WOMEN IN SCIENCE — WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Introduction

Jill Sideman, Vice President and Director, CH2M HILL, and President, Association of Women in Science
I graduated with my Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr with Dr. George Zimmerman, in 1965. I would like to give you a picture of what it was like to write a thesis in 1965. There weren’t any computers. At least the computers that we had were extremely large and unwieldy and not something that you could carry around. So my entire thesis was first handwritten by me and then typed by my long-suffering mother-in-law. Every page had to be typed with carbon paper and if you made a mistake you had to go back and try to white it out or otherwise correct the mistake. All the graphics were hand-drawn by me, and you can imagine what they looked like.

I would like to contrast for you what it would be like to write a thesis today. Today you have a computer. Probably many of you have your own personal laptops or other computers. You have programs that allow you to generate graphics easily. It is very simple to correct or change a word today. Think about the difference between 1965 and now just in that level of technology alone.

I would now like you to think about the position of women in science, engineering and technology then and now. In 1965 there were not that many women going into the field that I was in — physical chemistry and, in particular, quantum mechanics. It is not that much different now. There were few women in the field in 1965 and there are still few women in the field. I work in industry. I work for heavy industry, high-tech industry, and I work in engineering. And I can tell you that there are still very few women in these fields. Women constitute 45 percent of the workforce in America but only 12 percent in science and engineering jobs in business and industry. That is a disgrace.

I would submit that we must do something to make that change. I am not going to give you a lot of statistics about industry or business, nor about academia, which I would submit is really no better than industry. In fact in some ways, academia is worse than industry in terms of promoting women to the top — that is, to full professor. Less than 10 percent of full professors in the sciences today are women. But women have consistently been earning more than a quarter of the Ph.D.s in science for 30 years. Why do we still have only 10 percent of full professors who are women?

It is a real problem that is facing us and I, coming from industry, can tell you that industry is dying to find good women and minorities. Many industries have learned that diversity is critical to their success and their competitiveness. This is not just, "it’s the right thing to do." It is a bottom-line issue. In my firm, which is a large-scale $2 billion-a-year company with 140 offices around the world, if we cannot field a team of people to go talk to a client who can think like that client, look like that client and act like that client, we do not get the work. We have lost jobs because we were not diverse enough. And I do not mean just diversity in gender or race, but in thought process, in understanding of cultures, in all of the ways that you can think of diversity. It is a bottom-line issue for industry. If we educated and had been continuing in science and engineering the women and minorities who could potentially be doing it, we would not have a workforce shortage in this country today.

The first National Science Foundation statistical report on women in engineering, science and technology came out in 1982. So we have been recognizing and studying this problem for 20 years. It still is not solved. It still is not changing as rapidly as it needs to change. I am so glad to see all of you here because I think it is very exciting. Hopefully we will be able to come up with some good solutions that we can all begin to implement.

I want to just make a pitch for the report of the Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology (Land of Plenty, 2000). This report focuses on four times in life when we lose women and minorities to the fields of science and engineering. The first is entry to middle school, the second is in late high school, the third is in college and graduate school, and the fourth, I am sorry to say, is in professional life, where women still do not advance in proportion to their education. The Commission had a few recommendations, one of which I will talk about tomorrow after Connie Morella speaks.

We had only a few recommendations because we wanted to try to get them implemented and not have them lost in a morass of 50 or 60 recommendations. So we only have about six or seven recommendations and there is, I am happy to say, a program to implement these going on right now, which I will tell you about tomorrow. I also want to recommend the recent report called Balancing the Equation, Where are Women and Girls in Science, Engineering and Technology? done by the National Council for Research on Women (2001).

I really encourage you all to participate actively in the workshops and try to think when you are doing it about what you can do that will actively help to make change for girls and women in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.

Catherine Didion, Executive Director, Association of Women in Science
(Panel Moderator)
What we’re talking about today is where women are now in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. And I think we must consider the role that women have in science and technology, and the consequences of that role in terms of what happens to this nation and to the world. I feel very strongly that we have to look at what we can do to integrate more women more fully into the seats of power, not only in science, but in policy as well. The panel will also try to look at where are we going. What is progress for women in science and technology?

