Re. why women leave the pipeline?

S L Forsburg forsburg at nospam.salk.edu
Sun Jan 5 16:17:29 EST 1997


Alice wrote:
> 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.

Good point, I didnt mean to come across as saying quit your whining
 so much as, be informed!  My post was prompted in part by all
the non-cyber complaining I hear around me from postdocs and
students I meet in my travels to meetings, seminars, etc.  For example,
at the Women In Cell Biology meeting at the ASCB meeting last month,
a discussion about how women are doing in science overall became
a series of complaints from unhappy postdocs in the audience.  A lot of
men are just as unhappy over the lack of jobs and the anti-family
pressure
of the current career structure....some of these issues do transcend
gender.  

 Yes, as 
Alice points out, things are unfair and still biased, and the system
isnt working terribly well.  But the real issue is not to repeat that 
(we should all know it by now) so much as decide what we are going to do 
about it?  And that's the discussion I hoped to initiate.
 
> P.S. One last point. Susan makes a point I have heard before: The
> complaints are old. And the response I have heard in dinenr party
> conversations is But things are so much better now than they were even
> 20
> years ago! But you know what? They aren't. Susan points this out.
> There are no female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and there aren't
> female
> university presidents and there are very few female powers that be in
> any
> field. So we've made progress at the low end of the totem pole, but
> not
> at the high end. I would be interested to hear what people think is
> the
> next step to making progress more aggressively at higher levels.....

If I may be a bit of a devil's advocate, a lot of this discussion has
 implied that many women don't want to make progress at the higher
levels--to go back to the metaphor, they've decided that the game isn't
worth playing.  Leaving the game is of  course a perfectly valid 
individual choice but as  I keep harping, has broader consequences to
the community. 

Things are better in that we have won the right to play, although some
of the rules are still  stacked up against us. Hard working women ahead
of
us broke down the barriers that prevented us from playing.  
But now that we can do it, *do we want it?*   

Saying that academic science has to change BEFORE we decide to 
play its game isn't a realistic alternative. I argue that we do not
change institutions by going away and avoiding them, but
by getting into the system and effecting change from inside. We have to
fight our own battles--which means, deciding whether they are worth
fighting.

-- 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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