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Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-20-2006, 11:22 AM   #1
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Why aren't there more women science professors?

Maybe I was in a receptive frame of mind, but Philip Greenspun's latest made me think of Shiny's commments about women's objectification.

Q: Why aren't there more women science professors?
A: Heh, dude, women are waaaaaay smarter than men.

http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/women-in-science

Even though he's been an ER for a while and could presumably fly his airplane to anywhere in the world, Greenspun still chooses to hang out with a lot of MIT people. Considering all the women professors I've known, he makes a lot of sense.

If your patience is sorely tried by Greenspun's thesis, at least try to keep reading until you get to his entertaining description of Albert Q. Mathnerd, the alpha geek beating his chest in showing his impressive academic supremacy. Not, of course, that I ever made fun of any of my friends fellow students demonstrating that behavior.

He also vents his spleen in his "Career Guide for Engineers & Scientists".

By the way, Philip is hiring:
http://philip.greenspun.com/jobs/personal-assistant
http://philip.greenspun.com/jobs/avi...mer-internship
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-20-2006, 05:17 PM   #2
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

Nords, you forgot to supply the complimentary ten-foot pole that is suppose to go along with this post.

Note Greenspun's freedom of speech has increased exponentially since he became independently wealthy.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-20-2006, 07:41 PM   #3
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

From my perspective as a career scientist, I wanted to write that I enjoyed reading the WomenInScience link though there ain't much about women in science in the link.*

I have to write that there are plenty of highly paid scientists ... because after all scientists do breed like flies, so there have to be some out there on the high end of the income Gaussian.* OTOH, I have never figured out where all those other PhDs at the wrong end of the curve end up working.

Modern scientific education is a pyramid scheme, where a principal investigator (aka professor) runs a small business by renting lab space from a university;* hires grad students, post-docs and technicians at the pyramid base; and publishes research papers and applies for patents (the product).* But since every professor turns out many progeny in the form of newly minted PhDs ... the world should be overrun with these folks.* They cannot all be professors though, so where do they go?* Greenspun suggests some of them are entry-level public school teachers.

So if Greenspun is saying that most scientists cannot be professors, that's absolutely true.* Most lawyers are not Federal judges.* Most MBAs are not CEOs.* Most folks who played sports in college, do not play in professional leagues.* Most musicians are not making big bucks either.* You can pick just about any career path and find lots of less successful folks (even MDs).

But I am out of academia nowadays and working in "industry".* I have hired many PhDs that work with me and we are doing great.* So at least I know what a dozen PhDs are doing and some of them are women.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-20-2006, 07:53 PM   #4
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

Speaking as a woman who was in honors programs at the U who majored in math and physics, and recently turned 65, women with science skills were not encouraged until relatively recently.* Stop for a moment and consider when women were admitted to MIT and represented a significant portion of the student body.

Science programs often do not accomodate both the intellectual and family roles of women.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-20-2006, 08:34 PM   #5
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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Science programs often do not accomodate both the intellectual and family roles of women.
The same can be said for any career path. Anything less than absolute, obsessive commitment to your "career" is an immediate cause for someone to be moved off the fast track. No one stays on the fast track if they indulge themselves in the "traditional family roles of women."

I have also noticed in my career that women are far less likely to take the transfers across country for those "career building" assignments. That also hurts.

I've seen many men destroy themselves going for the brass ring that only a very few can grab. Maybe women as a group are smarter for not allowing "work" to interfere with "life."
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-21-2006, 06:04 AM   #6
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

Why aren't there more women science professors?

I imagine the story differs for different people. I began my career in the late 70's. My first job was as an assistant professor at a major state university. I was the first woman hired to the faculty of that particular department. Observation of the older faculty (with some exceptions) emphasized to me what I did not want to grow up to be. Of course I appreciated the daily intimidation help offered by these losers accomplished men.

