Women in Science

The numbers differ between the disciplines but there is a basic sad truth in academia and that is that the higher up you climb the less women are left. Anna Kushnir writes in Wired:

Take my graduate school for example: My class was made up of eight people — seven women and one man, or 7 to 1. He was Snow White and we were the seven dwarves — each with a remarkably appropriate nickname. I was Grumpy, should you be curious to know.

Snow White and at least four of the dwarves have continued on to postdoctoral research jobs. That is a 4 to 3 ratio of women who went on to do a post-doc to those that chose alternate career paths.

Everything is adding up so far, right? Lots of women are around. Lots of science is being done. All is well.

The next set of numbers is slightly puzzling, however. That is the ratio of female to male professors in our department, at a well-respected academic institution, is 48 to 7 men to women.

Interesting reversal, isn’t it? We go from 7 to 1 in grad school to roughly 1 to 7 in professorships.

There are plenty of reasons and explanations but none that adequately explain the whole process. One of the reasons is that, unfortunately, academia for a long time been a boys club where girls are not welcome. This is a really silly reason but who said that professors were not silly?

Calvin & Hobbes G.R.O.S.S. club (get rid of slimy girls)
by Bill Watterson

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