Presentation on theme: "Some Reflections on the Dearth of Women in Science Ben A. Barres (Prodded on by Larry Summers, Steven Pinker, and Harvey Mansfield)"— Presentation transcript:
Some Reflections on the Dearth of Women in Science Ben A. Barres (Prodded on by Larry Summers, Steven Pinker, and Harvey Mansfield)
Talk Outline 1.The problem 2.A little about me 3.My commentary 4.Steve Pinker’s hypothesis that men and women have evolved innately different cognitive circuits, accounting for the dearth of women in science 5. Harvey Mansfield and Manliness 6.The great harm done by stereotypes 7.Why enhancing diversity is important 8. Some thoughts on what can be done
IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME, PLEASE LET ME KNOW 1.My address is 2.My talk is being videotaped and will be posted on the Harvard Faculty and Development and Diversity web site and the Harvard Women’s Center web site. 3. My slides are available to anyone who wants them, as is my commentary.
Percentage of Science and Engineering PhDs Awarded to Women
The Question: Why So Few Women in Science and Engineering? Discipline Assistant Associate FullAll Professor (%)Professor (%)Professor (%) Ranks (%) Chemistry Math Computer Sci Astronomy Physics Chem. Eng Civil Eng Electrical Eng Mechanical Eng Economics Political Science Sociology Psychology Biol. Sciences Underrepresentation of women at the top 50 science and engineering schools
President Larry Summers NBER Talk (January 2005) Suggested 3 reasons in order of importance for underrepresentation of women in science: 1) Child care issues 2) Innate brain differences 3) Discrimination
The More Geniuses, More Idiots Effect Though men and women have the same average IQ scores, men have the very best and worst scores.
Why Women Lack Great Originality A Biological Limitation in the Maternal Source—Historically Uninventive in Dealing With Their Own Domestic Problems By Dr. Simon BaruchNew York Times, July 14, 1915 These lines are written in no spirit of controversy but simply to point out the irrevocable law of nature…and to arouse men to abandon their indifference or ridicule toward the blatant claims of the feminists. Is Woman Biologically Barred from Success? By Rheta Childe DorrNew York Times, Sept. 19, 1915 (quotation next slide)
Stephen Jay Gould The Mismeasure of Man (1981) The long dismal history of racist and sexist pseudoscientists claiming that biological limitations justify social conditions. “Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely Identified as lying within.”
My Lab: How Does the Developing Brain Sculpt it’s Neural Circuits? ASTROCYTE
Christopherson K, Ullian E,.., Barres BA (2005) Thrombospondins are astrocyte-secreted proteins that promote CNS synaptogenesis. Cell 120,
starts Assistant Professorship this June Department of Cell Biology, Duke University The Calcium Channel Subunit a2d1 is the Neuronal Thrombospondin Receptor Responsible for Synaptogenesis (2008) Çagla Eroglu,..., Ben A. Barres. Cell, submitted. Cagla Eroglu
Beth Stevens Will start position this June as Assistant Professor, Neurobiology Program, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School The Classical Complement Cascade Mediates CNS Synapse Elimination (Stevens B, Allen NJ, …, Barres BA, Cell 131, , 2007)
Barbara Ben My Transsexuality
What is Gender Identity? 1. Gender Identity is a person’s innate sense of being male or female. 2.DSM includes a diagnosis of gender identity disorder or transsexualism in which one’s mental sense of gender identity may differ from his/her anatomic or genetic sex. I am not disordered. I am me. 3. The desire for transsexuals to change sex is irresistably strong. Many will even cut off their own genitals or commit suicide. 4. Transsexuals are the victims of severe job discrimination and violence. Society frowns harshly on anyone who dares to step out of their “normal” gender roles. 5. Gender identity helps to explain why, when women think they are less feminine if they are good at math, that they underachieve.