I went on to lead a more lucrative life satisfying life elsewhere. Or, in short, mine was just a case of the old adage "if you can't take the heat; get out of the kitchen".
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-21-2006, 12:19 PM   #7
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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Originally Posted by Tadpole
Observation of the older faculty (with some exceptions) emphasized to me what I did not want to grow up to be. Of course I appreciated the daily intimidation help offered by these losers accomplished men.
I went on to lead a more lucrative life satisfying life elsewhere.
Now, see, a typical guy would've dug in his heels, stuck out his lower lip, and said "Hey, I'll show these guys that I can be an even bigger & more intimidating loser than they ever dreamed of being!!"
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-21-2006, 12:54 PM   #8
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

It seems that there are fewer women in math or physics, probably fewer in chemistry, but there are many women in molecular biology, immunology, etc.

Probably just different interests.

But as Larry Summers found out at Harvard, the only "correct" answer is prejudice.

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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-21-2006, 01:07 PM   #9
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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Originally Posted by HaHa
It seems that there are fewer women in math or physics, probably fewer in chemistry, but there are many women in molecular biology, immunology, etc.

Probably just different interests.

But as Larry Summers found out at Harvard, the only "correct" answer is prejudice.
What I have seen in the last decade is a large increase in women chemical engineers. It was also my observation that they largely deselected themselves from operating positions in favor of corporate staff as soon as possible. Many operating companties like to take first level technical/operating supervisory personnel for the better staff development jobs which may lead to bigger and better things.

I pointed that out to a fairly large sample of young women engineers who were unimpressed with the need to get midnight calls to come into work and prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals and processes.

As I have effectively left any management responsibility behind, I can't say they were wrong. My life is amazingly less stressed in a staff, support role.

I am concerned that companies have a rigid mindset that discourages family but that is administered equally between lowered levels of committment demonstrated by either men or women. Unfortunately for the women, they are the ones that get pregnant and take off from work more frequently to raise the children.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-21-2006, 03:37 PM   #10
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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I am concerned that companies have a rigid mindset that discourages family but that is administered equally between lowered levels of committment demonstrated by either men or women.* Unfortunately for the women, they are the ones that get pregnant and take off from work more frequently to raise the children.
At the magacorp where I've toiled for almost three decades, more progressive work conditions (on site child care, flex hours, no O/T, etc.) designed to attract and retain female technical professionals helped the men as well.* For example, we are about 70% male and about three quarters of the employees using the on site child care and flex hour provisions are male.* When the clock strikes 4:30 PM and a meeting is running late, it's now just as acceptable for men to stand up and leave to pick up the kiddies from child care as it is for the women!* It's a good thing!!* *

I agree with you that women still suffer career setback if they're off for childbirth at inopportune times.* There seems to be some moderation in this though.* And, in fact, at our place maternity leaves for men have become not only authorized but politically correct............or at least less politically incorrect.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-21-2006, 03:59 PM   #11
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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At the magacorp where I've toiled for almost three decades, more progressive work conditions (on site child care, flex hours, no O/T, etc.) designed to attract and retain female technical professionals helped the men as well.* For example, we are about 70% male and about three quarters of the employees using the on site child care and flex hour provisions are male.* When the clock strikes 4:30 PM and a meeting is running late, it's now just as acceptable for men to stand up and leave to pick up the kiddies from child care as it is for the women!* It's a good thing!!* *

I agree with you that women still suffer career setback if they're off for childbirth at inopportune times.* There seems to be some moderation in this though.* And, in fact, at our place maternity leaves for men have become not only authorized but politically correct............or at least less politically incorrect.
How many of the men that take "full" advantage of these benefits are on the fast tract to senior manager or VP level positions?

