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Author Topic: Seven Reasons Why Women in Science & Technology Remain Invisible
audra trower williams
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posted 15 October 2003 10:28 AM      Profile for audra trower williams   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Despite 4,000 years of contributions, many are unaware of pioneering women like Empress Shi Dun who invented paper, Florence Nightingale, the famous nurse but little known inventor of the pie chart, or Rosalind Franklin, whose contribution to understanding the helical structure of DNA took 50 years to acknowledge. Deepa Kandaswamy finds seven reasons why women in science and technology remain invisible.

full story

[ 15 October 2003: Message edited by: audra estrones ]


From: And I'm a look you in the eye for every bar of the chorus | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 15 October 2003 12:34 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fix your link, audra!
From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rebecca West
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posted 15 October 2003 02:11 PM      Profile for Rebecca West     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I work in a science and technology-based educational environment, and the decline over the past few years of women undergraduate students is as ubiquitous as it is alarming. A corporate partner has identified the age of 12-15 as the most crucial in promoting science, mathematics and technology to girls in the public school system. It is at that point that social conditioning steps in, and girls take a back seat to boys in these areas, so it is important to get the message across to them before they hit high school that there are careers for them in science and the IT industry.

What has been observed, is that when girls are taught science and technology-based courses separately from boys, by women instructors, they do extremely well, they participate actively in class and maintain a level of interest and ambition in those areas. When taught these same subjects in gender-mixed classes, they do not fare nearly as well. Most become passive, and allow the boys to "take over". By the time they reach high school, most have already decided that science and technology fields are not for them.

I don't really like the idea of gender-separated education in the public school system, but we need to address the problem of the overwhelming imbalance of men to women in science and technology-related fields of work and study. And we need to address it right now. We can't wait for society at large to change.

I think the public school system needs to think hard about offering girls-only programs in science, math and information technology in grades 7-12. At the very least, they should put together a pilot project, to see if it's feasible and produces the desired result.


From: London , Ontario - homogeneous maximus | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 15 October 2003 02:15 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Question: has anyone studied what processes occur that cause them to let the boys take over in those classes and not in other classes where they may not be losing interest?

(By this I'm referring to specifics, not to the general social conditions.)

[ 15 October 2003: Message edited by: Mandos ]


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mush
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posted 15 October 2003 03:02 PM      Profile for Mush     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Rebecca,
Do you mean to say that there has been a DECLINE in female udergraduates in science and technology?!
Ho-leee...I knew there was a gap, but I didn't think it was getting WORSE!

From: Mrs. Fabro's Tiny Town | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 15 October 2003 03:11 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My hypothesis is that they are actually becoming diluted. It used to be that the technically-minded girls were entering only one or two disciplines. ie, maybe biology and (for more applied stuff) CS and so on. But the same proportion of girls are now going into a larger range of more "masculine" fields (ie mech eng, etc)--but the number of girls isn't proportionately rising to counterbalance the dilution.

However, in my own field...well, at least in my research group, there are a lot of female graduate students and professors. AI and natural language processing seem to attract more girls than other research areas in CS, I think.

[ 15 October 2003: Message edited by: Mandos ]


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 15 October 2003 03:17 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A friend of mine has been involved for years with this group:

http://www.linuxchix.org/

It's a group where women who are Linux geeks can hang out and those who aren't can learn to become Linux geeks. It offers courses to help get women started in such things as kernel hacking, which, like most code stuff, is very male-dominated. And, of course, just to get started with Linux stuff.

Men are allowed to participate, if they respect feminism-forummy rules. I don't, because it's one too many mailing lists for me.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rebecca West
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posted 16 October 2003 10:35 AM      Profile for Rebecca West     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mandos:
My hypothesis is that they are actually becoming diluted. It used to be that the technically-minded girls were entering only one or two disciplines. ie, maybe biology and (for more applied stuff) CS and so on. But the same proportion of girls are now going into a larger range of more "masculine" fields (ie mech eng, etc)--but the number of girls isn't proportionately rising to counterbalance the dilution.
With all due respect, my information is not an hypothesis. I work in CS, and enrolment numbers across North America indicate a steady (and alarming) decline in female undergraduate enrolment in CS, mathematics and applied math. There is no observable correlation between the rise in female enrolment in other traditionally male-dominated fields (like Engineering and MedSci) that would suggest a "dilution" effect.