Personal Encounters with Discrimination 1.As a woman: High school guidance councilor MIT Finding a research lab at MIT During medical training Postdoc fellowship competition As a professor 2.Overt discrimination as a transsexual: Health insurance 3.Awareness of discrimination since sex change: Awareness of the many closeted LGBT academics Awareness of how women and men are treated differently
Gender Identity and Stereotype Threat Stereotype threat is the fear that one's behavior will confirm an existing stereotype of a group with which one identifies. This fear causes an impairment of performance. Claude Steele Spencer S, Steele C, Quinn D (1999) StereotypeThreat and Women’s Math Performance. J.Exp. Social Psych.35, 4–28
Exposure to Scientific Theories Affects Women's Math Performance (2006) Dar-Nimrod and Heine. Science 314, 435 The authors conclude: “These findings raise discomforting questions regarding the effects that scientific theories can have on those who learn about them. Professor Summers’ comments may have inadvertantly exacerbated the gender gap in science through stereotype threat.”
The Aftermath of the Summers Talk Press coverage was vicious (“the story that will not die”). Soon thereafter the Harvard Corporation, lead by Hanna Gray, decided to give Prof. Summers a large pay raise. (African-American lawyer) Conrad Harper resigned from the Corporation in disgust. There was silence from the top scientific leadership (NIH, NAS, HHMI).
The Aftermath From: David X. Date: January 29, 2008 To: Subject: MIT as it used to be Ms. Hopkins, Are you still there? It is hard to believe that MIT is still employing someone who publicly denounced the scientific method. When I was a student there, the scientific method was central to a scientific career. How low the Institute has fallen! (Are you recovering from your vapors?) … Sincerely, David X Course V, 1972
Taboo or Untrue? Steven Pinker argued that people were so angry because they feel the idea that women are innately inferior is so dangerous that it is sinful even to think about it and it should be taboo. Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz sympathizes so strongly with this view that he and Prof. Pinker taught a course this past year called “Morality and Taboo".
“I think it was, in retrospect, an act of spectacular imprudence,” he told the class. He regretted that girls around the world came to think that the president of Harvard believed they couldn’t be scientists. “There are enormous benefits to being a leader of a major institution, but there are also costs and limitations,” “I thought I could have it both ways, and I was wrong.” -- Larry Summers’s Evolution ; As reported by David Leonhardt In the New York Times, June 10, 2007 Professor Summers is Invited to be a Guest in the Morality and Taboo Course
Other Concurrent Events That Snapped Me Out of My Denial About the Existence of Persistent Gender-Based Bias in Academia 1. Steven Pinker put forth an identical point of view to Summers in his book The Blank Slate about the innate limitations of women. 2. So did Sir Peter Lawrence in his essay “Men, Women, and Ghosts” (PLoS Biology 2006). 3. So did Harvey Mansfield argued in his book Manliness (2006) 4.Women were effectively being excluded from elite scientific competitions (NIH Pioneer Award, HHMI Investigatorships) by the nearly all male selection committees involved.
The Blank Slate (2002) By Steven Pinker The Modern Denial of Human Nature Men are innately better at: Women are innately better at: More aggressive Verbal abilities More ambitious Feel emotions more strongly Take more risks More empathy Better at spatial+math skills Smile and laugh more Higher tolerance for pain Prefer to take care of children Men are inherently “risk taking achievers who can willingly endure discomfort in pursuit of success,” while “Women are more likely to choose administrative support jobs that offer low pay in air conditioned offices” He thus frowns on any special efforts to increase women faculty into science.
My Commentary: “Does Gender Matter?” (2006) Nature 442, “ I am suspicious when those who are at an advantage proclaim that a disadvantaged group of people is innately less able.” 1. There is no compelling evidence for relevant innate gender differences in cognition. 2. There is overwhelming evidence for severe gender prejudice. 3. Both men and women often deny gender-based bias. We all have a strong desire to believe that the world is fair. 4.When faculty tell their students that they are innately inferior based on race or gender they are crossing a line that should not be crossed –the line that divides responsible free speech from verbal violence. 5.In a culture where women’s abilities are not respected, women cannot effectively learn, advance, lead or participate in society in a fulfilling way.
