Thanks to a friend in a frozen part of the country for sending me this link to a public radio program that focused today on Women in Science, including discussion with Nathalie Angier, Evalyn Gates, and Marlene Zuk.
I just listened to the recording of the show, and there's the usual stuff about choices and lifestyles and sexism and childcare and hobbies (it's official -- you can have hobbies and be a science professor!).
There is also an interesting/depressing anecdote from a female caller to the program. This woman experienced wow-you're-good-at-math-and-you're-female-how-weird comments 25 years ago and now her daughter is getting these exact same comments as an undergraduate science major. The daughter/student is getting the how-weird-that-you're-good-at-science comments from fellow students, not from older people (professors).
Some of the discussion that followed addressed the fact that bias against women in science isn't just a phenomenon of the old guys who will retire/die soon and then the problem is solved -- the young guys, including current undergraduates, also have these biases.
The radio host seemed to be blown away by this and also accounts of things that women scientists and engineers experience even today in terms of lack of respect or visibility owing to gender. She said "This is 2009", why are we still dealing with these problems that should have gone away many years ago?
In the immortal words of professors of all genders and ages: That's a great question.
The motivation for the show's topic today was Obama's statement in his inaugural speech about restoring Science to its "rightful" place, leading to the question: Is this going to result in changes in the culture of science and how it includes, recruits, and retains women? I suppose if Obama's emphasis on Science inspires more public awareness of science and scientists, there may well be more (positive) changes than we have seen in recent decades. Dare we HOPE?
12 years ago