Emma Betts Award recipient - Eloise Skinner (Stephenson, 2007), who held a Post doctorate position at Stamford University working on community-based projects involving mosquito-borne diseases and deforestation in areas such as Costa Rica.
Mother Emma Award recipient – Jano Kotzas (Robertson, 1986), who established The Prop House, now a multi-award winning and nationally acclaimed company trading as The Prop House, VM+ and Christmas Decorations Brisbane.
Caroline Amy Award recipient - Miranda Kalinowski (Dowie, 1986), lives in New York and heads Global Recruiting for Facebook.
The diverse and inspiring careers of Eloise, Jano and Miranda will be celebrated at our Annual Awards Ceremony, in November.
Women as All Rounders
US sociologist Andrew Penner stated in an interview that one reason for under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers is that women are more likely than men to have strengths in both maths and verbal areas. He believes that they therefore may be less attracted to STEM careers than men whose strengths are skewed towards maths. Penner argues that women who leave STEM careers, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who earned a PhD in physical chemistry, and the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who obtained a chemistry degree from Oxford University, demonstrate their talent in other ways and make valuable contributions in a variety of fields, including health, education and politics.
Penner was commenting on a study, co-led by Princeton University philosopher Sarah-Jane Leslie and University of Illinois psychologist Andrei Cimpian, which shows that women who excel academically are underrepresented not only in certain STEM fields, but also in a variety of non-STEM disciplines, all of which take the view that only men possess the required “raw, innate intellect” and academic talent. Leslie and Cimpian write that the greater the emphasis on innate talent or giftedness in an academic field, the fewer the number of PhDs awarded to women.
In the US, women are awarded over 50% of PhDs in molecular biology and neuroscience and over 70% of PhDs in psychology, but less than 35% of PhDs in economics, philosophy and engineering and less than 20% of PhDs in physics, computer science and music composition. After quizzing 1,800 US academics and postgraduate students from 30 STEM and non-STEM disciplines about working hours, competitiveness, the importance of analytical reasoning and the innate skills required in their respective fields, Leslie and Cimpian found “no evidence that fields with more women have weaker applicant pools” or that women are “less likely to possess innate intellectual talent”. They also found no evidence that women prefer family-friendly, non-competitive and empathetic careers. Instead, they found strong evidence to support their hypothesis that “across the academic spectrum, women are underrepresented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success, because women are stereotyped as not possessing such talent”.
Leslie and Cimpiani concluded that some academic fields are “inhospitable” to women and that the biases and discrimination exhibited in these fields may make women “vulnerable to stereotype threat”, meaning that they internalise the stereotype that they are not as talented as men and “decide that these fields are not for them”. The result is that women are persuaded to believe that they do not belong in “talent-required” fields despite being as academically gifted as men. A follow-up study has since found evidence that a woman’s motivation to pursue a career is reduced in fields that emphasise talent over effort.
Penner agrees that it is not lack of intellectual talent that keeps women out of some fields. Molecular biology, neuroscience and psychology are all academically demanding fields, he says, but “effort is viewed as important”, unlike in philosophy and physics, where academic ability is viewed as innate. He writes that Leslie and Cimpian’s “intriguing finding” not only explains why women are well represented in some STEM fields and not others, but also why women are now pursuing careers in law at the same rate as men, “even though law school has a competitive culture, lawyers work long hours, and law firms are not yet as family friendly as one might hope”.
Leslie and Cimpian recommend that academics “downplay talk of innate intellectual giftedness and instead highlight the importance of sustained effort for top-level success in their field” in order to attract more women to their disciplines. Penner, however, takes a different tack, arguing that “when we define success as becoming a STEM professor at a research university”, we “risk trivialising the contributions” of women “who choose to pursue other endeavours”. He has even questioned the wisdom of using “men’s curricular choices … as the baseline for women to emulate”. Instead he points out that female graduates now outnumber male graduates and asks, “Would society be better off if men were more like women?”
At St Aidan’s, we endeavour to celebrate the sustained efforts of our students, present and past, no matter their chosen field of study or interest.
References available upon request.
P & F General Meeting
A reminder that this term’s P&F General meeting will be held at 6:30pm, in S101, on the first level of the Science and Technology building. I look forward to seeing those who can make it.
• Annabel Lee, Sienna Kim, Sophia Zhang, Joy Yin and Brenda Lee who were specially elected to represent the school at the prestigious String Fest event for advanced string musicians held at Brisbane Grammar School.
• Anh Bui (Year 9) for successfully completing her Grade 8 piano exam. Anh has also been selected by the AMEB to record duets for the new syllabus later this year.
• Stephanie Pettigrew (Year 5) and Olivia Middleton (Year 9) who have both received Highly Commended Awards in the 2019 IEUA-QNT Awards for Excellence in Art Design.
• Bridget McCormack (Year 9), Mackenzie Cullinane (Year 12), Isabelle Mortensen (Year 5), Emma-Kate Watt (Year 9), Tayla Behr (Year 11) who represented Queensland at the Australian Cross Country Championships in Wollongong.
• Charlie Bell (2018) who has been named in Netball Queensland’s 2019/2020 Elite Development Program
• To Year 11 students for Block Testing
• To our Junior School community for the success of their Father’s Day stall
• Best wishes to our Year 3 students for their visit to St John’s Cathedral
• Good luck to all students involved in this term’s Performing Arts Recital
• Best wishes to all senior school students who will play tennis, hockey, netball or volleyball for QGSSSA Round 7 of Winter fixtures, this weekend
• Finally, the best of wishes to all our rowers for the Head of the River this Saturday. I look forward to being out at Wyaralong Dam to cheer you on.