Fall books available on NetGalley

We’ve got quite a few gems in our NetGalley catalog this fall, all available for advance review now. Book reviewers, journalists, bloggers, librarians, professors, and booksellerswe welcome you to submit a request!

Not familiar with NetGalley? Learn more about how it works.

Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee by Lisa Jean Moore and Mary Kosut (September 27, 2013)

We think Booklist said it best: “In this fascinating blend of sociology, ecology, ethnographic research, and personal memoir, the authors range through all of the aspects of the human relationship with the honeybee.”

Ever thought of honeybees as sexy? You might after watching Mary Kosut discuss the sensual nature of beekeeping.


Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America by Theresa Morris (October 7, 2013)

In Cut It Out, Theresa Morris offers a riveting and comprehensive look at this little-known epidemic, as well as concrete solutions “that deserve the attention of policymakers” (Publishers Weekly starred review).

C-sections are just as safe as vaginal births, right? Not true, says Theresa Morris. Watch her discusses this and other misconceptions on our YouTube channel.


Hanukkah in America: A History by Dianne Ashton (October 14, 2013)

Hanukkah will fall on Thanksgiving this year for the first time ever—and the last time for another 70,000 years. Brush up on your knowledge of the holiday in time to celebrate the once-in-an-eternity event. Publishers Weekly, in another starred review, promises a “scholarly but accessible guide to the evolution of the Festival of Lights in America.”

Stay tuned for our interview with the author!

Browse all of our e-galleys available for review on NetGalley.

Does money motivate doctors to do more c-sections?

—Theresa Morris

On August 30th, NPR reported on a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper that suggested physicians perform c-sections in order to maximize their pay. The NBER authors state this assumption and then go on to use it to explain why physician-patients are less likely than non-physician-patients to have a c-section birth in non-HMO hospitals. They argue that the different likelihood of c-section is due to physician-patients’ having information necessary to avoid unnecessary c-sections (that are due to physicians’ maximizing their incomes).

In my book, Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America, I argue that making assumptions about individual motivations is very problematic if one has not talked to the individuals being analyzed. The question, “Do physicians perform c-sections to make more money?” is not explored. Further, to argue that financial incentives are at the root of the c-section epidemic in America, one would have to delve into how physicians are paid for deliveries. Health insurance companies typically pay a global fee for prenatal care and delivery. This fee is a few hundred dollars higher for c-sections, but how the fee is divided among obstetricians in a practice (and few obstetricians practice in solo practices) is complex. Many obstetricians are not paid simply for the births they attend. Rather the global fees are aggregated and then paid to physicians according to the number of call hours they complete. Thus, it is hard to see how physicians have much of a financial incentive to perform a c-section because the increase in pay is not direct and is likely split among obstetricians in the practice.

My research, based on fifty in-depth interviews with maternity clinicians, suggests that a viable competing explanation for the NBER finding is that physicians often have a low threshold for performing c-sections during the course of labor because of liability concerns. Physician-patients may have the information necessary to negotiate with physicians to allow them to continue to try to deliver vaginally and/or physicians may not be as concerned that physician-patients will sue them in the case of a bad outcome and, thus, give physician-patients more latitude during labor.

Also problematic is that that NPR report focused on the assumption of the NBER paper that physicians perform c-sections due to economic incentives, rather than the main empirical finding of the NBER paper. The main empirical finding of the NBER paper is that physician-patients have a different likelihood of c-section than non-physician-patients. The authors focus their conclusion on the finding that “physician-mothers are approximately ten percent less likely to have a C-section.” They conclude, “This paper demonstrates that 10 percent of C-sections represent overuse of healthcare, and that this overuse is not only costly but may have an adverse impact on patients.”

The title of the NPR story—“Money May be Motivating Doctors to Do More C-sections”—and its focus is something that sounds exciting and leads to blaming physicians for the high c-section rate. This is an easy claim to make because it seems to have some kind of intuitive appeal. However, it is has no basis in empirical data analyzed in the NBER paper.

Theresa Morris is Professor of Sociology at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She is the author of Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America (NYU Press, October 2013).


‘Women programmers’ and the gender bias in science

—Sue V. Rosser

After reading the recent opinion piece “How to Be a ‘Woman Programmer’” by Ellen Ullman in the New York Times Sunday Review, I had two primary thoughts and reactions. Particularly as I neared the end of the article, where the barriers faced by women in technology were discussed, I was reminded of the interviews I had conducted in Silicon Valley and the metro New York area that reinforced exactly what Ullman said about why women patented at vastly lower rates than men. The percentage of women granted patents ranks significantly lower than that of their male peers in all disciplines, countries and sectors; it also ranks very low relative to the percentage of women in a specific scientific or technical field.

