Claytons on the comeback
John Ross, a higher education journalist for The Australian, got it spot on in a piece he wrote last Wednesday (30 January) about the government’s response to the Lomax-Smith Base Funding Review, entitled “Death by Review”.
Ross asks: what does the Government do if a respected reviewer (Denise Bradley) makes an inconvenient recommendation such as a 10% increase in funding per student, and where the recommendation is for all intents and purposes supported by evidence presented in a second review chaired by a former SA Labor Minister for Education (Jane Lomax-Smith)?
Answer: It sits on her report for 15 months while making vaguely discouraging noises about it. Then it responds on a public holiday afflicted by floods to the north and fires to the south. The article then goes on to point out that in responding to the Base Funding Review’s findings and 29 recommendations, the Government:
1. Gave the thumbs down to 16 recommendations (5 being noted; 3 requiring no further action and 8 not being accepted);
2. Accepted seven recommendations of which five maintained the status quo and two (changes to HEPPP funding and phasing out discount HECS for national priorities) were implemented in 2011 MYEFO or 2012 Budget);
3. Accepted six recommendations in part which have either been ignored, already implemented, referred to another department or reflect current government policy. Two were addressed in part in the 2012 Budget.
edXpress reckons that Ross ‘ought to be congratulated’ because his investigative journalism has exposed the government’s Claytons response to the Base Funding Review; that is, ‘the response you have when you are not having a response’.
Male bias persists
There are many, many reasons why women lag behind men in the university hierarchy, especially in science, but anthropologist Professor Lynne Isbell and colleagues from the University of California, Davis have discovered another one. Scientific symposia organised by men have only half as many women presenters as symposia organised by women.
Isbell & Co analysed women scientists’ participation at major scientific conferences for primate scientists and anthropologists, where symposia are largely by invitation but posters and other talks are initiated by participants. They discovered that within the field of primatology, women give more posters than talks, whereas men give more talks than posters. Their analysis also revealed that symposia organised by men on average included half the number of women authors (29%) than symposia organized by women or both men and women (58 to 64%).
In the open access journal, Plos One, Isbell & Co describe their results as particularly surprising given that primatology is a field with a significant history of women scientists. In their discussion of these findings, the authors say, “Regardless of the cause of gender bias against women in invitations to prestigious symposia, its discovery requires attention in a field that is exemplary in being gender-blind in so many other ways.”
Isbell adds, “It is difficult to imagine in this day and age that a gender bias by men against women in primatology could exist, but the evidence clearly reveals the sad truth. If it is still happening in a science that is so heavily represented by women, what does that mean for other sciences where women remain in the minority?”
Should there be more thinkers along the lines of Professor Mark Dodgson from the Business School at the University of Queensland? Talking last Saturday (2 February) to Robyn Williams on RN’s Science Show, he nominated five “talented thinkers in innovation” in Australia: Catherine Livingstone Telstra Chair and former CEO, Cochlea; Leslie Butterfield, CEO, McLachlan Lister, a project management company; Katherine Woodthorpe, CEO, Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association; Dr Megan Clark, CEO, CSIRO; and Professor Mary O’Kane, Chief Scientist, NSW.
“Not one man on the list,” Williams commented. “No,” Professor Dodgson replied, “We need more women innovation leaders, I think.”
You can listen online for the four weeks after broadcast to Professor Dodgson’s three part series, “Innovation in Australia”, or download to your pod anytime (Part 3 will be broadcast 12.30pm Saturday 9 February).