Sunday, March 07, 2010

Women in Science and Society

I've read oodles of articles on women in science and women in academia, but this latest one in the International Herald Tribune stands out as one of the best in terms of being realistic but positive.

Risk and Opportunity for Women in 21st Century


PARIS — Daniel Louvard does not believe in affirmative action. Time and again, the scientists in his Left Bank cancer laboratory have urged him to recruit with gender diversity in mind. But Mr. Louvard, research director at the Institut Curie and one of France’s top biochemists, just keeps hiring more women.

“I take the best candidates, period,” Mr. Louvard said. There are 21 women and 4 men on his team.

The quiet revolution that has seen women across the developed world catch up with men in the work force and in education has also touched science, that most stubbornly male bastion.

Well, perhaps not as stubborn as philosophy, sometimes called the mother of all disciplines.

One of the points in the article is that institutional structures are not constructed to recognize women's roles in their families:
Ms. Rosser noted that at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she served as dean until a year ago, women had to take sick leave to give birth, like all state employees.
True at my university still: childbirth is considered a "disability," but since the academic year is split into large chunks, it's inevitable that having a baby means having to take unpaid leave.

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