Friday, November 5, 2010

Biological diversity and Time

Dr. Anne Magurran, Professor, Gatty Marine Laboratory, University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, discussed Biological diversity and Time, in a joint presentation of the Adaptive Peaks and Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series. Dr. Magurran illustrated that species assemblages have been relatively and broadly constant over time, but that an advantage to one species alters the environment to effect the presence of others in that environment.  She also discussed the implications of such temporal turnovers.

Sponsored by the Departments of Forest and Environmental Biology, Forest and Natural Resources Management, and the ESF Women's Caucus. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Balancing Work and Life: Dual-Career Couples.

How, and when, are you supposed to do everything? Does it get any easier?  At what cost?  Couples representing different institutions, academic rank, and family status discussed the challenges and strategies of balancing dual careers with everything else important to them.   Sponsored by the ESF Women's Caucus and the Women in Science and Engineering Future Professoriate Program. 

Panelists:  empty nesters Dr. Gina Lee-Glauser, Vice President for Research, SU, and Dr. Mark Glauser, Associate Dean for Research and Doctoral Programs and Associate Director for Research, SU; Dr. Eleanor Maine and Dr. Doug Frank, both Professors of Biology at SU and the parents of middle schoolers; and Assistant Professors of Chemistry, Dr. Kelley Donaghy, ESF, and Dr. DJ Robinson, Ithaca College, the parents of 3 elementary schoolers.  The panel was facilitated by Dr. Suzanne Baldwin, Professor in SU’s Earth Science department.  Dr. Baldwin’s husband, Paul Fitzgerald, is in the same department; he was unable to participate today due to a prior  commitment at the Geology Society meeting. 

Who commutes?  Have tried to live where the one with the strictest schedule has shortest commute, although this has meant up to a 3 hour commute for the other.  As academics, they do have some flexibility in class scheduling and where work occurs—try to alternate days that they HAVE to be on campus.  Two of the panelists were formerly in industry and they had strictly set schedules, so living close to job was very helpful; DJ noted unlike now when he regularly brings work home, he left work at work.  Gina pointed out that much of your personal control over your schedule and work load are much more restricted and industry often requires frequent travel on schedules made by the company.  In academia, they juggle deadlines, rather than their supervisors.  In contrast, work associated with academia can often be performed in a variety of settings, for example Mark would bring a laptop to daughter’s skating practice.
How did you negotiate the job for your partner?  Eleanor was already faculty at SU when Doug came on soft-money.  When they started their family, Eleanor went on 50% leave and Doug was hired to fill the 50% position.  The only thing that was really half-time was their teaching loads—which considerably lightened their stress level.  They were lucky that the base salary was sufficient to live on. In addition, Eleanor was well respected and they had the chair’s and dean’s support.  Both jobs eventually reverted to full time.
They try to schedule sabbaticals together; Suzanne took a ‘leave’ once to accompany husband on his, and independently studied geology of region in that locale.  This turned out to be a great work opportunity for both of them.
As a couple, need to define the boundaries, career goals, and find a place that works with you.  Compromise is critical and couples may have to alternate whose career or options to follow at each juncture.  From audience:  compromise is important to all couples.  You also must not resent sacrifices that you’ve made for your partner, or take for granted those made for you.  Give each other space.  Communication is also key.
All of the panelists happen to be in same general field as partner—does that help?  Baldwin and husband made conscious decision to work together; otherwise they wouldn’t ever see one another (their work was previously on different continents).  It was acknowledged that you have to be conscious of the dynamics among your peers and the politics that result from a couple working in the same department.  You may be seen as a ‘voting block’ at faculty meetings, for example.  Or feel that you are a co-between for your partner.  Can you tell spouse that….? (They’ll try, but you know, they do have other things to remember, too!)  For the Glauser’s, at their original institution where Mark worked and Gina pursued her doctorate and then also was hired, there was an early perception that she got her degree, positions and perks because of her husband.  Conversely, when he later followed her to SU, no one cared. 
Day to day workaholics vs family?
  1. Houses not as clean as they could be (all concur) and you hire help as much as possible.
  2. Stay organized, central domestic calendar and superimpose work calendars several weeks out. 
  3. Daycare, before and after school programs at schools or private (they like the Jewish Community Center and Rothschild Early Childhood Center at Temple Adath Yeshrun—note:   both facilities welcome non-Jewish participants), and reliable babysitters. Always have a back up plan.
  4. Dedicated family time. For one family, it’s Sundays, for another, daily dinners together.  For all, between dinner and kids bedtimes, and they write later.
  5. Make your daily life circumstances work for you.  For example the Glausers installed an antennae to allow internet access at their wilderness cabin so that Gina could be apprised of emergent problems at the office—this gives her the peace of mind she needs to enjoy time at the cabin.  Set aside space at home that you can work well in.
  6. Flexibility.  Work at home?  May be easier at times to keep home separate, but for these families, working at home has less interruptions.  Much of their writing gets done 9pm-3am.
  7.  Toys in their offices for when kids do come in with them.
Give up job for a few years?  Bio—would be difficult.  Kelley intended to take a year off after youngest was born, but so many good job announcements came out that she applied and interviewed for a number of them.  One of those led her here.
What stage of your career did you have children?  Mark and Gina while she was in grad school.  Eleanor and Doug were older, she already had tenure.  They did encounter the problem that SU did not yet have a parental leave policy in place following adoptions.  Kelly and DJ waited until they thought they were in established positions.   Did they take breaks?  Sort of, but still wrote papers and proposals.  
Slow tenure clock?  Eleanor was already tenured when she went half-time; Doug did not take an extension.  Kelley’s previous institution had a stop clock policy BUT chair and dean had to be on board for this to work as intended, otherwise the reduction in teaching would result in higher expectation for writing.  Also, she notes that a teaching reduction wasn’t really what she needed—it was physically uncomfortable working at the lab bench during the later parts of her pregnancies.
Is your experience typical for non-hard science?  They think so.
Gina volunteered that there are gender differences.  She never displayed family photos for fear of “There she goes again” vs “What a great dad!”  She also never felt that she could say that she had a family obligation, or to say ‘no’ to a work related request to review a paper, etc.  Kelley noted that despite being in an open and responsive department, she feels the same way now.  As a result, both have missed more of their children’s events than their spouses.
They asked of each other:  would you do it differently?  No.  Through every sacrifice, we are a stronger couple and family.
Comments compiled by Heather Engelman, ESF Women’s Caucus and Sharon Alestalo, WISE FPP

