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Equity v. parity

Julia Frugoli jfrugoli at bio.tamu.edu
Tue Jul 25 18:40:30 EST 2000

>The new issue of SCIENCE has an article about the efforts of the NSF to
>support women in science. (Science 289, 21 July issue).  A sidebar in
>the article discusses the argument now arising amongst social scientists
>that fewer women choose science as a career because women prefer
>"people-oriented" professions rather than cold, hard theory.
>to me, this ignores the REAL issue, which is not the absolute number of
>women in science, but rather, whether they achieve equity to the men at
>equivalent positions.   That is, regardless of whether 20% of scientists
>are female, those 20% should be able to expect the same support,
>salaries, etc of the male scientists.  It's not parity of numbers, but
>equity of treatment, that is concern.
>Unless the nay-sayers  REALLY believe that women who choose to be
>scientists are simply  not as good as the men.  And that I simply refuse
>to believe.

I heard Deborah Delmar speak at the ASPP (Plant Physiologists) meeting last
week.  She suggests that women are voting with their feet because of the
dysfunctional nature of academic careers (the ones we're trying to gain
equity in).  Women have made up almost half the doctorates in the life
sciences for close to 20 years now-with no effect on the levels above in
either parity or equity. Because women do not receive equity, they leave
sooner than men-they receive even fewer rewards. Men have begun to vote with
their feet too, but because they are in the majority, it will be a while
before the effect of their disenchantment shows.  

By the way, Dr. Delmar's editorial in C&E News in March or April on applying
Title IX to academic departments is a must read.  Imagine if departments
were denied federal funding until they offered equal opportunities for
women.  How many would survive?  She suggests it's time to get angry.  But
men and women seem to be uncomfortable with that-as if to ask for equity is
a radical idea! Some of the talk I've heard lately in meetings brings to
mind the real estate agent who showed me around the town during a recent job
interview.  She was talking about the new female provost and she said "I'm
not a feminist, but..." -going on to say how glad she was this woman had the
position she did.  Since when is feminism a dirty word?  

Julia Frugoli
Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology
Texas A&M University
Norman E.Borlaug Center for Southern Crop Improvement 
2123 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843
phone 979-862-3495
FAX 979-862-4790

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