Our numbers indicate the same drop in female enrolment in concurrent degree programs like CS-Engineering, CS-Biology, CS-Law, where female enrolment has otherwise increased in non-concurrent Engineering, Biology and Law programs. Even so, women are vastly underrepresented in both undergraduate and graduate Engineering programs by a ratio of about 4:1 overall. Better than it used to be, but still a serious imbalance.

But these are numbers. Corporate and academic outreach programs visiting high schools and middle schools have discovered by talking to girls that they just don't think women belong in tech fields for a wide range of reasons. By the time they get to high school, most of them drop math and science. And it's bloody disturbing, considering that currently women occupy only 5% of tech jobs. And that number will shrink. Very alarming, considering that technology-related jobs will double over the next ten years. Who will be qualified to fill those jobs if we don't make a concerted effort to encourage girls to stay in math and science and move into tech jobs and careers? Men will, of course. And women will be left behind.


From: London , Ontario - homogeneous maximus | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doug
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posted 16 October 2003 11:33 AM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
All of which makes stories like the one below all the more aggravating. This was in the Metro (the free daily paper in Toronto):

"When China sent its first manned spacecraft into orbit yesterday, a part of Ivy Zheng's spirit took flight. The 34-year-old aerospace engineer, currently living in Toronto, designed one of the key guidance-system components that steered the Long March 2F rocket....Two years ago, she immigrated to Canada, settling in Toronto, hoping for an even better life. Today, she sells cinnamon buns in a subway shop, for $8 an hour."


From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
April Follies
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posted 16 October 2003 03:18 PM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm a female scientist, and I've run into a hurdle or two in my time. I've seen totally unacceptable behavior towards women be largely ignored, for instance, at one institution. More usually, for me it's been the more subtle things - lack of the "aggressive" mindset to treat science as a competition, for instance, or issues with family obligations that take away from the time one's expected to devote to science. It's difficult for men and women both, really; but it does seem that these difficulties fall disproportionately against women. And then there are the people who'll laugh at you when you suggest there might be a problem... ack.
From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Gir Draxon
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posted 17 October 2003 02:20 AM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah its funny how people pretend like its an all male game that women need to break into, but the fact is that women have been contributing to science for many years. Marie Curie is the first name that comes to my mind, and of course there are many more.

quote:
Women are emotional; technology is strictly logical. They don't go together.

Bullshit. Science can seem extremely illogical at times (whoever thinks science is a black-and-white thing obviously has never studied taxonomy). Oh yeah and not all women are "emotional".

quote:

Men are good at math and machines;

Yes, certainly, but...
quote:

women have no clue.

horse pucks. Or else I never would have ahd a female math tutor in high school. Now I may actually object less to the machines thing, since males do appear to be more technological animals. You can name many brilliant female scientists, but a lot less brilliant female computer programmers. I don't know why, it just seems that is the way it is. It is changing, though, but slowly.

quote:

Men are providers; women, nurturers.

Even if you accepted that as true, how does that affect scientific ability at all?


quote:
Technical women are unattractive, arrogant and abnormal.


Whatever they say. My experience tells me that the exact opposite is true. Well I don't know about the abnormal bit, but who really cares about that. Certainly not me.

quote:

Women can't do it because they are made that way - the divine /evolution argument.

Women CAN do it. That can be proven empirically.

I am studying science in university right now. Over half of the people in my chemistry (both organic and inorganic) classes are women, and my biology class is overwhelmingly female. Computing science is mostly male however.


From: Arkham Asylum | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mush
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posted 19 October 2003 06:04 PM      Profile for Mush     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rebecca West:

... And it's bloody disturbing, considering that currently women occupy only 5% of tech jobs. And that number will shrink. Very alarming, considering that technology-related jobs will double over the next ten years. Who will be qualified to fill those jobs if we don't make a concerted effort to encourage girls to stay in math and science and move into tech jobs and careers? Men will, of course. And women will be left behind.