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Breaking Trail: Peaks, Public Health and Policy

Dr. Arlene Blum, Executive Director, Green Science Policy Institute, Berkeley, CA, Breaking Trail: Peaks, Public Health and Policy. Dr. Blum discussed science and policy of flame retardants and safer alternatives, interwoven with stories of historic climbing expeditions. This session of the Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions (WiSE Professions) was sponsored by Sponsored by the Syracuse University Women in Science and Engineering, ESF Women's Caucus, Department of Environmental Studies, and the Friends of Moon Library. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why so slow? and Women Don't Ask

Upon arrival at WISE FPP's Power, Effectiveness and Gender session with Virginia Valian, participants received a list of suggested topics for discussion, and then she tailored the discussion to our particular concerns.  Handwritten notes, plus her suggestions on all the areas, recommended web sites, readings,  and selected annotations are linked (PDF).

I wasn't able to stay for the whole public lecture on Why so slow? The advancement of women later, but some of my notes are also included (see p.6.  Based the chapter she annotated, I left before she discussed institutional structure. 
Also, the Women in Environmental Careers class met remotely with Sara Lashever (co-author of Women don't Ask with Linda Babcock) earlier in that week. Some highlights from that discussion are at the very end (p.9-10).


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Summary: Influences on Scientists' Career Pathways, Kenefic and Stout, April 28

Drs. Laura Kenefic (MS '95) & Susan Stout (MS '84), USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Bradley ME and Irvine, PA, spoke about the USFS Civil Rights Special Project:  Influences on Scientists' Career Pathways on April 28 in a bonus installment of the Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series.  The presentation was sponsored by the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management, the US Forest Service, and the ESF Women's Caucus.  The primary goals of the USFS Civil Rights Special Project are to understand the diverse career pathways of scientists in the Northern Research Station, and to examine the role, if any, that gender plays in the scientists definitions, perceptions, and attainment of career goals. Drs. Laura Kenefic and Susan Stout, and their colleagues Cherie LeBlanc Fisher and Christel Kern surveyed scientists about career pathways, impact of mentoring, changes in family, and measures of job satisfaction.
In this project, they surveyed employees that remained in the pipeline; they did not talk to former employees to determine if they left for professional advancement, or for personal reasons.  In general, they had a good response rate across the board, with the exception of younger male employees.  They found that women were only slightly more likely to perceive a negative or neutral influence of childcare on career trajectory compared to men, but men and women were increasingly concerned about their families and eldercare. They also confirmed that men and women considered different factors when rating job satisfaction—women value flexibility, while men prefer security.  Women also value work relationships (a strong work ethic, collaboration and teamwork) more than their male counterparts. Also, the Forest Service’s official mentoring program is not perceived as satisfactory and is not well used, but overall, other mentors have had a positive influence on the individual researchers careers.  And, those that employees (men and women) who answered that they had been subject to discrimination and harassment were far more likely to think that they had made the wrong career choice and were unsatisfied with the balance between personal and professional lives. 
They have a lot of data still to analyze, including qualitative data that may shed more light on some of their results.  The reiterated that they only surveyed current employees, and that because at least one of the researchers would know each respondent, they chose to generalize some of the questions in order to maintain anonymity.

Please note that while the Speaker Series has concluded for this year, we are looking for suggestions for programs for the upcoming academic year.  For more information, please visit
Dr. Kenefic sent this summary prior to their visit:
There were few significant differences among the career pathways that men and women scientists followed.

Most respondents reported having at least one mentor or career advocate.  Of these, 46% of female respondents and 30% of male respondents reported having at least one female mentor or career advocate.  

