September 20, 2006

Women in Science

A few recent interesting items on this issue:

  • The Real Barriers for Women in Science by Doug Lederman covers a recent report by the Committee on Maximizing the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, the reportt being Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering. The gist of the report is that women face a lot of unintention (as well as intentional) biases in trying to forge a scientific career. From the report:
    The fact that women are capable of contributing to the nation’s scientific and engineering enterprise but are impeded in doing so because of gender and racial/ethnic bias and outmoded ‘rules’ governing academic success is deeply troubling and embarrassing,” the report concludes. “It is also a call to action."

  • Bias or Interest? by Scott Jaschik in today's IHE follows up in the same vein. Apparently, most profs in science are still clueless on the issue and place most of the blame for the lack of women on women's choices not the inflluence of biases (both intentional and unintentional).

  • And to round it all up, I point to a case study in the above theories -- the recent dust-up between Chad Orzel and Zuska on the ScienceBlogs site. The discussion revolved around the pipeline issue in physics -- why do so few women end of studying physics at the university level and where do they drop out of the pipeline. Orzel starts it here, Zuska continues here, here and here while Janet Stemwedel separates the combatants here. All the various posts have lots of stimulating discussion in the comments, including quite a bit by Zuska and Chad.

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