Friday, June 17, 2011

I See Them Everywhere

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".

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hall and Oates?

Anonymous said...

The disparity between men and women in science professorship and other demanding careers is quite simple in my eyes. Its about the metrics used for self evaluation. To be more concrete, I pose a simple question. "Would you rather be a great mother, but a terrible scientist; or a great scientist, but a terrible mother." The same can be asked of a father.

Given two populations, one composed of women, and the other with men, I think a divergence of perspective would emerge. Wether this be due to the conditioning of culture or biology/hormones is debatable, but immaterial in the big picture.

I do conceed the point that women who are not interested in mothership perform just as well as any candidate, but note that these women surely perform better than those who are interested in mothership. Wouldn't you say?

That debate aside, women are served much better than other minorities in science when it comes to bridging the gap. Services/programs for blacks/hispanics are few and not very well funded. Whats up with that?

Phillip Helbig said...

"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.."

As you note, the reasons are varied, but some sort of opposition among male academics is not one of the reasons, so he is correct in saysing that they don't have a problem---someone else does.

There are probably two main reasons. One is that we tend to look at positive extremes, and science professors are extremes. The standard deviation of male abilities is probably larger, even if the average is the same. There are also more men who are mentally retarded, who are criminals etc.

Another reason is that science professors are well paid---not compared to scientists in industry, but compared to normal people. Men tend to go into well paid jobs while, for a variety of reasons, women tend to go into jobs which are not so well paid. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one is certainly the fact that many women don't want to "date down". The male chief surgeon often marries a female nurse. A step to more equality would be for a female chief surgeon to marry a male nurse. That this doesn't often happen is not the fault of the male nurse.

Note also that there are many other jobs where there are even fewer women than in science. Shouldn't we be fighting for equality by saying we need just as many garbage women as garbage men?

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Yes. I thought my naturally scientific field was doing pretty well in this department, but I realized at the last conference I went to that <30% of several dozen talks were by women, and only ~20% of the senior scientists were female.

The bright side was when I was nominated by my mentor to serve on a committee, and its chair excitedly told me it was great to finally have a woman on it since they had been told they needed one. Experience is so overrated, anyway.

Even without plans for babies, I find this a slog.

PeggyL said...

Don't know about the song, but your post is spot on, as usual, FSP!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! I am a female grad student in a physical science. The combination of the large number of female grad students and postdocs combined with the tiny number of female faculty is obvious to anyone who pays attention (I belong to one of those departments that has never hired a woman into a tenured faculty position). When I think about the possibility of a career in science, this empirical observation is one thing that causes me great concern.

Still, I think on has to address the argument "women want to have babies instead of tenure". Whether we like it or not, there is evidence that women placing a higher priority on family concerns and having more difficulty combining family and career is actually a major reason for the leaky pipeline (for example, http://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/Grad_Students_Fast_Track_Article.mamason.pdf and http://ucfamilyedge.berkeley.edu/marriagebabyblues.pdf)

Anonymous said...

My department is pretty good: 12 / 32 faculty are women and they span the range of seniority. I think it reflects the supportive nature of our department - at least as far as I can tell as a postdoc, we're not a high pressure department and everyone is friendly. Get some pubs, get a grant or two, and you'll probably get tenure. The university itself is not supportive of family leave (except what's required by law; tenure clock doesn't stop as far as I know), but I think everyone in the department just tries to cover classes and such as needed and the chair is helpful about it.

Husband's dept is 6 women / 19 - recent hires have been at about that rate. They say they try to hire women so I don't know why it remains 2/3 men.

At conferences I see plenty of female grad students (and they dominate the field in general), but the invited / prestigious speakers / awardees remain dominated by (mostly white) men.

Anonymous said...

What annoys me is when some women I know in chemistry or biology tell me that there is no problem with "women in science", because there are plenty of women in their working environments. I am in physics. It's true that in some sciences women are better represented than others, but in some fields like mine they are especially poorly represented (as shown here. And that's at the PhD level, not at the professor level! You would think that scientists would know to look at data, not anecdata.

Anonymous said...

