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'Cleaning Up the Mess'

Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams' recent PNAS article on the real reasons behind the underrepresentation of women in science is generating some buzz. Mike the Mad Biologist says it's not just because of discrimination or institutional biases, but also because women scientists are "often loaded with jobs that best could be described as 'cleaning up the mess.'" From what he has observed, women are expected to take on committee work and other service commitments — "teamwork burdens" — in numbers disproportionate to men, Mike says. In research groups that involve large amounts of people, that's not so bad, he adds. But when it comes to academia, this approach can be "disastrous." When it comes to advancing in a university setting, "You have to toot your own horn — that is, differentiate yourself from the group. You also have to be 'selfish of your time.' If an activity is not going to lead to the next step (e.g., a faculty position or tenure), then you really have to think about how you're going to say no," Mike says. And in many ways, women put the group ahead of themselves.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.