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    Gender Analysis Says Women In Science And Technology Low In EU, US Workplace
    By News Staff | October 7th 2012 10:19 AM | 30 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    Women may own the social sciences and education but they are under-represented in more math-intensive fields, according to a paper which looks at the US, EU, Brazil, South Africa, India, Korea and Indonesia. It was conducted by advocates of international gender issues from Women in Global Science&Technology and the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World and it was funded by the Elsevier Foundation.

    They make special note that the EU and US are low in female representation in hard science fields - but so is everyone else.
     
    Across the world, billions are spent on outreach and recruitment programs to get more women into STEM fields but the efforts show negative results, they say, particularly in the areas of engineering, physics and computer science. Women are under-represented in degree programs for those fields, less than 30% in most countries. Even in countries where the numbers of women studying science and technology have increased, it has not translated into more women in the workplace.  Around 30% is also the representation of men in the social sciences and education.

    The analysis examined six countries but then the European Union as a bloc. Factors they used in their determination included entitlements like childcare and flexible work hours but also fuzzy, subjective metrics such as society policies and gender mainstreaming in  government institutions.

    Not surprisingly, they determined that countries (or regions, in the case of the EU) where government policies mandate health and childcare, equal pay and gender mainstreaming have more women. One of the main findings is that few countries collect consistent and reliable sex-disaggregated data in all of these areas, which inhibits their ability to implement effective enabling policies and programs and also makes analyses more difficult.

     "We found that the absence of any one of these elements creates a situation of vulnerability for economies that want to be competitively positioned in the knowledge economy,"  states Sophia Huyer, the lead researcher and founding executive director of Women in Global  Science & Technology. "No one country or region is ticking off all the boxes, and some are falling dismally short. This is a tremendous waste of resources. We are wasting resources educating women without following through, and we are missing out on the enormous potential that women represent."

    There is no lack of access to education and women are not being discriminated against, but they say access to education is not a solution in and of itself. Women would seem to be choosing not to enter those fields less and child care might fix it

    "This study identifies key areas of national strength and weakness, and we hope it will help form the basis of evidence-based policy making and aid going forward," said David Ruth, Executive Director of the Elsevier Foundation.

    The evidence is that science is hard. It requires long hours and a great deal of dedication but there is no gender bias in hard fields.  Women are hired for tenure and faculty jobs in greater proportion than their gender - when they apply and they do apply less often.  And women get more PhDs, meaning that enjoy education but not necessarily want to enter a field as a career. Women are also the only gender that can have children and it may be that they want to pursue parenting with the same dedication they pursued academics or they sacrifice career opportunities for a spouse.

    This is Phase I of an ongoing analysis.

    The full study, the 'Gender Equality and the Knowledge Society Scorecard can be found at here.


    Comments

    Hfarmer
    The response to these studies are the experiences of transgender scientist ans science students who have seen how their work is treated differently based solely on how they present themselves. 
    Ben Barres a female to male transman tells it this way. 

    Where Summers sees innate differences, Barres sees discrimination. As a young woman—Barbara—he said he was discouraged from setting his sights on MIT, where he ended up receiving his bachelor’s degree. Once there, he was told that a boyfriend must have solved a hard math problem that he had answered and that had stumped most men in the class. After he began living as a man in 1997, Barres overheard another scientist say, “Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but his work is much better than his sister’s work.



    I can vouch for this sort of thing as well.  If there is no gender based discrimination then these subjective experiences need to be explained away.  My brain and Ben Barres's brains are the same brains.  Why else would our work be judged so differently based on the meat husk it walks around in? 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Stellare
    Well, well, the conclusions stating that women are not disciminated against but choose themselves to not go into the exact sciences because it is so hard, that is really too ridiculous to read. It is funny, had it not been so tragic, that the very same arguments have been used for decades, yet there is hardly any improvements of the statistics at the top level in academia.

    For someone who have survived and done well in the field of hard science it is puzzling why it is so difficult to just admit that there is a problem of discrimination. I guess it is age now that makes me just shrug my shoulders and say, so what? Life is unfair. Deal with it.

    You see, in a country as Norway we've had child care and all other fascilities for ages. Doesn't change the statistics. I can see only two explanations: Either women are disciminated against or they are simply too stupid. You decide! ;-)
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Hank
    So you agree that the social sciences discriminate against men?  It can't be that a number in one field is discrimination and the same number in another is choice. What about political representation and handicapped people?
    Stellare
    I have not seen any statistics showing that women represent more than 30 % (that is very high) of the top level in academia.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Hank
    Academia is not the world.  In the UK, despite starting college with every intention of an academic career, females are down to 12% interested and 21% interested by the time they graduate. 

