Great discussion: pipeline problem

There’s so much out there recently on how to solve the “pipeline problem” of underrepresentation of women in science, and most authors agree that we must start to address the issue earlier than college (see Chad’s post at Uncertain Principles and Zuska’s response to him).

Indeed, the world is abuzz with the issue and we see news in The Chronicle about a major report today (National Academies report summary here). Lots of lovely stuff in the summary including the quote below, which lies somewhere well beyond the patently obvious for any of us who aren’t total dichotomizers:

The panel noted that, after an exhaustive review of the scientific literature, including studies of brain structure and function, it could find no evidence of “any significant biological differences between men and women in performing science and mathematics that can account for the lower representation of women,” according to its report.

Rather, the panel blamed environments that favor men, continuous questioning of women’s abilities and commitment to an academic career, and a system that claims to reward based on merit but instead rewards traits such as assertiveness that are socially less acceptable for women to possess.

I study this stuff and clearly the panel is completely on-target!

Anyway, I’m most interested in Zuska’s other post here, with real live tips (“Resources for Parents”) on keeping girls’ interest in science strong, and the comments in this thread are golden! The idea of encouraging tinkering and understanding the potential role it may play in confidence, underscored by Bill Hooker later in the comments, is fabulous…

2 responses to “Great discussion: pipeline problem

  1. I tinkered as a kid. I still do, just b/c it’s fun. In other areas, I was definitely discouraged and am still trying to overcome the effects.

    Feministe’s take is here: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2006/09/19/newsflash-institutions-hinder-female-academics/#comments

    Not as applicable to my situation, but still interesting.

  2. Very amazing site! I wish I could do something as nice as you did…mary

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