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February 14 2011

Women and Science

Allison Kasic

A new paper in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tackles an issue familiar to IWF -- women's underrepresentation in science. Back in 2008, IWF's Carrie Lukas wrote a pair of policy papers on the subject (see here and here). In those papers, Carrie pointed out that it is unlikely that institutional discrimination is the primary cause of the discrepancy between the number of men and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculties. Instead factors such as women's greater challenge in balancing work pressures with their desire to have and raise children contribute to generating the gender imbalance. A new paper supports this claim.

The paper, by Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams of Cornell University, examines the charge of discrimination against women in the domains of manuscript reviewing, grant funding, and interviewing/hiring. The paper concludes:

Despite frequent assertions that women's current underrepresentation in math-intensive ?elds is caused by sex discrimination by grant agencies, journal reviewers, and search committees, the evidence shows women fare as well as men in hiring, funding, and publishing (given comparable resources). That women tend to occupy positions offering fewer resources is not due to women being bypassed in interviewing and hiring or being denied grants and journal publications because of their sex. It is due primarily to factors surrounding family formation and child rearing, gendered expectations, lifestyle choices, and career preferences-some originating before or during adolescence-and secondarily to sex differences at the extreme right tail of mathematics performance on tests used as gateways to graduate school admission.

More here.

Hat tip: Robert at Phi Beta Cons



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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