    There's a sociology argument that has been made that women prefer to deal with people, on average, and men with things.  88% women don't want academic careers nor do 79% of men. It means academia is either hard or a lousy environment but that doesn't mean it is sexist.  It may mean that men may care less about a terrible working environment or there are more anti-social men who stay. Now, certainly having anti-social people at the top makes it harder on everyone and may lead to problems.  This is the same argument sociologists have used for why there is almost no political diversity in (American) academia today; it is not politically correct to discriminate on sex or race but subtly picking people 'like' them happens all of the time.

    I have been waiting for years for real evidence that liberal, tolerant academia is prejudiced but it isn't there yet. If the rate of female hiring is higher than men for tenure jobs the argument now switches to deans at the very top.  People stay in those jobs a long time and there are almost twice as many mean who want to stay in academia after they get a PhD.  I checked in California and 2 of 7 deans are women - on a percentage basis it looks like a lot, but that percentage is telling a fake story. 8 of 19 at UCLA are women but that is really out of line against men. If 100 men find out they are okay with academia and 60 women do (the rest go into the corporate world) in truth there should be only 7 female deans at UCLA

    A 2008 study said America had 36% female deans, even then. Maybe America is less sexist than Norway.  :)
    ehardy52
    '88% of women don't want academic careers nor do 79% of men'

    It seems like academia is both hard and a lousy environment, and that would be an opinion shared by both sexes. If you want to say that there are intrinsic differences in men and women, that's fair- and it would account for the decreased representation of men in social sciences. Maybe the same is (in part) true for women in physics, math, computer science, etc.- seems like less women are interested in these fields to begin with, and less pursue degrees in these subjects. When you look at biological sciences, however, it's a very different story. Implying that the same principle accounts for the paucity of women in powerful positions and remaining in academia to seek tenure doesn't adequately explain the discrepancy. 

    In a blog posted on the Nature website back in January the author writes that 
    “Statistics released this week show that 52% of biological science PhDs were awarded to women in 2009, the second year running that more women than men received PhDs in the field and up by almost 2 percentage points from the previous year.”. 

    Clearly there are many capable women in the sciences, with the advanced degree to prove it, but something is deterring them from pursuing more ‘powerful’ positions or tenure. As the article points out, ‘Not surprisingly, they determined that countries (or regions, in the case of the EU) where government policies mandate health and childcare, equal pay and gender mainstreaming have more women.’ To entice women to stay in science, some universities are now offering childcare, or an extension in the time until they’re up for tenure, etc. A good start, but it doesn’t seem like its enough. 
    I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more emphasis on ‘the baby factor’ when considering a career in the sciences, especially in academia (although it does get one sentence at the end of the article)…
     
    So now I am going to get very ‘un-scientific’ and speak anecdotally, but I work in a lab where the overwhelming majority of researchers in the building are women. (This is just my personal experience, but I know that many other women have been in identical situations). Most of them are eternal postdocs who put in their time from 9-5 and then run home to look after their kids, or women with a bachelor’s degree who have worked as a research assistant for 20 years. Whenever I ask why they chose to stay where they are, they’ve all said the same thing- they wanted to be able to have a family, devote more time to their kids than would be reasonably feasible when going up for tenure, etc. There are rare cases where fathers takes on most of the childcare responsibilities so their wife can focus on her career, but its been shown time and time again that men have more earning potential than women, and that too often there are pay discrepancies which aren’t explained by ‘merit’. 

    Many of my professors/mentors are urging me to apply to Ph.D. programs, but it seems like no one has anything positive to say about working in academia- there are just way too many Ph.Ds with nowhere to go; scientists work long, grueling hours (even as a lowly research assistant I put in a lot of ‘volunteer hours’- way past the 40 hour workweek); and in graduate school you have to cross your fingers and hope that everything goes well so you could put out some great publications to land a decent postdoc position. At that point you can only look forward to pulling in a meager salary which doesn’t nearly reflect the amount of work you have to do and the years spent in acquiring the expertise to keep yourself afloat. Even then there’s no guarantee you will land a tenure track position, as there is so much competition with the glut of PhDs that are being churned out by graduate programs every year. But let’s say you do manage to land a coveted tenure track position and spend several years lobbying for tenure, desperately trying to get (increasingly limited) funding to keep your lab up and running, AND be productive (this is where the ‘publish or perish’ comes into play)- the time commitment is enormous, and leaves little room for raising children- not to mention HAVING children. 

