why women leave the pipeline?

Karen Kustedjo kujo at cco.caltech.edu
Sat Jan 4 17:24:53 EST 1997

a-schmi at uiuc.edu (aloisia schmid) writes:

>The thing that I wanted to weigh in with is this:  I have been reading
>alot of these kinds of postings lately, the kind that say, "quit your
>whining!'  But I don't understand what is being perceived here as whining
>exactly.  It seems to me the postings I have been reading haven't been
>unreasonably complaining, they have given voice to things i have thought
>many times and are good constructive topics for discussion.  

It was not my intention to convey the message "quit your whining".  My
question is not meant to mock or deride or scold, it is an honest question.
What *did* you expect?  I can tell you, as someone who is about to enter
the pipeline, what I expect.  I believe that flexibility, knowing *exactly*
what it is that you want, and having the right contacts are the way to win
the game.  That may seem cynical, but I'm trying to find the right balance
between what *I* want to have happen, and what *is* happening.

I am attempting to add to the discussion more than just anecdotes, but
also some analysis about what larger pattern I am seeing when I take 
many anecdotes together.  Maybe then it will be possible for us to figure
out some doable plan of action on a personal level and as a loose network.
I'm not only interested in collecting data from others (please, keep sending
your observations in!), but also analyzing it, trying to figure out what
(if anything) we can do about it, and getting others to help me as I try to
help others.  Perhaps, this synergy will work.

>So let's see.  People have been saying:

>1.  academics is UNNECESSARILY difficult as a career choice.  There is an
>old boy network that is difficult to crack and the lifestyle is not
>compatible with wanting a life outside of work.  It is difficult to get
>jobs and money.  

>2.  There are inequities in the lab and in the heirarchy that are
>sometimes very subtle but that nevertheless contribute to a different role
>for women in science than for men.  

>3.  That men, for a huge number of reasons are able to commit more fully
>to their work, and this is not just true in science.  And this makes it
>even more difficult for women to compete, in an arena that is already
>biased against them for reasons we have mentioned before.

>Too pollyanna-ish?  

It's only pollyanaish if you don't intend to implement your ideas.  And 
certainly no woman gets into science in the first place by having no
backbone at all!

Karen Kustedjo

"Trust is just as rare as devotion, forgive us our cynical thoughts." -NP


Karen Kustedjo kujo at cco.caltech.edu

"The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a

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