I have been struck the past few years at large conferences (>10,000 attendees) with the large number of female participants...in the audience. The plenary sessions and large panel discussions tend to be composed of white males (yes observation on both race and gender-let's discuss). Women ARE presenting but often in the smaller rooms in topic-specific sessions (such as "women in science"). Also, in the plenary session when the chair introduces that exciting young researcher in his lab....you guessed it....it is a white male, although on the thank you slide at the end of the talk, there are many female names and names indicative of other races. Women (and other races) are in science, but aren't breaking into that next tier. I see that there is a distinct lack of support and mentoring on behalf of the "establishment".

I hate to break the news to you but this isn't only in academia. I am in industry (director level) and in our lab, the scientific researchers are almost all female. However, at management meetings, I am often the sole female at the table. Below me, 100% female, above me, 0% female. I received my PhD 15 yrs ago when there were just >50% of female students in grad school for my field of research. By today there should be more of us in key senior positions.

Clint said...

"Another science department with which I am quite familiar has some women faculty, but the youngest one is nearing 50 years old."

Does that department have *any* faculty less than 50 years-old? I wonder if what you have seen here is the general greying of the academic population. "Junior" faculty at many institutions may not be hired until they are nearly 40. Couple that with the dearth of hiring in the last decade, and you get faculty where the youngest members — male or female — are over 50.

Best wishes,
Clint

Female Science Professor said...

Clint, In that department, all the assistant and associate professors (all > 50 years old) are male.

I am more distressed than I can say by the Hall and Oates comment.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see more female garbage collectors.

I would also like to see someone tell all my male colleagues that they are terrible fathers. Or terrible scientists. They can choose which one.

I am an excellent scientist and an excellent parent. Anyone who claims that that is not possible can kiss my excellent a%%.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! As usual this post makes me happy for convincing me it's not just me that notices this. I see the same thing in my field - we're slightly female biased at the grad level but after that there's a sharp drop in the number of women. This is problem isn't much acknowledged because of the number of female grad students and because sure there are women in the department - haven't you seen the (untenured, poorly treated) lecturers? And what about the office staff - they're all women? One of the more distressing things I saw was a male grad student (my contemporary) who commented that "all" the awards at our large conference went to women. "Look at the pictures there isn't a dude up there". So I went and counted and actually the ratio was 8 men to 4 women - umm that's perceived as nothing but women? Crazy!

mathgirl said...

Phillip Helbig says
"... There are a variety of reasons for this, but one is certainly the fact that many women don't want to "date down". The male chief surgeon often marries a female nurse. A step to more equality would be for a female chief surgeon to marry a male nurse. That this doesn't often happen is not the fault of the male nurse."

How do you know this is not the fault of the male nurse? How about we start talking about men who don't want to "date up"?

PQA said...

Also as a corollary, just because you have female students in your lab does not make you immune to sexist behaviors and comments.

and Anonymous who said "I am an excellent scientist and an excellent parent. Anyone who claims that that is not possible can kiss my excellent a%%."

F*ck yeah and me too!

Anonymous said...

so what you are suggesting is that if the ratio had been 1:1 right from the begining then science would have progressed much further than what we have achieved so far??.....actually many great men in mathematics and physics died unrecognized, poor, hungry and some were even driven to insanity and suicide by their illustrious peers...

Barefoot Doctoral said...

"One is that we tend to look at positive extremes, and science professors are extremes. The standard deviation of male abilities is probably larger, even if the average is the same. There are also more men who are mentally retarded, who are criminals etc." --Phillip Helbig

I can't tell you how sick I am of this argument. Criminal activity, like career choice has a lot to do with sociological factors, not just IQ. If you can't control for those factors, you can't say anything about the role gender has to play. It's like saying a bacteria grows better in Culture A than Culture B when you've neglected to notice that you've been irradiating Culture B.

On the level of IQ, and the fact that there are more low IQ males, the thick tail argument only holds for certain types of distributions. As far as I'm aware, we have no idea whether IQ falls on a normal distribution, whether male IQ has a thick tail on the high end.

Anonymous said...

