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Calendar

10/20/2014
“Ignorance Isn’t Bliss: What Every College Student Should Know about Religion,” Brookings, SD

10/21/2014 » 10/22/2014
Emergence and Environment: Science and Religion in 2014, San Diego, CA

10/21/2014
“Are People Born to Believe?,” Cambridge, England

10/25/2014
“The Bible, Evolution, and Human Origins: Starting Conversations,” Claremont, CA

11/1/2014
70th Anniversary Celebratory Conference, Oxford, UK

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CWIS: Christian Women in Science
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CWIS is an affiliate of the American Scientific Affiliation and is open to all interested Christian Women in Science.

 

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Top tags: CWIS  Lynn Billman  STEM  science education  astronomy  Ruth Bancewicz  ASA  CWIS Board  Jennifer Wiseman  Mary Anning  physics  Alice C. Linsley  American Association for the Advancement of Scienc  Amy Julia Becker  Amy Simpson  Anges Giberne  Archaeology  Arden Wells  Bible  Biblical Anthropology  biology  chemistry  Christa Koval  climate change  CWIS goals  CWIS logo  Dorothy Boorse  ecology  Emily Ruppel  Emily Sturgess 

Lynn Billman's First Huff Blog Post

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lynn Billman is the President of Christian Women in Science. She recently wrote an fine article that appeared at Huff Post/Religion about Christian women in STEM. We hope that this will be the first of many! Here are the opening paragraphs:

Christian Women in STEM are a Vulnerable Minority

Lynn Billman

As the President of Christian Women in Science (CWIS, part of the American Scientific Affiliation), I hear many stories about the struggles of women of this faith who are interested or work in science, technology, engineering and math. Some stories are encouraging, but others are enough to break my heart.
2014-02-25-kristeninlab.jpg
Rochelle was a high school biology student who was excited about the advances in genetics that her teacher shared with her in school. She dreamed of making a difference in the world by doing medical research. However, when her church youth leader told her that there were too many gaps in the fossil record to believe evolution and that only atheists believed in evolution, Rochelle's sense of direction began to waver. If she became a medical researcher, would she have to give up her Christian friends?

Liz had enjoyed her 10 years as a geology professor at a mid-sized state college. She rarely talked about being a Christian, but recently the subject came up when she told her department head about spending her weekend serving supper at the local Christian mission, and telling people about the love of Jesus. A couple months later her application for tenure was turned down. She never got a clear explanation of why she was rejected. As Liz found, being a Christian and a scientist in a secular institution can feel like being a "lesbian still in the closet."

Read the whole article here.

Tags:  Lynn Billman  STEM 

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Women Underrepresented in Science and Engineering

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Monday, February 24, 2014

According to the National Science Board's annual "Science and Engineering Indicators" report, made public Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 'there has been some general movement toward more diversity,' participation still 'varies substantially across groups,' the report found.

140206_engineers

Phil Strawser, left, and Gwen Johnson from team NASA work the controls of a robot during a competition in Florida in December 2013. Women made up just 28 percent of science and engineering workers in 2010, according to the National Science Board's annual "Science and Engineering Indicators" report.

By Alan Neuhauser

America’s science and engineering sectors have made strides toward building a more diverse labor force, but progress remains to be made, the National Science Board’s annual "Science and Engineering Indicators” report found.

"There has been some general movement toward more diversity of participation in S&E [science and engineering] occupations,” the report, released Thursday, said. It also noted, however, that "despite this increase, participation varies substantially across groups.”

Read it all here.

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International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences Accused of Sexism

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Saturday, February 22, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014


Bias against women in science reared its ugly head last week when the preeminent conference for theoretical chemistry posted a list of two dozen confirmed speakers without including a single woman.

A group of female scientists promptly called for a boycott, but faced backlash from a prominent chemist who dismissed their efforts as "nonsensical” and "trendy whining about supposed ‘gender inequality.’”

More on that in a bit, but first some background. The International Congress of Quantum Chemistry is held by the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences and scheduled for June in Beijing next year. When the conference revealed its initial speaker list (since taken down from the website), every one was male.

"It happened again — another major theoretical chemistry conference features an all-male program,” reads the boycott petition, which was written by theoretical chemists Anna Krylov, Emily A. Carter and Laura Gagliardi and received 835 signatures within a few days.

Read it all here.


An apology came from the President of The International Congress of Quantum Chemistry. Apologies should be followed by actions to correct wrongs. Let's hope that happens.


Tags:  chemistry  physics  sexism 

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Faith and Science Communities in Conflict?

