Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Musings About Inequality

I finished the AAUP report, including scanning the data tables at the end. For my university, the numbers are not so great, and even so do not reveal the extent of the problem for women professors in science - engineering - math departments (2% women full professors).

It was also interesting to see that women's salaries as a % of men's decrease from assistant to full professor. I took a pay cut to come to this university because my husband and I were so glad to have two tenure-track positions in the same place, so I
wasn't in a good negotiating position when hired (despite having competing offers from the university where I had my first tenure-track position). I don't think my salary has ever quite 'caught up' with those of the men, and I make essentially the same salary as my husband, despite 4 years of seniority over him. Good thing he does all the cooking, and even helps with the dishes.

My main reaction to the report, however, is that I wish there were a way (1) to convince women that tenure-track faculty positions, even at research universities, are not incompatible with having a family, and (2) to make this true at places where it is not. At my institution, it is mostly true, but many things could be improved.


Ms.PhD said...

As you'll see from the various commenters who visit my blog, it's not just the issue of family that makes women leave science. I'm sure that fixing that one problem would have a big impact, but it's not the whole story, not by a long shot.

Those numbers, for example, are rather disheartening. Why attempt something when you're virtually assured of failure? Most people would take one look at the chances, and go running the other way.

Most of my self doubt, for example, doesn't have to do with my abilities or my work. It has to do with my CHANCES of getting a job. It feels like a ridiculous gamble.

Also, I've read a fair amount about why professional women's salaries are lower than men's, and everyone claims it's because women don't know that men always get more because they ask for more.

Perhaps you could blog or comment on that?

Female Science Professor said...

I don't know your particular situation, but it would shock me if the women Ph.D. students in my department felt as pessimistic as you do about their chances of getting a job. Your comment has motivated me to ask them about this directly though.

Do you have data for your field of biomedical sciences in terms of # of women getting Ph.D.'s, # applying for tenure-track jobs, # interviewed, # hired etc. - for your university or in general?

As long as there are more applicants than positions, there is an element of a 'gamble' to all this for everyone. Even so, I hope you persevere (and succeed).

~profgrrrrl~ said...

It's very comforting to me to read about women who made full professor and who have families. I'm in the social sciences, so I don't have to worry about lab hours (and my specific area makes data collection and such fairly flexible, so I'm fortunate there).

I'm 35, up for tenure next year, divorced, and contemplating single motherhood after tenure -- I want a family, and I don't know how possible it is to wait until I find a partner (which is another story, but I was originally married and ready to have a child while T-T; won't do it alone while T-T). Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog because it makes me think that yes, I can do this.

Anonymous said...

I am a tenured female faculty member with a family. This was only possible because my husband is willing to be an equal partner, and sometimes to do even more than half, when I have to travel or when grant deadlines loom, for example. Almost all of my male colleagues have stay-home wives, or wives with part-time jobs at the most. I have seen a lot of really talented female students who won't pursue tenure-track faculty positions, and they give me two main reasons . First, their husbands are nearly always unwilling to move for the sake of the wife's career, and both the husband and the wife figure that the husband's happiness trumps the wifes career. The second reason is grant writing. These female students typically have very little confidence in their ability to win enough grant money to succeed. It's true that the granting situation in life sciences and ag is dismal. But it is intersting that I don't see the same lack of confidence in most of my male students. And it certainly isn't that the male students are all better writers: sometimes quite the opposite!

I don't know what the solution is, but it is really frustrating to lose these women.