...seems it's happening already..I just learned that in the 1990s the proportion of IT and CS workers who are women declined in Canada before the decline in the tech sector. Now, I would expect that AFTER the bubble burst, women would be forced out, but it seems to have happened even when the industry was growing. Furthermore, this decline occurred in the US, UK, Australia, and at least some European countries.


From: Mrs. Fabro's Tiny Town | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
abnormal
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posted 19 October 2003 06:33 PM      Profile for abnormal   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
What has been observed, is that when girls are taught science and technology-based courses separately from boys, by women instructors, they do extremely well, they participate actively in class and maintain a level of interest and ambition in those areas. When taught these same subjects in gender-mixed classes, they do not fare nearly as well. Most become passive, and allow the boys to "take over". By the time they reach high school, most have already decided that science and technology fields are not for them.

Which is exactly why my daughter is at an all girls school. Of course the best math student is a girl, the best debater is a girl, the best ...

The unofficial school motto (which she proudly told me on her second day of school at age 5) "Girls go to college to get more knowledge but boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider. But that's cause girls are smarter than boys. Everyone knows that."

There are lots of reasons the "girls aren't good at ...." syndrome sets in, at least one of which is boys tend to be pushier in classroom settings and, even when they are not, teachers have a tendency to ask boys to answer first in any sort of tech subject (which includes maths and sciences).

[ 19 October 2003: Message edited by: abnormal ]


From: far, far away | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Madame X
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posted 20 October 2003 01:33 PM      Profile for Madame X     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
good thread.
From: here or there or eveeeery where | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
athena_dreaming
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posted 21 October 2003 10:05 AM      Profile for athena_dreaming   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In addition to what's already been suggested, I have another idea:

Girls aren't stupid. They know that careers in science and technology are very competitive; that you don't need to be out of the workforce for long to be hopelessly behind; that you need to work long, extremely gruelling hours to get anywhere. Most of them also want to have families someday and know that the primary burdens of housework and childrearing will probably fall on their shoulders, no matter what career they have. And they know that these two things are often incompatible. That, for instance, if they want to have children they probably will be out of the workforce for several months at least--and in science and technology this can be a problem if you want to advance. Or even keep current.

This isn't to say that other factors brought up here aren't also important. But IMO programs targetting 12-15 year olds will not solve a problem that is also created by other imbalances between the sexes in society.

I'm thinking, for example, of all those articles and books that have come out over the past several years (and sold rather well) about how women "can have it all but not all at once" and which advise women (and girls) to choose careers, education, jobs and fields which are "family-friendly" and will allow them flexible hours, good maternity benefits, etc. I don't know of a comparative section in the bookstore for men--can you imagine it? "Men, it's possible to have a great job and a family, but you have to be strategic about it. Choose a field that will allow you to find a good, well-paying job at a company with flex-time, good health benefits and a generous paternity leave policy."


From: Toronto | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 21 October 2003 10:09 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Athena Dreaming is back???
From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 21 October 2003 10:14 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Athena! It's been, like, forever!

Welcome back - stay!


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 21 October 2003 10:38 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
From me too, Athena: great to hear from you again.

I can offer only anecdotal evidence, but I've often listened to several younger friends with university jobs in math and science talk -- fatalistically? -- about the glass ceilings they run into, especially if they aren't willing to focus single-mindedly on their work through their twenties.

There seems to be a myth in the sciences generally that one becomes a shooting-star before thirty -- or never. How much of a myth is that belief? Presumably it also puts a lot of pressure on men in the sciences, but it seems especially to take the stuffing out of even the dedicated young women I talk to.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
athena_dreaming
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posted 21 October 2003 10:39 AM      Profile for athena_dreaming   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hello.

I wasn't sure anyone would remember me. Yeah, it's been at least two years, hasn't it?