    So where does one find time to start a family in all of this? As women we are the only childbearing gender (obviously), and so a lot of that responsibility falls on our shoulders. It's near impossible to leave science for an extended period of time and, upon re-entry, be as competitive as your peers who have been living in the lab while you were gone. 

    I would elaborate but then this could quickly turn into a novel (if it isn't already)- the point is, I don’t think outright discrimination is solely to blame. It seems that in large part it’s the system that discriminates against women, which is unfortunate because its not likely that it will be reformed anytime soon (yeah, I'm sticking it to 'the man').
    Hank
    Clearly there are many capable women in the sciences, with the advanced degree to prove it, but something is deterring them from pursuing more ‘powerful’ positions or tenure. 
    When academia truly and really became gender neutral, old guys already were in place. As I noted, the important fact is when women apply, they get hired more often than 52% (women may have just passed men in biology PhDs, but in science overall they have been ahead for 20 years) of the time but that is only when a job comes open.   The top levels were 80% men and all those men did not get fired so women were not starting the race from the same point as men (shackled man theory).  However, over time it will right itself without discriminating against old guy who did nothing wrong and obviously lobbied for the culture change to make academia more welcoming - but you are right, even that does not tell the whole story, because only one gender gives birth and, as you noted, 'when they apply' is an important qualified in that statistic I cited.

    Across society, when we compare apples to apples, women are paid as much as men - that means single, no kids in both genders. Once kids enter the picture, men work more hours and make more money per hour, but it can't be dismissed that any employee has more value when they can work more.

    Being a PI is a lot of work. I know a lot of those, but I don't know any deans so I can't say how much work that is. A PI, like the owner of a small company, is doing their best to calculate intangibles when hiring because the impact of one person in a lab of five is 20% whereas the impact of one person in a thousand person company is negligible in the short term.  That may be why more female PhDs get corporate jobs and more men stay in academia.  It isn't sexism, it's not wanting to fall on the sword for a culture war and not get that next R01 grant when a project falls behind.  Academia spreads the idea that it is better than corporate culture but it is actually far more fair than academia, which is pretty cutthroat.
    vongehr
    stating that women are not disciminated against but choose themselves to not go into the exact sciences because it is so hard ... Norway we've had child care and all other fascilities for ages. Doesn't change the statistics. I can see only two explanations: Either women are disciminated against or they are simply too stupid.
    How is it necessarily "stupid" to avoid "hard"? Do women who argue this way perpetuate patriachial values? Am I lefty for asking like this? Rephrase: Is making tomorrow's bombs better than making sandwiches? Once women are 60% represented, the exact sciences turned "good"? Should an ethical person help (white) women participate in exploitation? So many questions that a (non-transgender) male can ask to be labeled a rapist and be smug about it. Kea against Gerhard? Joerg Rings and cumradephysioprof for a little progressive dance routine? Let's have fun like the last time around. With a colored transgender already being involved, this can get really entertaining real fast. I am the first one to mention Hitler, Obama, and autistic children. 3, 2, 1 ...
    Stellare
    Bored in China, Sascha? :-)

    What I meant  by suggesting my two options for explaining the lack of women in top positions in academia is either there is actually discrimination against women or women are simply not good enough to win the competitions. No value discussion implied. I am just referring to those who think that if you are good enough you will succeed. So since women do not succeed in academia (in hard science particularly but also in othe fields) they are simply not good enough - in other words; stupid.(more stupid than men, or less intelligent than men )

    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    ehardy52
    ............words escape me
    Stellare
    In the Scandinavian countries we have systems that allow women to do whatever they like AND have babies. It is different than in the US (and other countries) and has been for a very long time.

    The system explanation you write about doesn't hold. It is either i)discrimination or ii) women are less talented/intelligent  that could possible explain the uneven statistics. I merely want to out those who say that it is not discrimination.  It is not politically correct to state that women are less intelligent (or lack talent in hard sciences).

    Sascha points to the question why would men seek/not avoid hard communities/topics but women would not. Women can't handle challenges, is that it? There is no natural feature that would explain such a gender difference.

    It all boils down to my two possible explanations....