Susan Graham, Director of New Business Development, Adhesives and Sealants, Rohm and Haas
I guess there are two ways to look at Sue Graham’s career. You can either say I have really progressed and moved on to other things, or you could say I cannot hold a job. I will leave that discussion up to you. I have a Ph.D. in high-vacuum surface physics and thought when I left the University of Pittsburgh that what I wanted to do was be in the lab the rest of my life. I was good at that and I really enjoyed it, but I went into industry and found out that what I really liked was being with people. So I did some other things, spent time in sales, ended up running a business, and now, as of a year ago, do mergers and acquisitions and portfolio management for our adhesives and sealants business — which I knew nothing about a year ago. The reason I tell you all of that is I think it is really important that educators tell people to figure out what they like — I personally like to be on the steep part of the learning curve — and then go do what you like. If it happens to be in science and mathematics, so much the better.

The other thing is we must tell people to surround themselves with friends and family that are supportive of their pursuit of what they love. In this multiple career that I have created, I have lived in Columbus, Ohio; Fairfield, Connecticut; Bridgewater, New Jersey; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina; and now downtown Philadelphia. But I have been married to the same man all that time, who has had the same job. He covers the entire East Coast for a large chemical company, so we have been — I have been — very fortunate to be able to move around and do different things. But you have got to have people around you who are flexible and supportive.

Catherine Didion
Thank you Susan. I think one of the questions we’ll have to raise later is what are some of the safe environments in which you can figure out what you like to do. Particularly for graduate students, there’s always this fear, "If I share with my adviser what I’m really thinking, what are the repercussions?" It would be a wonderful thing for discussion to explore some of the ways that we could help figure out what we like to do.

Maria-Luisa Maccecchini, Founder and former CEO, Annovis Inc.
Many women in science who move into industry never planned to do so. That is in some ways true for me also. I studied in Switzerland, and there was only zoology then and it was pretty miserable. I decided zoology was not what I wanted to do and the United States had much better science, so I came to Rockefeller University. I really wanted to be a professor, and like Sue, I was good in the lab. I would mix my stuff and it kind of worked and you got publications. Then I got bored with test tubes. I decided I liked people, too. But I also wanted to develop a product: I wanted to have a drug.

So I went to a pharmaceutical company as an entry-level scientist, and I did really well. After six years I was running a group of 35 people as manager of molecular biology (whatever that was). And I said to myself, "I’m never going to develop a product here. It is so bureaucratic and things are so slow." I think we were talking about the glass ceiling then, too. But basically it occurred to me it was going to take me 30 years to make it to VP of R&D. So I went to work for a much smaller company. I was not developing a product there either, but I got into business development and sales, which really gave me a hands-on M.B.A. That was my decision: instead of getting an M.B.A. to run a company, I was going to kind of do a little bit of business-type work. And it worked out all right.

Then I started my own company because we were going to develop drugs. Well nine years after starting the company, we are in the clinic with two drugs. We have one in the clinic for epilepsy and we have one in the clinic for addiction. But we are not done yet.

If I can go back to what Jill Sideman was saying, the interesting thing is that the problem of women in science and/or business is twofold. One is there are not any women, especially at the highest levels. If I want to hire a woman as a VP of R&D, I cannot find her. I really cannot. I do have two women who work for me: one is VP of Business Development and one is VP of Sales. Not R&D: they just do not exist. The same is true for minorities. But let me say that two ethnic groups seem to be doing something right, and those are the Chinese and South Asians. There are not very many chemists in the first place, and there are not that many biologists who do molecular stuff, so when we look for an entry-level person with a Ph.D. or a Sc.D., we get a lot of Chinese and Indian applicants, and they are well trained.