Ullman’s description of the encounters with sexist, clueless, or resistant men bosses brought to mind my interview with Rick Foot*. Rick Foot currently serves as president and founder of a very successful IT innovation company. In the past he has headed several research and development operations. Friendly and generous with his time for the interview, he began by explaining the patenting process.

He told me that he didn’t think there was a gender gap in patenting in the industry but that it must result from the persistently low numbers of women in the industry. When I explained the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) study and the data showing that women patented at much lower rates than their participation in the IT workforce, he challenged the data with other questions about sector, publication rates, incentives, and age.

When he finally accepted that the data for the gender gap might be solid, he said, “I’m pretty sure that the women in R&D in my company patent at the same rate as their many male counterparts.” He did admit though, that he had never thought about gender or checked the data for his company which now he was intrigued to examine. Rick Foot was quite convinced that his view of the world—that there could not be a gender gap in patenting or if a gap did exist, it was proportional to the low number of women in IT—was absolutely true.

In contrast to the men I interviewed, all of the women knew what I meant right away when I raised the issue of the gender gap in patenting. They also understood how the gap served as a deterrent for women’s career advancement. Software engineer Joan Jetma* expressed the impact particularly well.

Joan works at a very large global IT company that prides itself on innovation and rewards its employees for patenting innovative discoveries. She had observed that very few women in the company where she worked obtained patents. When she did some research to determine whether her observations were correct, she discovered that about 10 percent of the women obtained patents at her company. When her own patent came up for review, she realized that all of the reviewers were men.

Because of the impact that obtaining patents have on women’s careers, some interviewees described the positive steps they had taken to enhance opportunities for women to patent in their company. One woman I interviewed, after observing the gender gap in her own company, started a support community for women. She sent an e-mail to about twenty women in the company and received immediate responses. In two years, the community has grown to 600 women who represent all sectors and all countries where the company is located.

This positive approach reflects the other major reaction I had to the article by Ullman. Despite all of the obstacles she had faced and the clear recognition that many other women might not wish to remain in technology, Ellen Ullman showed a clear passion for technology.  Her love of software engineering made her lash back, tough it out or change jobs to be able to pursue programming, no matter what.

During the last thirty years my studies of women in STEM have enabled me to interview more than 450 women scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. As shown in Breaking into the Lab, the overwhelming finding that emerges from these interviews is the love and passion most women have for their work. They love science and technology and will do whatever it takes to pursue their passion. Just imagine how much more productive and creative they could be if the barriers were removed.

Sue V. Rosser is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Women and Gender Studies and Sociology at San Francisco State University. She is the author of Breaking into the Lab:  Engineering Progress for Women in Science (NYU Press, 2012).

* Names have been changed.

Genetic testing, cancer risk, and Angelina Jolie’s choice

Angelina Jolie’s New York Times op-ed announcing for the first time that she underwent a double mastectomy to reduce BRCA-related breast cancer risk was welcome news in several respects. She is very specific, for instance, regarding the exact estimation of her risk, the kind of detail you do not often see in news reports and other public testimony about BRCA.  (BRCA-related risk is highly variable: 45-90% for breast cancer, 10-60% for ovarian cancer.)

Jolie also mentions the high price-tag associated with just the test itself, a point that has been raised for some time, and a topic that will be addressed this summer as the Supreme Court decides whether to accept Myriad Genetics’ (the company that owns the patents to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes) argument for patent protection. And finally, Jolie observes that BRCA mutations explain just a small percentage of breast and ovarian cancer cases. What she does not say, but is worth pointing out, is that more than half of all breast cancer cases remain unexplained. As the organization Breast Cancer Action has often noted, we need to fight for true “prevention” of breast cancer, which would include a radical shift in the way we regulate toxic chemicals.

Jolie understands herself to be acting not just as a mother but also as a role model for other women. This would make sense if BRCA testing were relatively new. However, it is anything but—BRCA tests have been around since the mid-nineties, and mastectomies much longer than that. In fact, women have been electing to receive prophylactic mastectomies due to familial risk well before the BRCA genes were described by researchers and a test for mutations was developed. Yet in 2013, the choices for high-risk women are the same: surveillance, surgery, or cancer drug therapy. Placed in this historical context, the question should not be “Why aren’t more women getting tested and acting on that knowledge?” but rather, “Why are the interventions the same almost twenty years after the genetic test became commercially available?”

