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    Is There Still Gender Discrimination In Science?
    By Hank Campbell | January 12th 2011 10:36 AM | 84 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    Is there still gender discrimination in science?    We hear about it even today but is it a real problem or is it primarily a problem in that 'if there is even one instance it is too many' way that zealots insist on zero tolerance, even when applied to individuals who sometimes make decisions based on silly reasons.

    Dr. Alex Berezow is editor of RealClearScience and discusses the topic in an article today.   His Ph.D. was in microbiology so he has some experience in the life sciences and, because he is not in academia, he can address the topic of gender discrimination in science more plainly than people who have to show up to work at a university.

    As he notes, and we noted last year, women get more Ph.D.s than men in America, though that covers all disciplines, but even if women are underrepresented in some areas like math and engineering, are they being discouraged?  If so, it is women doing the discouraging, since over 70% of teachers are women.

    Agenda-driven sociologists have an explanation for that; women who don't actually face discrimination still worry so much about it because of gender fatigue, a maddening concept where we can never actually have equality even if things are equal.   Not all sociologists agree, of course, and a study showed there is no wage gap even at ground zero for gender activists and mathematical employment - engineering - and if there is no wage gap, there is no discrimination.

    That won't keep people from claiming it exists.   Some years back, when I was younger and at an engineering software company, Jesse Jackson visited Silicon Valley to say that the entire area was racist because there were fewer black engineers than in the general population.    This was a silly concept - there was negative unemployment in the field at the time, meaning more open jobs than candidates and, given federal race requirements for employment, a black engineer had people competing to hire him.  A black woman engineer?  Forget it, the sky is the limit for a double minority in engineering.   But I am a practical guy so even I had to ponder the issue realistically and ask why, when there is more money to be made, women or black people didn't go into it.    I had no answer for that other than that a free market means irrational choices will be made.   People make choices.

    But sociologists don't seem to believe in choice and instead contend that stereotype bias is keeping women out of math-heavy fields.   It means that women are so worried about having a reputation for not being good at math they subconsciously do not go into math fields.    Even though the difference between genders in math ability disappeared under the No Child Left Behind program teachers say does not work.   A study by psychologists at Stanford University and the University of Waterloo stated that even if others were not prejudiced against women or blacks, legacy prejudice made them perform worse - stereotype threat - so if a black student and a white student got the same score on an SAT test, the black student may be better at math but be so worried about the perception that blacks do worse on tests that it makes him do worse on tests.

    I could go on, but you get the point.   Insert obese people, people with a Southern accent, etc. instead and virtually anyone can explain away poor results with stereotype threat.

    We've gotten to a point in social sciences where choice seems to no longer be a valid explanation for the human condition - causation is everything - so if there are fewer women in math, men must be doing it, or women must be doing it to themselves because men did it generations ago or something that can be corrected.     Well, not everything can be corrected by social engineering, though the path to progress historically has said we would converge on some kind of social Utopia and that is a pillar of progress even today.   

    There is no greater social engineering country regarding gender than Sweden - by law, 50% of corporations must be run by women, but a study by researchers there claimed that a woman had to be 2.5X as qualified as a man in Sweden to get the same job.    The study was based on such silly criteria over such a short range of time that it was meaningless but because it had a ring of truthiness people took the results and ran with it.

    Sweden can continue to dig deeper to find discrimination in order to keep sociologists studying discrimination busy, but America is running out of discrimination to worry about.    The U.S. leads the world in fair hiring practices, even in countries where U.S. companies have no laws to mandate fair hiring.   "American companies are very much emulated these days by companies all over the world," said John Lawler, a professor in the U. of I. Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations. 

    This won't stop people from finding new issues.   We're never going to get a moratorium on sociology regarding STEM participation as long as women are only 48.2 percent of math students.   That's right, unless the percentage is 50-51% America is flawed and, after that, it must be professorships, though STEM hiring has shown no actual difference in gender hiring at even the highest levels. 

    Prof. Meg Urry was first woman Chair of the Department of Physics at Yale and we interviewed her one time on the issue of women in physics.  She dismissed the 'family' issue, since plenty of female doctors exist, and mentor discrimination, since professors in physics tell young women and men they are not cut out for a career in physics equally, but “women need to better understand the mechanisms of hiring, funding, and promotions; that is, how to play the game.”

    Women in other fields obviously understand this, just like they understand they are smart enough to do any job they are determined to beat someone else out to get.   Given the results of the November elections, Title IX-type hiring quotas for women is likely off the table in science, so it's time to get back to business.

    Meanwhile, I am off to play Gender Bias Bingo - that's a real game the National Science Foundation funded to combat bias.   Maybe it can show me how we are still prejudiced but you should know in advance there is no way to win.

    Comments

    Can you say: "Self-fulfilling prophecy"?

    Whatever one chooses to do in life their gender should not dictate how much one is paid for doing their work.

    Religion does discriminate against women.

    Teacher's are not to blame for social pressures on females. Father's of little girls that tell their daughters they can do anything they put their mind to doing should be commended!

    Family culture has a greater influence over females than the influence of teacher's. If females are taught at home that all they will be when they grow up are baby making factories, then that is what they will become. If they are encouraged to do their academics at home instead of being expected to only do housework, then they will be conditioned to do more than domestic standards of the past.

    Some women do not let anything stand between them and their dream. Some people rise above their raising. Some people demand equality. That does not mean they are zealots. These qualities should be admired not admonished.

    ENCOURAGEMENT!!!

    Hank
    Some women do not let anything stand between them and their dream. Some people rise above their raising. Some people demand equality. That does not mean they are zealots. These qualities should be admired not admonished.
    No one is admonishing excellence.  Just the opposite.  It's if I fail at something and I claim people are biased against me because I am a Republican, it is a silly argument.   When all data show there is parity between males in females in test scores, in hiring and in academic achievement, blaming discrimination if a man gets an RO1 grant and a woman does not sounds like rationalization, not fact.

    Yes, there are instances of individual discrimination that occur - as I say above, we can't social engineer out people who want to believe a man can't do certain jobs, like psychology or teaching, nor can we social engineer out people who believe aliens are plotting against us.   That does not mean there is institutional discrimination, it means some people are idiots.
    Gerhard Adam
    If females are taught at home that all they will be when they grow up are baby making factories, then that is what they will become.
    I guess a question that needs to be answered is, "who is doing the teaching"?  I don't know too many men that don't encourage their daughters to pursue whatever their interests are and that they can be successful at it. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Oh, so now you blame the mothers? Good grief!

    My statement about encouraging academics at home was directed more at a cultural bias that the woman's place is geared toward domestic abilities.

    How many father's do you know encourage their son's to do housework instead of cutting the grass? Do you think the daughter's are encouraged to cut the grass or do the dishes?

    Hank
    Oh, so now you blame the mothers? Good grief!
    He can't be blaming mothers if there is nothing to blame them for - what world is it you live in where his statement that all the fathers he knows encourages children of either gender to do whatever they want means he believes mothers are making daughters dislike math?

    Again, the data says there is no issue, at least outside the personal anecdotal level.   Pay is about the same, but other factors determine who gets paid more, just like I have been paid more than plenty of men.   Test scores are the same, PhDs are more women, and hiring is the same.    If there is discrimination, it sure hides well.

    Are you from the US?   I am not sure that 'domestic abilities' stuff applies here.  At least not in any place I have lived.
    I am a US NAVY brat. I have lived all over the world.

    The "domestic abilities" stuff applies everywhere! Women and men are physiologically different therefore are treated differently all over the world. If you have not seen this in your life you are blind to gender differences in society. Haven't you ever opened a door for a woman? In the northern United States women see men that open the door for them as chauvinists. In the southern United States, it is culturally accepted that men open doors for women, not because women are seen as weaker, but to show respect for a lady in one's presence.

    Mr. Adams stated that the question should be "Who is doing the teaching?" Mr. Adams then goes on to make a statement about father's. That leads me to believe he thinks Mother's are the ones that put domestic responsibilities on their daughters. It takes more than Mother's to raise children. I plead with all men to stay with the women that they impregnate. Children need both parents.