The Response to My Commentary 1.It was covered by most major newspapers around the world. 2.Hundreds of TV shows and radio stations asked to interview me. 3.I received 8 book offers. 4.I received hundreds of invitation to speak on this subject. 5.I received over 3,000 s from around the world. Less than ten were at all negative. 6.About one third of them were from men. Most s, male and female, told me of examples of gender-based prejudice in their own lives. Many men and women asked me what they could do to help make things better for women.
My Favorite Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2006 From: Julie To: Subject: thank you Dear Ben, Just wanted to say thanks so much for coming forward with your experiences…I was a Harvard student. I remember strongly a meeting I had with the poet Adrienne Rich. I came away from the meeting feeling shocked– I realized it was the first time I’d felt truly taken seriously as a person. Julie
Steven Pinker and Harvey Mansfield Respond by Visciously Slurring my Transgender Identity Two Harvard professors …responded angrily… with Harvey Mansfield calling Barres “a political fruitcake” and Steven Pinker saying that Barres has “reduced science to Oprah”. Marcella Bombardieri, Boston Globe July 13, 2006
Response by Steven Pinker to my Commentary Correspondence (Nature 442, 510) 1. Barres’s review of scientific studies is one sided and anecdotal. My commentary was rigorously peer reviewed (unlike his book). 2. Pinker called “a simple lie” Barres’s suggestion that those who write about gender differences are suggesting that a whole group of people is innately wired to fail. Pinker et al all argue strongly for female innate limitations. 3. Barres should learn not to take hypotheses so personally. This is about social justice for women. 4.Men are better at some things and women are better at others. Pinker should learn that hypotheses require supporting data. 5. More mud slinging at me, calling my commentary a “polemic that contains numerous falsehoods and scurrilous statements”.
POLEMIC: is a text on a topic written specifically to dispute or refute a position or theory that is widely viewed to be beyond reproach SCURRILOUS: grossly or obscenely abusive, contains slander
Correspondence (Nature 442, 510) The gender debate: science promises an honest investigation of the world By Steven Pinker (Last Paragraph) As for encouraging women in science: in my experience, students of both sexes are attracted to science because it promises an honest investigation into how the world works, an alternative to the subjectivity, simplistic dichotomies and moralistic name-calling that characterizes politics and personal quarrels. Let’s hope Barres’s Commentary does not discourage them.
It is Steven Pinker Who Doesn’t Get the Concept of a University of Free Inquiry “Look, the truth cannot be offensive…People who storm out of a meeting …without providing arguments or evidence, don’t get the concept of a university or free inquiry.” --- Steven Pinker (Harvard Crimson Interview) An environment supportive of free speech is not possible when people with different views are being visciously personally attacked.
Evolutionary Psychology The goal of research in evolutionary psychology is to discover and understand the design of the human mind. Some EP Principles: 1. Our neural circuits were designed by natural selection to solve problems that our ancestors faced during our species' evolutionary history. 2. Different neural circuits are specialized for solving different adaptive problems. 3. Our modern skulls house a stone age mind. There are many serious problems with this approach: 1. EP hypotheses are unfalsifiable and untestable (“just so stories”). 2. EP hypotheses involve circular reasoning: They start out with sexist Darwinian biases, like males are more competitive, and then the results end at the same starting point, concluding that male neural circuits have evolved for competition.
Darwin's Belief in Male Superiority “The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man's attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman - whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands.” -- -Darwin, Descent of Man, 1871 Advantages of Marriage: “constant companion….object to be loved and played with—better than a dog anyway, someone to take care of house.” Disadvantages of Marriage: “perhaps my wife won’t like London. Then the sentence is banishment and degradation with indolent idle fool.” -- Autobiography of Darwin
The Feminist Perspective About Evolution The Evolution of Woman: An Inquiry Into the Dogma of Her Inferiority By Eliza Burt Gamble (1894) Although Darwin interpreted his data to indicate that men were superior to women, she saw female superiority. The Woman That Never Evolved. By Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (1981) She argued that Darwin’s notion of a passive female role in sexual selection stemmed from Victorian social conventions. The Politics of Women’s Biology. By Ruth Hubbard (1990). So long as biology as an enterprise is almost exclusively a male occupation it will be a biased science, masquerading as objective, and will make unfounded claims about women's biology that will justify the inferior status of women.
