July 15, 2008

I don't need your affirmative action OR your pity

According to some, the "lack" of women in science and engineering is so critical that Title IX-like protections should be put in place until women are equally represented.

Are you f*cking kidding me? Women have no barriers in science, probably fewer than in any other general field. Over half of students entering medical school this year are women. More than 60% of graduate students in biology and biochemistry and psychology are female. My department chair is a woman. There's no lack of women in science, even at the highest levels.

Yes, you might argue, but the article focuses on Physics and Engineering. And true, there are relatively few women in physics and engineering. But is it possible that maybe women don't choose these fields because they are less interested? Should we force girls into jobs they don't want? It's not like the demands of an academic career in physics are that different from the demands of an academic career in biology or biochemistry. Which even these researchers had to admit was the case:

[T]he institute found that women with physics degrees go on to doctorates, teaching jobs and tenure at the same rate that men do. The gender gap is a result of earlier decisions. While girls make up nearly half of high school physics students, they're less likely than boys to take Advanced Placement courses or go on to a college degree in physics.(emphasis mine)
At least the Universities so far are ignoring it:
So far, these Title IX compliance reviews haven't had much visible impact on campuses beyond inspiring a few complaints from faculty members. (The journal Science quoted Amber Miller, a physicist at Columbia, as calling her interview "a complete waste of time.") But some critics fear that the process could lead to a quota system that could seriously hurt scientific research and do more harm than good for women.
Yep. And considering today's cuts in research funding and endless Federal investigations looking for reasons to increase cuts, this could be a nightmare for small institutions that don't have the resources to bring in enough female scientists to meet an arbitrary quota.

Posted by caltechgirl at July 15, 2008 04:05 PM | TrackBack

Must be the Barbie doll's fault! (heavy sarcasm...)

Posted by: Marie at July 15, 2008 06:00 PM

No doubt, certain quarters will attempt to even things up the same way they did in sports.

Posted by: Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life at July 15, 2008 08:26 PM

That's ridiculous. Women aren't majoring in it because they aren't interested or because they aren't comfortable yet. Some may be intimidated still when they walk in a class and its all men, but its not anything that they need to do TitleIX like protections.

And things are changing in the engineering community. Whereas I was consistently put down, to the dismay of my male coworkers my age, by management in the first 10 years of my career absolutely BECAUSE I was a woman and it was said to my face, I could run the show now if I wanted to. At work last month, the men were talking about how awful it was to be a woman in engineering even 10 years ago and how much its changed now. They said, "Bou, you would be running the world right now! You were just 10 years too early!" And they weren't joking.

It is the atmosphere has changed and women will start gravitating more towards it as they realize it. Word will spread... it will change.

As for Physics... I'll pass. Lack of interest...

Posted by: Bou at July 16, 2008 08:39 AM

"But is it possible that maybe women don't choose these fields because they are less interested? Should we force girls into jobs they don't want?"

Biologist here (so maybe not a "hard" scientist by some people's definition). I went into biology because it interested me. My dad suggested engineering, which in retrospect I might have been good at and might have found interesting - but I just wasn't interested at the time.

It's bull to "force" someone into a field they're less than interested in. Going the grad-school route (indispensable in most sciences) is soul-killing enough that you have to actually love your topic to be able to make it through.

And the whole quota thing drives me mad. What happened to hiring the most qualified person for a job, regardless of whether they stand or sit to pee, and regardless of what color their skin is (or where they go to worship, or where their grandparents came from...)

I got my job because (and I've had several colleagues tell me this and I have no reason to think they're lying) I WAS THE MOST QUALIFIED PERSON WHO APPLIED. I'd feel pretty crappy to think I got hired not because I was the "best," but because I have two X chromosomes.

Posted by: ricki at July 16, 2008 09:14 AM