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Thursday, February 20, 2014

 Lynn Billman, President CWIS


Some CWIS members and readers of this blog may not be aware that ASA has a strong partnership with AAAS, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Jennifer Wiseman, Hubble Space Telescope Senior Project Scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center -- and ASA member -- is the ASA liaison to the AAAS through a project called AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion project (DoSER). AAAS held a major conference the weekend of Feb 14, and ASA combined with other science/faith organizations (like BioLogos and Zygon) to offer an ecumenical booth with literature about science and Christianity.

Even more interesting, Jennifer reported at this conference on the preliminary findings from a new survey conducted very recently by this project with staff at Rice University. This survey engaged 10,000 people with a 25-minute questionnaire, and individual interviews of 300 Christians, Jews, and Muslims. "This survey is different because it's asking where people look to for authoritative information on science, who do they trust as their authority figures, and how important do they think scientific issues are in their daily life," Wiseman said. The survey particularly focused on evangelicals, and Galen Carey, vice president for government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals in Washington, D.C., said that he was pleased with the survey's findings.

The survey results indicate that among the general population, only 27% believe that science and religion are in conflict with each other. In another interesting question, more than a third of all respondents in the survey agreed that "scientists should be open to considering miracles in their theories or explanations." Among the evangelicals surveyed (up to 30% of the U.S. population by some estimates), 48% of the evangelicals surveyed said they felt that science and religion were in a collaborative relationship. But, evangelicals were more than twice as likely as the rest of the sample to say they would turn to a religious leader or text if they have a question about science. And, 43% of evangelicals supported a strong young-earth creationist view.

Check this out, and other recent surveys about American's opinions of science. Read the fascinating report "Religious and Scientific Communities May Be Less Combative Than Commonly Portrayed."

Tags:  American Association for the Advancement of Scienc  faith evolution survey 

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Dorothy Boorse on Interplay of Faith and Science

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Monday, February 17, 2014

 Dr. Dorothy Boorse is a Christian woman in science (Gordon College) with a heart for mentoring. In this video she discusses how God has been leading her path from pre-med student to wetland ecologist, the dynamic interplay between faith and science, and the freedom afforded by the Christian liberal arts environment within the Gordon community. Her ability to provide this kind of wise insight to students as they grow in faith and academic understanding makes Dr. Boorse a memorable mentor at Gordon College.


Tags:  Dorothy Boorse  ecology 

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Embryo Selection: Some ethical concerns

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Wednesday, February 12, 2014

By Amy Julia Becker


It sounds pretty basic. A lovely young couple wants children, and they want those children to prosper and grow. They want to do as much as they reasonably can to ensure that those children have good, full lives. Happy lives. Lives that are as free from suffering and pain as possible. The problem is that they run the risk of bearing children with a gene that will probably cause a slow and painful death, albeit a death many decades in the future.


What should they do? Never have children? Adopt? Take the risk and conceive, come what may? Take the risk, conceive, and then terminate the pregnancy if the gene is present? Or try preimplantation genetic diagnosis, which involves creating embryos and testing them for the problematic gene and only implanting embryos free of the gene?


In the case of the Kolinsky family, as Gina Kolata reports for the New York Times, they chose preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in order to be certain that none of their children inherited their mother’s rare, painful, fatal neurological disease. As Kolata reports, the use of genetic testing and PGD is on the rise, and so the ethical questions associated with these tests are all the more relevant to all of us. As she writes:

Ethicists are divided about use of the method.

Janet Malek, a bioethicist at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, said that people who carry a gene like GSS have a moral duty to use preimplantation diagnosis — if they can afford it — to spare the next generation.

"If there is a paradigm example in which a parent can have an obligation to use this technology, this is it,” she said.

But David Wasserman, an ethicist at Yeshiva University and consultant to the department of bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, says there is no obligation to use it for diseases that do not start until adulthood. Eliminating embryos with such genes is essentially saying someone like Ms. Kalinsky should never have been born, he said.

I should say here and now that technologies such as PGD concern me for a host of ethical reasons, including the fact that we as a culture tend to let ethics follow technology rather than the other way around. PGD provides yet another example of a technology that people are using in the midst of an ongoing debate about the potential personal and social repercussions.


Read it all here.


Tags:  Amy Julia Becker  human reproduction 

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Laughter is Good Medicine

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Friday, February 07, 2014

Laughter

By Ruth Bancewicz



Photo by Uschi Hering, http://www.sxc.hu/

What makes you laugh uncontrollably? Sick humour? Children saying funny things? Your own attempts to master a dance move? Some of the most memorable chuckles for me have been caused by typos in emails (either my own or other people’s) that resulted in somewhat inappropriate – but thankfully very obviously wrong – meanings.