Most Critiques of Evolutionary Psychology as Science or Paradigm Have Been Devastating Meet the Flintstones (2002). By Simon Blackburn, Prof. of Philosophy, U. Cambridge What Comes Naturally (2002). The New Yorker. By Louis Menand. Darwinian Fundamentalism (1997) New York Rev. Books. By Stephan Jay Gould. Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature (1984) By Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Leon Kamin Evolutionary Psychology: The Emperor’s New Paradigm. Trends Cog. Sci By David J. Buller (Prof. of Philsophy, N. Illinois U.) Adapting Minds: Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature, MIT Press By David J. Buller
Have Men and Women Evolved Different Cognitive Neural Circuits? “The problem is that beyond the repeated assertion that there may be an anatomico-physiological basis for differences in status, wealth, and power, biological determinists have never found any credible concrete basis for such differences. For all I know, we are being visited daily by extraterrestrial creatures. There is certainly nothing in the laws of physics to prevent it. But I really do require more than out-of-focus snapshots to make me take the possibility seriously. “ --Prof. Richard C. Lewontin (1985, NYRB) Harvard University
The Pinker-Spelke Debate: Why So Few Women in Science and Engineering? Pinker: Innate Differences >> Bias/Social Factors 1. Gender differences exist in variability of math scores, risk taking, preferences, etc 2. Most gender stereotypes are accurate 3. Innate biological factors (hormones, genes) responsible Spelke: Bias/Social Factors >> Innate Differences 1. There are no overall cognitive differences in innate aptitude for science and math (Differences are not deficiencies.) 2. Sex differences are not present in infants and emerge in childhood. 3. Evidence for strong social forces that affect math test scores and preferences/choices Nature Nurture
The More Geniuses, More Idiots Effect: Are Geniuses Most of the Innovators? (Described in Terman’s Kids and Broken Genius both by Joel N. Shurkin) Lewis Terman, psychologist and eugenics advocate who developed the Stanford-Binet IQ Test. Followed 1528 gifted (IQ > 135) high school students for 30+ yr Most became successful professionals but few very innovative. Shockley and Pauling passed over for the study (had IQ of 120)
Extreme Mathematical Achievement of Women is Higher in Countries Where Woman’sSocial Status is Higher Andrew M. Penner (Am. J. Sociology, 2008) Strong social Influences lower women’s math performance: 1. Stereotype threat 2.Popularity concerns 3.Boys take more math courses in response to parental suggestion and greater mathematical confidence “If boys thought girls wouldn’t like them if they were good at math, there would be few boys who are good at math.” -- Paul Erdos ( )
Male to female ratio of Hopkins talent search participants with scores over 700 : Year Ratio to to to to 1 The SAT Math Test Gap is Rapidly Closing Sex Differences in Intrinsic Aptitude for Mathematics and Science? A critical review. Elizabeth S. Spelke, American Psychologist, Dec 2005
Women Outperform Men in Gender-Blind Science Problem Solving (Manuscript under review) By Jeppesen, Lakhani, Lohse, Panetta Karim Lakhani Harvard Business School Innocentive.com. Solve some of the toughest problems facing the world today. Win cash awards of up to $1,000,000 for your creative solutions to Challenges in: Business and Entrepreneurship Chemistry Engineering and Design Life Sciences Math and Computer Science Physical Sciences Challenges are posted by corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations who are looking for help. Found women 3.5 X more likely to solve a problem than men.
