Re. why women leave the pipeline

Leemor leemor at CSHL.ORG
Sun Jan 5 19:23:57 EST 1997

>a-schmi at (aloisia schmid) writes
>> My feeling is that if the game were more equitable, if women felt like
>> "it's all really going to be tough, it's all really demanding, but if
>> I
>> work really hard the chances are good that I will be
>> successful"---they
>> wouldn't be so willing to toss these choices away. But the frustration
>> is
>> over the fact that the road is really tough, that you have to work
>> really
>> hard and lose almost all other rewards in life and then STILL are not
>> likely to be successful.  That is totally different!

Susan wrote:

>Hang on, here, are you saying that this potential for failure is
>specific to young *women* scientists?  I
>don't think that's accurate.  The potential for dramatic failure
>exists for men, too....I know of too many painful stories of
>junior faculty MEN missing tenure and being forced out of science
>to think that everything wrong with science is gender specific. This
>a high risk profession pretty much for everyone.  Yes, it's still
>harder for women, so we play the game with a handicap....but the
>point is, we can play, if we choose to. I firmly believe we can
>till win,  IF it is worth  it to us.  But  that's something
>every woman must decide for herself.

I find it depressing that so women in this group feel that there is
almost no hope as Alice writes, as if there is just no way as a woman
to succeed, even if one works hard. Of course there are no guarantees
and men do not have it easy in this endeavour either as Susan points out.
There are no guarantees one's marriage would work either and we've been
doing that for quite a while...
There are women out there doing extremely well and are wonderful scientists.
I am on a tenure-track equivalent at Cold Spring Harbor (CSH does not give
tenure at all) and although only about 10% of the PIs are women, all
the senior women who are active scientists are mothers and are doing
very very well in their highly competitive research.
At Caltech, where I was a postdoc, there aren't a whole lot of women either
but the ones I know in chemistry and biology also did really well. There
was one woman, I knew better who came there as an assistant professor
and got tenure and had two babies in between. And her husband is
also a successful scientist.
I think if the attitude is - if they can do it, so can I (kind of
like what men tend to say....) even if I have to work very hard,
things look better.
Things would become easier and easier the more women are out there, but
being so discourged at the start is not the way to go. There is no
reason to go in blindly, but it is also not productive to be so negative.


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