Category Archives: Uncategorized

Simple Design, Intense Content

Saturday, 4:30pm, no breakfast, no lunch, but lots of reading, thinking, and dreaming on how to draw that perfect plot. How can I convey data and science from Greenland Continue reading

Ruins of Fort Conger in the High Arctic

Retreating from Fort Conger, the U.S. Army lost 68% of its men to death by starvation and drowning. They were delivered to the northern shores of Ellesmere Island within sight of northern Greenland by the SS Proteus on August 12, 1881 and were left with ample food and fuel to survive and explore comfortably for a years or so. Continue reading

America’s Self-Mutilation

I am an American and I am infuriated that my country’s government is (a) unable and unwilling to balance its books, (b) unable and unwilling to govern, because (c) a childish minority in Congress throws a temper tantrum, and (d) parental and political leadership fails to lead, guide, and compromise. The shut-down of the U.S. government only serves those who Continue reading

Thule on My Mind: Deep Water Port and Air Force Base

I am an air force brat. My father and my father-in-law enlisted in the German and US Air Forces, respectively. They served during the Cold War when I was born in 1961 a few month after the Berlin Wall went up. My father-in-law was stationed in Thule, Greenland, a northern forward base with radars to detect ballistic missiles, fighter jets to intercept planes, and bombers to retaliate in nuclear war. About 60 years later, the fighter jets, bombers, and communist threat are all gone, but the base is still there, and to me it is the gateway to North Greenland. Both US and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers call its port to receive or discharge crews and scientists such as myself in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2012.

An F-102 jet of the 332d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Thule AFB in 1960. [Credit: United States Air Force]

An F-102 jet of the 332d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Thule AFB in 1960. [Credit: United States Air Force.]

Today about 58,000 people live on Greenland spread Continue reading

Women In Science: Costs and Benefits

“Science remains institutionally sexist. Despite some progress, women scientists are still paid less, promoted less frequently, win fewer grants and are more likely to leave research than similarly qualified men.” [Nature, Mar.-7, 2013]

This is from yesterday’s special issue of Nature which prompted this tongue-in-cheek comment by Prof. Dr. Cristina Archer:

Can we put a dollar amount to how much it would cost to fill the gender gap with respect to salary disparity?

Here is the procedure:

1) N_w = number of women scientists in the US
2) S_w = average salary of the N_w women scientists in the US
3) S_m = average salary of the male scientist in the US
4) Delta = difference in salary between male and female scientists
5) Tot = total dollars that the female scientists should be receiving to fill the disparity = Delta * N_w

To get a sense of the order of magnitude, here are some values:

1) N_w = 93,400 (in 2008, from the Nature paper)
2) S_w = $60,000 (this is actually the median, not the average, in 2008)
3) S_m= $84,000 (median in 2008)
4) Delta = $24,000
5) Tot = $24,000 * 93,400 = $2,241,600,000 (yes, billions)

For the nerdy of us, I acknowledge that using the median instead of the average might give an overestimate of the final bonus, although the order of magnitude is correct.

Since the gender gap seems very expensive to fill (~$2 billions), it might be cheaper and easier to actually reduce the salary of all male scientists (N_m = 179,400). The total saved would be:

Tot2 = $24,000 * 179,400 = $4.3B (of course billions)

If that money could be donated to NSF, the benefits to research in the US would be incalculable.

So … who wants to be the first male scientist to give up 28% of his salary and start filling the gender gap?

I admit, that I was the first to volunteer.

ADDENDUM: This post is not meant to criticize any institution in any way or form. The fact that these issues are discussed openly reflects both sensitivity and progress towards a common goal of gender equality in science. There is also a student’s perspective that Allison Einolf posted here last summer which includes references to a 2011 NSF study on the issue.