Software Carpentry

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Science in the 21st Century

I’m at the “Science in the 21st Century” conference at the Perimeter Institute today. There are 32 people in the room right now: 23 are male and 9 are female, but only one is non-Caucasian, which pretty much matches the numbers in the picture from the conference dinner last night. That’s about the same M/F ratio I see in science grad courses at U of T, but definitely not the ethnic distribution—wonder why? It can’t just be a “seniority effect” — this is a pretty young crowd. We see the same thing at DemoCamp: non-Caucasians are often a majority n sci/tech classes and companies in the Greater Toronto Area, but definitely a minority on Tuesday nights. Thoughts? Michael Nielsen says that SciBarCamp was 50/50…

Beth Noveck:  “Designing Digital Institutions: Science in Government 2.0”.  Talked about crowdsourcing patent review; wonder if U of T would run a grad course for sci/eng students to teach them how to do this (and as a side effect, get them to do some useful patent reviewing)?  Might be a good central theme for a tech reading/writing course.

Eric Weinstein: “Sheldon Glashow Owes Me a Dollar”. His main point seemed to be that radical thinkers need to find wealthy benefactors (Medicis or Gates) in order to have the freedom to pursue really wild ideas. What I took away from it was how fundamentally the influx of physicists into banking is reshaping the language used by the latter.

You can follow the others in real-time on FriendFeed, or better yet, watch videos of the talks on the Perimeter Institute’s site.


Written by Greg Wilson

2008/09/11 at 10:05

Posted in Community, Opinion

3 Responses

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  1. Let me correct my statement a bit. SciBarCamp was close to 50-50: I did a count of participants a week or so before the event, and was happy the distribution was pretty balanced. Don’t recall exact numbers, though.

    Michael Nielsen

    2008/09/11 at 10:08

  2. 50/50 in what measure? Gender split, or race?

    I noticed the same thing last night, but have no real suggestions as to an explanation. It may just be that the meeting is drawing disproportionally from the physics community, which is even whiter and more male than the rest of science.

    (Though there are a fair number of librarians here, too, so I could be way off…)

    Chad Orzel

    2008/09/11 at 10:19

  3. I was briefly talking about this with my friend about what you mentioned here and she mentioned probably something about the cultural differences between ethnicity while growing up… For example, maybe hanging out at an evening of something like DemoCamp is not a non-Caucasian is use to. Or maybe since they feel such a minority that they feel awkward going to those events, so they don’t bother going at all.

    Thuan Ta

    2008/09/12 at 10:36

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