I am too busy grieving for all those poor, hungry, insane, unheralded men to worry about the future of young women in science.

mathgirl said...

actually many great men in mathematics and physics died unrecognized, poor, hungry and some were even driven to insanity and suicide by their illustrious peers...

Maybe part of this could have been prevented if more women had been allowed to be around...

yse said...

This is directly related to Philip Helberg's comments.

The idea that it is the others (women, minorities) and not the (mostly white) men is absurd. Don't you think it's likely that since men created the system they in some way created it in a way to best suit their own needs? Therefore, trying to fit women into an "old boys club" reflects a problem on both sides. If the current system perpetuates itself it will never accommodate other voices because it has been designed in a way to ensure its originators thrive. It's like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Is it the square peg's fault or the round hole?

There are numerous sociological/psychological studies on the way women vs. men approach problems/learn and while these divergences may be cultural/learned they do exist and instead of trying to make women conform to the old system why not take into account these differences and create a system which encourages and nurtures both types of understanding and learning? See for example "Impostor Syndrome" (which tends to be a bigger problem among underrepresented groups).

Or, for example externalizing vs internalization of blame (of which you are clearly fitting right into your gender nook). Perhaps not the best source, but you'll get the point:

http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/dating-blog/women-blame-themselves-too-often

As for the pay issue. It's not so much that women get lower paying jobs, it's that women are paid less. Which also has a lot to do with the system. Women have a different sense of fairness so if a women gets a job offer and it says (for example) that "our standard starting salary is X" she'll accept the offer because if that's the standard salary then that's what she should get. Men, on the other hand, will ask for X+ 10% of X and thus start at a higher salary. Over time, this difference only gets bigger as usual raises are percentages of your salary and thus an initial 10% difference can grow to be quite a princely sum.

See, for example, http://www.womendontask.com/stats.html.

Now please, stop externalizing the blame (you're such a man!) and start realizing we all have a role to play and that serious changes have to be made before we can truly fix the gender/minority gap.

Alex said...

Wait, FSP, you actually know of a department where all the assistant and associate profs are &gt 50 years old? Damn!

Also, I just assumed, before you said it's from a song, that the title was from the movie "The Sixth Sense" with the kid who sees dead people. He sees them everywhere, you know.

Female Science Professor said...

Am I going to have to make the quiz question extra credit or is everyone just going to fail the quiz?

Alex said...

Some of us are still recovering from grading finals last week and cannot yet be bothered to study for quizzes. In fact, my wife is going back to take a few classes and just took her final TODAY.

Anyway, I'm still reeling from the department where even the assistant professors are >50 years old. Or was that a typo?

Anonymous said...

In my case - having left astronomy 13 years ago - I didn't fall out of the pipeline because of anything to do with children. I didn't want children, and still don't have any.

One aspect of the culture was what I called the "Superstar Woman Syndrome." Lots of departments claimed to want to hire a woman. But they only wanted to hire The Superstar Woman. When the One Superstar Woman had to turn down 5 or 10 offers, those departments felt snubbed and instead of looking at the next most exciting woman, they just hired a man and would repeat the mantra, "there are not enough qualified women!" And they gave themselves permission to never (for a long time anyway) consider other women for future openings.

But if Ordinary Man turned them down, they just hired another man.


I had an engineering department chair (2 women out of 200 faculty) say to me once, "We tried to hire a woman, but it didn't work out." (What, you never tried to hire a man and it didn't work out?)


I was in a department where they openly said they were going to hire a woman and the 3 finalists were women. (I was one, and was already in the department as "Visiting.") The next year, they had another TT opening and ONLY men were on the short list. I was not.

The implication I drew was that this department could not think of women as competitive with men, and they had 500 applicants both years. Out of 500 applicants, including a woman who was on the short list the year before, you could not find even ONE (even a token!) woman to be on your short list? Please.

There is a double standard about pretty much everything that faculty are expected to do. For example,regarding pay, even if a woman asks for higher pay at the time of hiring, (or a raise later) departments will think of her as un-collegial. If she protects her research by saying "no" (or being as unproductive as a typical man) to committee assignments, she's thought of as un-collegial. It's just not the same for women when they try to exhibit the same behaviors that men use to establish their territory.