So it seems like even though there is a ceiling someplace, if you just hang in there and work, since there is such a shortage of people, you are going to get there. But the difficulty is first to get a woman into the door and then have her be consistent enough. And I do not mean this in a negative way. It is tough. You will be turned down, and people will make snide remarks, and you will go to a panel and only the guys talk and you will not be invited. And that is reality. So the only way you can deal with it is just say, "OK, I’ll try again." Just don’t give up: "I’ll try again."

The reason I started my own company really was that no matter what job I had, it would have taken me forever to become CEO, and I probably would have died before I became CEO of the company for which I was working. So you go around the existing structure and you start your own. And the problem then, of course, is a totally different one. You have to raise money and then you have a credibility issue. Bankers don’t like women, either. But it is doable and I think that if we can tell women — or minorities — that if they like something, if they have a dream, they should just go for it. Martin Luther King did not say "I have a budget," he said "I have a dream." And so if you just follow your dream you are going to get there sooner or later, but the reality is that it is not linear. It absolutely is not linear.

If I had stayed in my first job, maybe I would be VP R&D by now, but it would be boring and it would have been a struggle with a lot of politics against a lot of other people that wanted that job. Plus with all the mergers taking place, you have more politics that come on board. So I think I did the right thing by going into my own company. And you really have to believe that you can do it. And if people tell you not to do it, just ignore them.

Catherine Didion
Maria-Luisa, your comments raise some interesting questions about the nontechnical skills that you realized you were able to get — how they contribute to having the knowledge and experience necessary to start your own company, and the possible arenas in which women can learn these skills.

Anne M. Thompson, Ph.D. ’78, Astrophysicist, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
I feel very privileged to be part of this symposium. There were a few points that I wanted to make that I hope will address the multiple sectors that our handcount showed are here in the group today, and at the same time answer some of the questions that Kitty Didion asked us to speak to.

The first thing that I want to do, though, is clarify my job title, and this is revealing in itself. Astrophysicist is an arcane classification by NASA, which is a bureaucracy. Although Goddard Space Flight Center, where I work, employs several Bryn Mawr astrophysicists, my colleagues and I study the earth ozone from satellites and from aircraft and ground-based instruments. So really, the label that should go on those in my group is geoscientist. And in that respect a lot of the perspectives about career and career ladder that I will offer will be similar to those of Professor Grew, because she is actually a geologist. Furthermore, our promotion and career ladders are probably somewhat similar in that we have both been promoted on the basis of publish-or-perish research, funding records and service.

Professor Grew’s experience has been in teaching and education, and mine has been in managing, directing and running projects for NASA’s missions in science and for the American people. So my perspective is that of a traditional research career in the government sector. And I want to mention a couple of aspects that respond to Kitty Didion’s charge to look at where we are today.

If you have listened to what other panelists have said and you piece them together, the buzzword is interdisciplinary. And the sort of work that I do, a chemist turned into a geoscientist, is quintessentially interdisciplinary. Thus an issue for our panel to think about is how does the academy, still very disciplinary in its divisions, prepare us for jobs in the real world that bring to bear our most rigorous scientific training, but with the need to be flexible and interdisciplinary in our thinking? I have found that being able to do this does actually help propel one forward, and is one reason that my work has been so exciting.

I am actually more excited in the middle of my career about what I do than I was when I left graduate school and when I was a postdoc. It is because we keep addressing new problems. The ozone hole, which was the buzzword of 10 years ago, is now replaced by ozone smog concerns, which are the sort that I study. And if you do interdisciplinary work and keep redirecting it to new problems that emerge, you stay at the cutting edge. Your career continues to move, always upward, but with zigzags because we have all had these nonlinear careers. This is a very important thing to realize.

Also increasing in our vocabulary for doing science and technology are international aspects of the work. Those of us doing geosciences come face to face with this because we collectively own the planet, and the atmosphere moves across national and international borders. I have felt very fortunate that the projects that I have done have taken me into many countries. I was in South Africa last week working with graduate students who have taken data with me jointly in projects throughout the southern-hemisphere tropics. So I think "international, interdisciplinary, evolving" are good descriptions of where we are.

