Science & Social Justice

Inspiring the next Generation of Female Engineers Close your eyes and picture and engineer. You probably weren’t envisioning Debbie Sterling. Debbie Sterling is an engineer and founder of GoldieBlox, a toy company out to inspire the next generation of female engineers. She has made it her mission in life to tackle the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math. GoldieBlox is a book series+construction set that engages kids to build through the story of Goldie, the girl inventor who solves problems by building simple machines. Debbie writes and illustrates Goldie’s stories, taking inspiration from her grandmother, one of the first female cartoonists and creator of “Mr. Magoo.” Her company, launched in 2012, raised over $285,000 in 30 days through Kickstarter, and has been featured in numerous publications such as The Atlantic and Forbes.

The Fragile Masculinity of Tech Bros and the Failure of Liberal Feminism

By Veronica Arreola | Medium

I honest to gawd thought when I saw the article, “Push for Gender Equality in Tech? Some Men Say It’s Gone Too Far,” that it was a clickbait satire piece. Nope. It was a full-fledged New York Times article and as of its publication was in the top 5 viewed articles and continues to trend on Pocket. As I read the article, I went on a Facebook rant that I cleaned up here.

There Is No Plan(et) B: A Primer on Trump’s Refusal to Abide by the Paris Agreement

By Patricia Valoy, Contributing Editor, Science and Social Justice

Earlier this month the president of the United States withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, a pioneering agreement formed at the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in 2015. Countries from all over the world came together to discuss the effects of climate change and the catastrophic impact of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The convention culminated in an agreement signed by 195 countries vouching to reduce emissions in order to keep the global temperature from increasing by more than 2 degrees Celsius. Simply put, every country committed to a goal and the responsibility for figuring out how to meet their goal.

Hidden Figures: Reflections from a Latina Engineer

By Patricia Valoy, Science and Social Justice Contributing Editor

The movie Hidden Figures was one of the most realistic depictions of mathematicians and engineers I have ever seen. I grew up learning about John Glenn, the first man who orbited the earth, and Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, but it wasn’t until recently that I even knew there were women mathematicians who had a hand in the space race, and it wasn’t until I read the book and saw the film that I even knew they were Black.

Advice for Traveling to Academic Conferences Under Travel Ban

There are two academic conference seasons in the United States where a majority of “international” academic conferences are hosted: mid-fall and late winter/early Spring. This year it can be remembered as: before and after the travel ban affecting nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries was announced. The American Anthropological Association, the Women’s Studies Association and the International Conference on Arabic and Islamic Studies had their conferences in the fall. The American Sociological Association, the Cultural Studies Association and the National Council for Black Studies are upcoming.

Teaching Social Justice in the Physics Classroom

An overview of a six-day curriculum developed and used with high school senior physics students. For each day, there is a brief synopsis of what happens in class and notes the bigger-picture questions and goals to address that day. Also included are some resources and some narrative reflection on each day to help add some context. Contact Moses Rifkin at or @RiPhysKin Syllabus: Teaching Social Justice in the Physics Classroom Activities and homework:

Emerging Infectious Diseases

Since the identification of HIV/AIDS in 1981, the world has become more aware of the threat of new diseases, the spillover of diseases from other species to humans, and of the potential for disease carriers, both human and non-human, to amplify diseases through travel and environmental changes. This course works to understand the disease risks that face us by merging perspectives from microbiology, ecology, epidemiology, and human behavior. Where are these pathogens coming from, and where will they go? Tools for the Classroom View Syllabus:

Feminsim, Sexuality, and Neuroethics

Neuroethics is an emerging field that considers the interaction between neuroscience, behavioral biology, society, and ethics. Major questions of concern within neuroethics include: How do scientific discoveries impact society? How can scientific researchers more fully understand the ethical implications of their work? The intersection of feminist science studies with the field of Neuroethics produces new ways to ask these questions, considering, for example, not only how science impacts society, but how scientific research is shaped by cultural assumptions. Ultimately, students in this class will combine the critical thinking skills from both of these fields to answer the question: How can we all be responsible consumers and/or producers of neuroscientific knowledge? View Syllabus:

Representations of HIV/AIDS

This class is meant to facilitate an interdisciplinary conversation of the representation of HIV/AIDS in many different media sources: science writing, journalism, visual art, literature, drama, and popular culture. At the core of this class is the organizing question: what does it mean to put the perspectives of the scientist and the literary critic in conversation when discussing these widely varied representations of HIV/AIDS? What is at stake for the scientist or for the literary critic in these different depictions of HIV/AIDS? What is the science behind cultural depictions of HIV/AIDS, and why is it important that we think about it? What are the social and interpretive meanings behind the representation of HIV/AIDS, and why/how are these relevant for both the scientist and critic? Ultimately, this course is meant to remind its participants that the personal and political of necessity intersects with the scientific—and that scientists and critics can learn…

Underserved Students Not as Likely to be Ready for STEM Careers

By Autumn A. Arnett | Diverse Issues in Higher Education A newly released American College Testing (ACT) report on “Understanding the Underserved Learner: the Condition of STEM 2014” suggests that underserved students are far less likely to be prepared for careers in STEM, despite an often equal interest in the disciplines. Continue reading this article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.