Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why so few women scientists?

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Because evolution made males more scientific? Here’s a better explanation:

Ok, I need to get involved in another CV fracas about women in science right now like I need a hole in the head, but here goes:

As a female scientist, I explain my situation to my male peers with the following analogy: Why don’t more men knit?

Is it that evolution has denied most men the finger control, patience, and artistic vision needed to knit? Or, is it that a man who knits will spend all his free time engaged in a pastime of no interest to practically every other man he knows? That almost all the people he can turn to discuss his ideas and knowledge with will be women? Now suppose that knitting took years of advanced training, beginning in high school. How many teenage boys do you think would be eager to enroll in knitting classes? How long would it take for those young men’s skills to be viewed and judged neutrally, rather than being praised as “remarkably good knitting for a man”? How would they feel being one of very few men at every knitting workshop and conference they attended? Would others at the conference assume they were there as the spouse of a “real” knitter? Would anyone think to go to them for expertise unless they’d spent years proving that they were the Best Knitter Ever?

I am currently in a department where women are one-third to one-half of the undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and tenured faculty. Such bright spots indicate directly the primary role that a positive culture has on promoting women’s participation in science. (Same for minorities, but we’re way behind on that one.)

And yes, we have a number of men in our department who knit. You gotta problem with that?

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 10:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

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