I think it is great a company will do these things. It may help turn around our falling middle class birthrate. Unfortunately, I suspect it's a way to trap the plow horses to staying in harness.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-21-2006, 07:37 PM   #12
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

Quote:
young men strive to achieve high status among their peer group
men tend to lack perspective and are unable to step back and ask the question "is this peer group worth impressing?"
Yeah, I think he nailed it.* But *young* men?* I haven't seen anything to indicate that men ever stop playing King of the Hill.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-21-2006, 07:54 PM   #13
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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Originally Posted by Brat
Speaking as a woman who was in honors programs at the U who majored in math and physics, and recently turned 65, women with science skills were not encouraged until relatively recently.* Stop for a moment and consider when women were admitted to MIT and represented a significant portion of the student body.
I can attest to the fact that in the early 70's women were wildly recruited in the private sector. Academia went out of their way to graduate people with the right chromosomes. There was one absolutely, drop-dead beautiful women in my graduating class. Only the risk of being reported to the moderators keeps me from describing her assets. Unfortunately, whenever you talked to her you could also hear an echo. Normally, that wouldn't have bothered me but I couldn't pursue her for my normal objective if I might get stuck with her as a lab partner or a project team member. As near as I could tell, she flunked every class and several male members who lacked my foresight switched majors due to poor grades. No professor would give her less than a C and she graduated with a 2.01 GPA. She got unbelieveable salary offers from numerous major corporations.

I would say that there are now an abundance of women in engineering. I am sure that none of them get a significant break from any of the professors. The companies I have been with in a managerial position are always looking for "high potential" women but there isn't the obsession that seemed to occur in the 70's.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-21-2006, 10:17 PM   #14
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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Yeah, I think he nailed it.* But *young* men?* I haven't seen anything to indicate that men ever stop playing King of the Hill.
Hey man, I'm all mellow now.*

Ha
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-22-2006, 12:02 AM   #15
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

It is an interesting artlcle. What I was thinking though is this: Does a science professor have to work longer and harder to get tenure, etc. than a law professor or literature professor? I was just thinking that if someone ends up in acedemia that the pressures would be similar no matter what the field.

But, as to actually going into science itself it is hard to know exactly what makes more boys go into it that girls.

It seems like one must really have to have a passion for it though - to enjoy the thrill of the discovery - in order to keep working those hours, etc. throughout ones career.

DH works in tech and they try hard to hire, promote and retain women, but they are still a very small minority of technical/managers.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-22-2006, 12:38 AM   #16
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

I have known a few science grrls in my day.* * I even worked for a female researcher for a while (who used to tell me stories about how she sat on Einstein's lap as a kid).

And I have a 3-year-old girl.

So, here's my wacky view on this subject.* * There is absolutely no question in my mind that girls and boys differentiate *very* early in terms of subtle neural development.* *Boys are innately more aggressive and experimental.* *It's not a cultural thing at all.

That doesn't mean it's destiny, though.* *Girls can be brought up in a culture that values knowledge, discovery, competition, goal attainment, etc.

I figure there are subtle biological biases that we're all born with, and some of them are sex-linked.* *Many of the biases can be overridden, but without a lot of nurturing, we're going to see a lot of unbalanced distributions of the sexes in different professions.

I've been retired long enough that I don't even know if that is still an un-pc viewpoint.* *I'm sure somebody will tell me if it is.*
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-22-2006, 04:03 AM   #17
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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I have known a few science grrls in my day.* * I even worked for a female researcher for a while (who used to tell me stories about how she sat on Einstein's lap as a kid).

And I have a 3-year-old girl.

So, here's my wacky view on this subject.* * There is absolutely no question in my mind that girls and boys differentiate *very* early in terms of subtle neural development.* *Boys are innately more aggressive and experimental.* *It's not a cultural thing at all.

That doesn't mean it's destiny, though.* *Girls can be brought up in a culture that values knowledge, discovery, competition, goal attainment, etc.

I figure there are subtle biological biases that we're all born with, and some of them are sex-linked.* *Many of the biases can be overridden, but without a lot of nurturing, we're going to see a lot of unbalanced distributions of the sexes in different professions.