From: Toronto | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Rebecca West
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posted 21 October 2003 03:10 PM      Profile for Rebecca West     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
This isn't to say that other factors brought up here aren't also important. But IMO programs targetting 12-15 year olds will not solve a problem that is also created by other imbalances between the sexes in society.
I'm curious to see what you believe would be a better strategy. But you're partially right - it's a limited approach to a particular problem, and that alone won't solve all the problems of gender-inequity. However, you have to start somewhere, and it has to be simple and practical in order to take hold. Initiatives that are too wide in scope, too complex, fail miserably.

Outreach programs that seek to encourage girls to strive for careers in non-traditional areas don't just effect the students they target. Administrators and teachers participate as well. Through their participation, they learn as much as the girls do (many teachers and administrators are completely oblivious to serious gender-imbalance in their classrooms).

At the higher levels of education, you need enough female faculty to provide role models and support to young women in science and technology programs. Most of academia is still dominated by the most privileged sector of society - white men. They may be brilliant academics, stellar instructors and wonderful human beings (oh, c'mon, a few of them are ... aren't they?), but they do not reflect the changing demographic of students, and students need mentors as much as they need lecturers if they are to realize their goals.

Women publically recognized for their work. Women as role models to girls and young women. Women in science and technology careers going out to schools and showing girls just how many possibilities there are for them out there after high school. These are things that make a difference.


From: London , Ontario - homogeneous maximus | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mush
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posted 21 October 2003 03:48 PM      Profile for Mush     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by athena_dreaming:

...
Girls aren't stupid. They know that careers in science and technology are very competitive; that you don't need to be out of the workforce for long to be hopelessly behind;...

I'm thinking, for example, of all those articles and books that have come out over the past several years (and sold rather well) about how women "can have it all but not all at once" and which advise women (and girls) to choose careers, education, jobs and fields which are "family-friendly" and will allow them flexible hours..."


wow..excellent point. I wonder to what degree this is true in Europe as well- the decline of women in tech and CS seems to have occurred outside of North America, where I have certainly seen that kind of "advice" handed out.


From: Mrs. Fabro's Tiny Town | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
UWSofty
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posted 21 October 2003 10:04 PM      Profile for UWSofty   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Although I'm kind of reluctant to post in the feminism forum, I'd thought I'd add some insight from a male student in a high-tech field.

Right now I'm a Software Engineering student at the University of Waterloo. Since Waterloo is one of the few universities with more males than females, "the ratio" (male to female students) has always been a hot topic of debate.

In my first year, there were 86 guys in my class and 18 girls (about a 5:1 ratio). This seems to be common among the computer-related engineering programs. Environmental and Civil are a little bit better. And Chemical Engineering (aka Fem Eng) is 50% women.

What was more disturbing than our male:female ratio in first year, was the number of females we've lost. After first year 15 students dropped out of our class (either failed or transferred programs), 10 of them girls. At this point there was some debate as to whether admission standards were lowered to let girls into our program, allegations which have been denied by the administration. I'm not sure this was the case. I think the problem might be more that the girls felt intimidation working in such a male-dominated program, especially with all the group work we have - it's tough to avoid that fact. Although, I should note the 8 girls we have left are doing excellent are among the top students in the class, both academically and extra-curricularly.

I think both the guys and girls both want to see the ratio move closer to parity. There just isn't as many females applying to these programs (although I've heard that overall the number of females heading to university is on the rise, while the number of males is dropping).

I've had many discussions about why females don't seem to be interested in the computer-related fields and I think it has to do with personal interest in computers. Girls just aren't as interested in computers. Whether that's something that is socially implanted at an early age, a genetic disposition of the female gender, or a problem with our education system is up for debate. I think a lot of it may have to do with the fact that more guys play computer games, as silly as that sounds. I know a lot of people in computer science and other computer-related fields are initially attracted to the area because of computer-gaming hobbies.

Anyway, that's just some observations some of my friends and I have made. I appreciate the discussion of this topic, because I think more women are needed in the technological fields. Most women I know and have worked with in computer projects bring unique talents. There are just some things women do better. And I think everyone benefits from working in diverse environments.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
April Follies
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posted 21 October 2003 10:52 PM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Retention is, I think, the number-one problem for women in sci-tech. They're entering the studies at the high-school and college level. It's just we lose so many of them after the first year of college, and more at the grad school entry, and more going to postdoc levels, and then most of all at the postdoc stages. (Being there myself right now, I understand too well why this is. The temptation to drop out and get an actual life can be overwhelming.)

