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Fix the system, fix the people

12 Aug 2015, 19:00 UTC
Fix the system, fix the people
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Which system, which people? These questions were discussed two weeks ago at a very interesting session ADVANCE Grants: Increasing the Participation of Women in Physics at the summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers.The NSF ADVANCE program seeks to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers. Many important contributions have come from major ADVANCE programs around the country, including the STRIDE workshops and materials from the University of Michigan and workshops and materials on Departmental Climate and Breaking the Bias Habit from the the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The AAPT session provided an overview by Program Director Jessie DeAro and summaries of several projects. A major recurring theme was the question of where to focus effort for best effect.A nice dichotomy was presented by  Sherry Yennello of Texas A&M University in her talk "From ‘Fixing Women’ to ‘Institutional Transformation’: An ADVANCE Case Study". We have a problem to solve: women are underrepresented in STEM and are failing to advance at their capacity. The problem involves both women as a group and the organizational culture of academic science and engineering, i.e., "the system." It is interesting to ask: Are we trying to fix the ...

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