There were no gender differences in the ways that marital status, becoming a parent, parenting, or having eldercare responsibilities affected self-perceived career success.  There was a difference (though not statistically significant) between men and women in the influence of parenting young children; a higher proportion of women believed that this had a negative influence on their career, while a higher proportion of men believed that this had been a positive influence on their career.

Women were significantly more likely than men to feel that their gender influenced the way they felt about their job, career and self-perception of career satisfaction, and this influence was likely to be mixed or positive.  There were no statistically significant differences between men and women in the self-perceived role of gender in getting a job or in career advancement

A greater proportion of women then men said that job flexibility is “very important” to their personal definition of career success; men were more likely than women to say that job security is “very important” to their personal definition of career success.

Women were more likely than men to rate “a strong work ethic,” “an applied science orientation,” “relationships with managers,” “relationships with NGOs,” and “teamwork” as “very important."  Men were more likely than women to rate participating in civil rights activities as “unimportant;” about half of all respondents rated this as “sometimes important, sometimes unimportant.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Deer & Forests in Pennsylvania: Surprises from Long-term Research

Dr. Susan Stout (MS '84), Research Project Leader, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station, Irvine, PA, Deer & Forests in Pennsylvania: Surprises from Long-term Research, Sponsored by the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management and the ESF Alumni Association.  Dr. Stout discussed the effect of deer on forest regeneration and development, and the methods used to educate the public and modify the behavior of hunters to improve participation at voluntary check stations, and other practices.  A joint presentation of the Women in Scientific Professions and the Forest and Natural Resources Management Departmental Seminar.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fog, clouds and the maintenance of ecosystems: mist connections?

Dr. Kathleen Weathers, Senior Scientist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY and Program Director, Ecosystem Science Cluster, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA, Fog, clouds and the maintenance of ecosystems:  mist connections?  Sponsored by the Cross-Disciplinary Seminar in Hydrological and Biogeochemical Processes, Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, and the ESF Women's Caucus, with assistance from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Weathers shared the processes used to quantify and incorporate an often overlooked process (fog or mist as opposed to liquid precipitation and snowpack) in nutrient cycling, and demonstrated the importance of using these measures to develop an accurate picture of ecosystem functioning.    A joint presentation of the Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions and the  Cross-Disciplinary seminar in Hydrological and Biogeochemical Processes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dr. Meredith Gore Speaks on Coupling Human and Natural Systems in Madagascar Through Conservation Criminology

by Caitlin M. Snyder

            Dr. Meredith L. Gore, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife & School of Criminal Justice in East Lansing, Michigan, introduced an interdisciplinary framework for mitigating relationships between wildlife and humans called  conservation criminology in a presentation held at SUNY ESF on Thursday, March 4, 2010. She presented her seminar “From lemurs to livelihoods: What can conservation criminology offer for resolving environmental risks in Madagascar?” as part of the Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, Adaptive Peaks, and Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series sponsored by the ESF Graduate Student Association, Department of Environmental & Forest Biology, and Women's Caucus.
            Dr. Gore began by describing her personal background and experiences in her area of expertise, and posed questions to the audience about public perceptions of environmental behavior and risk, decision-making and policy, and the coexistence of wildlife and people. Using a case study, she described the socioeconomic and environmental status of both villages and ecosystems of Madagascar, and focused on lemur conservation to illustrate the need to ameliorate the imminent biodiversity crisis.
            Despite numerous challenges facing the island of Madagascar (e.g., poverty, lack of infrastructure, corrupt governance, disenfranchisement, and climate barriers), Dr. Gore expressed promise by suggesting a novel, integrated approach that combines aspects of natural resource management, criminal justice, and risk and decision science. She discussed methods and solutions to environmental risks associated with human-wildlife interactions by providing critical inspection of the key characteristics, scope, and assumptions of this approach dubbed conservation criminology. Although there are many strengths and weaknesses still to overcome with its application, conservation criminology may be an opportunity to draw disciplines together and apply a progressive approach to research, teaching, and management of certain environmental risks. Dr. Gore provided a conceptual framework for conservation criminology in Madagascar, and discussed the advantages that it could bring such as better decision making, stakeholder engagement, law enforcement, and conservation of endemic biodiversity. Together, conservation biology and criminal justice have the ability to foster theoretical development and a positive interaction among livelihoods and lemurs.
            Dr. Gore's formal training is in the human dimensions of wildlife management, and environment and resource policy. She is a member of the Environmental Science and Policy Program (ESPP), serves as core faculty with the Center for Advanced International Development (CASID), and collaborates with scholars in the MSU Risk Research Initiative and Office of Study Abroad. She also serves as core faculty for the Conservation Criminology certificate program, offered jointly by the Department of Fisheries & Wildlife and School of Criminal Justice. Her research interests focus on public perceptions of wildlife and environmental risk, human-wildlife conflict, community-based natural resource management, human dimensions of natural resource management, conservation criminology, and program evaluation.  To learn more about her research, visit
            For upcoming events in the Women in Scientific Environmental Professions Speaker Series, please visit: