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Re. why women leave the pipeline

S L Forsburg forsburg at nospam.salk.edu
Sun Jan 5 17:47:46 EST 1997

a-schmi at uiuc.edu (aloisia schmid) writes

> Well, Jeeze, Susan, I think we really disagree quite a bit more than I
> would have initially thought. 

Well, I did say I was being a devil's advocate...sort of... ;-)

> My feeling is that if the game were more equitable, if women felt like
> "it's all really going to be tough, it's all really demanding, but if
> I
> work really hard the chances are good that I will be
> successful"---they
> wouldn't be so willing to toss these choices away. But the frustration
> is
> over the fact that the road is really tough, that you have to work
> really
> hard and lose almost all other rewards in life and then STILL are not
> likely to be successful.  That is totally different!

Hang on, here, are you saying that this potential for failure is
specific to young *women* scientists?  I 
don't think that's accurate.  The potential for dramatic failure
exists for men, too....I know of too many painful stories of 
junior faculty MEN missing tenure and being forced out of science
to think that everything wrong with science is gender specific. This
a high risk profession pretty much for everyone.  Yes, it's still
harder for women, so we play the game with a handicap....but the
point is, we can play, if we choose to. I firmly believe we can 
still win,  IF it is worth  it to us.  But  that's something 
every woman must decide for herself.

> As long
> as women perceive themselves as relegated to everything lesser, their
> motivation to persevere is killed. And that is only natural. 

Yes, I agree.  But do women scientists see themselves "relegated to 
something  lesser?"  That sounds very passive.  I don't see
myself that way.  I'm working my tail off and I fully 
expect to succeed.  It will be  harder for me than for the guys, 
since I don't fit in the hierarchy the same way they do, but who said
life was fair?  I have no intention of being made into a victim by 
anyone.  Grrr!  :-)

> Anyway, I think alot of things ARE shifting-----younger men do not
> face
> the same world as their fathers did. But it's still a different world
> than their sisters face. And really, their sisters still have a much
> tougher road to hoe. So I am four-square against the idea that they
> should be called to task for leaving.

Let me add once again that I have never taken anyone to task for
leaving, I have merely (and I think, reasonably) pointed out
that one person leaving has consequences for everyone, and we 
can't ignore that. 

Put simply, we can't all complain there are so few tenure track
women faculty if no women apply for those positions.  Does it
cost?  You betcha.  Is it worth it?  Only you can decide for
yourself--but there are costs either way.  That's how life works.

> I recognize the fact that women
> NEED to stick with it to make it easier for those coming after, as
> those
> who came before us made it for us. I just think changes have to be
> made
> first, in order to achieve that, and that it is unreasonable to expect
> women to keep on keeping on, without those changes.

Who's going to make these changes? and why should they, if we arent 
willing to do it ourselves?  You appear to be advocating that
we should all go stand in a corner and holler till someone else
notices and fixes things....but I don't think that's what you really
 mean, is it?

-- susan

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S L Forsburg          forsburg at salk.edu
The Salk Institute    http://flosun.salk.edu/~forsburg
La Jolla, CA

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