Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Friday, 2 November 2007
What is excellence? How does one assess excellence? What criteria should be used? And who should do the assessing? The measurement of excellence is frequently discussed in relation to academia and academics, whether it be in appointing a professor, awarding a grant, or evaluating the productivity of an academic. But can one really measure ‘excellence’? At the WISER Festival, this very topic was debated. Prof. Ana Proykova, a professor of physics at the
Monday, 22 October 2007
The professional advancement of women (and minorities) in an organization often reaches a certain level, after which there appears to be a barrier that limits women from being promoted to higher positions. It is not through lack of experience or education that this occurs, but rather some other impediment that holds women back, a situation that is often referred to as the ‘glass ceiling’. Many people believe that women restrict themselves from taking on high level positions; however, there is also the perception that women who do hold such positions often do so to the detriment of the company. Dr. Michelle Ryan, a psychologist at the
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Although the above-mentioned speech ultimately led to Summers resignation, these sentiments are often shared by many people when attempting to explain the lack of women in high level positions. But rather than focusing on the reasons for the disparity, the first debate of the WISER Festival considered four possible alternatives for promoting women and subsequently increasing the percentage of women in academia. Prof. Janneke Gerards, a professor in constitutional and administrative law at Leiden University, proposed that 40% of scientific board and committee members should be women. She argued that more female representation will not only give alternative perspectives but also result in less gender bias when making decisions. Prof. Mineke Bosch, an associate professor in gender studies at the University of Maastricht, suggested that women should be made more visible by promoting them through collaborations, conferences and communication. Prof. Renate Loll, a professor of theoretical physics at Utrecht University, argued that we should raise our expectations of what women can achieve - 'believe in yourself, and all things are possible.' Prof. Yvonne Benschop, a professor of organisational behaviour at Radboud University Nijmegen, proposed that there should be a national mission for 'gender mainstreaming' by breaking down the 'ivory tower'. The festival participants were asked to vote on which proposition they preferred, with the initial count being in favour of Prof. Gerards. Many participants believed that if there was greater representation of women on boards and committees, then the other propositions would follow. This sparked further debating among the panel members and festival participants, where it was suggested that it is difficult to implement quotas. There was also strong support for 'crumbling the ivory tower' by making changes to the system. However, it was also argued that this requires one to already be in the system in order to be able to make such changes. Towards the end of the session, a second vote was cast, with the numbers then in favour of Prof. Bosch's proposal of creating visibility. This certainly requires less of a paradigm shift, but who is going to promote women? Overall, it was concluded that in one way or another, each of these propositions needs to be addressed in order to have greater representation of women in high level positions. The reasons for the lack of female academics may be multifaceted, but it is also apparent that there is no simple solution for changing the situation either.
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Thursday, 13 September 2007
Saturday, 1 September 2007
250g melted butter
3/4 cup sifted cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups caster (superfine) sugar
1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
1 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour into a greased 24-cm round cake time lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 50 minutes. Dust with cocoa and serve warm or cold with thick (double) cream. Serves 8-10.
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Friday, 24 August 2007
Why are there not more women in academic positions? Having discussed this very question with friends and colleagues, there doesn’t appear to be a simple answer. It seems that many women are put off by the competitive environment and the aggressiveness that is needed to be successful in academia. Others feel that there is a lack of acceptance of female scientists, making it even harder for them to gain the recognition they deserve. Another common deterrent is the limited child-care facilities and support for women who want to have children and work full-time. For many women, there just doesn’t seem to be enough incentive to follow an academic career.
Universities are acknowledging these issues and making more of an effort to support and encourage female scientists and engineers in their education and vocation. At Delft University of Technology, the Delft Women in Science (DEWIS) network was established to provide mentoring and coaching as well as professional and personal development lectures and workshops to female students and staff members. With funding agencies such as NWO offering subsidies for female scientists and engineers, there is clearly an effort to provide more opportunities and better working conditions for female academics. It will be interesting to see if more women take advantage of such opportunities in the coming years.
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
For the chocolate meringue base:
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
For the topping:
500ml double cream
2-3 tablespoons coarsely grated dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 23cm in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150 degrees Celsius and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it's ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you touch the centre you should feel slightly soft. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue cool completely.
When you are ready to serve, place on to a large, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate into curls and sprinkle over the top.
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
Sunday, 29 July 2007
Friday, 27 July 2007
300g chocolate (mint, blackcurrant or whatever you desire)
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
garnish (mint leaves, fresh blackcurrants, etc)
Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl along with the butter. Heat in the microwave on medium until melted (approximately 3 minutes). Set aside and allow to cool. Separate the eggs and put the yolks and sugar into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until it resembles stiff snow (but not dry) and set aside. Beat the yolks and sugar together then pour into the chocolate. Fold through until thoroughly combined. Add a quarter of the egg whites and beat vigorously until incorporated. Then gently added the remaining egg whites in small amounts and fold them into the chocolate mixture. Pour into a glass bowl (or 6 individual dishes), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Garnish before serving. Serves 6 - and is extremely rich!
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Sunday, 8 July 2007
Coffee and Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding
For the pudding batter, you need:
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
35g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (150g) plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
1 tablespoon instant coffee, sifted
1/4 cup (27.5g) almond meal (ground almonds)
1/4 cup (27.5g) brown sugar
For the sauce, you need:
1/2 cup (55g) brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup (250ml) water
For serving, you need:
thick (double) cream or ice cream
Preheat the over to 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Fahrenheit). For the pudding batter, place the milk, butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the flour, baking powder, coffee, almond meal and sugar in another bowl and mix. Gradually add the milk mixture and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
For the sauce, place the sugar, cocoa powder and water in a 15cm 4 cup (1 litre) capacity non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Pour the pudding batter to the frying pan containing the sauce. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm to touch.
Serve with cream or ice cream. Serves 4 people.