Athena Swan

Athena Swan promotes and supports the careers of women in Science, Engineering and Technology (STEM), and aims to address gender inequalities and imbalance in these disciplines and, in particular, the under-representation of women in senior roles.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

In the news - Paradigms and prejudice

The Williams and Ceci Times essay does contain one patently inaccurate statement: “Our country desperately needs more talented people in [scientific] fields.” To the contrary, evidence they and their co-authors present in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest paper makes clear that concern about “leakage” of women—or, for that matter, of anybody—from the pipeline to the tenure track is decidedly, well, academic. Over 6 years at a “large state university” cited in the paper, out “of 3,245 applicants for 63 tenure-track positions in 19 STEM fields, 2.03% of male applicants were hired compared with 4.28% of females,” the authors write. And, as we have reported previously, fewer than a third of the top postdocs at ultraprestigious UC San Francisco make it onto the tenure track. For the great majority of early-career scientists of either gender to have any hope of earning a living, they must “leak” into lines of endeavor other than academic science.

So, notwithstanding the squawking from the blogosphere, the data indicate that able women who set out to make academic careers today in math-intensive fields of science have as good a chance of succeeding as men, keeping in mind that the chances don’t appear great for anyone of either gender. A vast oversupply of scientists has created fierce competition for the very few available academic posts. Many people, it appears, decline to make the life choices—specifically the single-minded expenditure of time and devotion—needed for those jobs. There is, of course, no guarantee that women won’t encounter men with sexist attitudes in the scientific world; they very likely will. Clearly, though, the objective barriers that blocked the way for past generations of scientifically talented women are, if the hiring and promotion data are to be believed, objectively gone. It’s likely, therefore, that we're confronting a new reality that requires and deserves a new paradigm to describe it.

Read more here.

No comments:

Post a Comment