The NY Times has a long article on young women in STEM. It’s researched and written by a woman, Eileen Pollack, who was a physics major at Yale in the early 70′s. She now teaches creative writing at Michigan. So what happened then to decide her to leave? And is it still going on?
It is not entirely obvious how to generalize from her discussion, but it seems as though the large male component in STEM really is indifferent – or worse – to the needs of the minorities in their midst. That said, things are better but niwhere enough.
… we need to make sure that we stop losing girls at every step as they fall victim to their lack of self-esteem, their misperceptions as to who does or doesn’t go on in science and their inaccurate assessments of their talents.
The key to reform is persuading educators, researchers and administrators that broadening the pool of female scientists and making the culture more livable for them doesn’t lower standards. If society needs a certain number of scientists, Urry said, and you can look for those scientists only among the males of the population, you are going to have to go much farther toward the bottom of the barrel than if you also can search among the females in the population, especially the females who are at the top of their barrel.
As so many studies have demonstrated, success in math and the hard sciences, far from being a matter of gender, is almost entirely dependent on culture — a culture that teaches girls math isn’t cool and no one will date them if they excel in physics; a culture in which professors rarely encourage their female students to continue on for advanced degrees; a culture in which success in graduate school is a matter of isolation, competition and ridiculously long hours in the lab; a culture in which female scientists are hired less frequently than men, earn less money and are allotted fewer resources.