This week, Revd Dr Joanna Collicutt, Karl Jaspers Lecturer in Psychology and Spirituality at Ripon College Cuddesdon, spoke at the Faraday Institute on ‘A Merry Heart Doeth Good Like a Medicine: Humour, religion and wellbeing’.

A number of clinical studies have been carried out on humour and physical wellbeing, and like research on religion and health, the results of these studies vary widely. For religion, the overall trend is towards better health among people who have religious beliefs and practices, but the same is not true for humour. So while people who are sick tend to feel better when they laugh, their symptoms may not be affected.

There are of course many different types of humour, and they all have different effects. The appropriate sort of humour can be a coping mechanism to help in difficult situations. Bad jokes can break friendships, but laughing to build bonds among colleagues or friends is healthy – building self esteem and protecting against depression. Humour that keeps your friends laughing and you feeling good about yourself can be very healthy, but it can also be a way of ignoring problems. Some people manage to use self-deprecating humour in a positive way, but others are self-defeating.

In the past, humour was seen as a vice, possibly because it can often be subversive, but now it is generally seen as a character strength. Humour helps us to handle incongruous situations and make sense of things, recognise our own stupidity without condemning ourselves, or let off steam. Humour can, on the other hand, be used to devalue things or people, or exert superiority. Wit is generally thought to be the most clever sort of humour, but can also be the most damaging. For example, in Jane Austen’s novel Emma the heroine has to learn to control her wit and not hurt people with it.

Surprisingly (to me), laughter is more often mentioned negatively than positively in the Bible. Cynical humour is connected to ignoring, disbelieving or disobeying God. But does the fact that Jesus and others are not mentioned laughing mean they didn’t enjoy a joke? The Bible only records those events that were most important for the reader to learn from (so it doesn’t mention dinosaurs at all, and there are very few mentions of breakfast, toilets and shoes). My experiences of the Middle East have been full of smiles and laughter, and I expect the disciples’ gatherings were the same.

Humour involves a lack of inhibition, which can be a very good thing if our inhibitions are stopping us receiving from God. Prophets often have a subversive message, which can be particularly important at the renewal phase of religions. If humour helps us to disengage from unhelpful dogma and be open to a new realisation of what is most true and important, we should welcome that. Finally, absurdity can get a point home – and Jesus did use this sort of illustration in his teaching (e.g. The camel and the needle).

So we laugh because we realise things are true. We laugh in surprise when people challenge received wisdom. We laugh because the supposedly serious is made absurd. We laugh because if we didn’t we’d cry – when we are coping with adversity. And most important of all we laugh in delight, enjoying the present moment. I didn’t expect to laugh so much in a seminar, but it seems that humour is an important part of both faith and academia.

Reprinted with permission from Science and Belief

Tags:  Joanna Collicutt  Ruth Bancewicz 

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Christian women in STEM are not to be labeled

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Emily Sturgess on Labels

How does a scientist define themselves when their work isn’t their primary identity? This month’s guest post is from Emily Sturgess, a biologist who has found a niche in Oxford.

It took me a while to realise that when you introduce yourself to someone you don’t have to define yourself with a single label. As if the supplies in the stationery cupboard were rationed, I felt for a long time that I was allowed only one label to stick on myself to describe what I do. I am the Development Officer for Christians in Science, so I spend a lot of time with people who describe themselves as ‘scientists’. That makes a lot of sense: they actively participate in scientific research, are employed by science departments in universities, and think ‘scientifically’. It is their profession, and the label is wholly applicable.

All the same, I have always been slightly uneasy about declaring myself a scientist. Aside from the fact that due to an archaic honours system I actually have a BA not a BSc, I do have undergraduate and masters degrees in science subjects (Biological Sciences, and Species Identification, respectively), but I’m still not convinced. Logically, some of this could stem from the fact that I am not actually employed in research. In reality, it’s probably because I don’t want to commit to a single label until people see that ‘scientist’ encompasses so many traits!
I certainly was not the classic ‘born scientist’, but I fell in love with biology as a teenager and pursued it as far as I could. My masters was no strategic career move – I just really wanted to learn to identify plants, animals, and shockingly to all including myself, moss. Honestly, there’s no beauty quite like watching a desiccated moss sample being revived with a few drops of water. The cells dry up when you keep them as herbarium specimens, but that makes them almost impossible to identify because the shapes of the tiny leaves are distorted. If you drop water onto the specimen, however, even if it has been dried and hidden away for years, by what seems some wonderful magic the leaves spring back to life, unfurling under the microscope before your eyes.

