Thursday, August 18, 2005

Still searching for women in science

I have been around the medical and science world for a couple of decades, and this is one finding that seems to repeat: "Bias has created a significant barrier to women and under-represented groups from pursuing technological or scientific careers, according to the upcoming report "More Women in Science," published in the journal Science.

The research shows that for many fields, such as biology, the balance of men and women faculty is quite uneven despite the fact that women make up almost half of their graduating PhDs.

"Evidence shows that women faculty members are more often asked to provide campus service on committees and as student advisers, not necessarily the best activity to win tenure approval in Research I institutions," the press statement on Eurekalert states.

Essentially, the climate has always been challenging for women would-be scientists, and although progress has been made in small ways, much is left to do. Recently Georgia Tech developed a tool to help address this issue with a Web-based kit called Awareness of Decisions in Evaluating Promotion and Tenure as part of a National Science Foundation grant. This program is designed to help promotion and tenure committee members, chairpersons, and deans to better understand biases related to gender, race, and disability.

Although incremental steps may seem inadequate to tackle this major problem, at least the issue is still addressed in some way.

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