I want to say a few things about service in the government. And the first two relate to policy work in a more general aspect than just being in the government, because there are a lot of policy organizations that scientists join that are not strictly governmental. One is that the opportunity and the challenge to keep modifying the problems that one solves and re-addressing research to meet these problems is always in your face when you are working for the public or quasi-public sector. This presents opportunities; it presents challenges. You are not simply allowed always to do exactly what you are enjoying doing. I frequently have had multiple projects and I have published simultaneously in several areas. But some drop out of favor or out of funding, and others come to the fore. And it is necessary to stay flexible in that regard. If you work for the government you are going to be faced with doing that. It is an opportunity and a challenge.

One of the best parts about this sort of work, though, is that we are often connected to very hot issues. If you are doing ozone for example, you will be entrained into writing ozone assessments that guide policy-makers. I have been a contributor to the inter-governmental documents on climate change. So those career opportunities and opportunities to serve have been pluses in government work.

There is another factor that educators and students might think about and that is there are multiple paths to advancement within the government. There are more policy or management of policy tracks. The track that I am in is still essentially a quasi-academic research track. But there are multiple ways one can advance within the government sector when one is trying to deal with the complexity of life’s challenges and issues of geographic location. The last aspect of government service, which I found has been very positive, is that our promotion system and our pay scales are pretty black-and-white and totally public. Thus pay equity is less of an issue when you know what the person next to you is making and what you have to do to get to the same level.

One of the challenges that we face, and we have already talked about this as a potential issue for panels to address, is that the government is downsizing. The agency for which I work has shrunk 30 percent in the past 10 years. It is going to be much harder to advance in government service for people coming out of school now. And yet the sort of environmental issues that we study and address are going to need to be solved by our society. I can see from this symposium that Bryn Mawr is already addressing these issues with our very coming together and recognizes that it has a very special role to play in bringing students, educators, and the private and public sectors together.

I guess that maybe the advice I would give to students would be, first, never relax your basic scientific training and instincts. I have seen bad data proliferate and I have seen spacecraft miss their target because people did not stop and question what they were told. Second, stay alert, informed and ready to reinvent yourself as trends and needs change. I was a chemist. I am now a geoscientist. I can affiliate now comfortably within engineering schools, and that would have horrified me as a chemistry student and it might have horrified my professors. And finally, I heard somebody else say already, follow your heart, find your passion and have some fun.

Catherine Didion
I would love to have some discussion later on about how one does manage zigs and zags in careers because I think we’ve all experienced them.

Priscilla Perkins Grew ’62, Professor of Geosciences and Former Vice Chancellor for Research, University of Nebraska
So our topic is, what is the changing landscape in our profession in science? This room — the Great Hall of the M. Carey Thomas Library — is a really wonderful place to have this discussion, for it was created to make women feel that they were in the absolute intellectual elite. The room was modeled after one at Oxford’s Wadham College, in part to make women comfortable with the experience and environments of leadership. And one of the things I want to talk about today is how women’s colleges have been successful in making women not so afraid to be in the lead, and how we can enable women in other settings to deal with the fears of being at the top. For at the moment, there is a very serious gender gap in the top leadership in science in the universities. If we take a snapshot in time right now and compare it to a snapshot taken four years ago, we would find that there are still comparatively few women in top science leadership positions at the premier, big-time universities. Few women in the really senior positions, the power positions: the chairs of departments, the heads of the big research labs, the scientific leaders in government, the numbers of women in the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Engineering and so on.

In geosciences, we have certainly made a lot of progress in terms of graduation rates and numbers of degrees earned as undergraduates and graduates in sciences. The year that I got my Ph.D. — 1967 — I was one of four women in the United States who earned a doctorate in geosciences. I had no idea at the time that there were so few of us. With the preparation that I had gotten at Bryn Mawr, I didn’t realize that there was anything particularly strange about getting a doctorate in geosciences.

