|Really guy who took an undergrad class in biology, you|
sat between two women and so you felt outnumbered?
That means there is no disparity between women and men
in science. Really? (p.s. someone has used this EXACT
argument with me before).
Many of the women with undergraduate educations in science leave to get jobs, go to medical school, go into pharmacy or dentistry, that's true. Many men also do those things. But I think there's more to the disparity between the levels of men and women in graduate science programs. A 2012 study from Princeton showed that faculty members, whether they are male or female, hold a bias against female applicants. When the same resume was sent to faculty members - the only difference being a male vs. a female name - faculty members were much more likely to find "John" more competent, offer him a higher starting salary, and were more willing to mentor him. With the same resume, "Jennifer" was rated as less competent, and they were less willing to mentor her. This is a huge, and VERY REAL barrier to women gaining access to graduate-level training in science.
new study, published Wednesday, found that female graduate-level field researchers were 3.5 times more likely to have experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault during their field studies than men. The women who were harassed or assaulted were more likely to experience this from men who were senior to them, while the men who experienced harassment and assault received this treatment from peers. The women experienced greater reductions in satisfaction and commitment to work than the men did because the aggression came from superiors rather than peers. Further, a reduced commitment to work, particularly as a graduate student, can lead to increased harassment and bullying from faculty members, creating a fairly vicious cycle.
Mental health is an important comorbidity to the graduate school affliction. Harassment and bullying is what led me to seek other career alternatives besides research; I personally experienced sexual harassment from one of my peers, and was bullied by another. My friend has experienced sexual harassment, intimidation, and bullying from both peers and professors. She has been told that potential post-doc supervisors will be more willing to hire her because she's pretty, that she has to be careful of their advances, and that people will always assume that she "slept her way to the top" (I wish I was joking). We have both been sexually harassed and intimidated by students. I was not very close to other women in my department, but I have no doubt that our experiences were quite common.
And of course, there's the constant reminder that science is not for women, but rather that it a male thing that women participate in. Remember when the internet "discovered" that IFLS creator Elise Andrew is, in fact, a woman and lost its collective mind? Suddenly all anyone could talk about was how attractive she is, and how great it is that there's a woman who is both smart and attractive - as if the two are mutually exclusive.