Leaking pipes, was Re: old girls and hiring

mynlieffm at vms.csd.mu.edu mynlieffm at vms.csd.mu.edu
Wed Mar 29 13:26:05 EST 1995

In article <3lbvql$fvf at riscsm.scripps.edu>, SLForsburg <susan_forsburg at qm.salk.edu> writes:
>wardp at herald.usask.ca (Pearse Ward) wrote:
>  (stuff deleted)
>> There are
>> currently enough women in science to fill 50% of available positions and
>> serve as mentors for the next generation if equality of opportunity,
>> parity of esteem, and a willingness to re-evaluate traditional ideas on
>> how science is done (hours of work, job sharing, family leave etc) are
>> made the main goals......
>Pearse's comments, inside the affirmative action thread, made me stop
>for a moment.  My department recently had a job search and fewer than
>20% of the applicants were women.  yet at the postdoc and student 
>level, numbers are indeed around 50/50.  Informal talks with colleagues
>at other institutions suggest the same observation. New thread, then.
>Where are the women?
>Why arent they applying?  

I have also heard that this is a problem.  A few years ago someone wrote a
letter to science and stated the following statistics about the neuroscience
field.  This is not an exact quote and the numbers may not be entirely correct
but the general gist is:
About 38% of new Ph.D.s are awarded to women.
About 38% of NIH postdoctoral fellowships go to women
Only 18% of job applicants to tenure track positions are women
Only 12% of those tenure track positions are given to women

Why is this?  One possible explanation is that women married to other
scientists are settling for the soft money positions while their husbands take
the tenure track ones.  Anybody have any other explanations?  Although my one
classmate (a man) took a soft money position while his wife had the
tenure-track position the opposite situation seems to be the norm among my
friends.  I was lucky.  My husband is not an academic and was willing to follow
me when I got a tenure track position (he is a very employable computer
I have also read that when matched year for year with experience women still
get fewer grants.  As a post-doc. it took me two tries to get an NIH post-doc
grant while the guys in the lab did it in one try.  I read their grants and the
difference in the project/writing wasn't obvious to me.  Maybe I missed
something.  I'm currently 1 1/2 years into my first tenure track position and
still don't have a large grant (although I did get an RPG [for women only] from
NSF).  I feel that it is difficult for me to  be competitive with a new job,
designed a new laboratory course for the university, new house, 4 year old and
10 month old baby.  I am not a quitter and intend to succeed but I can see how
the temptation is there to jump off the ride!!
For the record - my department has 17 full time faculty of which 4 are women. 
One of these no longer does research but rather teaches our introductory
biology courses.  There is 1 full professor, 1 associate professor and me
(assistant professor).  The other 2 women in the department with active labs
attract more than half of all the graduate students in the department (they are
both molecular biologists, I'm an electrophysiologist).  All 3 of us teach
undergraduate laboratory courses rather than lecture courses (the labs here are
definitely more time consuming since we only use T.A.s for prepping things and
helping out during lab, not for teaching).  

Michelle Mynlieff
Dept. of Biology
Marquette University

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