Daily Archive: December 8, 2016

Dec

8

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Krusty Krab is unfair...

Krusty Krab is unfair…

A majority vote has granted Barnard Contingent Faculty Union power to declare a strike. This news comes after a long contract negotiation process between the college and BCF-UAW, as the parties have struggled to settle details like fair wage and benefits. While Barnard would like for operations to continue as usual, a strike could mean cancelled exams for students enrolled in an adjunct professor’s class, for example. Provost Bell issued a statement to students today explaining the impact this decision has on them, assuring that classes outside the unit will still be held, and any changes would be communicated in advance. Her statement also clarifies that though a strike has been approved, its occurrence is not guaranteed.

Read the full statement after the jump

Dec

8

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Last year, around this time, we posted about slices of bread that some bold young Barnard student had attached (with thumbtacks) to the bulletin boards in the Quad. Today, we received a tip that the bulletin board bread has returned – and this time, it’s in Plimpton.

At first glance, it seems like a normal bulletin board...

Some…

 

BREAD! As fresh as though it came from the toast station at Hewitt.

BODY once told me

There it is, plain as day: bread as fresh as though it came from the toast station at Hewitt during lunch. Sources in Overheard @ Barnard report that bread was found on a bulletin board in Reid as well.

We here at Bwog are wondering: are these year’s bread boards the work of the same mastermind as last year’s? Or is this the work of an elite team of bread bandits, selected under the cover of night beneath a dying magnolia? Or has this phenomenon spread, as stress over finals grows, the lack of underground tunnels is felt more keenly, and students increasingly wish they could stab DSpar through the heart?

As before, the bread boards have left us with more questions than answers. If you are a Barnard Bread Bandit, you know a Barnard Bread Bandit, or you really want to date a Barnard Bread Bandit, hit us up at [email protected] or on our anonymous tip form.

Photos via Bwog Staff

Dec

8

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... to send in your crazy stories!

… to send in your crazy stories!

The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and classes are winding down. As you head off to the last meeting of that class you love (or despise), be prepared for your professors to engage in the time honored tradition of making an emotional (or eye-rollingly cheesy, depending on how you’re feeling) goodbye speech to your class, or to decide that they have better things to do altogether and simply not show up.

We want to hear what heartfelt, snarky, or simply absurd things your professors are saying and doing! Send an email to [email protected] with the name of the professor, the name of the course, and the best/weirdest remarks they’ve made. If your professors know enough about Columbia to know what Bwog is, they’ll just be grateful that they’ve made it onto Bwog, regardless of how odd their quote may be. What better way for you to procrastinate studying for finals?

We Want YOU via West Virginia Environmental Council

Dec

8

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Could you rate the correlation between two of your identities with Venn diagrams like this?

Could you rate the correlation between two of your identities with Venn diagrams like this?

Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Bonita London, CU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ’06 and Associate Professor at Stony Brook University, gave a presentation on barriers and bridges to STEM engagement among women, focusing in particular on undergraduate students. Betsy Ladyzhets, senior staffer (and woman in STEM), describes Dr. London’s talk.

When I arrived in 614 Schermerhorn yesterday, the room was already half-full. Unlike most events I’ve written about for Bwog, this presentation appeared to have an audience primarily consisting of undergraduates – I even recognized a few faces. All of us were the women in STEM typified in the event description, and all of us were hoping that Dr. London could present new insights that would help us look at our majors and possible careers in new ways.

Dr. London began her presentation by stating the general purpose of her psychology research lab at Stony Brook. “The basic, general theme of the work I do in my lab is understanding how social identity affects everything,” she described. “Everything” includes health, mental wellbeing, and academic relationships, and numerous other facets of a person’s life. This type of research is called social health psychology.

She then explained why her research on women going into STEM fields is so important. STEM fields are growing at an incredible rate (80% of the fastest growing careers are in STEM fields), yet these fields have a very high attrition rate. For example, on average, 59% of students interested in computer science will change direction before completing their major or program. And these attrition rates are disproportionately high for women. Dr. London cited that in middle and high school, girls are actually taking part in advanced math and science classes with an increasing interest compared to boys, but this interest drops off some time between entering college and entering the workforce. Her research aimed to look into why this attrition occurs.

Dr. London went on to talk about disparity in STEM fields from a social identity framework. She explained that “STEM departments in particular tend to value natural ability over effort,” thus setting “a standard that many students can’t meet, but is a hallmark of what STEM faculty think is needed to be successful.” This standard is particularly dangerous when combined with the common stereotype that women are not good at the logic problems and rational thinking characteristic of STEM fields.

“This creates an environment that you have to be a genius, and you don’t have what it takes,” Dr. London said.

She described how she and her team more closely examined the challenges women in STEM face using the lens of social identity theory. She defined the terms “STEM identity” (extent to which an individual feels connected to or invested in their STEM field) and “Perceived Identity Compatibility”, or PCI (belief in conflict or compatibility between gender identity and STEM identity). If STEM and gender identities are in conflict, women are most likely to disengage from one of them – and they will usually choose to let go of their STEM identity rather than their gender identity.

In addition, social support can heavily influence how women going into STEM fields deal with the challenges they face. Dr. London explained that networks of support (especially of women) can buffer stressful experiences, such as going to college. The transition to college is particularly stressful, because students’ concerns about abilities, “fitting in”, and potential for success often become exacerbated during this time.