    Father's need to know they are important influences in their daughter's lives. Girls look to their father's for approval. Girls look to their fathers as examples for what kind of husband they may want in life. Girls need encouragement from their fathers just as much as boys need their fathers. Women are primary care givers, due to the fact that they give birth. Men may assume that if they do not give birth, they are not as important in a child's life or that they are not as responsible for the upbringing, so they become absent parents (even if they live with the child).

    It is interesting that in this article Teacher's are blamed for gender bias towards girls in mathematics. If 70% of math teacher's are female, how then, are girls not given an example to follow? I can say from experience that the male teacher's that I have encountered have been more patient with me than female teachers. I took that as female teachers expecting a lot out of me, so I can live up to my potential and the male teachers not wanting me to feel intimidated by male authority figures.

    My father ran our house like a ship. I have four brothers and one sister. We were each given domestic chores. However, I ironed my brother's shirts and sewed buttons on them. My brothers protected me from jerk guys that wanted to take advantage of me. Gender roles do play a part in every society even on the family level.

    Gerhard Adam

    Mr. Adams stated that the question should be "Who is doing the teaching?" Mr. Adams then goes on to make a statement about father's. That leads me to believe he thinks Mother's are the ones that put domestic responsibilities on their daughters
    Well, let's consider this.  If someone is putting domestic responsibilities on their daughters it can only be the mother or the father in a family. 

    If the father's not doing it, then it must be the mother.  If the mother's not doing it, then it must be the father.  On the other hand, perhaps no one is doing anything and it's simply the daughter's choice.

    I do find it interesting, that it's always perceived as a zero-sum game.  If I say anything positive about men, then I must be blaming women.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    It is interesting that in this article Teacher's are blamed for gender bias towards girls in mathematics. If 70% of math teacher's are female, how then, are girls not given an example to follow? 
    I would not endorse quotas for male teachers any more than I would quotas for female physicists or Jewish football players.   People have choices and as long as they are not being denied them for any reason other than merit, their careers are their business and not a social engineering project.  The last thing we need are more regulations.    

    While we all agree men and women are different, that is not an excuse to discriminate against one or the other when it comes to their jobs.
    Agreed, there is no excuse to discriminate against anyone due to gender, age, race, religion, or political interest.

    The reason why there is a difference in pay on a gender level is probably due to physiological differences in women and men. Women may take more time off from work due to menses, domestic responsibilities (women are assumed to be primary care givers, therefore are seen as a liability to companies, because they may have a higher absenteeism rate compared to men), and maternity leave.

    Then again, men are not given three months off from work for maternity leave when a child is born. There seems to be bias against men in this area, however their bodies have not undergone a physical trauma save for sleep deprivation.

    Science and Math teachers are in demand, no matter what gender.

    Angela,
    I am agree with you when you wrote that children need their two parents, but I have a bemol : Fathers have to keep distances from their girls... A simple question of the Oeudipus complex... The major role of fathers is to be good providor and to make easy paths that their kids chose to follow...

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    A question I'm often wondering here at Science20 is where are all the women commentators? There seem to be far more men making comments than women in the more traditional science biased blogs, does anyone know what percentage of Science20 readers are women? If it's 50/50 then that does imply that women are maybe less inclined to give their opinions about scientific subjects for some reason?

    Maybe they are more shy than men or more busy or  more scared of looking foolish or just not as interested in these subjects for some reason? I've shown quite a few of my women friends this site via facebook and even occasionally sat them down to read a few interesting articles with me and suggested they make anonymous comments but so far nothing.

    I will have to conduct a small survey and ask them why they haven't commented. An alternative approach is to ask why do I make comments as I'm female? Yes I'm scared of looking foolish, but used to it (!) so not that bothered maybe, though I get a bit mad when my trollipop comments like 'Hitler was a meths addict' get deleted. No, I'm not shy, yes I'm very interested in the subject matter but I am a pretty busy person who is probably spending too much time blogging.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    Maybe they are more shy than men or more busy or more scared of looking foolish or just not as interested in these subjects for some reason?
    I've read arguably every article on the site but commented on a fraction.   Generally, it is because maybe I got a little smarter but had nothing meaningful to add.    There is probably no deeper subtext to why some people, male or female, comment and the bulk do not.   

    If surveys are accurate, we have 40% women readership.   That is a much different demographic from our first year when I was convinced our readership was entirely all old, white guys.
    Gerhard Adam
    Perhaps it is a fear of looking foolish, but it's certainly a risk we all take.  Nobody's perfect (except maybe Hank).

    I certainly don't know the answer, but perhaps many women simply aren't as interested in the topics or in responding.
    Mundus vult decipi
    There will always be those who cannot accept unequal outcomes on "principle," said principle being reality's obligation to fit their ideal.

    I have a friend that works for a company that finds employees for companies, i.e. she is a head-hunter in the U.S. She told me that U.S. companies will hire immigrants over Americans. She stated that India is a chief exporter of Physician's Assistants and Engineers. She used to hire folks with sir names that were something similar to Jones, Smith, or Johnson. Now she finds positions for people with sir names like Patel.

    It seems the more pressing issue that U.S. citizens should be concerned with is educating it's citizens and preparing them to compete on an international level.

    In the medical field, there is gender bias. For example, when ones sees a male nurse one wonders why they are not a doctor.

    Personally, I do not acknowledge gender discrimination in the lab. Everyone knows what is expected of them and acts in an orchestrated manner in order to get a mission accomplished. Scientific teams in a lab perform well if the team mates work well together. In the field, such as in areas like Haiti, physically fit scientists with strong immune systems are ideal. One may liken this to choosing an entomorph linebacker for a football team over an ectomorph. It is not discrimination. Just as if a company hires people that can lift 50kilos for an assembly line over someone who can only lift 8kilos. The requirements of the position determine the best person suited for the job.

    In the past, family culture deemed females as domestics. Due to this cultural assumption males were encouraged to go to college to get an education and females were encouraged to go to college to find a suitable mate. If a female actually pursued a career, invented something, or received the Nobel peace prize, her accomplishments were something of an oddity. Considering these things, it is no surprise that males would dominate math and science related fields, which is why X-generation fathers would influence their daughters more so than their mothers.

    If there is a shift in the field, due to female education backgrounds, then female and male parents of generation-z have an equally responsibility to encourage their children to strive to compete on an international level, because both of them have the educational backgrounds that allow them to do it.

    vongehr
    Hank - I like your courage in taking up such themes and not being afraid of taking a rational position. I wrote a similar piece after watching the TED talk by H. Rosin and with that GFAJ = Give Felisa A Job debacle fresh in memory, both showing that the discrimination is now directed against men while many women are pushed into positions they are not competent for. The sad thing is that women are often worse than men when it comes to gender discrimination (many female professors have almost 100% women grad students) and given that there are proven differences that do render men on average more able inside the exact sciences (e.g. capacity for mental rotation is correlated to testosterone levels), the science suffers.
    Anyway - guess what - I did not post the piece because I did not dare to do it. (UPDATE: Your post encouraged me to post it - thanks.)
    "Is there still gender discrimination in science?"

    Possibly.

    A lot of it is structural: lost opportunities due to pregnancy (as opposed to accounting, for example).

    Hank
    Sure, I am not saying there aren't differences but the fact that women biologically have babies doesn't mean they are discriminated against in possibly the most progressive job sector of America, academia. Discrimination is a real word and it has a powerful meaning that has become too colloquialized by special interests.   Not to disparage accounting in any way, but the value of one post-doc out of five in a small lab is much greater than one accountant out of five in a small accounting firm - you can hire a temp to do accounting but there is a creative aspect to science that can't just be replaced easily.  Discrimination used to be a cultural bedrock and now there are simply isolated pockets of bias, which is a different thing.    We can never eliminate bias in individuals.  Sascha notes above that he knows a lot of women PIs who only hire women - if anecdotal evidence can be extruded out to broad claims then there is more discrimination against men, provided we use his topology rather than that of Doc Isis.

