Disturbing Comments

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I didn’t uncover this comment thread until tonight. My ears, feet, and most other body parts should have been burning because it was several men talking about me. I don’t find it flattering.

What’s disappointing is that each time we bring issues of equality for women to the fore, women’s views are discounted, either because we’re being a ‘troll’ (or bitch), or because we personally have an axe to grind (or benefit to gain).

Having two or ten or however many number of women speaking at a conference is meaningless if women are not perceived to be of value. If we don’t have equal respect for our work, our views, our beliefs, and who we are, no matter how many women’s faces appear at these events, we’ll still be invisible; no matter how many opportunties we have to speak, we’ll still not be heard.

That’s my agenda. Just in case anyone wants to know.


Yeah, quality

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Thanks to Ethan, via Radioactive Banana, a report on women in the sciences and engineering disciplines at universities:

Forty years ago, women made up only 3 percent of America’s scientific and technical workers, but by 2003 they accounted for nearly one-fifth. In addition, women have earned more than half of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in science and engineering since 2000. However, their representation on university and college faculties fails to reflect these gains. Among science and engineering Ph.D.s, four times more men than women hold full-time faculty positions. And minority women with doctorates are less likely than white women or men of any racial or ethnic group to be in tenure positions. Previous studies of female faculty have shed light on common characteristics of their workplace environments. In one survey of 1,000 university faculty members, for example, women were more likely than men to feel that colleagues devalued their research, that they had fewer opportunities to participate in collaborative projects, and that they were constantly under a microscope. In another study, exit interviews of female faculty who “voluntarily” left a large university indicated that one of their main reasons for leaving was colleagues’ lack of respect for them.

If academic institutions are not transformed to tackle such barriers, the future vitality of the U.S. research base and economy is in jeopardy (emph.mine), the report says. The following are some of the committee’s key findings that underscore its call to action:

> Studies have not found any significant biological differences between men and women in performing science and mathematics that can account for the lower representation of women in academic faculty and leadership positions in S&T fields.

> Compared with men, women faculty members are generally paid less and promoted more slowly, receive fewer honors, and hold fewer leadership positions. These discrepancies do not appear to be based on productivity, the significance of their work, or any other performance measures, the report says.

> Measures of success underlying performance-evaluation systems are often arbitrary and frequently applied in ways that place women at a disadvantage. “Assertiveness,” for example, may be viewed as a socially unacceptable trait for women but suitable for men. Also, structural constraints and expectations built into academic institutions assume that faculty members have substantial support from their spouses. Anyone lacking the career and family support traditionally provided by a “wife” is at a serious disadvantage in academe, evidence shows. Today about 90 percent of the spouses of women science and engineering faculty are employed full time. For the spouses of male faculty, it is nearly half.

The only issue is quality, right?