Course Syllabus - Fall 2013


Dr. Diane M. Debinski

Office: 249 Bessey Hall, Phone: 294-2460, email: debinski@iastate.edu

Class meets T-TH 9:30-10:45 a.m. Bessey Hall, Room 334


Course Description:  This course examines issues relevant to women in science and engineering from a variety of perspectives.  The interrelationships of women and science and engineering are examined from historical, statistical, sociological, philosophical, and biological perspectives. Factors contributing to underrepresentation, feminist critiques of science, and examination of strategies for career success are discussed.  This course meets the U.S. Diversity requirement.  The course format will include a combination of lectures, small group discussions, panel discussions including invited speakers, and student presentations.  Success in the course is highly dependent on both preparation and participation.


1.       To understand the history of women’s education in the U.S.

2.       To become aware of the statistical data summarizing the current status of women and minorities in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) in the U.S., in the world, and at ISU.

3.       To become familiar with the ISU archives and how to utilize the resources.

4.       To understand the concepts of gender schemas, gender differences, and their implications.

5.       To become aware of programs designed to improve the working climate for women in STEM.

6.       To examine ways of balancing family and careers.

7.       To develop professional skills and strategies for success.

8.       To improve speaking, writing and presentation skills.


Reading Materials:  Reading materials for the course are posted on the ISU Library Reserve website:


We will spend many of the course periods discussing articles, so it is imperative that students read articles and submit homework assignments via Blackboard PRIOR to class.  Students have a choice of doing 7 out of 14 written assignments, but everyone is required to read the assigned reading even if they opt out of doing the written assignment.  Bring the reading material and your responses to class either in paper or digital format. Note that the reading list may be augmented during the course of the semester to include additional items.  However, the instructor will provide one week’s notice prior to any additions.


Research Projects:  Each student will complete both a term paper and a biography of a woman in science and engineering.  Both of these research projects will include the following components: 1) development of an annotated bibliography, 2) writing of the paper, and 3) an oral presentation of the project to the class.  Research topics for term papers and biographies will be approved by Dr. Debinski prior to initiation of the project.  


Aug. 27 Introductions, course expectations, and grading. 

The Pipeline Concept.   Networking Activity. 


Theme 1:  History and Background Information and an Investigation of the Statistics


Aug. 29 A History of Women’s Education.

Meet with your group and familiarize yourself with the group process.

Discuss in your group: Sadker, M. and D. Sadker. 1994.  Through the Back Door: the History of Women’s Education.  Chapter 2 in Failing at Fairness.  Touchstone, New York. 

*Hand in answers to discussion questions regarding the Sadkers’ article.

Sept. 3  Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering.

Assess the status of women in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) your field or a field of your choosing. Write an essay on the status and be prepared to present a summary to your group.  Include graphics.


The following website is the main reference source of numbers available for women in the U.S.: The National Science Foundation (NSF) report entitled Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2009.  This report may be viewed on the internet at:  http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/


The Association of Women in Science (AWIS) provides various summaries that may also be helpful:  http://www.awis.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=22


Read More Women in Science by Jo Hadelsman et al. 2005 Science 309:1190-1191


Present your assignment to the group.

Report a summary of the groups’ assessments to the class as a whole at the end of the period.

*Written assignment on the status of women in your field due


 Sept. 5 Numbers of Women in Science and Engineering at Iowa State. 

Assess the status of women or minorities at ISU (undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, or staff) using the ISU Fact Book found here and linking to information on students or faculty and Staff: http://www.ir.iastate.edu/factbk.html  Write an essay on the status and be prepared to present a summary to your group.  Include graphics.


                Spend class time in your group discussing the handouts showing the STEM statistics at ISU.  Be prepared to present to the class as a whole the main conclusions from this data.  Also compare your conclusions to those you found in the previous assignment.  What does your group find to be the most significant statistic from the ISU data?

*Turn in your report.


Theme 2:  Diversity and Culture in STEM


Sept. 10  Discussion of Research Projects and Diversity, culture, science and engineering.  Minority women in the U.S.

Write an essay reviewing the status of minority women in a STEM field.  The NSF reports may be useful just as they were in our previous discussions of the status of women in general.

Speculate as to why so few minority women in STEM fields.

*Present the assignment on the status of minority women to your group and also hand it in.


Sept. 12 Women in Science and Engineering Archives tour and searching strategies with WISE archivist, Laura Sullivan. 

                Meet at Room 403 in the Parks Library.


Sept 17 Diversity, culture, science and engineering.  Disabled scientists.

Present a short biography of a scientist or engineer (female or male) from the United States who is considered to be disabled. Discuss special issues or concerns that these people face in their lives and careers.  Relate these issues to the numbers of women in STEM fields.

*Present the biographical assignment to your group and also hand it in to your instructor.

*Turn in term paper topic and annotated bibliography.


Sept 19 Surprises across the cultural divide. Women scientists in other countries.

Read:  Marcia Barinaga.  1994.  Surprises across the cultural divide.  Science.  263: 1468-1472. 


                Assignment:  Present a short report on how women scientists are doing in another country. This could include numbers, if you can find them, or it may emphasize special areas of concern.


*Present the assignment on status of women scientists in other countries to your group and also hand it in to your instructor. 

Sept. 24  Visit
to an engineering workplace at ISU - Elizabeth Gregory & Meisha Rosenberg

                 (More details to follow)


Theme 3:  Understanding Gender Schemas, Gender Differences, and their Implications


Sept. 26  Gender Schemas.  In class activity (no assignment due).  We will view and discuss a tutorial introducing the concept of gender schemas developed by Virginia Valian.



