Saturday, March 24, 2007

More Medieval History

More from my far-flung correspondent (see previous post for first part), reporting on his recent experience on a search committee at his European university; note that the letters "A.H.", as in "Professor A.H.", are not the person in question's initials:

"The university in question has an equal opportunity policy and an equal opportunity officer is allowed to sit on committees, but practice is quite different. Officers will sit on committees only if they are invited to do so, and they are rarely invited to do so. Yet, a report must be written to justify why female applicants are not selected for an interview, which is most of the time. So Professor A.H. had an obvious solution for the report: 'Since there are very few women in this field, of course no female candidates will be selected for an interview'. When I pointed out to him that there are nearly as many women Ph.D.s as men in this field, he said that this may be true in the parts of the field involving 'softer' science but certainly not in hard science."


Anonymous said...

the comments (especially from previous post) are really unbelievable. I wonder if all people at the committee are sitting quietly while someone is saying all those crazy things.

Out of curiosity, which field of physical science has the 50-50 female-to-male ratio?

Female Science Professor said...

My colleague may have been exaggerating for effect, or perhaps in his department this is the ratio (I don't know).

Irie said...

What's considered a "hard" science?

Dr. J said...

Generally, the more maths involved, the "harder" the science. That´s why biology is considered a soft science.

Anonymous said...

For some international statistics in phsyics, check out
Note that Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Poland anre at the bottom. It doesnt show Italy and Spain, but I believe they would be at or near the top. Italians may have many sexist habits, but the belief that a woman cannot do physics, or cannot be a mother and do physics, does not seem to be one of them.

One issue in Germany and Switzerland is that unlike in France, Italy and Spain, the social sytem is not set up to facilitate mothers of young children working. Indeed this is disapproved of. In the United States, which is in the middle, the attitude towards working mothers is ambivalent.

Anonymous said...

My former grad school housemate is now in a very prestigious 'hard sciences' department in the UK. She gets to be on a lot of search committees, for 'balance'. She reported the following comment from a committee discussion a couple of years ago: SeniorRespectedProfessor says 'well, we can cross off A as we already have a woman and we don't need another one'. Friend had the wit to announce 'and she's here and taking notes!' SRP was apparently completely unphased by this!

Anonymous said...

I sometimes share the events of your blog with the president of my small consulting company, which employees primarily engineers and such. He's formerly from academia and a variety of fields where he met a fascinating variety of renowned people, but it's things like this that he points out sometimes (sometimes, mind) can make the private sector a little bit better for people to be, given the mobility factor, than academia. I'd be interested to know the experiences of people who've had more extensive experiences in both arenas in physical sciences since I'm not really quite experienced enough to have the perspective.

Ms.PhD said...

Thanks for these posts. It's always good to know that just because I am paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get us.

re: having the secretary pre-sort the applications, this is one of the things that scares the shit out of me. They do it here, and we recently had to go back to the 'out' pile to try to hire someone (this was not for a faculty position, because they would just do a whole new search). Of course it turned out that some of the best people were filtered out by the secretary. And, btw, she's one of the most sexist people around here.

Manu Francis Mathew said...

Dear Madam/Sir,

I am Manu Francis Mathew from Alappuzha in Kerala in India.

Please let me know which address to send you my CV/resume for your advice or help in other forms.

+Your's faithfully,
Manu Francis Mathew.