Tag archives: diversity in science
By Margaret Harris at the APS March Meeting in Baltimore
“Science remains institutionally sexist. Despite some progress, women scientists are still paid less, promoted less, win fewer grants and are more likely to leave research than similarly qualified men.” The opening lines of Nature’s recent special issue make an arresting – if depressing – summary, so it’s not surprising that Roxanne Hughes chose them to kick off yesterday’s press conference on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the APS March Meeting.
Hughes, an education expert at the US National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, spoke about a study she’d done of 26 women undergraduates. All of them entered university with the intention of studying a STEM subject, and 12 had enrolled in a “living and learning community” that offered specialized mentoring opportunities and the chance to live with other female science students. Such programmes have often been touted as a way of helping women persist in science, but on Hughes’ evidence, this particular one made not a whit of difference, at least in numerical terms. The 12 students in the study who switched to non-STEM fields were evenly split between those who participated and those who didn’t.
By Margaret Harris
Here’s a little game for you to play the next time you read a profile of a woman in science. As you read the article, count the number of times it mentions:
The fact that she is a woman
Her husband’s job
Her childcare arrangements
How she acts as a “nurturing figure” towards junior scientists
How she was taken aback by the competitiveness of her field
That she’s a “role model” for other women
How she’s the “first woman to…”
If the article’s total score is anything other than zero, then it fails the Finkbeiner test.