    Isis let me know on Twitter she wasn't thrilled with this piece and I state above there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and examples of people being idiots toward other people but that is not endemic discrimination, it's still some idiot being an idiot.
    Always good to hear the opinion of white guys on gender and race discrimination! Please read the "male privilege checklist"--http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/08/two_checklists_for_feminists.php

    "The first big privilege which whites, males, people in upper economic classes, the able bodied, the straight (I think one or two of those will cover most of us) can work to alleviate is the privilege to be oblivious to privilege." --http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/

    I gotta ask, does this Science 2.0 place actually use science to justify its assertions or is it just a buzzword to generate traffic. You link to Dr. Berezow's article who actually links back to this site for his assertion that sexism is ending. However, from the article he links to he fails to include this interesting tidbit:

    TENURE: In every field, women were underrepresented among candidates for tenure relative to the number of female assistant professors. In chemistry, for example, women made up 22 percent of assistant professors, but only 15 percent of the faculty being considered for tenure. Women also spent significantly longer time as assistant professors. However, women who did come up for tenure review were at least as likely as men to receive tenure.

    SALARY: Women full professors were paid on average 8 percent less than their male counterparts, the report says. This difference in salary did not exist in the ranks of associate and assistant professors.

    You state above that 70% of teachers are women. You do realize that's including elementary and kindergarten school teachers of which there are a vast number more than college professors and that that doesn't even begin to break it down into STEM fields which is what you're talking about here. The article that you stole that figure from points out 8% of math professors are women. Don't think we've quite reached equality yet.

    I suggest you broaden your scope of reading. Go ahead and check out this article by a professor in economics looking at the fact that not only do women in STEM fields leave the field at a higher rate than they leave other fields but also their reasons for leaving:
    http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/5080

    Or check out this publication from the AAUW on "Why So Few?" looking at involvement in STEM fields and showing where the drop off points are for women in these fields along with where measures to change gender bias have meant women stay in these fields:
    http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/whysofew.cfm

    One of your data points here is a single point of evidence from a single woman you interviewed for her opinion on why women leave. You know that's anecdotal evidence, right? I mean I'm sure if I brought in my own anecdotal evidence in this comment it'd be ripped apart because rightly so it shows nothing. But I guess it's okay if you use one woman's opinion for the whole foundation of your article that women just "choose" to go through all those years of schooling to get PhDs in equal numbers as their male colleagues in many fields but then don't stick around to work in the field. Or women "choose" not to go up for tenure after a PhD, a post-doc, and years as an associate professor. I'm sure it's nothing to do with an atmosphere of discrimination or being discouraged in any way. Also, turns out as a female engineer I choose to be paid less than my male colleagues for the same education and years of experience (yes they accounted for taking time off to procreate, and there was still a gap):
    http://www.glassdoor.com/blog/engineering-pay-gap-glassdoor-reveals-many...

    Hank
    One of your data points here is a single point of evidence from a single woman you interviewed for her opinion on why women leave. You know that's anecdotal evidence, right?
    I don't consider the first female chair of physics at Yale the same as a waitress when it comes to evidence of gender discrimination.    She is at an old school in an old discipline with lots of traditions and hidden barricades due to both.
     
    Look, we all recognize the 'shackled man theory' aspect of all this - in that if one person with leg irons races one without, and the shackles are taken off halfway through the race, the newly unshackled person does not yet have a fair chance.   But in succeeding generations everyone was starting from the same point.     

    People are living longer, and that includes old white guys who still do excellent research, so there are fewer women at the highest levels still, but the evidence has shown no bias or discrimination or even a meaningful difference in women being hired for faculty STEM positions in the last decade.   

    That's a cultural win, that's what we all wanted.   Is it a perfect world?  No, and it never will be.   But going all Che Guevara and continuing to fight a war that's been won is only done by career revolutionaries who enjoy blowing things up more than achieving a goal.
    I just don't see how asking for continued scientific due diligence is "going all Che Guevara". I'm not blaming all white dudes or saying that you personally have done something wrong. I just think it's a mistake to say "it's all fine now, let's not do anything else." I mean we have a black President and slavery's been over for a while so let's just not look at it anymore.

    I also never said the chair of physics at Yale was the same as waitress, but I find it sort of amusing you pulled out that comparison. A waitress has never worked in science, which is what were talking about here. But I guess it shows you value physics chairs as people more than waitresses (wait, by your theory, didn't she CHOOSE to be a waitress rather than a physicist?). But in effect, one person's data point is still one person's data point.

    I think scientific studies should continue to be done to look at why and where women drop out of the pipeline. Things like from the AAUW study I linked; if girls are told that their intelligence can grow with experience and learning they do better on math tests. I suspect the same is true for boys but the point of comparison would not be as obvious or it's possible the increase not as clear. So when you do studies on women and girls you might still learn something useful that can be used on boys and minorities as well.

    I'm sure my anecdotes don't count for that of a physics chair but my department has a 1% representation by women in my particular profession versus something like a 6% national average. I'm sure there's no discrimination going on here, probably women just "choose" to work elsewhere. But you have enough places that practice discrimination and it brings down the national average and discourages enough women to contribute to larger numbers. The thing with science is it never stops. We keep studying and keep testing and keeping making new conclusions as necessary. It seems incredibly closed minded to think we should stop looking at a particular issue or assume it is a binary option of good or bad. I hope you will actually read some of the articles I linked and I hope you will perhaps reach out to successful and not successful women in science to get their opinions to broaden your own perspective.

    A few things.

    "As he notes, and we noted last year, women get more Ph.D.s than men in America, though that covers all disciplines, but even if women are underrepresented in some areas like math and engineering, are they being discouraged? If so, it is women doing the discouraging, since over 70% of teachers are women."

    This is an outlandishly irrational thing to say:
    1. Women get more PhDs then men across ALL disciplines, but fewer in the sciences.
    2. For some reason teachers are the only ones who discourage people, and since 70% percent of teachers (again, across all disciplines, and including high school) are women, it must be women's fault.
    3. Therefore, women must be fine, and if they're not, it's "their" own fault.

    Are you insane? How do the statistics you cite have anything to do with the specific underrepresentation of women in scientific journals and positions of authority? You know damn well that getting a PhD is hardly the end of the road for a grad student trying to get a job in science, so that statistic (even if it addressed the sciences specifically, which it does not) is irrelevant. And, as mentioned in other comments, the idea that teachers are the only ones who do discouraging is crazy, as is the idea that since 70% of teachers are female, 70% of science teachers must be as well.

    Forget about the specter of "political correctness," this argument is just illogical, baseless trash.

    "But sociologists don't seem to believe in choice and instead contend that stereotype bias is keeping women out of math-heavy fields."

    Which sociologists don't believe in choice, other than invented strawman sociologists? As you point out in the same paragraph, there are STUDIES that support stereotype threat, but you decide that the mechanism is fact minorities and women not trying hard enough? It is not about "explaining away poor results"; it is just about explaining them in the first place. The poor results, if they are a choice, are just the choice of women and minorities who were reminded that they were women and minorities? How does that make sense?

    "We've gotten to a point in social sciences where choice seems to no longer be a valid explanation for the human condition"

    No we have not. Choice exists, and real-life social scientists believe in it. The point is that there is not such thing as a choice made without a context, and people made choices according to that context. Your fantasy world in which people can do anything they desire, if they only choose to, is, indeed, a fantasy. Your understanding of what social science does is appalling.

    "Prof. Meg Urry was first woman Chair of the Department of Physics at Yale and we interviewed her one time on the issue of women in physics."

    An appeal to anecdotal evidence and the authority of a single "authority." Great science, boss.

    "This is an outlandishly irrational thing to say:
    1. Women get more PhDs then men across ALL disciplines, but fewer in the sciences.
    2. For some reason teachers are the only ones who discourage people, and since 70% percent of teachers (again, across all disciplines, and including high school) are women, it must be women's fault.
    3. Therefore, women must be fine, and if they're not, it's "their" own fault."

    Well done, Nick!!!

    Excellent position!

    Hank
    Odd that it's well done when you agree, though #1 is exactly what I said in the text.    Life sciences are 50/50 and physics is less while softer sciences are much higher women, just like I said.   Like the dearth of Jewish basketball players in the NBA, numbers that do not match the population is not a sign of discrimination.   It just isn't.  Or you use some relative definition of the word discrimination, which is something you should disclose.

