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Encouraging the Participation of Female Students in STEM fields: The Hearing

So remember that Congressional Hearing I was telling you about? Well it happened yesterday morning. Lots of interesting points and explanations. Let me give you a taste.

FairerScience friend Alan Leshner summed the whole thing up beautifully when he said::

Although the story of women in STEM fields is one of tremendous gains over the past 40 years, it is a bittersweet story that is coupled with uneven progress and sometimes loss of ground—a discipline-specific program here, a department there, but seldom an institution-wide effort.
His point that the federal government needs to "provide guidance and assistance to higher education institutions in their voluntary reviews of their practices to ensure that there is full access to study and employment for women as well as men." made me happy too.

And then there was FairerScience friend Barbara Bogue, who critiqued the National Academies study, Gender Differences in Critical Transition Points in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty, pointing out using "only select STEM fields to conclude that there is relatively no problem at critical transition points for women in academic careers." is a real no no.

There were lots of other good points that were brought up but I have to get back to work, so you are going to have to read them yourselves. I did however want to leave you with a though from a commenter on an Inside Higher Ed article:

He said "Where is the concern about the lack of men in psychology, sociology, etc., etc.? Where is the outreach to men in those fields?" The rest of his comment was the regular "everyone chooses freely stuff" but he raises a very good point. If we're looking for parity why aren't we concerned about the fields that are overwhelmingly women? Why aren't we doing outreach to men? Does any of this have anything to do with valuing what men do more than what women do?


30 years ago men significantly outnumbered women in psychology and it was only after a long struggle that women achieved parity and eventually outnumbered men.

Also, based on the testimony of Alan Leshner, women are still relatively underrepresented in the higher levels of academia:

"Even in fields such as psychology, where women have received more than 50% of Ph.D.’s since the mid 1980’s (and where they have received over two-thirds of doctorates since 1996), in 2007-2008 they were less likely to be in the rank of full professor (26.4% of women vs. 46.3% of men) and more likely to be in non-tenure track or lecturer positions"

So that is actually similar to many science fields.

My question is whether there are men who feel like they have been made unwelcome in psychology or social science or other fields with large numbers of women. My sense is that a large part of the driving force between the promotion of women in STEM comes from women who have experienced discrimination or at least the feeling that they are only reluctantly being admitted to the boy's club of science. Are there men that feel the same way?

Good question Peggy. The male dominated professions have always had more money and prestige than the female ones and as the number and percent of women majorly increase in a previously male profession, the money goes down.

And while I would prefer never to be part of another discussion on "Can men do feminist research?"; I've heard nothing about men being unwelcome in these areas.

My goal has always been parity and as some friends and I wrote in an (in press) paper:

"Since parity is about being equal or equivalent, there should be equal concern when a group is over the range as well as under the range. "Over participation" of a subgroup in a field should be as great a concern as under participation. In the case of gender- the "feminization" of a field has traditionally resulted in a loss of status and income and may contribute to men’s avoidance of fields they perceive as “female” (England, 1992)."

England, P. (1992). Comparable worth: Theories and evidence. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

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