WOMEN IN THE SCIENCES: LEFT OUT, LEFT BEHIND
WRITE TO YOUR SCHOOL AND URGE IT TO DO MORE
Throughout the country, women are underrepresented on university science, math and engineering faculties. In fact, a landmark report issued earlier this year showed that women are rare 每 and women of color all but invisible -- in tenure and tenure-track positions in the top science departments. Now that school-specific data are available, you can find out how your school is doing and work for change.
The underrepresentation of women on science faculties is a national and systemic problem. The report, by Dr. Donna Nelson, a chemistry professor at the University of Oklahoma shows stark underrepresentation in each of the fifty university departments that receive the most funding in several scientific disciplines (referred to here as ※the sciences§). For example, there are no African-American, Hispanic or Native American tenure-track women professors at the top 50 computer science departments in the country. In addition, there are only a few women who are full professors at any school 每 nationally in each discipline the percentage ranges between 3 and a high of only 15 percent. And, the number of women receiving PhD＊s in the sciences is much higher than the number of women going into academia. Thus, the low number of women teaching in the sciences is not a problem of supply. These patterns of underrepresentation may signal violations of federal anti-discrimination laws. Yet a new report by the Government Accountability Office found that the federal government is not doing all that it can 每 and must -- to enforce those anti-discrimination laws.
The absence of women on science faculties poses significant problems for female students, female professors, the university, and society as a whole. First, female students are deprived of role models and mentors, and are sent a message that female professors are not wanted in the sciences. Second, qualified women face barriers both to getting, and advancing in, teaching jobs. Third, any failure to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws can affect a university＊s federal funding or subject it to potential liability. Finally, society loses out on the talents of many individuals at a time when progress in the sciences is particularly critical.
Now you can help make sure that your university is doing all that it can to reverse this trend. Urge your university to investigate and address the barriers that contribute to this problem. Whether you are a student, alumnus/a, faculty member, parent or other member of a university community, you can make a difference. Through this website, you can take some easy steps and start this discussion in your community:
- Find Out How Many Women Are Teaching in the Sciences At Your School: Use this website to see if your school was included in the Nelson report and 每 if so 每 how it did.
- Write to University Officials and Urge Them to Do More: If your school was included in the Nelson report, send a letter to your University President with your school-specific information automatically filled in. If your school was not included in the Nelson report, you can send a letter to your university asking it about the number of women teaching there.
- Write to Federal Officials and Urge Them to Enforce The Anti-Discrimination Laws: Because the U.S. Departments of Education and Energy, the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration provide funds to universities, they have the authority and the obligation to make sure that schools are not discriminating against women professors. The GAO found that they are not doing as much as they need to.
- Encourage Others to Do The Same: Through this website, you can also create flyers with your school-specific information to post on campus, send letters to your campus or community newspaper, and find suggestions for other activities to raise awareness of this problem.
- There are too few women on sciences faculties nationally.
- The absence of women on science faculties hurts everyone 每 including female students, female professors, and universities themselves.
- You can help to reverse this trend at your school.