Women in Science poll responses
Mary Ann Cushman
mac at soilwater.agr.okstate.edu
Tue Sep 24 14:03:50 EST 1996
S L Forsburg <forsburg at salk.edu> wrote:
>> Dear Colleagues,
>> Not too long ago, I posted some poll questions in this internet group.
>> Replies were used to write a newsletter article for an organization called Women in Neuroscience.
>Thanks for posting this interesting article, June.
>One thing that strikes me is that there is a clear division
>between a relatively large group who see some problems, and a
> steady about 25% who don't. Did you collect any data about the
>ages/stages of the respondents? My hypothesis would be that the
>younger women are more likely to feel that they have not suffered
>discrimination. I think that reflects that the doors are now
>open at the student and postdoc level; about 50% of grad students and
>postdocs that I see are likely to be women. I also think that
>reflects a lot of discussion on this group.
When I was a little girl, I thought that the feminist movement had made the workplace better for women. Now I perceive that only happened in the fields to which women were already gaining access.
I think it would also be interesting to know whether all the women who responded were in neuroscience (or biomedical science). I realize the poll was specific to neuroscientists, but I would guess that if one were to account for ALL the fields in which women are getting graduate degrees, far fewer than 25% of the respondents would say 'everything's peachy.'
Even in basic research in the general area of agriculture, inroads made by women have not been broad. Yes, there was Barbara McClintock, but when one ventures beyond basic research in agriculture, women become scarce. This is somewhat less true in industry, but in academia, there are very few female (or minority!!) faculty in agricultural departments. There are departments with NO FEMALE FACULTY AT ANY LEVEL and many with the token lone woman. In plant biology in general, at least 50% of the graduate students are women, but by the time you get to the post doc, there seem to be far fewer. As the research becomes more applied, women become even more rare. Sure, the doors are open, because hands are needed, not because there is a consensus among the very traditional agriculture establishment that women are valued scientists.
I do think that it is important to try to keep a positive outlook, but the days of overt gender bias ARE NOT OVER IN MANY FIELDS, and only the continuing presence of women (and continuing education of men about the value of women) in any field will help young women flourish in science in the future.
Comments from other fields?
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