    And this word 'fault' is verbage used to make an emotional argument, which you also seem to prefer.  Okay, but data is data.   If you want to believe emotionally that vaccines cause autism, it's fine too.    You can adopt any anti-science position you want because...people are people and we can't social engineer that out, much as people who see a chronic problem even as it has faded insist we must.

    I am never going to want people to stop accepting responsibility for their failures because that means their successes would be suspect too - I just want a society where no one is unfairly impeded from succeeding by a race or gender or anything else.    And we increasingly have that.   You, instead, seem to want to absolve women of any responsibility if they don't get a job.   It's all evil men holding them down, including when the mentors and teachers and department heads and PIs are women.
    Perhaps I didn't make this clear enough, but the numbered points are my summary of yours, Hank, and I prefaced them by saying they are irrational because they are. *You* placed the fault on women teachers. Point 1 is ridiculous because it is not a statistic about women in science! When you say there are more women in social science (or at least receiving PhDs, which is not the same thing), you are being disingenuous: you clearly don't count social science as real in the first place.

    Also, w/r/t your last paragraph, I would say that success is obviously determined in some part by context, just as failure is. It is not about "evil men." it is about systemic (i.e. within a system, not based on a conspiracy) biases.

    Hank
    It is irrational to claim scientists are misogynist bigots holding women back yet the rest of academia are not, nor is the medical field, nor most any other field in America.

    It is a logical exercise to create a world where only your conclusion - scientists are bigots - can be true and then prove it true.  Bertrand Russell would be proud.  But it is still sophistry.

    There is no data showing systemic bias against women in life sciences or hard sciences or soft sciences.    Instead, people take anecdotal evidence - a physics professor was a dick and told them they were no good at physics - and say that is discrimination.    My physics professor was a dick too, and told me I was no good at physics, but I didn't feel bad because he said it to everyone who wasn't very good at physics.   That's not discriminatory.
    It is so nice of you to state emotional arguments.

    My son actually has autism!!! No! I do not believe that the MMR caused his autism, nor do I believe that he has heavy metal poisoning.

    In my initial post, I stated that some people rise above their raising. Some people do not let anything stand between them and their dream.

    Don't worry about me posting to this thread anymore. I am deleting science news from my homepage and stopping the email notifications for this thread.

    I have other things to do with my time than to worry about your ego.

    Good luck to you.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but what does your son having autism have to do with anything that's been said?  Since the point Hank made has been recently posted and discussed, I think you're definitely taking this WAY too personally and being overly sensitive for something that was a general comment.

    Unless you're suggesting that Hank knew about your particular circumstances and specifically tailored his comment to that end, you're way out of line here.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I can only speak about my field, which is Physics, but there is clearly something going wrong in that field. The national average for women faculty is about 10%. This is way up from what it was, say, 20 years ago, but it is still very out of line no matter how you look at it.

    And no, most of the teachers of Physics are not women. (It would be a neat trick getting < 10% of a field to do more than 50% of the teaching).

    Also if you look at the studies the APS performs, the number of women in Physics at every level of their career (high school, college, graduate school, postdoc, faculty) declines steadily and sharply from only a little below 50% at the high school level to the about 10% level at the faculty level mentioned above. I am not well informed enough (even in the case of physicists) to guess as to what the origin of this feature is or to comment on your complaints about the current measures people take to address it. But as an effect it is not small, and it is not subtle, and I am in favor of doing the research to try to understand it. We are failing women in Physics in a huge way, and it is to the detriment of our field.

    Gerhard Adam
    How does "declines steadily" translate into "we are failing women"?  This is a huge jump to assume that because women don't pursue physics (which you admit you know no reason for) that somehow it's someone's failure.
    Mundus vult decipi
    If there were a slight bias in the number of women versus men, I would accept your argument. As it is, the effect is a factor of 10. Clearly, something is going wrong somewhere. You can say you don't care and don't want to understand, your choice. Given the size, it strikes me you are burying your head in the sand. Again, your choice.

    I see evidence of an effect that is affecting a distribution so remarkably and I want to understand it. My choice.

    Gerhard Adam
    I think it's a reverse bias when you presume to know women's desires in their pursuit of science.  Isn't even the remotest possibility that the majority of women might not be interested in physics?  If you actually had data regarding the number of women with physics degrees that are unable to get work, then you might have an argument.  If they've simply never pursued it, then your point is merely some arbitrary requirement for equity when perhaps not is needed.

    You're jumping to a conclusion that you have no basis for.  If there are few or no unemployed female physicists then what is your point?  Are you arguing that we should be persuading more to go into the field?  I'm sorry, but I happen to think that women are intelligent and independent enough to make such choices for themselves, and if they don't, then it isn't on me to badger them into it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Along with not knowing what the word discrimination means, an alarming number of people don't understand what 'factor of X' means.  That factor of 10 business was invented out of thin air.
    No, it wasn't. Want to prove me wrong? Show me the numbers that refute it.

    Oh, that's right, such numbers don't exist. So you can't.

    Hank
    You can't disprove a negative.  "Prove to me half a million Chinese people don't like cheese" is the same sort of nonsensical assertion.   Again, you seem not to understand what a factor is.    Even if you didn't actually mean the factors of 10, those being 1,2,5 and 10, and meant "ten fold", it is a ridiculous assertion for which there is zero evidence.  

    Next you will be telling us we can't disprove that homeopathy works.    This thread has descended from well-meaning people who did not understand what 'discrimination' means to anti-science kooks who instead want to demean scientists and are using sexual politics to do it.
    Actually, you are assuming I know a lot less than I do. I am very aware of female physicists who struggle to succeed (for a variety of reasons related to their gender) and I have seen first hand discrimination. Anecdotal, true, but still much more informed than your baseless hypotheses.

    And there are many unemployed female physicists and also many unemployed male ones too (this is not anecdotal, the APS collects these numbers, and they include the gender of the physicist being polled). You say "why should I care, this could be just more women decide they want to leave physics, and you haven't proven otherwise."

    Yes, I haven't proven otherwise. But there are three possibilities:
    1) Women are less able to do physics than men.
    2) Women decide for their own reasons to leave the field based on something that has nothing to do with the realities of a job in a physics department or the climate of physics research per se.
    3) There is something about physics training which either directly or indirectly influences women to leave.

    Possibility #1 is completely ridiculous.

    Possibility #2 is the gist of your argument. It could be true, but seems unlikely given the fact that there are (quantifiably) many women who do end up outside of the system without having made a positive choice to end up there (which is also perfectly true of men) but also that the relative fractions increase by a factor of 5 from beginning of the career to its end argues that something biases the process and it correlates to a huge degree with gender.

    Also, if this is a conscious choice women make, why does it increase dramatically with time? Why don't women make this choice after undergraduate education? Or out of graduate school? What do you think they learn that men don't after doing physics for 10+ years that they failed to learn after 5 years?

    Possibility #3 would seem to be worth studying so we can understand it properly. That is what I am proposing.

    I don't know what your line of work is (it is clearly not physics), but I invite you to look at some of the excellent data collected by Professor Howard Georgi of Harvard University on this subject. He identifies quantifiable pressures that push many women out of physics, and also argues that while these things correlate better with women, they also act to push a fraction of men out too. What bothers him is that none of these effects actually have anything to do with the actual ability to do physics teaching or research. There are many good talks about the subject on the web.

    By the way, I note as did a commenter below that is also post feels almost certainly like it was a shameless effort by Hank Campbell to promote his own website. It looks like it worked.

    The idea of a "discrimination" being the reason for the asymmetries in science and engineering is a new-age religion for the dumb.

    Only in late 2004, when I joined faculty at Harvard, I began to realize the monstrosity of these superstitions in the U.S. Texts similar to this one would be enough for me to be constantly harassed by politically correct KGB agents, including our department boss. An obnoxious female undergraduate student - a fanatical feminist - complained to the whole hierarchy above me by e-mail.