To me, it's not so much about asking the round holes to open up, it's about them behaving as it square pegs have nothing to offer. In a department of 100% men, a woman has something to offer than a man does not. Even if the department has 20% women, I'd say a woman has something to offer that a man does not.

Science is about a breadth of ideas and worldviews and insights. The creative atmosphere is going to be different in a department with a breadth of thinking than it is going to be in the men's locker room.

Obviously, all this is generalizing, but from what I read, still valid in enough cases to warrant discussion.

I thought things might have improved since I left my field, but FSPs blog (which I have been reading for a couple of years now) and this post in particular tell me that little has changed. *sigh*

But more power to you, FSP, for writing about this. At least we - you and your readers - know we are not alone in these observations.

Well, I could go on and on.

Women did not create this disparity, yet we are always looked to to solve it.

- Out of the Pipeline

Female Science Professor said...

Oh yes, it was a typo. All but one are < 50 years old.

LNG said...

The title made me think of Miss Hannigan in "Annie", but I don't thik that's quite right.

Female Science Professor said...

Just this once, I will let you get the answer from the Wikipedia page:

Escape From Noise/Negativland

and if you want to hear the song in question:

Yellow Black and Rectangular

Anonymous said...

I don't want kids. I don't want to do anything but research. I'm reasonably competent and not a superstar. I don't fit in in math, my field. I can't find collaborators. I am not publishing at the rate of my peers because the guys won't talk to me about math, and it's all other guys doing math. So my CV is not so great, so that's it.

My grad institution did the superstar woman thing. They can't keep a woman more than three years because every woman they do land wins a super-cool prize and goes somewhere more prestigious.

Anonymous said...

In my department at my university, there is one female in each of the professor, senior lecturer and lecturer positions (and none in my immediate research group). Apart from myself there is one other female postdoc and about four female grad students in the department.

I felt that my field was somewhat better than other fields in the physical sciences in terms of female participation until the last conference I attended, where I was the only and most senior female speaker. The total number of female attendees was less then 10% with no-one more senior than a postdoc. This doesn't make me confident that I will be successful at staying in this field of science in the future. What happened to everyone else who was here before me?

There is definitely a problem and as it evidently still exists, I think it points to the fact that the 'initiatives' that have been implemented to solve the problem are inadequate and things need to be approached in an entirely different way.

Anonymous said...

The mere point that there are not as many female professor as male professors does not mean ANYTHING. You first have to isolate the effect of sex and then study the difference between the two populations (male and female). The reasoning behind this post is the same reasoning that is used by many others to justify the programs that fund/hire only female/non-white professors in order to increase the number of female/non-white professors. Nowadays professorship is pretty much like championship. You need to sacrifice many things and work hard and continuous in order to be able to secure a tenure-track position. The graduate students/postdocs who finally secure a faculty position are the absolute best of their cohort. So, when comparing male and female scientists you need to compare the best of the male group with the best of the female group. For some reasons that are not entirely clear to me (I have some theories though), the track record of the best of the male population is way better than that of the best of the female population. At least that is what I have concluded from my own observations of the CVs of many young and seasoned scientists. As a male white scientist, I get super-excited when I see the CV of a super-productive female scientist and will not discriminate against her when it comes to hiring. The problem is that I do not see very many CVs like that. These are my observations and may be wrong. But as long as the CV of female candidates are not as good as their male competition, the female candidates should not be hired. After all, we should be blind to the sex of the candidate and consider only and only his/her merits.

Emily said...

I'm a woman going into a research field (cognitive neuroscience) with a much more even male/female split, at least up to the postdoc level. But I've often noticed a gulf between the number of women who are successful science and engineering students at my school and the number of women who teach science and engineering there (almost none, and almost entirely Asian). Science seems to be very much a social discipline and I wonder if the push to promote people like oneself, who one would want to hang out with, plays a role here. If young women are lucky enough to have a female scientist as a mentor, that mentor will probably make extra effort to go to bat for them, especially because they've been in a similar position. But mostly they wind up with men, who certainly support their female students but for "who would I want to get a beer with reasons," when push comes to shove, probably tend to think of their male students first.

