Senior Male Physical Scientist: "Why do you women keep saying there aren't enough women in Science? There are lots of female students in my department! I see lots of young women at meetings! There are lots of women!"
That's great that you see lots of women, but what some of us women keep saying is that there should be female science students and female science professors. Do you see lots of female science professors at your university? At your faculty meetings? On prestigious committees or panels? On lists of major awards in your field or even at your university? On slates of invited speakers at conferences? You can define "lots" however you want, but I hope that "lots" means >10%.
I have visited some science departments in recent years, including this past spring, that have no women faculty and have never had one, ever. Don't you think these places have had enough time to find one woman to hire? Just one? Given how many female grad students are running around science conferences these days? Perhaps these departments just need more time to find a qualified woman?
Another science department with which I am quite familiar has some women faculty, but the youngest one is nearing 50 years old. What's up with that? If women used to be in short supply as applicants to faculty positions at research universities, but now there are lots, why aren't women faculty being hired approximately proportionally to their representation in PhD programs?
Maybe these places with mid-career and senior women faculty but no early-career women faculty "had" to hire a woman (or two) at some point, and now they don't because they've got some on their faculty, so they can go back to hiring only men, all of whom are awesome?
And no, I don't believe that we can explain those numbers entirely or even mostly with "women want to have babies instead of tenure".
The reasons for the decrease in women in science at various stages, from student to faculty, are many and complex, and this post is not about those reasons. This post is just a reply to those who say:"We don't have a problem, there are lots of female students". The increase in numbers of female sciences is very great thing, but..
I think it's fair to make the observation that there still aren't many female science professors in the physical sciences, particularly at research universities.
POP QUIZ: The title of this post is from a somewhat disturbing but terribly profound and strange song. Can anyone (other than my husband and daughter) name that song (without resorting to online searching) and identify the "them" in the song? In fact, I did a search to see if there is more than one song of that name, and there do seem to be at least two, so I will tell you now that it is definitely not the one by a person named "Hank".
7 years ago