Other Concerns about the Blank Slate: The Interpretation of Differences as Male Superiority Carol Gilligan found gender differences in moral reasoning: women are more concerned about the welfare of groups whereas men are more concerned about individual rights. Pinker argues if Gilligan was correct that this would invalidate women from becoming lawyers and Supreme Court Justices. Why is the male perspective the only one that counts to him in defining justice? “Education is a method whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices.” -- Laurence J. Peter
Other Concerns about The Blank Slate: Are Women Less Likely to Take Intellectual Risks? Pinker cited : Gender Differences in Risk Taking: A Meta-Analysis By Byrnes, Miller, and Schafer (Psych. Bull. 3, , 1999) However: 1. The intellectual risk taking test was a math test. 2. A strongly significant risk taking difference was only observed at age 10 to 13 and was going away by age 18 to 21. (no data for ages older than 21)
My Questions for Steven Pinker 1. Given all the evidence for bias and social forces, and the rapidly improving performance of women on math tests, how can you be so sure that the underrepresentation of women in science reflects innate differences? 2. How can a talented women that wants to be a scientist be fairly judged by merit when there is a strong stereotype that women in general are less good at science? 3.Why do you ignore data that doesn’t agree with your ideas? Could it be your search for truth is not as objective as you think? 4. Since you view women as having different but equal abilities, how would you like to become a woman with only the abilities you attribute to women?
Confounding Prejudice with Truth “The history of opinion regarding the cerebral differences forms a painful page in scientific annals. It is full of prejudices, assumptions, fallacies, overhasty generalizations. Men of science seem to have lost the scientific spirit when they approached the study of its seat. Many a reputation has been lost in these soft and sinuous convolutions.” --Havelock Ellis (1934) “ The greatest enemy of truth is not error but prejudice.” -- Ashley Montagu
Harvey Mansfield and Manliness (2006)
Manliness: is confidence in the face of risk According to Mansfield, men are innately: More aggressive, assertive, philosophical courage able to lead and command, competitive, ambitious. According to Mansfield, women: Show a secret liking for housework, enjoy changing diapers, fear spiders. Any woman who shows these qualities he calls manly. Most stereotypes are justified and have an innate basis. Men disdain woman’s work and also women. “ Is it possible to teach a woman manliness and thus to become more assertive? Or is that like teaching a cat to bark? “ --Harvey Mansfield
Are Women Less Willing to Risk Life or Limb? The Heroism of Women and Men By Selwyn and Eagly, Am. Psych. 59, , 2004 Who is more likely to risk life or limb? 1. Gentiles saving Jews during the HolocaustWomen 2. Kidney donationWomen 3. Peace corp volunteersWomen 4. Doctors of the WorldWomen 5. Winners of Carnegie Medal for Heroism Men (involves physical strength)
Mansfield said that he thought “gay and transgender people are on society’s margin and should remain there. Substitutes for the traditional family are dysfunctional, you wouldn’t want children to grow up in them.” (Harvard Crimson, Oct 19, 2005 by Samuel Jacobs) Mansfield has actively worked against gay rights. He has testified as a paid expert witness on a Colorado constitutional amendment prohibiting cities from enacting gay rights laws. Gay sex is shameful, a homosexual is not generally as happy a person. Homosexuality should be tolerated but disapproved of, as if it is made respectable it will eventually undermine civilization. Homosexualiity should be restricted by the mechanism of shaming them. He also said homosexuality, rightly, causes most regular people to feel repulsed ( Boston Globe Dec 7, 1993) MANSFIELD’S VIEWS ON HOMOSEXUALITY
My to Harvey Mansfield Q: How's the hate mail? (NY Post Interview with Harvey Mansfield, 2006) A: I got a note from a professor at Stanford saying, "Harvard fired Larry Summers. Why don't they fire you?" Dear Dr. Mansfield, …Please let me clarify. I believe in free speech…but I also believe that tolerance and freedom from sexual harassment are important values as well. What does tolerance mean to you? Is it all always about your rights and your welfare? You don't have a right to tell young women in the classroom that they are innately less good and should content themselves to wash more dishes (as you said in yet another interview the other day). It's not only incorrect, its deeply harmful. And please don't worry about being fired. If history is any indication, you are in line for a big pay raise this year. Ben Barres, Professor of Neurobiology, Stanford University
