Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Women in academia


Just a few quick links:

P.Z. Myers wrote this post a while ago: The cost of being a woman in science.

Inside Higher Ed has a news story about a recent NSF study titled 'Broadening Participation in America’s Science and Engineering Workforce'.

Inside Higher Ed also has another interesting report:

The University of Washington is about to gain the distinction of having the only Ph.D.-awarding program in women’s studies to be led by a man.

3 Comments:

  1. Sunil said...

    Allen heading the women's study program is really a big deal, and there're a few words going around the univ right now....but he's an excellent academic, and has almost complete department support...

    And, really, there should be some men in women's studies......or else different perspectives will never enter the field, and it will remain restricted and narrow.

    But there is a HUGE problem of not having enough women in academia, and I know that (say) in India it is extremely hard for a women to succeed in academia, especially in research, and to lead a normal life.

  2. Surya said...

    Just curious - is it more difficult for a woman to be in academia than to be in the corporate world? I would have expected the flexibility of research would have been more ideal for women, who often need to juggle multiple roles. My observations on academia have only been through an outsider's view point - am I missing something?

  3. Abi said...

    Sunil, the article on the women's studies department has some curiosity value. I wouldn't read anything more into it; neither does Inside Higher Ed. The article does say that the Chairman's appointment is largely free from controversy.

    The lack of women in academia, on the other hand, has been a vexing problem -- it is particularly glaring in the sciences. Quite a bit of debate has happened following the Larry Summers fiasco (here and here) a few months ago.

    As for India, there are two rather depressing facts: First, at the bachelors level, men outnumber women by a huge margin in high profile institutions such as the IITs. While this problem deserves some attention, a far more serious problem, IMO, is the second: while men and women are in comparable numbers at the bachelors level (across all universities, on average, men do outnumber women, but not by much), the proportion of women falls precipitously as you go higher to masters and doctoral programs. For example, the proportion of women applicants -- with a Ph.D. degree -- for faculty positions in engineering could be as low as 5 %. Clearly, there are some significant sociological forces at play here.

    As Surya says, academia does offer some advantages that women should find quite attractive. Why do they not choose this career?

    I know that parental pressure on women (say, after their bachelors programs) to get married and 'settle down' is an important force. Somehow, men seem to have an easier time countering such pressure! What are the other forces (inner, as well as sociological)?