I think one of the biggest contributions we can make is really to help women deal with their fears of being in the lead, their fears of being better than other people in the class. It is a fear that starts in elementary school. It is a fear that is in middle school, and in high school when girls do not want to set themselves apart. They are afraid of being a nerd. They are afraid of being best in class. I see that fear in women in my under-graduate classes at Nebraska. Young women in my classes do not want people to know they got 100 on the test. They just do not want to stand out. And I think in order for women to be competitive at the highest level, in order for them to move into the top levels of the scientific establishment in this country, we are going to have to deal directly with some of these fears.

There was an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education in July 2000 by Wendy Williams, an associate professor of human development at Cornell University, called "Women in Academe and the Men Who Derail Them" — a catchy title! In a bit of a different sense than what I want to talk about, it deals with one of these fears. The article is about how women graduate students who are easily able to compete for top-level jobs nonetheless limit their job search to a very limited geographic area because of a personal relationship with a partner, a male who does not want to move. There is a tendency for women to make that kind of adjustment early in their career thinking, OK, I will take this job for one year in kind of — well, we won’t say Podunk U., "somewhere in the Midwest," since I come from the Midwest — but I think you know what I mean. They do not take the job that they would have taken if they were able to apply at the national level and so this initial choice, Williams argues, really sets these young women up to not reach the potential promised by their skills and talent. I want to tie this one example to the famous quotation of M. Carey Thomas: "our failures only marry." It is stated slightly differently, but it is a similar issue of having to deal with the fear of loneliness.

I am going to talk about what I think are two major fears that women have. First is fear of loneliness and the second is fear of risk-taking. I think we have to address both of these fears. There’s a lot of talk now about President Roosevelt’s "freedom from fear" and that we should have a right not to be afraid. I think we all realize that we are not completely free from fear in life, and a woman in a scientific career is not going to be completely free from fear. It is a matter of learning to live with fears, to manage fear, to manage fear productively.

That is what I think we have to work with among minority women, too. I work, for example, with Native American women students, multicultural studies and repatriation of Native American remains. If I were an Omaha woman getting up to speak, what I would first say is I am embarrassed to speak before my elders and I am also embarrassed to speak before those who know more than I do. In some Native American cultures, it is considered bad manners to set yourself apart from others, or to be seen as being superior to others in accomplishments. If you do that, then you are put in a very lonely situation.

I think that fear of such a sphere of loneliness also haunts women going into science careers. They are afraid they are not going to be able to continue a personal relationship, they are afraid of having to lose their friends in high school, they are afraid of not being popular — you name it. This kind of fear of loneliness and isolation covers quite a broad area. They feel they are going to be a nerd, they feel they are going to be somehow set apart in some sort of impersonal science and technology that has no humanity to it.

There are, however, ways to deal with this. An earlier speaker mentioned the image that the woman scientist "does not have a life" and lives in isolation. Certainly there are people like that in any sort of a population, but science today is an extremely social activity. You have got to be able to deal. You have got to be able to work in a research team. You have got to be able to manage graduate students. You have got to be able to put together a coalition of research teams from different universities. If you are the head of a department, you have got to solve all sorts of personnel problems, deal with the dean, deal with the president, sell your budget. So being in science and technology is not in any sense an impersonal thing where you are going to be cut off from the world. In fact if you want to work in science management, you can have just as much personal interaction as you want.

People also do not realize how much socializing there is among scientists, among scientific networks, among administrators. There is an association for everything — university presidents have an association, vice chancellors for research have an association, public utilities commissioners have an association. In fact I am thinking of starting a support group for Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Coordinators! I have actually gotten some possible takers on that.

I also think women can cultivate a strategic use of humility that allows for a different style of leadership. I tell women students, OK, you can be a star. Just look at our football star and see how he reacts with the press: humility is the thing. We had this wonderful football coach at Nebraska, Tom Osborne, and every fourth word people say about him is, "He has so much humility." So here is this superstar, but he conveys also a sense of humility. For women students this example says you do not have to be totally arrogant if you are a leader. In fact the best leaders, our leaders in this audience, are not arrogant individuals.