1. Does not your work on manliness tell us a lot more about you and your anxieties than it tells us about the actual subject? 2. Why do you think it is fair that you can demand tolerance and rights to free speech for yourself from women, while you would gladly squelch their ability to participate fully and equally in the life of the university? 3.Given that you so strongly oppose affirmative action, now that girls are 60% of the top applicants to universities, do you feel it is appropriate that universities are now conducting affirmative action for boys? 4.Why are manly men so afraid to compete with women on a level playing field? My Questions for Harvey Mansfield
“Every human being, regardless of group membership, has the right to fulfill his potentialities to the optimum. Anyone who stands in the way of anothers development, commits the greatest of all offenses against humanity.” --Ashley Montagu The Natural Superiority of Women (1952) Dr. Ashley Montagu was a British anthropologist and humanist. He was amongst the first to question the concept of race as a biological entity. He taught at Harvard in the 1940)
The Harmfulness of Gender Stereotypes 1.Sexism drives women students from the classroom. 2.Dims ambitions (Anna Fels, Harvard Business Rev, 2004) 3.Lowers expectations 4.Lessens performance (stereotype threat) 5.Lowers self confidence and self esteem 6.Prevents fulfilling lives by limiting career success 7.Makes leadership difficult if not impossible Harm to Men: less time for family, seen as emotionally stunted brutes, macho taller guys get leadership posts Harm to Society: The harm that is done to people’s hearts and souls when social justice is denied, maintenance of conformity, lowered innovation and productivity
Gender Stereotypes Cause Overt Discrimination 1.Many gender blinding studies reviewed in Why So Slow? by V. Valian., e.g. for job applications. (also see National Acad. of Sciences report, 2007, on women in science) 2.Postdoc fellowship competition effect of 2.5-fold Wennerås, C. & Wold, A. Nature 387, 341–343 (1997). 3.Women musicians auditioning for symphony orchestras increased 5-fold with blind auditions (as reviewed in Bink, M. Galdwell). 4. Double-blind review increases representation of female authors (2008) Trends in Ecol.and Evol.Biol.23: 4-6, Budden et al.
Professor Mahzarin Banaji, Harvard University Novel Methods to Measure Unconscious Bias. The Implicit Association Test and Implications for Social Justice 1.We all have unconscious biases about gender and race. 2.Women are nearly as biased as men about women’s competence. 3. The IAT is a powerful predictor of how people behave. 4. Important implications for assessment of merit. Unconscious Gender Biases Are Prevalent in Both Men and Women and Predict Behavior
Is it Tenable Any Longer to Argue that Women Are Innately Less Good at Science? No demonstrated genetic or neurobiological cognitive difference Extreme mathematical achievement in women directly correlates with cultural gender status and the test score gap is rapidly shrinking Genius test scores do not strongly predict innovativeness, and people with IQ’s of 120 win Nobels Scientifically proven gender bias and discrimination of stunningly high degree. Women vastly underrepresented in humanites as well as science. Women out perform men in real life science problem solving Simplest conclusion is that the dearth of women scientists is caused largely by bias and social factors.
The Battle for True Equality has Hardly Begun: Women Should Not Have to Become Men to Succeed But Summers was not fired. He was given a pay raise. By Hanna Gray, senior member of the Harvard Corporation, and last June he was awarded an honorary degree by Harvard. To be successful, women have long had to take on the attitudes and behaviors of men in order to advance. The battle to be a women leader and still be a woman is only just beginning. Being confident, ambitious, or competitive does not make a woman less of a woman. It is not shameful to be a woman, and it is not shameful to look out for the welfare of the half of students who are women. Women just want the same thing that men do: A meritocracy—that’s all !