    When I was invited to a party for the new faculty in Summers' residence, I began to apologize. Of course, Larry told me that there was nothing to apologize for and I was right in my analyses of the reasons. Two months later, he gave a similar speech about the very same issues - at a conference that should have studied these issues - and he went into trouble himself. A year later, he had to resign from a job he really loved.

    It was still my main reason to leave the Academia.

    Today, women clearly have lots of advantages, a hidden "encouragement" and quotas that work at all levels. Believe me, I've been repeatedly a member of the admission committees for undergraduate, graduate students as well as postdocs and the extra considerations were always there.

    But they're not enough to get the same fraction of women to top physical science and maths because at these high levels, the gender gap becomes statistically huge. It's not so much about the different central values - that only differ by 3 points - but mostly by the bigger variance of the distribution for the men - by 10% - that allows the men to probe the extremes of IQ more often. That's the main reason why the percentage of female professional physicists will remain around 15% unless seriously distorted by ill-conceived policies. The percentage of Fields medal winner will continue to be below 1% - we're still waiting for the first female Fields medal winner. This is how nature works.

    Puberty plays its role and motherhood may make things worse. But it doesn't explain the whole signal, either. Women are just different and have different interests. In free countries, they're free to say that they don't like maths - and indeed, most of them don't. The most radical feminists are not good mathematicians and scientists, either. They fill the parasitic departments of women's studies and similar garbage that every decent university should abolish soon.

    You can make a bet that this difference won't go away because it is a law of Nature. It hasn't gone away despite the fact that the males are clearly discriminated against these days. But the discrimination doesn't have the "insane magnitude" that would be needed to match men by women at the level of Witten's peers, among similar levels. It's just not really possible. Even relatively radical feminists would quickly realize that they're doing something wrong, and even if they did it, the fake character of the structure would always show up soon.

    In the Czech Republic, we don't have almost any feminists. It's a dirty word. Czech women are intelligent enough to realize that feminists are just ugly women who can't succeed in their womanliness so they are inventing enemies. Most Czech women are aware of their similarities to men as well as their differences which may be both advantages and disadvantages. But the U.S.-like feminist attempts to present penises as social constructs are so dumb that - I hope - they will never succeed in countries like mine.

    vongehr
    Disregarding the crap about Czech women and that Motl also had trouble for his many other, plainly crazy positions (global warming etc.), disregarding all that, he is right, and I say that even though part of me is quite uncomfortable agreeing with L. Motl (I know this case study in psychology personally). But where he is right, he is right, and here he is right.
    It's not so much about the different central values - that only differ by 3 points - but mostly by the bigger variance of the distribution for the men
    I also like to mention "Sex differences in the right tail of cognitive abilities: A 30 year examination" by Jonathan Wai et. al. Basically: Even if women were on average more intelligent than men, that does not imply that there should be more extremely intelligent women than men. Moreover, (1) fields like physics need a certain kind of intelligence, for example mental rotation abilities, not just more general pattern matching, and (2) they need certain other qualities that do not even have anything to do with intelligence per se. Many people have high intelligence but are no good scientists.

    I am acutely aware of my advantages as a tall white male middle-class semi-able-bodied Westerner and so on, much more so than many women, say the establishment chick Isis (does she still think she is not privileged??? LOL!). And I am aware of the good work women can do in the sciences. In our lab, I like to work with the females as they work more diligently, play less video games, and so on. But when it comes to new, cutting edge creative ideas that challenge the old ways, they come up empty. Is it genetic or upbringing? Is it that something has gone wrong in society somewhere? Maybe. Whatever it is, it does not change the fact that as it is right now and for the foreseeable future, women are a minority in the very top of physics and fields like the philosophy of mind for the simple reason that they are not very good at it. Enforcing quota hurts the scientific progress!


    Dear Sascha, good that you agree with something but in 2011, every intelligent person knows that the global warming scares are ideologically driven bogus and mass hysteria and all people who are genuinely afraid of the Earth because of climate change should be medically treated.

    I have never been in the real trouble because of global warming because a majority of my environment has either realized that the propaganda is nonsense, or they were neutral and favored at least a complete freedom of speech and thought about the topic. That includes Harvard's physics department. I know that the situation is different at some places - in climate and messianic departments of universities and some media - but I have always been exposed to them only through a thick wall of allies and understanding.

    What do you have against Czech women?

    vongehr
    I have nothing against Czech women or men nor against less polarized debates even about global warming, but I do object to the often naive way in which you present these topics. BTW, I find your comment so insightful that I quoted it in my article on discrimination against men. Interesting indeed that these issues were according to you the main reason for your leaving academia. No interest to rejoin it with the support of your harem of Czech female supporters? ;-)
    Sorry if I made it unclear but the Czech women are not trying to penetrate to places where they don't belong, and for most of them, Academia is a part of the list. So my Czech female supporters - or most Czech women, which is what you wanted to write - have nothing to do with the Academia. I don't really "closely" know any Czech women who stayed in the Academia - sorry if I forgot someone.

    vongehr
    OK guys - high time again for clearly distancing myself from L. Motl. I have nothing to do with the guy!
    [Lubos: You cannot write like this ("to places where they don't belong")! People do not connect "and for most of them ..." the way you may think everybody should use language (strict logic). Damn it, can't you try a little harder diverting some of your IQ toward simulation of the lesser neural networks connected to the internet? And don't tell me what I wanted to write. I did not even imply that your support must come out of academia.]
    if you're a white upperclass male who thinks discrimination doesn't exist, try actually having a conversation with someone who isn't. ask 18 year old girls who are considering computer science. ask black engineers. ask people who can't afford college and desperately want to attend. once you're done, i'll be willing to take your post seriously. until then, you're claiming to understand education when you haven't educated yourself.

    Hank
    Sweeping generalizations aren't helping anything.  On the contrary, I can guarantee my financial upbringing was worse than 99% of Americans.   But I never used it as an excuse.

    And white guy status means I have what I call the Secret White Guy Decoder Ring - a tendency to be let in on secret comments or thoughts designed to keep people out by anyone who feels that way.    And with 20 years of engineering experience, including working with blacks,whites, Asians Indians and everything else, I'd know if any hiring meeting ever tried to torpedo anyone for the wrong reasons.

    A big part of the reason you believe discrimination happens is that you have no problem at all stereotyping strangers on the Internet - so you are clearly a bigger part of any bias problems that exist than any white, male scientists I know.
    I think the reason women maybe don't comment much on this site is because the articles are kinda ridiculous. I read a couple of the articles linked to this essay and couldn't stop shaking my head - none of them were even science related, just a lot of opinion.

    But to this post, I just wanted to say that even the poorest white male in the US has more privilege than the poorest white woman. Please, do some reading on white privilege. Your inability to realize your own privilege (which for some reason your erroneously think has to do with social class) results in the folly of writing essays like this one. You only asked one woman for her input, a professor at a prestigious school who is probably from an older generation and therefore likely has a different position on this issue than women in younger generations might have.

    You actually admit to the real data that has resulted in statistics proving women make less money than men in the same field with the same education and you think there is a reason for that other than discrimination but make no effort to explain what those reasons could be, probably cause it's due to discrimination! The studies you use are piss poor proof of anything. And the greatest irony is that you mention causation as to the new "excuse" but most sociological studies only prove correlation, not causation. Which only makes us want to ask the more important question, why? As all social scientists know, correlation does not denote causation. Very few sociological studies can prove causation, mainly because one would have to control, study and evaluate too many variables.

    Gerhard Adam
    But to this post, I just wanted to say that even the poorest white male in the US has more privilege than the poorest white woman. Please, do some reading on white privilege.
    Sorry, but this is just rhetorical crap.  With such obvious bias, it is incredible that you can "shake your head" regarding the posting of opinions.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think the reason women maybe don't comment much on this site is because the articles are kinda ridiculous. I read a couple of the articles linked to this essay and couldn't stop shaking my head - none of them were even science related, just a lot of opinion.

    But to this post, I just wanted to say that even the poorest white male in the US has more privilege than the poorest white woman. Please, do some reading on white privilege. Your inability to realize your own privilege (which for some reason your erroneously think has to do with social class) results in the folly of writing essays like this one. You only asked one woman for her input, a professor at a prestigious school who is probably from an older generation and therefore likely has a different position on this issue than women in younger generations might have.

