As an undergraduate in physics many years ago, I asked my adviser about whether to pursue a career in GIScience. His response — “women are not as good spatial thinkers as men.” But research demonstrates otherwise — it’s nurture, not nature. This research, published in the highly distinguished Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that the “gender gap in spatial abilities, measured by time to solve a puzzle, disappears when we move from a patrilineal society to an adjoining matrilineal society.” It’s about education, not gender.
Moshe Hoffman, Uri Gneezy, and John A. List
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — Volume 108, Number 36 (2011) 14786–14788
Women remain significantly underrepresented in the science, engineering, and technology workforce. Some have argued that spatial ability differences, which represent the most persistent gender differences in the cognitive literature, are partly responsible for this gap. The underlying forces at work shaping the observed spatial ability differences revolve naturally around the relative roles of nature and nurture. Although these forces remain among the most hotly debated in all of the sciences, the evidence for nurture is tenuous, because it is difficult to compare gender differences among biologically similar groups with distinct nurture. In this study, we use a large-scale incentivized experiment with nearly 1,300 participants to show that the gender gap in spatial abilities, measured by time to solve a puzzle, disappears when we move from a patrilineal society to an adjoining matrilineal society. We also show that about one-third of the effect can be explained by differences in education. Given that none of our participants have experience with puzzle solving and that villagers from both societies have the same means of subsistence and shared genetic background, we argue that these results show the role of nurture in the gender gap in cognitive abilities. Download PDF Here
The special issue of Environment and Planning A on neogeography that Mark Graham edited with Matthew Wilson is now out an available to download. It will undoubtedly be a useful collection for anyone interested in thinking about the coming-togethers of information, the internet, and place.
For table of contents and links visit Zero Geography: Situating Neogeography: Special Issue of Environment and Planning A.
- New Special Issue of E&PA: Situating Neogeography (floatingsheep.org)
- The Urban Geographies of Tweets in Africa (floatingsheep.org)
The Economist, Jun 23rd 2012
… Better technology has turned cities into fountains of data that confirm known regularities and reveal striking new patterns. This could transform how cities are regarded, built and managed. Attempts to contain urban sprawl, long the prevailing paradigm of urban planning, for instance, could fall out of favour. … This has triggered new research. For instance Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt, both of the Santa Fe Institute, found that cities scale much like organisms. Just as an elephant is, roughly speaking, a larger but more energy-efficient version of a gorilla, big cities are thrifty versions of small ones. For a metropolis twice the size of another, the length of electric cables, number of gas stations and other bits of infrastructure decrease by about 15% per inhabitant. But beasts do not enjoy the cities’ rising returns to scale. Income, patents, savings and other signs of wealth rise by around 15% when a city’s size doubles. In short, urbanites consume less but produce more. …
- Urban research: The laws of the city (economist.com)
by The Economic Times, April 8, 2012“Delhi government’s 30 departments and agencies will have to mandatorily use geo-spatial data of overground and underground assets before planning any infrastructure projects, when an ambitious legislation comes into force in the city in May. The IT Department has already completed a three-year project under which images of all overground and underground utilities like telephone lines, power cables, water and sewer lines and roads have been made available on a single portal to facilitate better urban planning and governance. The Delhi Assembly in March passed the Geo-spatial Data Infrastructure (Management, Control, Administration, Security and Safety) Bill which was brought to make sure that each of the 30 selected agencies like the PWD, DDA and MCD use the portal to ensure better planning for projects and proper co-ordination among the agencies for their implementation.” For full text of the article, visit Mandatory Use of Geo-spatial Data for Delhi Govt Departments – EconomicTimes.
E-planning through the Wisconsin Land Information Program: the contexts of power, politics and scale by Patty Day and Rina Ghose, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in International Journal of E-Planning Research (IJEPR) Volume 1, Issue 1 (2012)
Through the lenses of Critical GIS and political economy, this paper examines the history of the Wisconsin Land Information Program WLIP, which was created in 1989 and provides an early US example of the adoption of GIS at the local government level. Using a mixed methods approach and a case study design, the authors focus on the cooperation and conflicts among various actors and networks, at and between scales, during times of plentiful and lean resources. Catalyzed by the 1978 Larsen Report, the WLIP was unique in its inclusiveness of everyone involved in land records management. University academics brought together all the stakeholders to create a thematic and territorial network with political power and a unique funding mechanism. As land use planning and state budget deficits became prominent, the program became a target, leading to conflict and power struggles, particularly with the state Department of Administration DOA. What began as an egalitarian, grass-roots, socially just, forward-thinking program has shape-shifted, and while the WLIP is still a viable and functioning program, its egalitarian goals have been subverted by economics.
GIS Program Revenue Generation and Legal Issues in Public Sector Organizations
by Peter Croswell and Alex Wernher, URISA, 2004
Abstract: In late 2003, The authors, in coordination with the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), conducted a survey to learn about the status of financial, legal, and policy issues impacting public sector geographic information system (GIS) programs in the United States. More specifically, the survey’s purpose was to gather information about revenue generation through the sale of GIS products and services by organizations administering public agency GIS programs. This publication describes the approach and results of this survey, which included responses from a number of federal, state, regional, and local public agencies. In addition, this publication provides an overview of important concepts and issues that impact the distribution and sale of products and services from public agency GIS programs.
It will discuss the types of GIS products and services being provided by public agencies to external organizations and the nature and legal basis of agreements for cost sharing and funding of GIS programs. A review of important legal concerns will cover such areas as: a) impacts of state open records laws, b) privacy regulations, c) copyright restrictions on GIS databases, d) liability issues and other policy and legal issues. It will summarize the results of a national survey conducted in the Fall of 2003 which gathered information from public agencies on: The status of revenue generation programs; GIS products, services and fee schedules; Non-traditional funding sources; Interagency agreements and consortia; and Legal issues impacting GIS data and product distribution.
For full text of this report and survey, click here.
Mapping and Spatial Data: Infrastructures and Imagination
by John Moeller, Communia Blog,, Woodrow Wilson Center Science and Technology Program, September 6, 2011
“Cartographers, imagery analysts, geographic information system GIS specialists and others who work with maps and geospatial information operate on the premise that location or place is the most effective organizing principal for bringing together information and making it understandable for use. Others outside of the geospatial community are also increasingly recognizing that “where” is the most common integrating element of almost all data and information. In May 2011 the U.S. Congressional Research Service released a Report that highlighted the challenges to coordinating how geospatial data are acquired and used at the local, state, and federal levels, in collaboration with the private sector. The Report concluded that the issues of coordination are not yet resolved and that it will likely take some time, and several budget cycles, to evaluate whether the current model of geospatial data management is the best available model for managing the federal geospatial assets. …”
For full text of the article, visit Communia Mapping and Spatial Data.
Dr. Lea Shanley is the founder and former co-Chair of the Federal Community of Practice on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, a vibrant community of 200 federal employees from more than 35 agencies. She is also a co-founding member of the Citizen Science Association. Dr. Shanley recently served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at NASA, where she helped to foster a culture of open innovation. Prior to this, she founded and directed the Commons Lab at the Wilson Center, served in the US Senate as a Congressional Science Fellow, and worked with local and tribal communities to develop GIS-based decision support systems for city planning, natural resource management, coastal management, and disaster response through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog of links to relevant news, events, and reports, provided for educational purposes only. The opinions and views contained therein are those only of the authors of the original articles. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the editor of this blog or or associated organizations.
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