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Off topic: Surveys say that women collaborate less than men, find balancing work and family difficult
Thread poster: nettranslatorde

Russian to German
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Feb 19, 2004

Hi, I found this article in a newsletter from "The scientist" and would like to share it with you.


Women scientists face problems
Surveys say that women collaborate less than men, find balancing work and family difficult | By Charles Q Choi

SEATTLE—Women scientists experience less collaboration than their male colleagues, and roughly 63% find that balancing work and family is their biggest challenge, according to new surveys presented at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting here on Friday (February 13).

While the number of women majoring in science and technology has increased since the 1960s, according to a 2000 National Science Foundation (NSF) study, the percentage of those moving into the academic community remains low. Only 19.5% of science and engineering faculty at 4-year colleges and universities in the United States are women, and 10.4% of full professors. At large research institutions, the numbers are even smaller, that study noted.

In her studies of faculty recruitment, physicist Patricia Rankin of the University of Colorado in Boulder said her preliminary findings suggest academics have to follow “a perfect trajectory” to become faculty. “They need…to have avoided anything that derailed them,” she said. “Getting off track does not only happen to women, but it does seem to occur more frequently to women at crucial career points.”

Rankin noted criticism could prove a stumbling block. “Like it or not, when a woman is criticized and told not to be in a field, more women take it to heart. We're not doing as good a job at building self-confidence as we'd want,” Rankin said. “If we're stressing how difficult a field is, we should also stress how enjoyable it can be.”

Improving ease of collaboration among faculty could also help women advance, Georgia Institute of Technology sociologist Mary Frank Fox told The Scientist. When it came to academics speaking with colleagues about their research on a regular basis, a survey of her school's faculty revealed men were more likely to do so than women (30% versus 13%). “When new faculty members are recruited, both men and women, it's important for department chairs to make apparent the contribution to a research area that's brought by the new faculty member, and the way it connects to other people,” Fox said.

Rankin said that pregnancy is a potentially crucial career turning point unique to women. “The decision to have that child occupies a lot of time and may not come at an optimal point in a career. It's hard to take time off when in an active research group,” Rankin said. There are even cases in which potential supervisors are concerned about hiring women candidates because they could become pregnant, she said.

Women scientists and engineers often name balancing career and family as a key issue. Anthropologist Sue V. Rosser at the Georgia Institute of Technology looked at women scientists and engineers in tenure tracks awarded funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) program Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education (POWRE). When Rosser asked what significant issues POWRE awardees from 1997 faced, she was surprised to find nearly 63% of respondents singled out balancing work with family as their biggest challenge. “This amazed me because the question was so open-ended,” Rosser said. “They could have said anything, such as funding.”

Rosser found even greater consensus when the survey was repeated with POWRE awardees from 1998, 1999, and 2000, with 73 to 78% of respondents citing balancing family and career as their major problem. Family issues loom large, Rosser said, because many women scientists and engineers postpone children. “By the time a woman completes her doctoral degree and postdoc work, she is typically in her early thirties—an age where there is competition between the tenure clock and the biological clock,” Rosser said.

The NSF's ADVANCE program is developing policies that include “stopping the tenure clock,” which means the time a woman is on maternity leave does not count toward the tenure track probationary period. “Such positive changes should have a ripple effect on women graduate and undergraduate students as they consider the wisdom of choosing a career in academia,” Rosser said.

Sociologist Cheryl B. Leggon of the Georgia Institute of Technology also noted that her studies reveal the numbers of women of color on US academic faculties are very small and not increasing. “The United States is becoming more diverse, and that is somewhat reflected in the student population in colleges and universities, but nowhere in the faculty population,” she said. “The absence of these groups does send a message.”

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Agua  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
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Thank you. Feb 20, 2004

Thank you for the posting.


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Catherine Brix
Local time: 08:29
Swedish to English
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Hardly surprising Feb 20, 2004

and hardly unique findings.

Despite equal-opportunity programs all evidence continues to reflect a severe lack of equality between the sexes. Women generally have less pay, longer working hours given that they are still "responsible" for most work in the home on top of a minimum 8-hour workday, and seldom figure on corporate boards (rare exceptions and generally then as HR director).

But change starts in the home. If we truly want to influence conditions for future generations, we as mothers are obliged to raise our children in a manner conducive to change. It is ridiculous that girls still clear the table, help mommy cook and do the laundry, walk the dog, dust the furniture, etc. while boys sit comfortably at the table or run off to sporting events, the television or the computer. There is no acceptable explanation to why boys are asked to take out the garbage or mow the lawn - limiting their contributions to things a) done on occasion and b)that can be postponed. We instill in our children a sense that girls are responsible for day-to-day care giving while boys only contribute as and if they have time. Boys are more encouraged to pursue activities that take them outside the confines of the home while girls are expected to come home after school and help - take care of younger siblings, clean, etc. Obviously the conveyed message is that boys should mingle, network, interact with other boys through sports, camping trips, LAN-parties, etc and girls are to handle "maintenance" and ensure that dinner is ready when the boys come home, that things are tidy and orderly, etc...

Unless we as parents get the boys to wash floors, iron clothes, walk the dog and do the dishes - every day and before running off to do other "more important" things - and teach our girls to participate in team sports, chop wood, and partake in non-caring activities (candy stripers, elderly-aid programs and horses, for instance) we continue to fuel the misconception that men cannot be care givers and that day-to-day chores are best managed by women.

We teach our children how to act and think as adults. If we send boys out to play team sports and bond with others they learn to network, to collaborate, to support one another. If we keep our girls in the home we isolate them and deny them the same opportunity to develop these skills, regardless of their academic achievements. We don't teach them the value of slapping each other on the back as a sign of encouragement, we don't teach them to reach out to others for confirmation and we deny them the chance to feel they play a significant role through their actions - the cheers of a crowd or teammates when they score a goal... We teach our girls to be introverts, and not to ask for help but to cope. We teach our girls to balance homework with housekeeping and teach our boys that when their homework is done they can go out to play.

The evidence is on the table - women are surpassing men in cardiovascular diseases, smoke more than men, and drink as frequently and heavily as men. Women still have lower pay despite their academic excellence, they are still over-represented in low-paying, care-giving professions and even when they reach high management positions are typically human resource directors.

Studies in Sweden show that over 70% of Sweden's male executives have a stay-at-home wife while Sweden's female executives are either single, with or without children, or are married to men that also hold a managerial position.

Governments, committees, and schools can introduce any amount of incentives but the situation will remain as is until and unless we as parents, as adults, teach our children and children around us in a way that fosters equal opportunity. Values are taught in the home - I firmly believe the buck stops here.

(Thanks - it felt good to get that off my chest!)
Mary Catherine

[Edited at 2004-02-20 09:25]

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xxxAlex Zelkind
English to Russian
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This is very sad Feb 20, 2004

This is very sad, horrible, and terrible. Who could of think that in the 21 century there still be inequality among humans.
Mothers and sisters!
My heart goes out to you. I'm a man, but I feel your pain and sorrow. Don't give up the struggle!
No pasaran!

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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:29
Spanish to English
Long Working Hours Feb 20, 2004

Long working hours are also discriminatory against people with family responsabilities. I was a way from Mexico for ten years and when I came back, working hours were much longer and there were a lot less women in executive positions than there had been before.

You can't enjoy bringing up a family and work until 8 or 9 pm.

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