Regular post is coming tomorrow (it’s peach shortcake), but a quick note before I head off to teach. I just read and really, really enjoyed this article, and only partially because I know a few of the people interviewed in it (and it is a spot-on portrayal of those two professors). It’s a long but worthwhile read. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/magazine/why-are-there-still-so-few-women-in-science.html?_r=0.
My advisor actually asked me a similar question a few weeks ago: why are there so few women in our graduate program? We’ve got about 2-3 a year for 5-6 years, with each cohort having somewhere around 20 students. So we’re at, what, 10-15%? When I was at UCSB, we were around 20%. At certain schools they have 50% (by which I mean North Carolina State University, last time I checked which was a few years ago). What should we aim for? I mean, is % of graduate students even a good metric (probably not because lots of people drop out)?
My first approach to his question was to ask the women in our program why they came- everyone said something about how people were friendly, and when I pushed further, every woman had talked to an older woman in the program. Really I need to ask the people who were accepted and didn’t come why they didn’t, but that’s not possible. I should also ask the men why they came and compare. I’m not a sociologist, I’ve said before, but I am a feminist and I am interested in this stuff.
OK I really have to head to class (the students have a calculus exam tomorrow) but here’s a last note on this. A comment on this piece, I quote:
Why do fewer men than women graduate from high school?
Why are many fewer men than women hired as school teachers?
Why do significantly fewer men than women receive college degrees?
Why are these data not evidence of gender bias against men?
Why are female achievement gaps systematically portrayed as gender bias against women, while male achievement gaps are systematically portrayed as innate male fecklessness?
Why are astronomically fewer articles published by the Times about these issues?
I’ll never claim to have answers for anything, just my thoughts, and stuff for you to think about. Besides a substitute teacher in 5th grade, I had never been taught math by a woman until I finished undergraduate.