    You actually admit to the real data that has resulted in statistics proving women make less money than men in the same field with the same education and you think there is a reason for that other than discrimination but make no effort to explain what those reasons could be, probably cause it's due to discrimination! The studies you use are piss poor proof of anything. And the greatest irony is that you mention causation as to the new "excuse" but most sociological studies only prove correlation, not causation. Which only makes us want to ask the more important question, why? As all social scientists know, correlation does not denote causation. Very few sociological studies can prove causation, mainly because one would have to control, study and evaluate too many variables.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, unless you can find someone that can actually demonstrate that they've been discriminated against, rather than just that it was hard or that someone didn't like them, then perhaps you might have a point.

    Similarly, I don't believe that it's a coincidence that many people want to allude to discrimination and yet the people that are the supposed "victims" somehow never feel compelled to speak up.  If there are so many women scientists being discriminated against, then this is the perfect opportunity for them to state their case. 

    On the other hand, I suspect that this is simply another case of perceptions governing the argument, so despite criticizing the "white upperclass male", I suspect you haven't actually been discriminated against yourself (and I don't mean that you didn't get along with someone), so what is the basis for your first-hand knowledge? 

    It is interesting that you jumped to the conclusion that the inability to afford college amounts to discrimination.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Wow, this has turned into a really interesting article with some mind blowing comments, come back Angela! I personally have pretty mixed feelings about feminism and the need for positive discrimination in or out of science. When I was at university the first time round 30 years ago in England, the feminist movement had achieved a lot of very good outcomes by then but it had become very radical and strong and was alienating a lot of people, including me at the time.

    I was openly criticised by some feminists for practicing sacrilegious, male-orientated activities, like wearing make-up, shaving my legs, dancing in discos and wearing sexy dresses to parties and for not looking and being completely self-sufficient and 'natural'. I once spoke in front of a couple of hundred pretty radical feminists at a university meeting and told them that I wanted equality with men but that didn't mean I wanted to look like a man, dressed in dungarees and Doc Martin boots and sporting a crew cut, like half of the women present. I appealed to them to be more tolerant, I also said that I personally didn't want positive discrimination in the workplace because I felt that it was unfair and would alienate more people than it would help. I felt that a lot of women at the time were also being bullied into conforming to these feminist pressures to dress and behave in a certain way. Since then the opposite appears to be happening here in Australia, most young women dress to kill just to shop in the supermarkets around here.

    I then spent 25 years working in the IT Industry as a computer programmer/analyst. It was not unusual for me to be working in a ratio of about 90% men and 10% women for most of that time. One thing I noticed was that the few women I worked with seemed overall to be better at their jobs than most of the men, I'm not sure why. I never was aware of any overt sexism and if anything I think I might have even been inadvertently positively discriminated against, because whenever I went for a job interview the people interviewing were usually so delighted to have a rare woman interviewee to balance their numbers that they often offered me the job on the spot. Over those years my pay was also usually higher than most of the men I worked with, again I'm not sure why, other than that I wasn't scared to ask for higher pay in my job reviews.

    In conclusion, I would say that it is very important that women and men are given equal opportunities and equality in and out of the sciences but that wherever possible any obvious physical disadvantages are addressed. Examples being the need for maternity and sometimes paternity leave and the need for allowances to be made for the fact that a woman's mind, body and time plays an important part producing and nurturing children but I think that the Governments should compensate employers accordingly. Good role models are also very important and I think that the media and education should play a greater role in getting egalitarian messages and images across, especially to children, young men and women, for example I think there is definitely a place for Andrea Kuszewski's sexy science cheerleaders.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Oh, I forgot to mention one way in which I am discriminated against in science and that is that I appear to be the only blogger here at Science20 who is not on Hank's friendlist but I doubt if that is because of my sex, I guess he just doesn't like me.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    That's still not discrimination, and there are some 3000 people here not on my friendlist and yours also.  Why single me out?  Because I am a white male??

    I don't agree the discussion has been all that constructive.   We have some who seem to believe 'discrimination' means whatever they want it to mean, and any setback in their lives fits the bill.   We have some who lament being born in the wrong decade and so, lacking anything meaningful to protest, invent outrage over small personality slights and infer it is angry white men behind the ills of their world.  We have some who are angry a white man even asks the question, yet supposedly white men are the problem so how white men can be part of the solution if they aren't in the discussion is another maddening idea, right along with other made-up stuff like stereotype threat.

    Any number of people, supposedly scientists, completely lose their shit when it comes to cultural issues like this.  All semblance of rationality and skepticism gets completely lost in a desire to instill liberal guilt in everyone else.
     
    In IT, like in every other field, you probably historically had a lot more men.  And you probably watched it change over time.   But has anyone recently not hired someone just because they were a woman?    I've just never seen it done,  though I know it was done in the past, and the data says the difference now is statistically insignificant, and all we have are anecdotes saying otherwise.    Anecdotal evidence would not be acceptable to any scientist criticizing me on this or any other site yet it seems to be solid proof for all of them regarding this topic.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Hank, I singled you out because you own the Science20 site and I thought everyone else here was automatically on your friendlist. You once said that anyone should be able to initiate a chat with you because you're an administrator but I can't, which is frustrating if I have any technical problems, though I don't have many since I switched to firefox. Don't worry I'm not asking to be your friend only to be able to chat with you when I need to, like everyone else, or so I thought. I was also worried that I might be being discriminated against for having technical problems.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    I would've thought that it was simply because you were in the wrong hemisphere. :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I am impressed how she is able to make virtually every topic about her.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Sweeping generalizations aren't helping anything.  On the contrary, I can guarantee my financial upbringing was worse than 99% of Americans.  But I never used it as an excuse.

    And white guy status means I have what I call the Secret White Guy Decoder Ring - a tendency to be let in on secret comments or thoughts designed to keep people out by anyone who feels that way.    And with 20 years of engineering experience, including working with blacks,whites, Asians Indians and everything else, I'd know if any hiring meeting ever tried to torpedo anyone for the wrong reasons.
    Surely people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? I think that probably quite a few women commentators are put off by these sort of personal attacks Hank, unlike me of course :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    It's not a personal attack to note that bigoted white guys are more likely to expose it to other white guys than they are women or minorities.    And the assertion that there are no black engineers and that women could not go into computer science today was idiotic, which would be a personal attack had I actually said it was idiotic.  But I didn't.

    We're in a thread about equality and you're telling me I have to comment to women differently than I do men.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Hang on a minute, you are completely misunderstanding me. I was pointing out that you and most people relate personal experiences to the topic they are discussing, so why pick on me for doing it?

    I'm not that bothered but I wondered if seeing these personal attacks would put off more women than men from making comments on Science20 in general, which is something we were discussing earlier in this blog, why so few women commentators here?

    Possible further evidence for this is that Angela got pretty upset above from what she interpreted as a personal attack on her and announced she was deleting her RSS feed from Science20 and her email notifications from this blog, which I found disappointing because I think that she had been making some really interesting comments. Maybe you should just try to stop making personal attacks on both sexes, to keep it egalitarian?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but Angela was behaving irrationally in being upset.  There was nothing in any of the comments that could be construed as a personal attack, and to bring up the point that her son had autism was simply irrelevant.  As you know, there have plenty of discussions here regarding the autism/anti-vaccine perspective, so for someone to take it personally ... well, they just aren't paying attention.

    I also find it interesting that people feel free to comment about "white, male privilege" without regard for the fact that this IS a personal attack on all the males that are white.  Somehow it is viewed as perfectly reasonable to equate us all in one group and arbitrarily accuse us of being insensitive and myopic to ongoing discrimination being practiced on those around us.

    You also know that there are many times posts can become a bit aggressive and emotional, so that some people may certainly feel insulted by it, but they usually don't throw temper tantrums.   One poster even said that women don't comment because the articles/posts are "ridiculous".  Once again, that's not being viewed as a personal attack (on the author).  So, perhaps its time that some of these women stopped being so sensitive and engaged in conversation if they expect their opinions to matter.

