why women leave the pipeline?

S L Forsburg forsburg at nospam.salk.edu
Sat Jan 4 15:07:07 EST 1997


Karen Kustedjo wrote:
  > On one hand, I am reading about women who aren't willing to work 70
hrs
  > a week to get tenure.  Then there seems to be the feeling that they
are
  > letting (themselves? others?) down by not making that choice.  On
the other
  > hand, I see the complaint that there are so few women with tenure to
guide
  > and serve as role models for the next generation.  

Every decision has broader ramifications than the single individual,
as I've mentioned before, and this is one of the ripples.  One can't 
hire women who don't apply, and based on my job search experience, the
number of women applying for jobs is lower than their representation in 
the postdoctorate. Unfortunately this leads to a negative feedback loop.

  >Unfortunately,
  > I think that it is this incredibly focused willingness to give this
one
  > goal your all, that the system is testing for.  More men seem to be
willing
  > to make that choice, and thus more men are statistically likely to
get
  > tenure, and thus there will remain few women with tenure.  

I think this is true.  In that sense, is it any different from any other
high-power professional field....law, or business?  Why does everyone
seem so surprised at this?  

I hear a lot of complaints and unhappiness, understandable,
that there arent jobs or grants or whatever.  But the thing is
I've been hearing the same complaints (and even made them myself)
 since I was a student in the
late 80s.  In ten years, the complaints havent really changed in kind,
and the job situation and funding is only somewhat
 (but not enormously) worse. What constitutes "success" in the academic 
path hasnt changed, if that's what matters to you, and what it costs to
get there hasn't changed either. 
 There are  many more possibilities outside academics,
 and that's an improvement. But the system is not going to suddenly 
undergo  an epiphany and reorient to a family-friendly 40-hr a week
style, and to expect it to do so is unrealistic.  

Based on the traffic on this thread, a lot of people are still surprised
that career decisions come down to the stark choices that they do. I'm
not
sure why, since it's always been this way;  what did you expect?  
Whether it "should" be this way or not is irrelevant--we have to deal 
with the way it is today.  Decide what you want and what is most  
important to YOU, but remember, it all comes at a price.  

Karen Kustedjo also queried: 
  > how much of women not being in positions of power a matter
  > of thousands of individual choices to not "play the game", versus
a   
  >matter of the game shutting them out?

This is a rather ironic situation.  I argue that we've won the
right to get into the game.  But now that we can play, how many of us
 want to?

-- susan


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S L Forsburg          forsburg at salk.edu
The Salk Institute    http://flosun.salk.edu/~forsburg
La Jolla, CA



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