‘Geek chic’ and Obama bring new hope for lifting women in science

With the inauguration of an administration avowedly committed to science as the grand elixir for the nation’s economic and environmental woes, a number of scientists say now is the time to tackle a chronic conundrum of their enterprise: how to attract more women into the fold, and keep them once they are there, reports the New York Times. Researchers who have long promoted the cause of women in science view the incoming administration with a mix of optimism and we’ll-see-ism. On the one hand, they say, the new president’s apparent enthusiasm for science, and the rise of "geek chic" and "smart is the new cool" memes, can only redound to the benefit of all scientists, particularly if the enthusiasm is followed by additional research funds. On the other hand, they say, how about appointing a woman to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology? "People say, oh, we shouldn’t have quotas, but diversity is a form of excellence, and there are plenty of outstanding women out there," said Jo Handelsman, president of the Rosalind Franklin Franklin society and a microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin. "You don’t have to lower your standards in the slightest–you just have to pay attention."

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