Although new ways for reducing BRCA risk have failed to materialize (even if the plastic surgery methods associated with breast reconstruction have improved dramatically), what has occurred over the last twenty years has been a subtle yet indelible shift in what “risk” means. Indeed, BRCA mutations can hardly be said to infer “risk” at all, since the interventions women undergo are the same, or in the case of double mastectomy, even more extreme than what many women with breast cancer actually undergo.

“Risk,” then, really means “disease” in the post-BRCA age—marked as it is by an ethical obligation to act on cancer risk even if that action increases risk in other ways (as in the case of BRCA related ovary removal and subsequent fatal heart disease risk that early surgical menopause can entail). This, too, is an age of the successful feminist argument that there is nothing “natural” to femininity (thus enabling the claim that one is rejecting conventional notions of beauty and gender by undergoing mastectomy and oophorectomy), and the creation of an entirely new citizen-patient: the “previvor.”

With the development of better breast reconstruction techniques, the conceptual shift to “risk” being something you act on as if you actually had breast cancer, and the emergence of a new discourse of the empowered “previvor,” it is hard to imagine how any woman with a BRCA mutation will have a choice in any meaningful sense of the term. Can living with BRCA risk ever be thought of as an informed, empowered course of action? Will we see new ways of ameliorating BRCA risk that do not entail major and risky operations? Breast cancer is indeed an epidemic. Yet epidemics, as Paula Treichler wrote, too often close off critical, theoretical discussion that is often needed in order to properly evaluate and contextualize developments in medicine and in the broader culture. All the more important, then, that we continue to understand BRCA testing and mastectomy, and the choice to undergo one or both. After all, the choice is constrained as much by culture as it is by biology.

Kelly E. Happe is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia. She is the author of The Material Gene: Gender, Race, and Heredity after the Human Genome Project (NYU Press, 2013).

Digital journalism and the end of church and state

—Michael Serazio

For generations of journalists, the separation of “church and state” referred not just to First Amendment protections for secular Americans. It was also the metaphorical way of phrasing an enduring ideal: that the business side of a news outlet would not encroach on the autonomy of the editorial side.

For advertisers, however, this was always an uneasy bargain. Audiences, they’ve long known, fundamentally mistrust advertising. For this reason, as I show in my new book, Your Ad Here, advertising often gets created to blend in, “guerrilla-style,” with contexts that don’t look like advertising.

In the case of newspapers, this explained those full-page “articles” written by a brand or marketer that affected the appearance of editorial content without the pretense of objectivity about the subject. Given the choice, the marketer surely wouldn’t have opted for “Advertisement” to run in small letters atop the piece, as it usually did – the newspaper’s equivalent of handling such content with Hazmat gloves.

Alas, newspapers have been in steady decline for the better part of a decade, as audiences consume more and more content through online sources. And, as the New York Times reported this week, a new set of norms for handling that sponsored material may well be taking shape.

It turns out that press venues both new and old – including The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed – have increasingly been accommodating brand-backed articles or, as I call it, “advertainment.” Because advertisers are discovering online – as they long knew of their print-based output – that banner ads are often annoying, irrelevant, and ineffective, alternatives must be considered.

“It is, in fact, content,” defended one representative at Forbes Media, which has experimented with these partnerships. “It’s not advertising.” One of the hallmarks of guerrilla marketing is precisely that self-effacement of the sales component in favor of something more desirable: here, journalistic reportage.

But for either the advertiser or the press representative to pretend that being “indistinguishable” is not their goal here – well, I’ve got a nice bridge connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan that they might be interested in buying.  Perhaps their reporters could do a “sponsored story” helping me make the sale.

Michael Serazio is Assistant Professor of Communication at Fairfield University and the author of Your Ad Here: The Cool Sell of Guerrilla Marketing (NYU Press, 2013). You can follow him on Twitter @michaelserazio.

Why gender bias in science matters

—Sue V. Rosser

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published an article last September that caused quite a stir around the country. In it, a group of researchers at Yale reported groundbreaking findings from a recent study on gender bias in science. The September 24, 2012 New York Times article, “Bias Persists for Women of Science, a Study Finds”, emphasized the major points of similar media reports of the Yale study:  chemistry, biology and physics professors at six U.S. research universities rated a male applicant for a laboratory manager position as significantly more competent and hirable than the identical female applicant. The bias was pervasive, resulting from cultural influences rather than overt discrimination; and women professors were just as biased against the women students as were the men professors, although age, field or tenure status did not appear to affect the results.

To date, at least thirty-five colleagues have e-mailed me a copy of the article, knowing my work and interest in attracting and retaining women in science and engineering. Many asked whether I was surprised that such bias still existed after all of these years of attention to the general issue of women in science, as well as the particular training of scientists to be rational in analysis of data.