For me, the self-esteem issue is a biggie, and that's been the case for many of the women I've talked to, as well. It seems that many men don't doubt themselves the way that many women in the sciences do, for whatever reasons. Lacking the necessary self-confidence to put themselves forward can really hold back a science student. My last advisor was always telling me to be more agressive, to challenge him when I thought him wrong, etc. Good advice, in a sense, but it goes against a lifetime of training!

In fact, a more collaborative and less confrontational model can make for extremely good science. It's not the science itself that's the problem, it's the 'culture' of science that tends to cast things as a race-to-the-answer rather than a mutual-search-for-truth. This does not, I stress, apply to all men in science - in fact, quite a lot of them are extremely collaborative. But, the key point here, is that the 'top' scientists, the one who get all the prizes and spend 70 hours a week at their desks, do subscribe to that culture - and most of them are men. Those who don't want to be cutting competitors, or who contemplate giving some time to family life, must resign themselves to never having a chance at that most prestigious level.


From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
athena_dreaming
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posted 22 October 2003 10:30 AM      Profile for athena_dreaming   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Rebecca, I don't think I was very clear. I think that those programs are crucial, just not enough. IMO, the problem has two sides:

1) The ongoing perception that women don't "belong" in science or tech, for whatever reason; and,

2) The ongoing reality that women are made responsible for home care and childcare to a much greater extent than men are, which has significant impacts on a woman's career--and limits her choices if she does want a family.

I think the programs for younger women will have a wonderful impact on the first problem, but IMO, if we don't follow through to changes in the family then essentially we will have drawn a whole lot of women into a field where their full participation and success is not possible--and they'll leave--and we'll end up right back where we are now.

While I don't have any sources or stats for this particular field, I know that a similar dynamic is operating in other high-stress, high-demand careers, like law. While women do comprise 50% of law graduates, the jobs and employers selected by men and women are quite different. Men tend to end up in firms where long workweeks of 60-80 billable hours (or more) are the basic expectation, and where salaries, benefits, promotions and status are quite high. Women tend to end up as staff lawyers for companies or in government where hours are more limited and more flexible, demands are not quite so high, but salaries, recognition, promotion etc. are also not as good. As a result, even with lots of women in the field of law in school, female lawyers make less money and don't climb as far on the legal ladder as their male co-graduates.

And surveys and studies have shown that women choose those employers and careers deliberately because they know that the alternative--the law firm--is not compatible with their family goals or responsibilities. When women do go into the law firms, they find that if they want to leave to have children--even just for a few months--it has a permanent and negative impact on their careers; most of them will not have children.

One can see similar patterns among MBA grads, where women are again more likely to choose employers and jobs with fewer hours, less pay and less status in order to continue fulfilling the greater portion of the work around the home. When they do climb the corporate ladder, they're almost certain to be childless--75% of female executives have no children, compared to 25% of men.

If we continue to attack the problem only on one side, only by convincing people that yes, girls can do those jobs (and they can, of course), then we will ultimately fail. We also need to continue working to correct the imbalances in family responsibilities that limit women's chances for success once they graduate and begin to work in their chosen fields. This is not as amenable to program solutions, either in schools or out in society at large--we have to continue to work to change people's mindsets about "women's work" and housework so that men will take on a greater share of their responsibilities around the home.

As an aside, I think that if we ever actually succeed at this, those 80-hour/week jobs will have to disappear because *nobody* (or practically nobody) with any sort of home or family responsibilities will be able to work those kinds of hours. That 75% of male executives with children? Most of them have wives who do not work outside the home.

(Unfortunately this pattern is also self-perpetuating. Men choose the high-stress careers with higher pay, women choose lower-stress careers with lower-pay, thus when the couple go to have children it is easier on the family finances for the woman to stay home with the child/ren for a time, which further limits her career aspirations and promotional prospects, and so on. Definitely not an easy problem to solve.)

