By: Kaitlyn Morabito, Ph.D.
Women in STEM
Women in engineering engage best with gender parity
The lack of women in STEM related fields has been a hot topic recently with many groups focusing on closing the gender gap. At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a social psychology researcher setup an experiment to gauge the role of female peers in female engineers participation in a group problem-solving activity. Within the groups of 4 engineers, different male to female ratios were utilized: 1:3, 2:2, and 3:1. Each group contained one female engineer subject and 3 evaluators who utilized a script in the problem-solving activity. Following the activity, the evaluators rated the female engineers on participation, confidence, interest and comfortableness. The female engineer also took a self-survey after she met her group, but before the activity started to measure how confident, anxious, challenged, or threatened she felt and the likelihood of her staying in engineering. When there were no other females in the group environment, the female engineers felt less confident and were more likely to view the activity as a threat and less likely to remain in engineering. The females who were in even groups, felt more confident, but were still less likely to participate the females who were in a mostly female group. This highlights how challenging it can be for a women to participate and succeed in a male-dominated field. The study has its caveats so the results may not be generalizable. The subjects were women who already chose engineering, the groups were small, and the interactions were scripted. However, it still emphasizes the role that female peers may have on other females. (Bethany Brookshire, Scicurious – ScienceNews)
Years after shutting down, U.S. atom smasher reveals properties of ‘God particle’
The Tevatron collider, which was shut down over 3 years ago, has provided more insight into the Higgs boson particle, which was discovered by the physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2012. The Higgs boson particle is essential to the standard model theory, which explains how particles get their mass. Scientists working on the LHC directly measured the mass of the Higgs boson particle and other quantitative measurements such as angular momentum. The subject of angular momentum or spin was determined to be zero spin and the parity was determined to be negative. Scientists using the Tevatron collider, however, used a more indirect approach by using the interaction of the Higgs particle with other particles (Z boson or W boson) to approximate the spin and parity of the parental Higgs particle. This indirect measure puts more strident limits on the hypothetical parity and spin of the Higgs particle. This data was slow to analyze due to the loss of personal to the LHC project and otherwise could have been published prior to the discovery of the Higgs boson particle. (Adrian Cho, Science)
Amid Protests, Hawaii Governor Says Construction of Thirty Meter Telescope is Paused
The company Thirty Meter Telescope stopped construction of a telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano. This telescope, standing at 180 ft, will be one of the largest in the world with scientists reasoning that the location is perfect for studying “the earliest years of the universe.” The one-week secession of building comes after a week of demonstrations by protesters who argue that the land is sacred to some of Hawaii’s natives. The opposition to the telescope project has existed since its initiation over a year ago, but really came to a head with the demonstrations beginning last week. The land on which the telescope is being erected is leased by the Thirty Meter Telescope company through the University of Hawaii. The Hawaiian Land Board approved the construction of the telescope on March 6th. The pause in construction will provide an opportunity for the opponents, university and government officials, and company to have a discussion of the future of the projects. (Caleb Jones, Huffington Post)
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