I had to tell them that regrettably, I was not surprised at all. In Breaking into the Lab:  Engineering Progress for Women in Science, I revealed my experiences as both a woman scientist and dean at a doctoral research extensive institution who has worked in women’s studies for thirty years. My experiences are complemented with data from interviews of current scientists in response to the questions about why there are so few women scientists, especially at elite research institutions, what happens to successful women as they become senior and consider going into administration, and whether women are excluded from leading edge work in commercialization of science and technology transfer.

The data from the responses and interviews of current women scientists, some junior and some about ten to twenty years younger than I, document that although the pipeline of women in most STEM fields has increased substantially, many of the same issues for women in science and engineering persist today.

Overt sexual harassment from a supervisor has become less frequent, yet the structures of institutions and science make junior women question whether they can balance career and family. Time management, isolation, lack of camaraderie, poor mentoring, gaining credibility and respectability from colleagues and superiors, as well as issues for dual-career couples in science remain as problems. Sexual harassment and gender discrimination still occur all too frequently.

Why does the loss of women from every level of the science pipeline from student to head of the laboratory to president of the university matter? The importance of the leadership of women in science has been illustrated in other areas such as health; not until a substantial number of women had entered the professions of biology and medicine were biases from androcentrism exposed. Once the possibility of androcentric bias was discovered, the potential for distortion on a variety of levels of research and theory was recognized: the choice and definition of problems to be studied, the exclusion of females as experimental subjects, bias in the methodology used to collect and interpret data, and bias in theories and conclusions drawn from the data.

This realization uncovered gender bias, which had distorted some medical research.  Excessive focus on male research subjects and definition of cardiovascular diseases as “male” led to under-diagnosis and under-treatment of the disease in women. These studies led Bernadine Healy, a cardiologist and first woman director of the National Institutes of Health, to characterize the diagnosis of coronary heart disease in women as the Yentl syndrome: “Once a woman showed that she was just like a man, by having coronary artery disease or a myocardial infarction, then she was treated as a man should be” (Healy, 1991, p. 274).  The male-as-norm approach in research and diagnosis, unsurprisingly, was translated into bias in treatments for women.  Women exhibited higher death rates from angioplasty and coronary bypass surgery because the techniques had been pioneered using male subjects.

Particularly with the increased emphasis upon translation of basic research into applications, the presence of diversity in the STEM workforce becomes more critical. More than in basic research, applications for technology and inventions depend upon the experiences and ideas of the designers. Excessive dominance of one group, such as the overwhelming percentage of males in engineering and the creative decision-making sectors of the technology workforce, may result in bias in the technologies produced, such as the air bag fiasco suffered by the U.S. auto industry. More women, as well as more diversity in general, in the composition of the STEM workforce not only helps to guard against such bias but may increase the numbers of new ideas that will help people in their daily lives and improve society.

Sue V. Rosser is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Women and Gender Studies and Sociology at San Francisco State University. She is the author of Breaking into the Lab:  Engineering Progress for Women in Science (NYU Press, 2012).

Introduction to Spreadable Media

At long last, Spreadable Media by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green has published!

This week marked the book’s debut, along with the final roll out of web exclusive essays, all available in the enhanced online component to the book. Written by a range of contributors, from media scholars to game designers, the essays expand upon the core ideas outlined in Spreadable Media. Read them here.

To wrap up the week, we’re also featuring the full introduction to Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture for free (in the name of spreadability). Read it below. And remember to spread!

Introduction to Spreadable Media

New Spreadable Media essays: Week 3

We’re at week three since launching the online component of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture!

Here are this week’s round of web exclusive essays written by selected contributors who have shaped the argument put forth in Spreadable Media:

  • The Value of Retrogames“—Bob Rehak, a film and media studies professor at Swarthmore College, examines how grassroots interest in residual media and culture may coalesce online, sparking new kinds of cultural practices and production.
  • Clothing has passed between different kinds of exchanges for centuries, acquiring different meanings and values in the process—and, in “A Global History of Secondhand Clothing,” filmmaker and MIT media historian Hanna Rose Shell traces and examines those shifting sartorial roles.
  • In “Retrobrands and Retromarketing,” York University professor Robert V. Kozinets discusses the strategies through which companies engage in “retrobranding,” reviving or relaunching brands from the past in ways that capitalize on existing fandoms and provide launching points for the creation of new markets.

Check ‘em out, and stay tuned at http://spreadablemedia.org/essays—where each week leading up to the book’s publication (in January 2013!), a new batch of exclusive essays will be released.

(And hey! Feel free to debate/critique/trash each piece in the comments section. Expand the conversation, transform the ideas. That’s how spreadable media works.)