Valian, V.  2000.  Why So Slow?  The Advancement of Women.  The MIT Press.  Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Chapter 1


 Oct. 1 Being Evaluated. Read and discuss in your group:

 Wenneras, C. and A. Wold.  2001.  Nepotism and sexism in peer-review.  In  M. Lederman and I. Bartsch (eds.)  The Gender and Science Reader, Routledge, London.   

 *Turn in answers to the discussion questions about the Wenneras and Wold article.


Oct. 3  Term Paper Presentations. 

*Turn in Term Paper


Oct. 8* Term Paper Presentations. 


Oct. 10 Gender differences.  Feminists who critique science and their critiques.

Read S. V. Rosser. 1992.  Are there feminist methodologies appropriate for the natural science and do they make a difference?  Women's Studies International Forum 15:535-550 

*Present the assignment on feminists and their critiques to your group and submit it to instructor.


Oct. 15  Term Paper Presentations.


Oct. 17  Term Paper Presentations.


Theme 4:  Current Climate for Women and  Programs to Improve Climate


Oct. 22 Climate for women in the Science workplace.

Baker, Beth.  2011.  Having a life in Science.  Bioscience 61(6):429-433.

*Hand in answers to the discussion questions on the Baker article.


Oct. 24  Leaning In:  Stories of success.

Read Sheryl Sandberg Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Chapter 1.

*Hand in answers to the discussion questions on the Sandberg article.


Oct. 29  Panel:  Actions to improve the climate for women in STEM.  Panel of SWE, PWSE, ADVANCE Grant

Read Settles, I.H., L. M. Cortina, J. Malley, and A. J. Stewart.  2006. The Climate for Women in Academic Science:  The, Good, the Bad, and the Changeable. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30: 47–58.

*Hand in answers to the discussion questions on the climate for women in academia article.


Oct. 31 Library Research Day for Bibliography project

*Turn in Biographical Paper Topic and Annotated Bibliography to Dr. Debinski by 5 p.m. on Oct. 31th.


Theme 5:  Family and Career


Nov. 5  Family and Career.

Williams, Joan.  2000.  Unbending Gender.  Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It.  Oxford Univ. Press.  Chapter 1.

Read and discuss with your group the material found on the following website:


*Hand in answers/responses to the questions provided relating to the information on the websites regarding family and career. 


Nov. 7  Family and Career.

Mason, M.A. and M. Goulden.  2004.  Marriage and Baby Blues: Redefining Gender Equity in the Academy.  The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 596: 86-103.   


Develop several questions for the Juggling Family and Career Panel in your group. 


Nov. 12 Panel: Juggling Family and Career.


Theme 6:  Strategies for Success


Nov. 14  Women, Work and the Academy – Strategies for Success

 Wylie, A, J. R. Jakobsen, and G. Fosado.  2007.  Women, Work and the Academy: Strategies for responding to post-civil rights era gender discrimination.  Barnard Center for Research on Women.


*Present the assignment on Women, Work and the Academy to your group and also hand it in to your instructor.


Nov. 19  Improving the Culture of Work Environments – The Reader’s Theater approach

*Turn in Biographical Paper


Nov. 21 Developing Professional Skills

                CareerWISE (www.asu.edu/careerwise), at Arizona State University, provides free online professional coaching and support to women STEM graduate students.  Visit the site prior to class and we will discuss components of the coaching.


Thanksgiving Break  November 25-29


Dec. 3  Biographical Presentations


Dec. 5  Biographical Presentations


Dec. 10 Biographical Presentations


Dec. 12 Biographical Presentations 


Dec. 17  Final Exam   9:45-11:45 a.m.


Grading Point Breakdown



Due Date

Term Paper Topic and Annotated



Sept. 17

Term Paper


Oct. 3

Term Paper Presentation


Oct.  3,8,15-17

Biographical Paper Topic &      Annotated Bibliography


Oct. 31

Biographical Paper


Nov. 19

Biographical Paper Presentation


Dec. 3-12

Class Participation



Final Exam


Dec. 17th

Written assignments

7  at 10 points =

70 pts.

See Syllabus for due date. Choose 7 out of 14 possible written assignments.


Total points = 400



Written assignments:  Questions are posted for each article on Blackboard.  Answers to the questions should be prepared prior to the class period in typed format and submitted via Blackboard by 9:30 a.m. on the due date.  Please bring either a paper or digital copy of both the article and your response so that you can participate fully in the discussion.  On days when you opt not to submit an assignment, you are still required to read the paper and be prepared to discuss.  Five percentage points per day will be deducted from late assignments.  


* Dates when assignments are due are marked with an asterisk.





Dr. Diane Debinski


Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

249 Bessey Hall



office hours: To be announced; meanwhile please email or call for an appointment



Course Website:   http://www.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/wise/web.html

Academic Dishonesty:  The class will follow Iowa State University’s policy on academic dishonesty.  Anyone suspected of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Students Office.


Disability Accommodation:  Iowa State University complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Sect 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  If you have a disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please contact Dr. Debinski to set up a meeting within the first two weeks of the semester or as soon as you become aware of your need.  Before meeting with (instructor name), you will need to obtain a SAAR form with recommendations for accommodations from the Disability Resources Office, located in Room 1076 on the main floor of the Student Services Building. Their telephone number is 515-294-7220 or email disabilityresources@iastate.edu .  Retroactive requests for accommodations will not be honored.