The second big fear I would say is the fear of taking risks. Of course, any time we make any sort of a decision, we are going to be taking a risk. It is risky to try to succeed; it is risky to be a leader. The risks are criticism, failure, making decisions that change peoples lives. You are going to risk regretting what you have done; you are going to regret making a mistake. You are maybe going to get a bad review on your research proposal. You are going to get your book rejected. You are going to encounter all sorts of things that make you feel inadequate. You are taking a risk by putting anything of yourself outside. I am taking a risk by giving this talk to you because maybe you are saying, "Well she’s just out to lunch, you know?"

So we have to take risks in order to go into science, in order to be scientific leaders, in order to be a department chair, in order to be a college president, in order to be head of a company, in order to be a CEO. You are "it" if something goes wrong. You get the credit if everything is fine and if something goes wrong, then you get blamed for it.

In order to cope with this risk-taking, the key thing is a sense of humor. I would advise anyone just to look at a Hugh Grant movie, one where he is just sort of bumbling along and being totally charming, making one mistake after another, but has a sense of humor. The "Hugh Grant lesson" is not to take things quite so seriously when you make a mistake — to learn from your mistake, but also to forget the bad part and move on. It is a cliché, but you have just got to keep moving on. So, learn to have a sense of humor about your mistakes. You are going to make ones that are really horrible and you are going to have to ask for a lot of forgiveness and you are going to have to accept forgiveness. There is a lot of historical baggage that you just need to leave behind. A mistake often hurts you more than anybody else, and so you do not really have to have a total guilt trip about it.

The antidote to this fear of risk-taking is also to continue to test yourself, continue to try new things. You look at this panel. We have all kind of created unique careers. I think I am the only person in the country who is half-time a full professor in geosciences and half-time Native American Graves Protection Act coordinator. I think there are a lot of people in this room who have unique careers.

I am scared of taking on something new, yes, but then I think, "OK, well I made a bigger jump about two jobs back, that one where I was really scared, and I survived." I remember when I interviewed for the position of vice chancellor for research at Nebraska. I had never done anything like that job before. The chancellor was Graham Spanier, who was at Nebraska before he became president of Penn State. The interview was in his office, and I was trying to do my best. And at the end, he finally just looked me in the eye and said, "Priscilla, can you do this job?" And I just said, "Yes I can," hoping after I said it that I could. But I had the confidence that I knew I could make a real break; I had already taken a jump from pure academia into state government and then state government into directing a state geological survey in a university.

I did not speak at a microphone until 15 years after I left studying in this room. I finished graduate school at Berkeley and took my first teaching job at Boston College. Boston College was a men’s Jesuit institution at the time. I taught beginning geology — "rocks for jocks" — including the freshman football team. In fact I still have my notes and at the top it says, "Good morning, my name is Priscilla" — I guess in case I forgot. I was so nervous and self-conscious about public speaking, it took me two weeks to find out from my TA that there was a hearts card game going on in the back row. I hadn’t been a TA at Berkeley; I was just going into this cold.

Each time you try something new it takes some of the fear out of risk-taking. That is why I think we must give our women students opportunities to try new projects. That kind of experience is one lesson we can take from the practice of Bryn Mawr and the other women’s colleges. These successful 19th-century experiments have produced wonderful women leaders by making them comfortable with their abilities, making them feel they are not going to be lonely as leaders, making them able to take new risks and helping them to convey that experience to other women.

Catherine Didion
Gerhard Sonnert and Gerald Holton of Harvard University echo a lot of what you said about risk-taking. They did a very good book called Gender in Science Careers: The Project Access Study (1995), in which they note that one difference between men and women scientists who had won a very prestigious postdoctoral fellowship was that the women had a different view of their own ability and different comfort levels in taking risks.