Mush: Thanks.

UWSofty: That may have something to do with the computers field, although as a female "gamer," I have to say, you know, we do exist. But hten you have to ask why do so many girls not play computer games?

Could it be the sexism of the games? Just possibly?


From: Toronto | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 22 October 2003 10:49 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
AD: Thing is, women do enter those fields (law, medecine, MBA) in large numbers the first place, despite the fact that the barriers are the same...and, IMO, I think that sci/tech (at least CS) is in some ways much less stressful than those disciplines, but maybe that's just my impression. But even if the stress were the same, then why doesn't the same effect hold for sci/tech? But girls aren't entering sci/tech in the first place, so what makes sci/tech different? I think Rebecca's answer goes more to the heart of why sci/tech is declining in female participation and those other fields are not.

But I also think that there is a deeper effect, not only that tech is seen as a "boy" thing, but that investigation and adventure as seen as "boy" things in general. I also think that the tendency to make tech "user-friendly" has paradoxically decreased the opportunities for participation in technology fields...but maybe that's for another thread.

As for gaming, I stopped playing video games after Mario Bros. Despite being male , I too am quite uninterested by massive weaponry, big pecs, and boobs in games. In fact, I think there would be a big market for thoughtful adventure games that might compare to an SF novel or something...but I guess games developers know where the SURE money is--it's risky to develop new markets.

But I notice that there are a lot more girls who play D&D type role playing games than computer games. There are also a lot of popular female SF writers now.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
athena_dreaming
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Babbler # 4574

posted 22 October 2003 01:34 PM      Profile for athena_dreaming   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mandos: The barriers are *not* the same. That's the part 1 I was talking about--the perception that girls can't do it. Also, I'm not convinced that the same opportunities exist for lower-status lower-stress jobs within science as do within, say, law and business. I'm not sure there are as many jobs in government, for example, for science grads as there are for law and business grads.

My Mom, who works in CS, was telling me over the weekend that high-level CS employers such as Microsoft have changed their interviewing techniques to reflect the stress level of the working atmosphere at those companies. An example she brought up was: "You are sitting in a room, tied to a chair. I enter the room with a gun. I tell you that there are six chambers and two bullets. I put the gun to your head and pull the trigger. Then I spin the chambers and ask you, should I pull the trigger again or spin?" The entire purpose of the question is to select those candidates who are not phased by the question and who can thus, supposedly, handle the extremely high stress of working for MIcrosoft.

So I'm not sure that it's fair to say CS is lower stress than law and business. Especially after the tech bust of the past years, I would think that competition for jobs would be so fierce an employee would be in a much worse position re: negotiating for more humane working hours etc.

The fact is that unless the perception that girls "can't do science" is *growing* than it cannot explain why female participation in that field is *shrinking.* There is no reason for that perception to be growing. There is, however, every reason for women in those fields (and leaving them in droves) to be telling younger women, "It's a great job, I love what I do, but gods this is much much harder than anyone ever told me." There is every reason for girls to be influenced by seeing what their mothers and aunts do, and what it's like for them. There is every reason for girls to hear the siren call of employers in fields who have made concessions to a "work-life balance" like government, business and accounting--to go for training that will get them jobs with maternity benefit top-ups, leave to take care of family (doctor's visits etc.), flex-time, job-sharing, options to go part-time for a while, etc.--because, having seen their own mothers' need for those things due to their greater responsibility in the home, they feel they will need it too.

Also, those other fields *are* declining in female participation--just at later stages. Fewer women are reaching management levels, fewer women are going into medical specializations, and more women who go into those fields leave in their thirties--studies and info I've seen attributing this to the realization that they leave and have kids, or stay and don't, and they choose to leave and have kids.


From: Toronto | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
April Follies
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posted 22 October 2003 03:39 PM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Maybe what we need is an awareness campaing to convince female scientists to only marry those who will guarantee in writing that they'll handle 50% of domestic duties. I'm only half joking here. As long as these unspoken assumptions persist that women have this responsibility to take up the larger share of home and family care, they'll be at a drastic disadvantage.

