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Giant Killer Robotz™ and the Case of Kylie

The boys down the street had Giant Killer Robotz™. They went to the same school as Kylie, and got off at the same bus stop. Her mother always told her to try and get along with them, because Kylie had no one else to talk to when she was shooed out of the house to go 'play outside.' They were okay, but they were boys, and sometimes boys didn't quite get it.

Like the sometimes when they didn't let her play with them. They always had their reasons, she didn't have the right toy, she was wearing the wrong color, they only needed three people... but she knew the real reason they didn't let her play.

The day they all had Giant Killer Robotz™ was one of those days.

"How can you play with us if you don't have a robot?" Michael asked in that philosophical way he had, and pushed the glasses up his nose because the sweat was making them slide off.

"No one told me that it we needed robots today." Kylie looked at the three boys with their three robots. The robots were only two feet tall, and didn't look very giant to her. Maybe the standards for Giant Killer Robotz™ were different, and no one had told her that, either.

David looked at Billy.

Billy chewed on his lower lip and squinted up at her. "No one has to tell you about robots," he told her.

"Oh," Kylie said, realizing that he was right. Everyone should know about robots.

She didn't get to play with the boys that day. It was her fault that she didn't know about the robots, after all.

"Mom, I need a Giant Killer Robot."

"You know I don't like that kind of play," her mother told her. Her mother normally said that kind of thing, whether Kylie wanted a Dress Me Up™ doll or a Deathzone Frontier Battlesaur™. There would be no changing her mind, no matter how much Kylie asked, pleaded, or asked her father. That much she had learned from painful trial and error.

Kylie decided that this simply wouldn't do.

So she stayed up late one night and made a plan, and stayed up late the next night to set that plan in motion.

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Hello, My Name is Agent, and I Seem to Have Misplaced My Agency

Language is one of the most nuanced tools we, as human beings, have at our disposal, but it can also be one of the clumsiest. In a world where context means everything and when one word with a clear definition but an ambiguous connotation can change how the reader interprets your statement, word choice is paramount and virtually an art form.

So the use of the word “agency” as it is perceived in the scientific community can be a little problematic at times. Common understanding of the word is “a person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved”1 or “working as a means to an end; instrumentality, intermediation.”2

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Dealing with Differences

When pioneering feminists fought for women’s rights, they knew that they had a long battle ahead of them. Today, when most of us would like to think that women are equal, we still can’t quite put our finger on just why women are still underrepresented in the hard sciences. Women actually make up the majority in the so-called soft science fields like anthropology, and they have a large representation in many other high-powered and male dominated fields, but they are lagging behind in others.

The question as to why women are so sorely outnumbered in various scientific fields has been raging for years now, and almost every expert to ever glance at the issue has some pet theory that is sure to raise someone’s hackles.

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