    For the record: I obviously do not think men are smarter or more talented than women in any field of science! ;-) Or vice versa.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually Sascha is referring to a dust-up that occurred in Aug. 2011, so he was playing off several premises regarding the fight beginning.  The mention of Hitler is a joke around here, in that when that is mentioned, it is time to close the comments.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Stellare
    Ah, that must have escaped me somehow. :-) The keyword for closing comments, that is. haha
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Hank
    It is called Godwin's Law (that when Hitler is mentioned, a comment threat is over) but Gerhard's Law is when someone mentions his hat.
    vongehr
    my two options for explaining the lack of women in top positions in academia is either there is actually discrimination against women or women are simply not good enough to win the competitions
    These are the only two options that occur to a biased perception functioning well (selected) in the system as it is. There is a dual description in which "good enough" women avoid top positions because in some way they effectively* understand that top positions require compromises that undermine their aims (while testosterone drenched males waste their energy on "making it" to the top instead of working where it counts, which would perhaps decentralize power).
    Not throwing your life away as a mere cog wheel is not stupid; you call your sisters "stupid".

    * as cognitive systems reacting in a social environment rather than intellectually expressed and endorsed by the currently powerful selection mechanisms to appear in a prominent discourse

    You present your view, which depends crucially on certain values ("top" positions, "good enough", ...), via "
    No value discussion implied". It reveals the degree to which you are assimilated to function in order to support a certain value system (you do not even recognize it as values and take/defend it as objective reality - the values have camouflaged themselves, a most effective evolved strategy to escape attack). Your own culture, as you point out, is already further along than you. Perhaps other Scandinavian women are simply not as stupid as you?
    Thor Russell
    lol calling people stupid can always go both ways, watch where that can lead. Why do you seek out establishment supported walls of irrationality and hypocrisy to knock against --- with your head!Well we sure know that your head isn't hollow as a result, but you don't even have the excuse of being unwittingly sucked into some large uncaring machine like entity to explain your habit of making life difficult for yourself. 

    </end sarcasm/irony - no offence intended :)>
    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    Just to be clear: She started using "stupid" as a label for other women, so I just made it go the other way, still just locally there inside a subset of women labeling each other. I personally of course would never use that label ever. ;-)

    Anyway - to answer your question about why: It is all just language games we find ourselves enjoying. We are having fun feeling better and important while at the very moment a drone shreads some Pakistani girl to pieces and thousands of kids in slums huff glue to cope. There is no why except for the causality ascribed to the stories we believe. She is correct - bored in China.
    Stellare
    'She' never labeled women as stupid. 'She' was referring to the fact that this label is deduced from other people's opinions. However, you suggested 'she' is stupid. 'She' probably is, since 'she' continues to comment in this thread even after both Hitler and Gerhard's Hat have been mentioned....;-)
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Stellare
    lol indeed.

    My way of citing other people's opinions, (I have no idea how many times I have been confronted with this suggestion, directly and indirectly communicated, that women are not smart or good enough) Me referring to other people's opinions is obviously a bit complicated to understand. How could it possible be that I cited (indirectly) other people (mostly men) points of view?

    Sarcasm/irony completely lost on so many... The deductive method is definitely forgotten.hahaha
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    vongehr
    My way of citing other people's opinions ...
    You wrote
    "The system explanation you write about doesn't hold. It is either i)discrimination or ii) women are less talented/intelligent  that could possible explain the uneven statistics. I merely want to out those who say that it is not discrimination."
    Either I am not getting advanced sarcasm or you are insincere now. I also doubt (due to what you wrote just after this quoted section), that you understand my position. Perhaps now you understand, but you certainly did not make it clear that you changed your misinterpretation of what I wrote. Tip: What I wrote is the system theoretical version of radical feminists' charge that women in top positions are traitors collaborating in the rape of their sisters.

    I am the first one to mention Hitler, Obama, and autistic children. 3, 2, 1 ...
    Then I shall be the first to mention religion, age, social class and wearing Big White Hats (thank you Hank for reminding me.)
    Don't pity yourself. He did not say that science was to hard for women because they are incapable of doing it. Science requires long hours experimenting, it requires tedious work, it requires working overtime. i am not saying that women can't do any of that. But women who want to have children and spend a great deal of time with them will find this hard. No one is saying that women can't do science but for women it entails a lot of sacrifice on their part. Thats the fact of life. On another note why don't we have more men in the social science faculties is that discrimination? Are the men stereotyped away from getting into it. The answer is No. they are given a choice and they choose what they like the best. it is not problematic that women don't want to go into sciences it is just the way it is. Ideology like yours and your level of pity for women is what causes discrimination. The real problem should be why less males are graduating out of universities, instead we worry about women chosing not to be scientist. My mom is a scientist (Medical Doctor) but she had to stop working and take care of me and my sister before going back to work, whereas my dad who is a chemical engineer didn't have to do this. Thats the problem, choices not discrimination. Don't get me wrong there are some women that can do both, but you lose efficiency in doing so.

