I have to say, I have never encountered gender-related bias on any of the
bionet groups, except from men posting to the women-in-bio group. And my
name leaves no question as to my gender.
As far as the question of the number of women in science, I am really
beginning to think that there is a whole !nother side to the issue -
women who choose to leave or take a break to get married, have a family,
etc. If the growth of new female scientists has leveled off since the
mid-!70s, that probably has to do with the fact that nearly half of the
graduate students (at least in the schools with which I am familiar) are
women. From what I can see here at Stony Brook, probably half of the
post-docs are women also. We also have a substantial female population
among faculty, both in the Microbiology and Biochemistry departments.
That is not to say that I have never noticed a bias in the past. As a
graduate student, I have had to deal with a child (she was 2 when I
started grad school), and a mother with Alzheimer!s. I struggled along
and didn!t quit (although there is no question that I did fall behind).
I had support from my advisor (male) and faculty mentor (female), and
managed to survive. My husband does his best to carry his share of the
load, but he is a practicing attorney with a hectic trial schedule. The
bottom line is that I think the bias I sensed would apply to anyone (male
or female) who was perceived as being distracted from his/her research.
Because I was a woman who came of age in the 1960!s, I was sensitized to
the fact that it was a woman!s issue, but in reality it is a family
issue. The only !good time! to have a child is when the whole family
(father included) can participate in the daily responsibilities of
running a household (laundry, dusting, changing diapers, vacuuming,
cooking, etc.), or you can afford a housekeeper. The other side of that
coin is that the mother has to be prepared to let go of the baby and the
1950!s concept of motherhood - Donna Reed always home, always baking,
always there to wash the scraped knee, etc., etc.
Department of Microbiology
SUNY at Stony Brook
asavitt at sunysb.edu