18 September 2006

women in the academy

today in the new york times, an article reporting on the conclusions of a national academy of science panel to investigate women's status in the sciences and engineering. (the full report is currently only available at absurd prices, hence no link to the NAS. losers.) the times says in part that
The report also dismissed other commonly held beliefs — that women are uncompetitive or less productive, that they take too much time off for their families, and so on. Their real problems, it says, are unconscious but pervasive bias, “arbitrary and subjective” evaluation processes, and a work environment in which “anyone lacking the work and family support traditionally provided by a ‘wife’ is at a serious disadvantage."
amen, in particular, to that last phrase: "anyone lacking the work and family support traditionally provided by a wife is at a serious disadvantage." i would note, however, that it's less about a wife, and more about lack of responsibility--thus as a single woman i'm on a fairly level playing field with my single male housemate, but if either of us were to move in with a partner or have kids i'd probably be SOL in relative (i.e., competitive) terms.

it's a truism around here: yale has woefully bad childcare programming, so grad students with kids are at a disadvantage. and, yeah, ok, having kids in grad school -- maybe not such a hot choice. but shit happens, and when shit falls disproportionately on women that is what we like to call injustice. women with families drop out; men with families stay in. does it matter whose fault it is? not really. does it mean that an institution with a $13 billion endowment should probably be about a trillion times more proactive on this matter? why yes, i believe it does.

note also that i'm still waiting for the report on the phenomenon i can only label "it's not our fault you were socialized like a girl."