That said, I do think women feel a lot more pressure than men to choose between success as a parent and success as a scientist, and ignoring this issue doesn't make it go away.

Anonymous said...

I have many problems with the old, rehashed points in Phillip Helbig's comment, but particularly this one:

The standard deviation of male abilities is probably larger, even if the average is the same. There are also more men who are mentally retarded, who are criminals etc.

I don't think this is a certain fact. Ignoring the point that mental retardation and criminality have different causes -- and do necessarily not imply lower ability -- I am yet to be convinced of the standard deviation argument. Most of the "evidence" seems to come from standardized tests in a narrow context (usually the US educational system). In the Asian country where I'm from, girls' performance ranges from topping exams to being at the bottom, while boys have a lower standard deviation. Which just means that these claims about standard deviation in abilities need to be carefully substantiated before we can accept them.

Anonymous said...

The mere point that there are not as many female professor as male professors does not mean ANYTHING.

No one has said anything about equal numbers. It's about the fact that there are still extremely few female science professors in certain fields, despite an increase in the number of female students.

Misunderstanding the point doesn't make the problem go away.

Anonymous said...

I am female grad student. This is a bit tangential, but I wonder if men who are married to female scientists (or academics or lawyers or doctors) are easier for women to work with. I have noticed that anecdotally -- the male professors and students I collaborate best with all have ambitious, successful partners. With such men, I feel that I am at least being listened to, and my contributions not completely dismissed.

GMP said...

Anon at 04:05 AM says: For some reasons that are not entirely clear to me (I have some theories though), the track record of the best of the male population is way better than that of the best of the female population.

Way better? Really? Superstar females are way worse than superstar males? I agree that there are significantly fewer female superstars, but I can name several off the top of my head in my field and a few related ones who are as good as any guy. They are second to none.

Btw, if you have a middle-class suburban WASP kid with a 4.0 GPA, who never had to work a day in his life and went to a private school, and on the other hand you have a black kid from a low-income urban neighborhood, who's the first to go to college in his family, went to a good public school and worked several jobs to support himself through school, earning a 3.5 GPA, which one is better according to your criteria? The one who has had his wheels greased all the way or the one who has proven excellence (not to mention perseverance and focus) despite considerable odds? According to you, the 4.0 GPA kid should win every time because it's better on paper. I completely disagree; the kid with the 3.5 GPA is very likely more talented and certainly more focused to have achieved a very good GPA despite being able to devote much less time and energy to studying.

How CVs look needs to be weighted with what went into achieving these records. Being propelled by the right people (because you are a white male student) means you do well at a top grad school and get a top postdoc, so yes the odds of looking excellent when searching for a TT positions are high. For women and underrepresented minorities it's obstacles, big and small, of different origins (subtle sexism, racism, economic issues, family obligations, etc) that make the same path much more difficult to travel.

Looking at just the record on paper always favors the in-crowd members.

Anonymous said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some women, no matter how smart and successful, just aren't going to seem that way to some people. If those people are in decision-making roles, that's not good.

inBetween said...

My university just completed a report on faculty satisfaction. In it, they report on the composition of the faculty over the last 30 years. The proportion of women faculty in the sciences, and actually for the entire faculty, hasn't changed at all over that time. In the biological sciences it's about 20%, but women make up 50% or a little more of our graduating PhDs. WTF you may ask -- we hire them but we can't seem to keep them...

Anonymous said...

I still miss someone. Johnny Cash

Anonymous said...

When you're all but guaranteed to get a permanent and good paying non-academic job with your degree, but only a 1 in 25 shot of getting a tenure-track professorship, what would any sane and prgmatic woman who has ever taken a probability course going to choose?

Anonymous said...

Re: "I can't tell you how sick I am of this argument. Criminal activity, like career choice has a lot to do with sociological factors, not just IQ."

I agree with you, Barefoot.