Jane Butler Kahle, Condit Professor of Science Education, Miami University, and Senior Adviser, Directorate of Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation
Much of my career has focused on identifying barriers that prevent women’s full participation in science as well as what facilitates their achievement in scientific fields. I focus primarily on K-12 education. I am going to talk about K-12 issues and then briefly continue through the postdoc experience.

I was fascinated with Priscilla Grew’s comments about speech patterns among Native American women. About 20 years ago, when I had a group of women doctoral students at Purdue University, I called a colleague in the communications department at Purdue to ask that she talk with my students about speech patterns. It was an eye-opening seminar for my doctoral students and for me. My colleague pointed out how many women begin sentences with disclaimers; e.g. "Well, I thought I would say," "I was thinking about," etc. Women tend not to state simply: "This is what I know," "This is what I can do."

Another point that I want to make in preface is that women are not a homogeneous group. There are different gender achievement patterns with Asian Americans, with African Americans, with Latinas and with European Americans. We have to be very explicit, and too often — both in government and in academia — data are generalized, reporting all women as one homogenous group.

What I have experienced over the past 20 years and what I have seen at the national level in the last few years is a very subtle change in what constitutes barriers to girls and women in science, mathematics and engineering, and how those barriers are built or broken in K-12 classrooms. No longer do researchers find evidence of overt sexism nor examples of overt discrimination in mathematics and science education. What one finds now are very subtle differences (what I call covert sexism or discrimination).

Recently, Valerie Lee at the University of Michigan and her colleagues reported on a study of 21 secondary schools, examining what they called "gender-related incidents." They studied single-sex female schools, single-sex male schools, and coed schools. In each school, they observed classes in history, algebra, English, chemistry and one other subject selected by the school. They found similar overall frequencies of "gender-related incidents" in all three types of schools. However, across all three types of schools, the incidents were more common in chemistry classes. Further, as the proportion of males to females rose in favor of males, those incidents became more frequent. Lee reports that "gender-related incidents" are small and so common that they often go unnoticed by the untrained eye. That is, they are subliminal or ‘elevator music’ in a young woman’s education.

In another example, a Canadian researcher tried to figure out why the girls in his middle-school physical science classes, who were doing very well, did not enroll in high-school physics. He identified a barrier that he called "gender lore;" that is, vaguely remembered information from media reports and studies that is widely accepted and believed by adolescents of both sexes (e.g., girls can’t do math). His work suggested that the belief and passive acceptance of "gender lore" affected girls’ confidence, their willingness to be risk-takers, and their performance in physics and physical science. Next, he developed a program that challenged "gender lore," resulting in more girls enrolling in physics.

I find these two studies very important because they suggest, and name, the subtle differences that girls experience in science classrooms. They also suggest new approaches to gender equity. Twenty years ago we focused on providing role models who would motivate girls to become scientists. We sent women scientists into class-rooms. However, results were mixed — at best. Then, a grant from the National Science Foundation allowed me to examine the effect of near-age role models; e.g., college undergraduates in lieu of professional scientists. Junior and senior women science majors assisted with laboratories in middle and high schools. My graduate students and I observed and, over and over again, we heard similar conversations. A high school young woman would ask the college student, "Are you really a biology major at Purdue?" "Yes." "Is it hard?" "Yes." But the final question was always: "Do you date?" Clearly, young women needed role models with whom they could directly relate.

In thinking about this talk, I revisited a very interesting experiment for retaining girls and women in science by Neil Abraham at Bryn Mawr College. Dr. Abraham developed a program that combined four critical aspects for keeping undergraduate women in science. First, he designed introductory courses with a minimum of pre-requisites so that young women who had not taken physics in high school could enroll. The hope was that some of those women would discover that physics was the love of her life or at least one of the loves of her life. Second, he involved students in talking and writing about physics, drawing on their verbal as well as quantitative skills. Third, he used effective pedagogy. For example, because demonstrations and large lectures often seem distracting, inconclusive and very disconnected from laboratory work, he used the same pedagogical approach in lecture as he used in lab. This strategy is very important because on the whole, women have fewer hands-on experiences with scientific equipment. Fourth, he provided research opportunities and internships for students. He assigned one department member to identify research opportunities on campus for first- and second-year students and off-campus opportunities for third- and fourth-year students. Throughout their undergraduate years, the young women practiced what they were learning. He also established faculty apprentice opportunities for students. College funds were used to provide apprenticeships so that students could begin to have some in-depth insights into the doubts, despair and indecision that are a natural part of any faculty member’s life. His program was absolutely fascinating, because it addressed all the barriers that research has identified for recruiting and retaining young women in science.

