Thursday, July 14, 2005

Women in science, again

C posted this link in my comments, and it was too good (well, "good" is not the first word that comes to mind...."good" in an anger-raising sort of way, I guess) to leave there, so here it is:

The Cost of Being a Woman in Science, over at PZ Myers'.

PZ puts it much more eloquently than I ever could, so please go over and read it. In a nutshell: A European study has just shown that women in science don't just have to be better than men to be considered anywhere near equal to men, they have to be 2.5 times better than men ("better" in a productivity sense).


I can't say that I'm really shocked by this, and I really have no thoughtful commentary---only personal anecdotes. I've seen this sort of thing in assessing job candidates, in hearing colleagues evaluate others' work---and this has occurred consistently, every place I've been, even the "enlightened" places. Sometimes in my field it feels like you automatically get 500 bonus points just for being male. There's always that nagging feeling that the deck is impossibly stacked against you, for reasons you have no control over. If it's not the students dinging you for your teaching (too lazy to post links to relevant studies), it's that you're not publishing enough, or publishing in the right places. But what can you do when the terms on which you are being evaluated are apparently so far out of your control---and when the whole world is claiming that these terms are "fair"?

How can we change the system when so few of us even get into the system in the first place, and fewer still survive in the system once there?


pjm said...

As a soon-to-be CS student, this tells me that I should be angling to take as many classes as possible with female professors: 2.5 times better classes! (If only that 2.5 times better actually was "teaching" rather than "in a productivity sense.")

Jane said...

pjm, well, that's certainly one way to put a positive spin on this story! :) But yes, do take as many classes with female profs as you can---speaking as a female prof, seeing more women in my class certainly makes me feel like less of an oddity!

pjm said...

Ah, I fear I couldn't help you much there.

But my spin still applies. ;-)