You know, ample studies have shown that, beyond a certain IQ (somewhere around 120, if I recall), there is zero correlation between success and IQ. Once you're smart enough--that is, once you've hit that 120 mark--it's all about hard work, outside-the-box thinking, etc.

Anonymous said...

Re: One aspect of the culture was what I called the "Superstar Woman Syndrome." Lots of departments claimed to want to hire a woman. But they only wanted to hire The Superstar Woman. When the One Superstar Woman had to turn down 5 or 10 offers, those departments felt snubbed and instead of looking at the next most exciting woman, they just hired a man and would repeat the mantra, "there are not enough qualified women!"

This is true in our physics department as well. I had brought up the why-aren't-there-more-women-on-faculty-at-our-university question. He responded, "Well, we offered a position to a woman THREE YEARS AGO, but she turned us down and we hired a man instead."

As if that lady were the only qualified female physics PhD to apply in the past three years...

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 12:45:

You suggested that men with smart, successful ambitious wives in professional careers are easier to work with as a woman. I think this is probably true. They are more used to thinking of women as equally capable and ambitious and are less likely to be patronizing, dismissive, subtly under-supportive, etc.. They also are not going to assume that everyone has a spouse taking care of kids, housework, etc. fulltime and probably will be more aware of work-life balance concerns, since they deal with those issues, too.

Another thing to look for is men who have daughters. Having daughters seems to make men more aware of the specific challenges women face and more interested in making sure the playing field is level. For example, there was a study showing that when CEOs of companies had a child, and that child was a daughter, the birth was followed by a subsequent narrowing of the gender pay gap at their company.

Anonymous said...

to the second anon who wrote: "I do conceed the point that women who are not interested in mothership perform just as well as any candidate, but note that these women surely perform better than those who are interested in mothership. Wouldn't you say?"

I disagree...women who aren't interested in mothership (I think you meant "motherhood"?) could be interested in other equally-worthy causes outside their careers...

(parenthood isn't the only worthwhile cause in life)

Anonymous said...

The problem rests with the idea that somehow the "default" hire is a white male, so anyone else [female/non-white] is, therefore, somehow "taking away" a job from a qualified white male merely by being hired. It leads into the "superstar" hire mentality already mentioned.

Anonymous said...

You know why communism failed? Because the problem with equality is that we only want it with our superiors.

I'd like to see feminists demanding research into why disproportionate numbers of boys have learning disabilities, drop out of school and end up in jail. I'd like to see feminists screaming for reform of undergraduate education so that classes dont end up being 60% female.

Otheriwse, the feminists are just another special interest, like big tobacco, big oil, big agro, big military, AARP and the like.

Btw, I know...I know...lots of you geniuses here don't really think communism failed and are still working on making it work.

Anonymous said...

You know why communism failed? Because the problem with equality is that we only want it with our superiors.

Ahahahahahahaha! And I presume you are every woman's superior?
Fuckin' misogynist troll. Getting laid much?

Anonymous said...

"Ahahahahahahaha! And I presume you are every woman's superior? "

No...I meant that male academics are typically superior to the average woman; not to the average woman academic, but to the average woman. That is usually obvious, except to retards.

Science Professor Mum said...

Firstly, in our department we have many people who are excellent parents and excellent scientists - how dare people suggest that you cannot be excellent at more than one thing (whether or not parenting is included) - it's precisely this attitude across society that prevents people from making their own choices. Yes, someone who excels at 2 things will spend less time on each one but as most people commenting here will know, there is a very non-linear relationship between time spent doing something and acheivement/expertise in same subject.

Interestingly I have just been approached by a young male postdoc wanting advice on his career options, I also mentor 2 male junior lecturers and I have 2 young sons. So I guess I am also interested in ensuring that everyone, no matter who they are, is not prevented from acheiving their full potential because they happen to describe themselves as one gender or another. In the physical sciences this generally means bemoaning the lack of women, but in primary education I will be just as passionate about discovering why there are hardly any male teachers available in my sons school.

Revathi said...