However, barriers still exist. According to a recent report of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, women scientists still earn 77 cents for every dollar a male scientist earns, a situation that has not changed in 20 years. Further, women full professors, on average, make 14 percent less than male professors do. Real barriers persist in the workplace, whether it is academia or industry, because little progress has been made in accommodating the lifestyles of women. Different patterns of promotion and retention are needed, particularly changes in the accepted tenure pattern. During childbearing years it is difficult to work full-time. Flexible routes to tenure, in terms of productivity and years allowed, are needed. Simply put, academia has not accommodated well to women’s life patterns.

What can be done to overcome persistent barriers? Very briefly let me suggest some radical strategies. In general, women have different entry points into the scientific professions, whether academia, business and industry, or government, than men. It is very important that those entry points be identified and accommodated by promotion and tenure decisions. For example women tend to have longer postdocs, delaying their entry into the tenure track. More women than men follow nontraditional educational paths. We do not have strategies that allow us to reach out to women who are in community colleges or to women who complete their education part-time. There are few scholarships for part-time students (mostly women) in colleges and universities.

We need scholarships and fellowships that go to promising women scientists, mathematicians and engineers who are able to enroll only on a part-time basis. Because many women follow their partner to their initial job, we need to provide graduate women in science, mathematics and engineering with "portable" financial aid, allowing the completion of their education and the initiation of their careers. We might also experiment with pilot programs that guarantee matching graduate school funds to women college juniors who successfully complete a summer research internship. And, we could target financial assistance to programs that allow women students to earn salaries while becoming involved in the scientific community during college. These are a few suggestions that might serve to attract and retain women in scientific and technological fields.

The need for women scientists and engineers is clear. For example, the number of women undergraduates in leading technology institutions between 1987 and 1997 remained essentially the same — the percent of women studying science at Georgia Tech has gone from 23 to 28 percent and at MIT from 32 to 40 percent. If we do not increase the number of women entering the scientific workforce, the need will be met in other ways. Currently, the government has increased the number of visas allotted in technological and scientific fields. Part of the fees for those visas, paid by industry and business, goes to the National Science Foundation to support programs to encourage students to study science and engineering. However, those programs do not focus on barriers for women or minority students.

Even with a dearth of qualified scientists and engineers, as a nation we are not investing in programs and research that address barriers to women in science. For example, the National Science Foundation targets only 5 percent of its education budget towards programs for girls and women. Further, in response to an interview question, none of the candidates for director or the division that administers programs for women and girls replied that additional targeted funds were needed. In other divisions, funds for research or intervention programs for girls and women are extremely limited. Yet, across both public agencies and private foundations, the NSF allotment is the largest targeted fund for women in this country.

Research has established that girls decide to continue studying science — with the option of a scientific or technical career — by grade 5. Further, we know that subject choices in middle and high school either serve to keep the door to a scientific or technical career open and to close it firmly. We cannot wait until college to encourage women to consider science, but women college undergraduates can play important roles in encouraging girls to keep their options open. And teachers as well as parents need to be cognizant of the sexism in a girl’s everyday life — from computer software to old-fashion games and toys to TV programs and commercials. The barriers to girls and women have not vanished; they have shifted. We know from research that the accumulated effects of "gender-related incidents" and/or "gender lore" can be as damaging as overt comments. Perhaps, the subtle forms of discrimination are a greater concern, because they are difficult to recognize and, therefore, to address.

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