Nancy Hopkins is a Great American Hero One of the first women tenured full professors at MIT. A member of the National Academy of Science. One of the few accomplished senior women scientists to devote much effort to activism to help other women scientists Responsible for much of the increase in women faculty at MIT over the past 15 years Accomplished landmark study at MIT in 1999 demonstrating that women faculty at MIT systematically received less salary, lab space, and other resources than comparable male faculty. Brought Larry Summers’ comments denigrating women to public attention
“Educatability is the outstanding characteristic of the human species, and the variability both in physical and mental traits is so great that no two persons will ever be alike. It is in the combination of these traits that the great riches of humans lies. The strength of America is rooted in its diversity, and it is because you are different than me that you are precious to me.” --Ashley Montagu, The Natural Superiority of Women The Importance of Diversity Diversity is critical for all universities because it enhances the perspectives by which we analyze ideas enhancing the search for truth and the rate of innovation.
The Importance of a Diverse Work Place 1. Drawing from a larger talent pool is only logical 2. Lowered stereotype threat enables all to perform optimally. 3. Companies with more women board directors experience significantly higher financial performance (by 50%). 4. Same is true for companies with more racial/ethnic employees. (Herring study as reported by S. Vedantam, Wash. Post). 5. Diverse groups contain mixed perspectives and think in new ways (Shankar Vedantam) 6. We cannot build a first rate scientific enterprise on a foundation of second class citizens (Martin Luther King). “The woman’s cause is man’s. They rise or fall together.” -- Tennyson
What Happens to Women in Largely Male Environments Largely male environments are lethal to the careers of young women scientists. In such environments, women “choose” to leave science. When faculty and leadership is diverse, and there is a balance, the atmosphere changes for the better for everyone, male and female. As I visit universities, I am stunned to find that women PhD students are already strongly doubting an academic career in their first years. University departments with a high percentage of women faculty have been shown to have a much higher percentage of women graduates who are successful and stay in the pipeline.
What Can Be Done? Women: You must ask for what you need! CHILD CARE SUPPORT
Individual Action: Some Examples 1.Writing the Nature commentary 2.Writing to intolerant faculty 3.Selection process reform for elite scientific awards (HHMI) 4. I encourage talented women and minority applicants to apply to these awards 5. Referring students to young women and minority faculty 6. Mention the experiments of women scientists when I teach 7.As a course director, make sure faculty lecturers are diverse 8. Journal editorial board diversity 9. Speaker diversity 10. I talk to my students about all of these issues 11. I write notes to university leadership when I am concerned about diversity issues (e.g., Tonegawa/Karpova)
If Schools Care About the Female Brain Drain They Must Act 1. Climate surveys. 2. Train women to achieve success in a prejudiced world. 3. Selection committees for awards, jobs, resources must be diverse. 4. More fairness in distribution of resources. 5. Increase faculty diversity. 6. Change in search policies needed: nearly all male depts don’t hire women very often. 7. US News and World Report should include diversity in its rating. 8. Leadership diversity and accountability. 9. Top leadership must be highly diverse. 10. Child care support: Free day care for faculty (and help for students) 11. Rethinking work-life balance 12. Teach students how to assess and fight bigotry with their own words, arguments, and deeds (MR22: Justice, Prof. Sandel) 13. A new student alliance of diverse men and women working together for social justice.
“It is only when we do role reversal, and we see through the eyes of others unlike us, that we can no longer deny their reality, and we become human.” -- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks; Dignity of Difference (2004) Ultimately Each of us is Responsible For Ensuring Social Justice True education is "being turned round," so that you do not see things the way your (unjust) upbringing taught you. --The Republic (Plato)
The Greatest Taboo Steven Pinker says it is taboo to suggest that women are innately inferior. But I believe the greatest taboo, by far, is to think that women are not innately inferior. If we all truly believed this, then we would have to finally ask ourselves why so few women (and minorities) are advancing, and realize that the answer lies within all of our hearts.