IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

men and women in science

Sabine Dippel 100.264949 at germanynet.de
Wed May 3 01:56:34 EST 2000

On 3 May 2000 00:10:38 +0100,
 Kimberley Snowden <ksnowden at hort.cri.nz> wrote:

> I just thought I'd share something I thought some of you would find
> interesting (it is purely anecdotal though).  A couple of weeks ago we
> had a seminar from a visiting South African scientist. She made an
> interesting comment - that she was suprised to see so many male
> scientists in New Zealand (which is where I currently work). She said
> that in South Africa, male scientists are a minority because science
> isn't paid very well. That made a few of us think a bit! I don't know if
> anyone told her that we're not paid very well here either. It makes we
> wonder if the men in South Africa are ahead of world trends, and the
> same thing will happen
> elsewhere. Or maybe science is paid even worse there.  It still seemed
> like a strange situation to me, because women in the US and NZ (the
> places where I have worked and seen the numbers first-hand) still have a
> way to go to make up equal numbers with men - particularly at the higher
> levels. And why are women more likely to accept poorly paid professions?
> I think I know the answer and I don't like it. Anybody want to comment
> on this?
> cheers
> Kim

I think I remember an issue of "Science" a few years ago which had a 
special section on women in science, and which found a strong 
correlation between the number of women in science and the pay for 
science jobs in a particular country. Though it is true that post-docs
are badly paid, I don't think this is true for the "ultimate goal" of
becoming a professor or head of a lab or something like that. As far
as I know, this is paid pretty well in the States - at least it is 
in Germany. In countries like Italy or even Turkey (just to name a 
few European ones I am sure about), even at that level people don't 
make much money - and the number of women in science jobs is pretty 
high (anecdotal evidence - I have never met a german professor of 
engineering - but already two turkish ones, despite the much larger 
number of universities in Germany and the fact that I live there). 

As to your second questin - why are women more likely to accept 
badly paid positions - I guess there are a number of explanations. 
Even though it isn't true any longer, somewhere in the back of our 
minds (or that of our parents, who do influence our choice of 
profession) there is still the idea that a woman will not have 
to support a whole family, that she rather works because she likes 
the job (at least if she has a husband who works), so I guess we 
rather choose the profession we find interesting and do not care 
much about money. Besides, there are a number of studies coming up 
with the result that for women, success is defined as "having a 
fulfilling job" while for men it is defined as "climbing up the 
career ladder and making a lot of money". Add to that the fact that 
(at least quite a few of the men I know) men think more in terms of 
having to earn a living for a whole family, while women think of their
income as additional to these family earnings. This is still very 
firmly in our heads, despite the high numbers of divorces and single


More information about the Womenbio mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net