I think it is a question of personality. Most women are unable to assess themselves better than everyone else whereas most males have very little doubt when this question is put to them. When things go wrong, men tend to blame circumstances, surrounding, senior (anyone but themselves) but women typically start having doubts about their suitability.
In addition is the constant fear that an aggressive woman is somehow not woman enough-so most women tend to hear and not speak out.
It is noteworthy that after they started having blind auditions for orchestra, the number of women has increased considerably. How can we do this for physics or math professorship?

Cloud said...

Oh for gods sake, why did I click through and read the comments on this post?

But I am so f&%$ing sick of the argument that women drop out of "high power" careers because they can't be good mothers and keep those careers.

First of all, if that is true (and while I think it is locally true for some women I do not concede that it is globally true for all women), the problem lies with the structure of the careers, and not with the women. We are smart people. We can design our work places to allow a modicum of "work-life balance" (or as I like to call it, "a life") in almost all careers.

Second of all, the time use surveys I've seen indicate an average of 55 hours/week as the work week for an academic professor. News flash, everyone, it is entirely possible to be a good mother/father/captain of your pub's quiz team/whatever the hell else you want to do other than work every waking moment in the hours left after a 55 hour work week.

@Emily, I say this with absolutely no malice or snarkiness- if you are worried about this issue, you should talk to some women who are mothers and successful in their careers. It is hard. But frankly, for me, doing it any other way would be harder. I do not think I am alone in that feeling. And for the record, I love my life- with all of its varied demands on my time. (I am a scientist working in industry, putting in on average 45 hours/week, advancing well... and also the mother of two little girls who seem to be doing just fine.)

Anonymous said...

Second of all, the time use surveys I've seen indicate an average of 55 hours/week as the work week for an academic professor.

Really? Where is this 55 hours/week workweek? I am an assistant professor, and I work at least 14 hour days pretty much everyday. I haven't taken an evening off (including Saturday and Sunday evenings) since March, and I took one weekend day off between now and the end of March. It's summer now but I have paper and grant deadlines, and I still anticipate similar work-days, and I don't see any end in sight as far as I can see. And all my colleagues are the same way.

So. Where is this 55-hour work-day?

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

"So. Where is this 55-hour work-day?" On another planet, perhaps?

I've averaged about a 60-hour work week for the past 29 years. If you start out at that load, you tend to continue with it. That's the point of the make-or-break tenure system—to select for those who can't stop working.

Cloud said...

Anonymous, here is the link:
http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2010/JF/feat/schie.htm

And here is the relevant quote:

"Partnered science faculty in our sample average nearly sixty hours a week at work. Men and women scientists log the same number of hours (mean hours for men is 56.4, mean for women 56.3, and standard deviations—about 11—are the same as well)."

I believe that it is a "recollection" survey, i.e., people are just asked how many hours they work, and in general, those result in inflated hours. If you do a survey where people actually track their time, you get lower hours worked. People who say they work 70 hour weeks turn out to actually work 55 hours, people who say they work 60 hours turn out to actually work 45, etc. Note that work != being in your office.

This is true cross many professions, and I see no reason to think that academics would be better at estimating their time usage than anyone else.

I hesitate to say this, since it will almost certainly be dismissed as ravings from a non-academic who does not understand.... but have you ever done a time tracking exercise? It can be quite eye-opening and show you where you are being inefficient with your time usage. From the outside, it seems like the extreme freedom to organize your work that comes with being an academic comes with a big risk of being inefficient.

mathgirl said...

In response to Cloud's last post: I'm a tenure-track prof and I agree with you about the perception of work time being different than the actual work time. I learned about this when my son was born and I realized that I had to make the perceptive work time as close to the actual work time as possible if I wanted to be a good mom and a good mathematician at the same time.

Anonymous said...

what came to mind for me was "I still miss some one" by J Cash. I have only heard the Nanci Griffiths version, however. It took me a long time to run the whole lyrics thru my head to be able to come up with it.

And i never got over those blue eyes
I see them everywhere
And i miss those arms that held me
Ooh baby, when all the love was there

Dan Lingman said...

At the university where I went, it was depressingly male oriented. One bright spot - the dean of the physics dept was female.

Dan