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equity, parity, teaching

SLF notmyaddress at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 28 14:54:30 EST 2000

Good points being made all around....
(sorry to lose the threading but I read this list on the website and my
browser and its reply link don't work together.)

Rachel wrote:

> I think that industry has done a far better job at providing women with
> "equity". That is because companies have policies which are followed and have actively
> supported "diversity", either on their own or due to Federal legislation.
> ........
> For example, companies will have a uniform maternity leave policy in place,
> and if they have more than 50 employees must at least follow the Family and
> Medical
> Leave Act. As well as a Human Resources department to ensure you get
> what you are entitled. However, if you are a postdoc or a research
> assistant
> professor at a university what kind of uniform maternity leave policy is in
> place?
> What kind of recourse or resources do you have available?

In this regard, check out an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education about
settling a Tenure Lawsuit Over Maternity Leave
(http://chronicle.com/free/v46/i46/46a01202.htm).  Here's a choice quote:

"The provost...alledgedly told another professor that extending the tenure
clock because of childbirth was a "red flag" for tenure committees. "

Academics get away with a lot.  But, that flexibility is also positive--I can
be much more of an independent voice because of my academic freedom and independence. Being a rebel at heart, I would chafe under corporate
rules and dress codes.

The problem is when that flexibility can be used to justify inequity
and lack of parity--as it does.  The avuncular "trust us, we're objective" attitude
of academics is highly suspect.

> I think women are self-selecting out of academia
> for two reasons, one because so much is based on the networking and
> knowing people in academia and women aren't admitted into these little
> close knit networks as easily,

Yes,that is very true.  This is a HUGE issue.  I'm not sure there is an easy
way around it....mentoring is a catch phrase now, but really, how much of a
mentor can one be, if she lacks the influence to make a difference
in the profession? And it is also true that human nature is such that people
find it easier to mentor others who are like themselves.  When people in
power are older men, that means they are not going to be comfortable with
younger women.

And then there's the delightful issue (note irony, please) that if a man
DOES mentor a woman, it's assumed they are sleeping together, because
she can't really be that good, can she?

Solace yourselves then with the fact that your unmentored achievements really
DO reflect how good you are, because you achieved them without the
boost that the others get.

> and two, because most women in science
> don't have someone else helping them and supporting them the way most men
> do.

I have heard of the reverse of this being also used as an excuse.
"It's okay if you don't  get tenure;  your husband has a good job."

Julia wrote:

> I got my issue of Science yesterday and read the article Susan talked
> about and quite frankly, I think the sidebar is bull. The idea that
> women self select out of science because it's a theoretical field and
> women only like "people-oriented" fields can be disputed by the fact
> that, as has been discussed on this list, a lot of science is people.

yes, and also disputed by the fact that  women who are happy in cold
theoretical fields are STILL treated worse than men.  Hence my original
post.  There are two linked problems:  one is parity (how to keep
more women in the pipeline)  and the second is equity (even if most women
do not want to do X, how to make sure that the women who do, and are
qualified, are treated fairly?)

> I found it interesting that the "balanced" high scorers-those with
> high scores in BOTH verbal and math, rarely chose science as a
> career, no matter what gender. It think this says something about the
> dysfunctional nature of science, as perceived by bright people.

Speaking as one with  balance, and a degree from Berkeley in English Lit,
I don't think this is the case. Academics of any ilk can be dysfunctional.   ;-)

DON'T REPLY to the email address in header.
It's an anti-spam.  Use the one below.
S L Forsburg, PhD  Associate Professor
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA
forsburg at salk.edu

Women in Biology Internet Launch Page
"These are my opinions.  I don't have
time to speak for anyone else."


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