So when I speak to other biologists, I also am a biologist. But when I speak to other writers I am a blogger; when I speak to students I am a student leader; when I speak to someone who needs something organising I am an administrator…and through all of those things I am also a Christian, following Jesus whole-heartedly, and hoping that will impact those around me.

So what do you do with an identity that seemingly isn’t tied up in one field, but flits happily between several? Which label are you allowed to wear, when in some ways you’re a scientist but in other ways you’re not? Thankfully for me, I am lucky enough to have found a job that allows me to be a scientist and a Christian, at the same time as everything else.

Working for Christians in Science has been a big release for me, because I love and understand the subject matter and am hungry to know more about almost every aspect of the science-faith dialogue. My role also allows me to be creative and administrative, and gives me time – which I wouldn’t have if I was actively involved in research – to get things done practically for the organisation. Being able to resource so many research scientists, students, teachers, and others, in their walk with God is a real privilege.

It is always humbling to see God taking the eclectic strands of our lives that had previously been wisping all over the place, and weaving them together. It is encouraging that God sees our whole selves – all the facets of our being that he prompts us to invest in – and finds ways to work them together. It always reminds me how much wiser he is than me! He sees our science and our faith and knows how to bring them together. But he sees all the other elements too: our leadership skills, pastoral hearts, discernment, creativity, logical thinking, and everything else that we consider gifts and skills but perhaps haven’t quite known what we are meant to do with them in our professional lives.

As Ruth has blogged before, there is a great call for creativity in science. I believe that there is also a place in science for all our other gifts: being wise when we give advice to others, gracious in our set-backs, and discerning and pastoral in the staff-room. We don’t have to be given a role that specifies those things in the job description to work them into our professional lives.

So for me, defining who I am and what I do was never just a case of how I brought my science and my belief together. More than that, it has been about how I am able to bring all of myself together: in my pursuit of science, in my pursuit of fulfilment, and most importantly in my pursuit of God – covered in as many labels as possible.

Emily Sturgess blogs sporadically at http://love-laugh-photograph.blogspot.co.uk, and is based in Oxford.

Reproduced with permission from Science and Belief.

Tags:  biology  Emily Sturgess  STEM 

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Tim Stafford on Science Education for Christian Children

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Sunday, February 02, 2014
Tim Stafford

 Our Children Should Not Have to Choose Between Science and Faith

Posted: 01/24/2014 

Girls And Science

For decades, belief in evolution has skewed along faith lines, with evangelical Christians as doubters on one side and agnostics and atheists as believers on the other. Now, according to a poll released by the Pew Research Center, the divide is skewed by politics as well. Republicans have become significantly less likely than Democrats to believe in evolution (43 percent vs. 67 percent). Just what we need: the thoughtfulness and delicacy of polarized politics added to the rancor already present.

I've been talking to people on both sides while publicizing a book, The Adam Quest: Eleven Scientists Who Held on to a Strong Faith While Wrestling With the Mystery of Human Origins. I'm struck, in these conversations, that neither side can believe that any thinking person could possibly believe what the other claims to believe. For them, their opponents' ideas for or against evolution must be a product of some form of hysteria or myopia or some conspiracy to either maintain a medieval worldview or destroy religion.

Read it all here.


Tags:  faith. evolution 

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This Is What Inspires Girls in STEM

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Friday, January 24, 2014

 Editor's Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost's Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.



By Gina Ryder

"What inspires you?”

A question like that brings to mind clichés more fitting at a beauty pageant. Yet when you ask a STEM girl, the responses might well cause you to straighten up and pay attention.

The Huffington Post posed this question to the applicants of our Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. More than 1,000 young women responded to our call-outs last December, and amid all the different names, ages, locations, career motivations and educational backgrounds, we were blown away by the deep purpose each applicant found in her studies and future career.

So in celebration of International Day of the Girl Child and the quest to empower young women everywhere, we've compiled some of our favorite responses to this question in the following list. Hopefully they inspire you like they've inspired us.



What inspires you? What inspires your pursuit of STEM?

"Seeing my work impact a person's life, no matter how small the action. I know my thoughts can transform into action." - Phyllis, 21, Aspiring pharmacist

"I find the the research towards finding an AIDS vaccine fascinating." - Taryn, 14, Aspiring Orthopaedic/Neurological surgeon

"My whole life, all I ever dreamed about when growing up is to help somebody in a powerful way. I want to make lives better or help move society forward to a future with less misunderstandings and ignorance. Women have been doing this throughout history, and if I could do something just half as good as them, I would be more than satisfied." - Florencia, 20, Interested in a career in health physics


Read it all here.


Tags:  STEM 

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