    I think the fact that you don't use any excuses regarding your posts or interactions is a good thing.   However, I do have a real problem with the idea that women somehow need to be enticed or cajoled into participating.  If they don't want their viewpoint heard, and if they don't want to participate,then perhaps its more a sign of lack of maturity on their part than something necessarily being wrong on ours.

    I think you would agree that I have never seen a post that specifically addresses women any differently than it addresses anyone else.   There are plenty of intelligent women that are quite capable of conversing and representing themselves without any special "privilege" being extended to them by others.  I also think it's time that more women recognize that "equality' means that they don't get special treatment.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Helen, Perhaps the reason that the women you worked with tended to be better at their jobs is because women have to have more qualifications and experience to be hired than men, for the same position.

    To the author of the article,
    Studies have found that women applying for grants from the NIH are generally required to have better quality publications and more publications than men to be approved for a grant. This is clearly gender discrimination. Systematic gender discrimination does exist. When controlling for age, experience, and education, women in the sciences (and just about every other profession) are paid less for the same work as men. This is gender discrimination. It does exist and it is one of the reasons that women leave the sciences (would you be excited to do your job if you had to be twice as good as everyone else just to be taken seriously?)

    Gender discrimination is for the most part a thing of the past. A small minority use it as a crutch.
    Hank
    Anecdotal evidence aside, the data agree with you.   And the title asks if there is still gender discrimination, yet the reactionary response seems to be like I am contending it never existed.    And anyone who defaults to the 'white male privilege' cliche as an argument might as well just go ahead and invoke the Holocaust or Nazis or anything else that means they have nothing of value to contribute.
    I've been struggling with this very issue and spoke with a new mom that has a PhD in the lab I work in. Not only does this exist in Vet school, but in every science field. Women are still facing gender discrimination every day. If you want a graduate degree of some sort, your career or your family will always suffer. There is always one that gets ignored. Therefore, if you want a successful career (which is more than attainable as a female), your family life will suffer especially if you want children. We are forced every day to choose between our own success and that of our children. Naturally, many women choose their family over their career, but how is that fair that we are even forced to make that decision? If I was a male, I wouldn't be questioning whether or not to get a PhD right now. Also, women in science often have children much later in life because of the demands of their career. For women, this can be very dangerous physically, and the options of even being able to bear children diminishes every year. A woman can build there career and then when they finally receive tenure, they're in their late 40's and having children is almost impossible and very impractical. The author should be ashamed of the ignorant things they said. The fact is, most men cannot relate or understand the challenges women are faced when it comes to raising children and having a career in science. I attempted to talk to my boss about this very issue the other day and he seemed to just brush it off. He said, "raising children is teamwork...if you want a family and career you will have to work with your husband". Yet he wasn't the one who had to carry the child, give birth, breast feed for a year 10x a day, or give up his career and advanced degree like his wife had to do. It's easy for men to say it's easy to have a career and family or that gender inequality is not an issue.

    Hank
    Women are still facing gender discrimination every day. If you want a graduate degree of some sort, your career or your family will always suffer. 
    That is not discrimination.   The issue in graduate degrees is jobs - too many people assume getting a graduate degree means they are more likely to get a job.  Companies hire people, not degrees.    In academia the situation is even worse - even if academia jobs go up every year, fewer than 1 in 6 would be able to get jobs so, if a PhD does not get a job, it is not discrimination, it is that someone else got a job.   The numbers from the last decade show no bias in hiring.
     The author should be ashamed of the ignorant things they said.
    What is the basis for this?   Because you have a contrary experience?  If I had a family member killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and you said 'not all Muslims are terrorists' do I get to tell you that you should be ashamed for using facts to dispel a personal experience.   

    The fact is, men suffer regarding families and their careers and their degrees also - we just aren't allowed to blame women or anyone else.
    Gerhard Adam
    Yet he wasn't the one who had to carry the child, give birth, breast feed for a year 10x a day, or give up his career and advanced degree like his wife had to do. It's easy for men to say it's easy to have a career and family or that gender inequality is not an issue.
    How does this have anything to do with gender inequality?   The challenges and issues you're raising are part of the biology of being a woman.  Sorry if you don't like it, but there's little anyone can do to change that and it certainly has nothing to do with inequality or discrimination.

    Come on .... "breastfeeding"?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Gerhard, surely you can see that womens careers are adversely affected by these reproductive biological demands on their minds and bodies, that men simply can't and don't have to experience?

    I know from other blogs that you seem to think there are already too many human beings on this planet so maybe that makes you less sympathetic to these inequalities? However, most people recognize that society needs children for obvious reasons and only women can give birth to them at present. Breastfeeding for six months, which is very physically demanding, also needs to be encouraged as it has been shown to be advantageous for babies in many ways and formula has been shown to be deficient in some important enzymes needed for optimal brain development.

    In order to help redress some of these biologically, sexually discriminatory, physical and time imbalances between men and women's abilities to develop their professional careers, whether its in science or not, I think that society and people in general, especially the privileged white males who tend to have a lot of power in society, need to make some allowances and at least recognise that these factors exist. These factors mean that the professional career stadium is not a level playing field for women and probably never will be and its simply not fair to try to pretend that it is.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Gerhard, surely you can see that womens careers are adversely affected by these reproductive biological demands on their minds and bodies, that men simply can't and don't have to experience?
    ... and this represents inequality and discrimination in what way?   I get it ... we don't always have it easy and sometimes we're stuck with choices that make things even more difficult. 

    However, these are not inequalities.  If I get into a car accident because someone has been drinking, it's not fair, but I can't suddenly complain that my lot in life is not equal to someone else's.  We have plenty of soldiers returning from war with injuries that will plague them for the rest of their lives, and it isn 't fair, so how are we going to make that "fair" and equal?

    I'm not as tall as I'd like to be and  I certainly don't have as much money as someone else, so what can be done to make this more equal? 

    I know this isn't what women want to hear, but the truth is that they gain no special privilege or dispensation because they choose to have children and raise families.  Whether you think it's a noble endeavor or a waste of time is immaterial.  Unless someone is forcing you to do these things against your will, they are choices you and others have freely made.  The mere fact that you may have to make compromises and prioritize your choices is no basis for claiming inequality.

    There are many successful women, but not everyone is going to be the CEO, nor is everyone going to win a Nobel Prize - male or female.  It's time women stopped believing their own hard-luck stories.  There's nothing more immature than the woman that insists that she can have it all.  Choices and compromises have to be made, and anyone that thinks that they can do everything and be a super-human is bound to leave disappointed.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Very interesting post and comments. I'm a female postdoc in the STEM fields applying for faculty positions. I can't think of one example where myself or my friends (male or female) that are my generation experienced gender discrimination. That said, I had a baby last year and it definitely influenced my competitiveness during the faculty search this year. Taking into account pregnancy, 3 months off, breasting/pumping (and yes, breastfeeding and pumping are an incredible time suck), I figure I lost about 6 months of productivity. In my field, that equals roughly a publication, a few weeks in the field, and a conference. In an already VERY tough job market- for both males and females, that loss in productivity could make or break my ability to get a job. I never felt any discrimination because of having a baby, but it definitely introduced an inequality.

    Hank
    You touch on an unfortunate aspect of a performance-driven economy.  A woman who is 7 months pregnant, for example, does have to have a much higher qualification set if she is going to get hired when a company knows she will be almost immediately gone for 3 months.    It would almost be not worth the bother to interview.

    Inequalities are present in many situations, though.  When I hit 50 years old, for example, my career prospects competing against younger people of either sex with less experience will still be lower - we can't legislate that out of society.

    And young people who now have to compete against older researchers who are living longer and not retiring are clamoring for a special pool of grant money so they can not have to compete against researchers with a lot more experience.   Basically, we're all screwed in different ways.

    Thanks for being a voice of reason in the comments!
    I think you chose a very poor example to compare inequalities. Everyone will hit 50 years old, for example, and be in the situation that you describe. However, obviously, only half of the population at most will ever be pregnant. So to say we are all screwed isn't quite accurate. (I resisted the obvious pun.)

