diversity

Editors discuss new collection on civil rights issues raised by accountability push

Editors discuss new collection of essays about the impact of various state and federal policies on minority students -- an impact the authors see as far too often ignored.

Lawrence Krauss Accused of Harassing Women

Several talks by Lawrence Krauss, a professor of physics at Arizona State University and a well-known skeptic, were canceled after BuzzFeed reported on allegations of sexual harassment against him. Krauss, who denies the claims, will not speak at the American Physical Society’s meeting in April, it announced Friday. The society “deplores harassment in all its forms and remains committed to ensuring a respectful and safe environment at its meetings,” it said in a statement. Among other appearances, Krauss’s book talk at Massachusetts Institute of Technology next month has been canceled. The American Humanist Association, which in 2015 made Krauss its Humanist of the Year, also said it won’t ignore the allegations, and that it stands “behind the brave women who speak out against sexual misconduct.”

Arizona State said that it hasn’t received any complaints against Krauss but that it has initiated a review to “discern the facts.” Krauss is accused of groping and making inappropriate comments to students and colleagues going back to 2006, before he worked at Arizona State. He told BuzzFeed that it is “common knowledge that celebrity attracts all forms of negative attention from many different angles. There is no pattern of discontent revealed here that suggests any other explanation.”

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Going Over Time at Conferences by Gender

Research suggests that women are underrepresented as speakers at conferences, especially in certain fields. But when they are invited to speak, do they take up as much airtime as men? No, suggests a new, preliminary study of speaking times at 11 different scientific conferences from 2016-17. Men went over their allotted share of time in 47 percent of the talks studied, compared to 41 percent of the time for women. The study found that allocated time, career stage and enforcement of timekeeping were the factors most associated with how long speakers talked but that gender and conference time also mattered significantly. Male speakers were most likely to go overtime at large conferences: 73 percent of the time, compared to 49 percent of the time for women at large conference.

Co-author Johanna Hoog, an assistant professor of chemistry and molecular biology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said via email that while career step is still a more important determinant than speaker gender, the study still gets at “the ‘glass ceiling’ that keeps women from becoming leaders in academia.” The online reaction to the paper thus far also demonstrates how “much people hate when speakers come unprepared and go over time” in general, she added.

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Concordia Alabama, a historically black college, announces that it will shut down operations

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Concordia in Alabama, the only Lutheran HBCU, will end operations. It is second small religious college to announce closure in a week.

Historians Pledge Action on Harassment

In a new report to members of the American Historical Association, Mary Beth Norton, AHA president, Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University, pledged action on sexual harassment -- including developing a procedure that could expel offenders from AHA events. While the association “has long been on record as decrying sexual harassment in employment,” Norton said, that “statement clearly needs expanding and updating.”

Norton said leaders within the association have been discussing the matter since the fall and recently decided to survey members about their experiences with harassment at past conventions. The association also held a session on harassment within the field at its annual meeting in January, during which members requested that AHA develop “best practices” to guide historians and their employers. It has therefore become clear, Norton said, that “rather than one statement, the AHA needed to adopt several: one on sexual harassment, setting forth principles and complaint procedures for our conventions and other meetings we organized, and others on such topics as hiring and mentoring, outlining principles and best practices in contexts over which we have no direct control.”

Members of AHA’s governing council have agreed on the basic outlines of a new procedure to promote appropriate behavior at association events, Norton said, and attendees should be required to consent to related guidelines during registration. An ombuds team also has been created to receive complaints about harassment at meetings. Possible sanctions against offenders include expulsion from the event. The statements and new procedure for addressing harassment will be drafted by an AHA Council committee. “We anticipate approval by the Council in June and full implementation at the 2019 AHA annual meeting in Chicago,” Norton said. 

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Men Talking About Women in Math

No, it wasn’t satire. A poster inviting “all women who love math” to an all-male panel on the topic was widely criticized at Brigham Young University and beyond this week.

The university’s math department soon responded to the controversy on Facebook, saying that the poster was made by a student organization and had since been updated.

A university spokesperson referred a request for comment to the math department’s response, as well as to commentary from an undergraduate student who said she made the poster. 

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Lego Grad Student Is Now an Assistant Professor

Known for his grimly humorous depictions of graduate student life in Lego blocks, and, of late, more politically charged messages, the social media figure Lego Grad Student was uncharacteristically joyful Wednesday in sharing that he’d accepted an assistant professorship (or at least his anonymous human creator had).

Lego Grad Student, who studied the social sciences at a large university on the West Coast, spent two years on the job market -- and just about as long making people laugh and cringe online. He debuted his Lego portraits in mid-2016 and quickly developed a major following: some 40,700 fans on Twitter alone.

Lego Grad Student’s creator said Wednesday that some in his new department know about his “other identity,” since several graduate students and professors mentioned it when he was visiting. Still, he said, he’d like to remain “semi-anonymous.” 

Asked about what his success communicates, Lego Grad Student said that he hopes it “provides some inspiration or hope to others.” But after going on the job market twice, he said, “I've also come to realize that the process is so arduous and uncertain that my words of support can only do so much to help endure the market season. It's the toughest experience I've had in recent memory.”

As for a possible Lego Assistant Professor, the jury is still out.

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Evergreen State cancels 'Day of Absence' that set off series of protests and controversies

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Annual event, seen as way to highlight needs of minority groups, set off major controversy last year.

MLA, AHA Meet at Same Time Next Year in Chicago

The Modern Language Association and the American Historical Association typically have their annual meetings around the same time each year, in different cities. In 2019, they’ll both take place from Jan. 3-6 in Chicago. To promote what they’re calling “interdisciplinary collaboration,” the associations will honor each other’s attendee badges. They’re also asking members to propose some dual sessions. James Grossman, executive director of the AHA, called the timing and location of the conferences a “fortunate coincidence.”

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IEEE Removes Article Over Allegations of Plagiarism

After initially defending an article on its news service against allegations of plagiarism, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has removed the piece. “The Institute has received multiple expressions of concern regarding this article,” reads an editor’s note now in place of the article in question. “It has been withdrawn to allow further opportunity for review.”

IEEE’s The Institute posted a piece about the first computerized dating service last week, and critics soon said it did not sufficiently credit -- by name or in terms of proper citations -- the original research of Marie Hicks, an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. IEEE first responded by adding Hicks’s name to its article and saying that the piece complied with its editorial policy. Allegations of plagiarism did not subside, however, and IEEE removed the piece over the weekend.

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