Of course, another are athat needs to be attacked is what I call the "human resources" mindset - the idea promulgated by companies and institutions, including universities, that people are machines out of which you need to squeeze the maximum amount of time-served. This isn't just bad from a humanitarian standpoint - it's been shown that those who have more R&R time (as well as the obligatory time for family affairs) do better work, and are in the long run more productive!


From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
guilty-pleasure
Babbler # 3469

posted 22 October 2003 03:45 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
convince female scientists to only marry those who will guarantee in writing that they'll handle 50% of domestic duties.

Heck, why limit it to female scientists?? Every woman should do this, regardless of her job. If hubby-to-be won't agree, don't marry him (or else marry him anyway, but cheerfully accept what you've taken on.)


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
athena_dreaming
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4574

posted 23 October 2003 11:01 AM      Profile for athena_dreaming   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
*lol* Why not? Put it in the marriage vows. "And I, Mark Smith, do solemnly swear to do half the toilet-scrubbing, dishwashing, laundry, mopping, and changing of diapers."

I think that's one of the things that makes it so hard to fight. Something like a girl's perception of her technical prowess you can identify programs to combat. But the expectations of domestic duties, while to an extent societal, need to be changed in each relationship one by one. The participants are adults, not children in school, so you can't grab their attention for a few hours in an educational program.

Apparently there are academics designing programs for married couples to try to address this, but they're small and having mixed success. Still, I guess it's good to know that someone's out there plugging away at it.

While I didn't care much for "The Whole Woman" when I read it, I did think Germaine Greer had one excellent suggestion--that each woman make a personal vow to never, ever again do more than one hour of housework in a day, and keep it. I know I will.


From: Toronto | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
April Follies
rabble-rouser
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posted 23 October 2003 12:37 PM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Heh. My husband claims that it's been his lifelong aspiration to be a homemaker, so I'm pretty lucky in that department. Still and all, there are tricky assumption type things that I've observed in friends, family, and my own relationship:

* She who begins doing a household task regularly will find it presumed to be "her job" thenceforward. Breaking this presumption requires at least an hour of sit-down negotiation.

* In my experience, men have been quite willing to do a household task that is specifically requested of them, but less apt to pick up and do something simply because it requires doing. Women have been more likely to e.g. attack a sink full of dishes because it happens to be there.

* In short, it can help enormously to make explicit divisions of tasks, and to occasionally drop reminders like "While I do task A, would you do task B?" It's not nagging if it's coupled with a gentle reminder that you're holding up your end, here.

* Expect both partners to sometimes dilly-dally about accomplishing a task, in hopes that the other one will get to it first.


From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
BleedingHeart
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posted 28 October 2003 12:52 AM      Profile for BleedingHeart   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Maybe women just don't want science and technology careers. Lots of men don't.
From: Kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
April Follies
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4098

posted 28 October 2003 03:17 PM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
However, there seem to be several women who do want sci-tech careers, BleedingHeart, but are finding significant obstacles to that goal. When you say "women don't want"... it sounds like you're referring to all women, which is a dangerous sort of generalization on a feminist board. I'm hoping that's not what you meant.

Edited to remove snarky attitude, with apologies.

[ 28 October 2003: Message edited by: April Follies ]


From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Rebecca West
rabble-rouser
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posted 28 October 2003 04:09 PM      Profile for Rebecca West     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Damn, AF was snarky, and I missed it!? Anyway, even if girls do manage to get past the tech-is-for-guys thing, and if they navigate all the idiocy that is the MTV environment and still refuse to buy into the idea that their options are limited to homemaking soccer-mom or executive secretary, when they get into CS at the undergraduate level, they have to deal with a learning environment that is 90% male. They have to work with guys who surf porn in computer labs after hours, gaming parties that exclude women, their contributions are often ignored in group projects, they hear offensive euphenisms like "code slut" bandied about. (BTW, all of these issues came up in a survey we conducted about the female undergraduate experience in CS). Not every young woman has a thick enough skin to look past all of this nonsense. Nor should she.
From: London , Ontario - homogeneous maximus | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged

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