I've been retired long enough that I don't even know if that is still an un-pc viewpoint.* *I'm sure somebody will tell me if it is.*
It is not un-pc; it is stereotyping based on a single datum. My sister was your "girl"; I was your "boy" even at an early age. Last time I looked I was a girl. I don't know about pre-destination but research shows that the neural connections that probably determine problem solving are still in formation during the early years of life. Perhaps our own treatment of girls vs. boys has an effect. My mother told me that when I was in junior high, the school called her in for a conversation. During this conversation they told her that I was too smart for a girl and would have a bad life if they didn't do something to change that. (Very dumb conversation but that was the late 50s in the south.) As far as aggression, have you encountered many of the young women raised in the past 20 years?

The major difference in the younger women of science that I see entering the workplace today is that they seem more emotionally self-assured than I have ever been. I envy them that and imagine they didn't spend a lifetime apoligizing for being a freak. Women scientists and engineers are beginning to outnumber men in many fields formerly thought too difficult for them to compete in.
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-22-2006, 07:37 AM   #18
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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How many of the men that take "full" advantage of these benefits are on the fast tract to senior manager or VP level positions?*

I think it is great a company will do these things.* It may help turn around our falling middle class birthrate.* Unfortunately, I suspect it's a way to trap the plow horses to staying in harness.
I don't know any men (or women) who take "full" advantage of the benefits who are being fast tracked to senior leadership roles.* If you truly took full advantage of all the "quality or life" options, you'd hardly ever be at work.* But I do see many technical careers stay more or less on track through the family raising years, for both men and women, thanks to the benefits provided.

While these programs do "trap the plow horses to staying in harness,"* that's just another way of stating that the programs empower people to live more flexible lives* and still have significant careers.

*

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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-22-2006, 09:49 AM   #19
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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It is not un-pc; it is stereotyping based on a single datum.
Thanks for that perspective.* *I obviously can't argue with your own experience.* *But I will anyway.*

First, we are all poor observers of our own development.* * In fact, most of us remember none of our experiences before the age of 3 or 4 (infantile amnesia).

My girl is a single datum, but her playgroup and preschool provide a few more data.* *Still a very small sample size, but I have been watching several of these kids since birth (Lamaze classmates).* * It's well established that boys and girls develop different abilities at different ages.* *This was reinforced by what I saw.* *Boys were agressive, climbing, and exploring from an early age.* * Girls developed language skills earlier.

Does these mean that they're predestined based on differing abilities?** Or even that *all* kids develop skills strictly based on sex?* *Of course not.* *But I think it should be obvious to anybody that the X and Y chromosomes influence much more than genital development, so why should it surprise us that we have different predispositions based on our sex?

And I never said that boys were smarter than girls.* *I'm not really sure what "smart" even means, but as I said, girls seem to develop language skills earlier.* *And later in life, they seem to have a more detail-oriented focus than boys (based on research).* * Those kind of "smarts" don't necessarily lend themselves to science, but it's obvious that all humans of both sexes have the ability to do good science and teach science if those abilities are *nurtured.*
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?
Old 05-22-2006, 12:05 PM   #20
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Re: Why aren't there more women science professors?

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My mother told me that when I was in junior high, the school called her in for a conversation. During this conversation they told her that I was too smart for a girl and would have a bad life if they didn't do something to change that. (Very dumb conversation but that was the late 50s in the south.)
Ouch!
At my first parent-teacher conference when my daughter was in first grade, I saw written right into her "permanent record" that she did not share the interests of the other girls (laregly playing house) and could normally be found playing with the boys. Her teacher was concerned. And this was suburban Boston in the early 80s. At about the same time, I had my first parent-teacher conference with my son's preschool teacher. She said that he was so gentle, diplomatic, and adorable, everyone loved him--even the girls. I treated both of my kids as much the same as their personalities would permit. Neither of my kids were boisterous or very physically active--they both preferred quiet indoor play/building/reading/puzzles/conversation or relatively gentle outdoor play (sand box/nature walk/games). Neither of them would voluntarily have anything to do with loud, aggressive, highly physical (shoving, verbally abusive) children--or total wallflowers either. I guess I raised them in my own image--we know they have my genes
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