Monday, March 8, 2010

Women in Science Overview

There's a nice article in the NY Times giving an overview of the state of women in science worldwide (though with a definite focus on the US and Europe). Computer science is, as usual, given as an example of one of the lone hold-out fields where women are still sorely outnumbered. The article focuses on academia (without ever explicitly saying that's what it's doing).

A nice summary section:

The tug-of-war between encouraging numbers and depressing details is in many ways the story of the advancement of women overall. Women get more degrees and score higher grades than men in industrialized countries. But they are still paid less and are more likely to work part time. Only 18 percent of tenured professors in the 27 countries of the European Union are women.

And the big money in science these days is in computers and engineering — the two fields with the fewest women.

My main complaint with the article, or really with this type of press, is that while pointing out many of the reasons that women are still in the minority (lack of childcare, the tenure clock coinciding with the biological one, etc.), it also seems to reinforce these ideas by interviewing women who have faced these issues or framing women who haven't as being "lucky" or having overcome them. Perhaps this is true, and it is after all an article, not an advertisement (as I'd like everything to be), but I do wish that such articles would be sure to find some women to speak with who believe in the positive role that academia can play in their and their family's lives (I see the time flexibility as the big one).

But overall, if you're interested in these issues, or interested in an easy-to-read summary to get you up to date on the broad issues, this is a good one. (If you have a broader interest, the sidebar of the article leads to a yearlong series on women.)

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