    Gerhard Adam
    As the guy in the white hat, can I perhaps suggest that this topic of gender isn't nearly as simple as we might individually interpret it?  After all, we all have our experiences, good and bad, that exemplify what we consider to be fair versus where we feel we have been wronged.  Some of that may be due to actual bias, some may be due to our own perceptions.

    Without the requirement for sinister motives, the simple truth is that people will tend to associate and surround themselves with those they feel most comfortable with.  Despite trying to convince ourselves that various career fields are based on merit, I suspect that such is only minimally true.  In most cases, basic competence is assumed, so after that, it comes down to comfort levels and the ability to relate to one another.

    So, perhaps things aren't fair, but aren't we all ultimately interested in improving it?  It isn't as if anyone is actually arguing that bias is deserved or good.  So, many of these surveys and polls don't actually help, other than emphasizing that change takes time and it will take time for things to shift over.

    Again, this doesn't require sinister motives, it is merely part of the time it takes for change to permeate any particular system.  Even adding hot water to a bath doesn't suddenly render it uniformly hot [apologies for the weak analogy].
    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    It isn't as if anyone is actually arguing that bias is deserved or good.
    This is the core of the problem, namely that we in spite of pretending to be scientific here, throw out everything that does not subscribe to a flawed equality doctrine, as if integrated, well functioning evolved systems are homogeneous, cancer like substances. What if we instead were to realize that this system actually harms men more than women? How is for example a preference for male babies good for men? A system good for men would have long ago made sure that there are three women for every guy! And yes, what a happy family it would be, if after a hard day's work I came home to a bunch of happy women that are allowed to do happy women stuff together because we have genetically engineered the last bit of trying to be male out of them. Hitler.
    Gerhard Adam
    LOL ... damn you ... you almost made me spit coffee all over my screen.  :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    "And yes, what a happy family it would be, if after a hard day's work I came home to a bunch of happy women that are allowed to do happy women stuff together because we have genetically engineered the last bit of trying to be male out of them. Hitler."

    Sascha, this article at http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/women_nazi_germany.htm called 'The Role of Women in Nazi Germany' explains why and how Hitler created these happy women doing happy women's stuff which of course resulted in the happy men that you now envy without even doing any genetic engineering on them :-

    "Women were not expected to work in Nazi Germany . In Weimar Germany there had been 100,000 female teachers, 3000 female doctors and 13,000 female musicians. Within months of Hitler coming to power, many female doctors and civil servants were sacked. This was followed by female teachers and lawyers. By the start of the Second World War, very few German women were in fulltime work....As housewives and mothers, their lives were controlled. Women were not expected to wear make-up or trousers. The dyeing of hair was not allowed nor were perms. Only flat shoes were expected to be worn. Women were discouraged from slimming as this was considered bad for child birth. Women were encouraged to have a well built figure as slim women, so it was taught, would have problems in pregnancy…….Women were also discouraged from smoking - not because it was linked to problems with pregnancies - but because it was considered non-German to do so.

    August 12th had been the birthday of Hitler’s mother. On this day each year, the Motherhood Cross was awarded to women who had given birth to the largest number of children. The gold cross went to women who had produced 8 children; silver was for 6 children and bronze was for 4 children

    In Nazi Germany it was not considered a social problem if an unmarried woman had a child. In fact it was encouraged. The Nazis established Lebensborn’s which were buildings where selected unmarried women could go to get pregnant by a "racially pure" SS man. These were not buildings that were hidden away in some back street. The government openly publicised them and they had a white flag with a red dot in the middle to identify them to the public."

    A common rhyme for women then was:

    "Take hold of kettle, broom and pan,
    Then you’ll surely get a man!
    Shop and office leave alone, Your true life work lies at home."

    vongehr
    how Hitler created these happy women doing happy women's stuff which of course resulted in the happy men that you now envy without even doing any genetic engineering on them
    Well thank you for reminding me - it is so easy to forget what we Germans have to go through like three different times in all detail while every other nation happily teaches their school children a whitewashed history. But you are wrong! Apart from me being in Asia and thus being envied by other men, those German women back in the days were not all that happy, that is why the genes must be altered.
    Subtle hint: People wearing white hats should all be send to ... you know.
    Gerhard Adam
    Jawohl, mein herr. :)

    BTW, don't you love all the Hitler-philes that come out of the woodwork to tell Germans what it was all about?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I'm actually hopeful for the day when Germans are allowed to shuck off institutionalized guilt and tell people who use the Nazi metaphor incorrectly to shove it in their arsch.
    Gerhard Adam
    Me too
    Mundus vult decipi