Dr. London and her team did a multifaceted experiment on undergraduate students interested in STEM fields at Stony Brook to examine “how women live the experience of their identity in the college context.” They collected data on 247 first-years who identified as women interested in STEM fields, first by having the students complete structured daily diaries during their first twenty-one days of college, then by having them complete weekly diaries during their second semester. These diaries asked students to rate how they felt they had performed in their STEM classes, how supportive they felt their friends and family were of their majors, how they felt they belonged in their STEM majors, and how likely it was that they might change majors.

Before the diaries started, the researchers did initial surveys that allowed them to attach a PCI ranking to each student. They found that for women with higher PCI rankings remained motivated in their STEM classes even when not doing well, while women with lower PCI rankings became less motivated when they failed. The researchers also found that perceived support buffers women when they’re struggling. They were also able to use PCI rankings calculated from survey data at the beginning of the spring semester to predict students’ end-of-year STEM engagement; students with lower PCI were more worried about others’ perceptions, and had lower GPAs in STEM courses.

Dr. London’s conclusion of her team’s study was that “PCI and social support are important for STEM engagement, particularly when female STEM students are struggling academically during the early transition to college.” However, they also found that, even though a high PCI rating and strong social support act as buffers when women in STEM are feeling less confident about belonging in their majors, on average, many of the women they studied ultimately will contribute to the high attrition rates of women in STEM fields. On average, the researchers saw drops in PCI, perceived support for students’ majors, and sense of belonging in STEM – and increases in expectations of dropping out of those STEM majors.

All of this research seems disheartening. How can we, women hoping to go into STEM fields, combat the entrenched societal pressures that seem to be dead-set against our success? How can we hold onto our confidence and support systems when kids in middle school classrooms told to draw a scientist all draw balding white men?

Dr. London provided a few recommendations at the end of her presentation. The most important ways of helping women succeed in STEM, she said, are exposure to role models, mentors, and reducing gender bias; as a result of her research, Stony Brook is working on applying these ideas directly to courses. Perhaps, someday, Columbia will make similar efforts (and when it’s finally completed, Barnard’s new TLC is supposedly going to promote STEM majors). But for now, all we can do is stick together, mentor each other, and remind ourselves that we belong in our STEM classes, laboratories, and discussions just as much as men do.

Fun with Venn diagrams via Dr. London (photo via Betsy Ladyzhets)

Dec

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The sun came out tomorrow for protestors at Standing Rock.

The sun came out tomorrow for protesters at Standing Rock.

After months of major, peaceful protests by indigenous peoples against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) through the Standing Rock Sioux reservation water supply, the pipeline will been diverted. What does this mean, and what are conditions like in and around Standing Rock? Senior staffer Sarah Dahl recently caught up with Barnard sophomore Jessie Lee Rubin who, along with fellow students Yasmeen Abdel Majeed, Maggie Anderson, and Rachel Culp, just got back from the camp. For more information, here is a statement from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

How did you get there? We flew very early on Thanksgiving Day out of Newark to Bismarck (with really cheap student tickets) and then got a ride to the camp. We were there for about six days.

What made you decide to go? We really only wanted to go if we felt like we could give more by going than we were taking. Because of this, we raised about $800 (through Facebook statuses) before we went. [All this money went to the camp; the students paid for their plane tickets and borrowed their own supplies]. We were able to order a good number of supplies (including a windmill) from the organizers’ wish list, in addition to the volunteering we did once we got there.

What were living conditions like at the camp? We stayed in a tent, surrounded by thousands of other supporters. (I heard that at its peak, there were about 10,000 people there!) The first night we spent at Sacred Stone camp, and the rest of the time we spent at Oceti Sakowin. We had to bring multiple sleeping bags each because it was so cold, we would wake up in the morning with our sleeping bags covered in frost! No joke–I wore five pairs of socks to bed every night. We mostly brought our own food, even though the camps have communal mess halls, because we didn’t want to use up resources if we didn’t have to. While we were there, we attended a great talk on decolonization; the speaker argued that white allies’ entitlement to resources such as food and firewood at Standing Rock was a form of colonial violence. I tried to organize my stay around avoiding, if not combating, this dynamic as much as I could–using as few of their resources as I possible, and centering my trip on helping in whatever way was requested of me.

Who did they meet? How can you help?

Dec

8

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Trying to find a seat in Butler is a lot like being a lab mouse stuck in a cave.

Trying to find a seat in Butler is a lot like being a lab mouse stuck in a maze.

Members of the New York City Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus sent a letter to the chairman of the City University of New York, arguing against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statements that CUNY administration has not been financially responsible. (New York Times)

After Donald Trump tweeted negative things about the union which represents Carrier, in Indiana, the union’s president Chuck Jones has been receiving threatening phone calls from anonymous sources. (Washington Post)

Due to an increase in deaths from heart disease, diabetes, accidents, and other health conditions, the life expectancy for Americans went down in 2015. This decrease is the first of its kind in more than two decades. (Washington Post)

In more hopeful news, researchers have found that regulating gamma brain waves in mice with Alzheimer’s managed to stave off some of the effects of the disease. This research could have transformative effects on the way in which Alzheimer’s research is conducted. (The Atlantic)

Staring into the Finals Maze via MilkGenomics

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