    I am surprised by an earlier poster who doesn't believe that the reproductive biological demands of a female counts as an inequality. Because of my biology, I am at a disadvantage relative to other females without children and males in my field. And, yes, it was my decision to have a child but I started my PhD single and not knowing if I was going to have children. Does this mean that once I decided on this career path, I had to give up the hope of ever having children? Or, when I met my husband and we decided to have children that I had to give up my career but he didn't? Of course not, but that doesn't mean that I am a "women that insists that she can have it all".

    I think it is very shortsighted if the people making hiring decisions don't make allowances for women who have had children. I am at least (somewhat) hopeful that in my job search, my six month loss of productivity will be considered minor in view of my decades long contribution to an institution. If this view is not held elsewhere, and as a society, I think we are missing out on a lot of what women who have had children can contribute.

    Hank
    I don't think it is an impediment in the long term.  Being an M.D. is a demanding career with similar competition but women do fine having children, the same as in the corporations.    What the more zealous people in the comments want us to believe is that, despite the evidence showing otherwise, science academia is overrun with male bigots whereas medical fields, engineering and various other corporations are not.    

    Obviously discrimination was once the norm in all fields and there will be pockets of bigotry today but that does not mean there is systemic discrimination.  It just means some people are bigots and get away with it.
    Gerhard Adam
    I am surprised by an earlier poster who doesn't believe that the reproductive biological demands of a female counts as an inequality. Because of my biology, I am at a disadvantage relative to other females without children and males in my field.
    Well, if it makes you feel any better, women tend to outlive men, so I guess it evens out in the end.
    Does this mean that once I decided on this career path, I had to give up the hope of ever having children? Or, when I met my husband and we decided to have children that I had to give up my career but he didn't?
    Please, you're being preposterous.  If you wanted children then you consciously made a choice.  If you wanted your husband to give up his career, then that was certainly an option for the two of you to decide.  If he didn't want to give up his career and you did, then that was also yours and his choices.  Sorry, if you can't have everything you want.

    But more to the point.  Since when is any inequality a basis for claiming bias or discrimination?  Surely you aren't so naive as to believe that there is now or ever has been any possibility that equality was an achievable goal?  Certainly when we talk about opportunities (which you clearly had) and choices (which you also had), then society and government can remove as many obstacles or impediments as possible, but it certainly can't insure equity amongst individuals.   However, any notion that somehow society is responsible to ensure that everyone has the same amount of money, intelligence, looks, etc. is simply ridiculous.  That's what I meant before when I said .... immature.

    Part of what I find so irritating and disturbing about these attitudes is that it shows how utterly self-centered most of these views are, especially when compared to a significant part of the world where there are few or no choices.  Where even having children will likely result in one or two of them dying before there is one that survives to adulthood.  Where starvation and violence are the norm.  These are all realities of existence for many men and women, and for people that live in a country and society where they have the power to make their own decisions and actually act on their own choices, it is the epitome of arrogance and foolishness to whine about one's biology.  If there was anything more ridiculous to complain about given the state of the majority of the world's population, I haven't seen it.

    Like it or not, having children is a choice and it isn't one that you are compelled to take.  If that's what you want, then you have determined your own priorities.  No one else has. 

    ...it was my decision to have a child but I started my PhD single and not knowing if I was going to have children.
    You had the opportunity (economic and time) to pursue a PhD and you still complain that you had to make choices and decisions.   So before you complain about how unequal things are for you, perhaps you'd better look at the other people around you that would love to have a fraction of the opportunities you've had but are unable to because things aren't equal for them either.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank, I do hope that the inequality involved with being a female having had a child is not an impediment in the long term. I still wouldn't be in the game if I didn't think so. And, in fact, I am actually quite optimistic that I will get a job this year, despite having had a child.

    Gerhard, it seems you are replying to a post that I did not write. I never said that inequality is a basis for claiming discrimination. In my first post, I specifically said that I couldn't think of an example where I had faced gender discrimination.

    I have no arguments with you that the discussion we are having now is incredibly insignificant relative to what most people in our world face. But, this is a conversation about gender discrimination, which in the comments evolved to one that included gender inequalities. You have extrapolated way beyond anything that I have said.

    Finally, I also think that there is nothing wrong with striving toward equality, even if that goal is unattainable. What type of person acknowledges that we are all unequal and says that is OK?

    Gerhard Adam
    What type of person acknowledges that we are all unequal and says that is OK?
    One that recognizes that not everyone will have the same looks, or the same education, or the same job, or the same amount of money.  One that recognizes that some people will have to suffer disease and injuries, while others will become Olympic athletes.  One that is comfortable with the idea that there is no such thing as "equality" when it comes to comparing individuals.

    From a biological perspective, equality is absurd.  Not much opportunity for natural selection to work if everything was equal. is there?  How can we have genius without also having idiots?  How can we have excellence without also having mediocrity?

    Equality is a meaningless phrase and concept when it is applied so broadly.  The only context for equality is to ensure that all people are given the opportunity to compete equally, while recognizing that none of the individuals doing so will actually be equal.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    ...it seems you are replying to a post that I did not write.
    Can't tell, since they're all equally anonymous :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    From reading the comments and the resultant upsets to our female commenters, I would have to say YES, there is gender discrimination in Science....certainly Science 2.0!

    ...but I also have to say, that since Science 2.0 is NOT an alien encampment, it doesn't surprise me, as gender discrimination is so rife in society at large,  it would stand out as something exceptional if it weren't....and get loads of publicity for having achieved a utopian dream

    It will only be a non-issue when Scientist equates to person, commenter equates to person, and reaction equates to person....which just isn't happening ...yet

    To expect both genders to magically accept each other and their differences of perspective and opinion, is, I think, hopeful, but has a way to go still....

    If equal genders can't do it, why the heck should we expect different ones to?



    Aitch
    Hank
    From reading the comments and the resultant upsets to our female commenters, I would have to say YES, there is gender discrimination in Science....certainly Science 2.0!
    This makes no sense unless every word in the language is suddenly relative.   If I write in a comment you are a green-eyed alien, it does not suddenly make it so. 

    Asking if there is still gender discrimination - there was never an implication there was not in the past - is not evidence of gender discrimination yet a number of the more kookier commenters seem to feel like asking the question is sexist.   And their defense is 'ignore the data, you have different genitals'.   

    This is the same mentality as those who believe in the autism-vaccine link.   My next article should be which gender in science has more insane people, males or females?   I am betting I know how the data will come out there also.
    Aitch
    My next article should be which gender in science has more insane people, males or females? I am betting I know how the data will come out there also.
    So, maybe you should ask, 'Male Female, or Other'?......then ask for predictions on the percentages? ;-)

    Aitch
    Go find out how biased you are, scientifically!

    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

    Gerhard Adam
    I took one of the tests that I had no particularly strong feelings about (young/old) and it assessed me as preferring younger people.

    Of course, it completely fails to take into account that you become conditioned to one particular set of responses and as you progress you have to take longer to "unlearn" what you did for the previous ones (depending on how your thoughts were organized around the categories).

    So, in general I found it to be rubbish.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Stereotypes and prejudice do still exist, and pretending they don't influence people is foolish. Even in the 21st century, the culture of certain professions may discourage certain types of people from wanting to enter. If you ask why so few women choose to become engineers -- and put it all down to personal choice -- why not ask why so few African-Americans choose to become NASCAR drivers?

    Gerhard Adam
    ...why not ask why so few African-Americans choose to become NASCAR drivers?
    You're joking right?  Why not ask why people don't become rock stars?  How about hip-hop artists?  Is there an underlying bias?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Maybe we need a Title IX for Jews in basketball?   American culture is a little bonkers because we have the least racism and gender discrimination.  My favorite example is when Formula One rookie Lewis Hamilton (black man) was in the hunt for the championship and ESPN referred to him as the "African-American race car driver from England".   There's sensitivity and then there is letting demographics make stupid stuff up that is just goofy and make the whole issue more confusing.   My ancestors arrived in America long after every single slave that came to the US but I am not Scottish, I am white, if that is the demographic, or American.
       
    Clearly that commenter needs to find bias in order to explain away why they are not running IBM or Harvard.