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Women in Science, Revisited

 
 
sumac
 
Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 03:51 am
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,535 • Replies: 26
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Tico
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 08:17 am
What a fascinating and articulate person is Dr. Barres. Thank you for posting this.

I am not scientifically-inclined so can have no other comment, but I plan to query a friend of mine, a microchemical biologist (or something like that) who has her doctorate and is a woman with a solid career in pharmaceuticals.

Recently, I read a little on the life and times of Mary Leakey and was struck by several things: The number of female 'scientists' of the period. How many of these women had little or no formal education, perhaps because societal pressures denied it to them. But the scientific community was not as rigid as it is almost a century later, which allowed their abilities access to field or lab work and publication. However, Mary Leakey's work still depended on the authentification of Louis Leakey's name.
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sumac
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 08:28 am
Quite so, Tico, about Mary Leakey.

And one has to wonder if even Margaret Mead would have been allowed to advance if it were not for the fact that her initial work was in a field traditionally thought of as more family oriented, thus feminine?
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sozobe
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 08:29 am
I think there are a lot of valid things there. There is definitely sexism. And I am all for better and more available childcare for all, in any field. The MIT example is striking, and rings true.

For all of Dr. Barres' reliance on data, though, he breaks down ("just a guess") on a central point:

Quote:
Q. Are men more careerist?

A. I think people do what they are rewarded for doing, and I think women realize, whether it's conscious or unconscious, they are not going to get the rewards. So they put the hours into their families or whatever. That's just a guess.

Science is like art, it's just something you have to do. It's a passion. When I go into a lab, I'll go without sleep, I'll go hours and hours, day after day. And I think women would do that if they weren't given so much negative feedback.


I very much agree with the italicized section -- but what I think (and what the data shows) is that women tend to choose not to go without sleep and go for hours and hours, day after day, because women tend to place a higher emphasis on a balanced life. This can be specifically about child-rearing -- going home and spending time with the children rather than going without sleep, hours and hours, etc. -- but it can also just be about hanging out with friends, or playing a sport, or traveling for pleasure, or whatever.

Elite scientists have no lives. And research has shown that men are generally more willing than women to have no life, to focus exclusively on their careers at the expense of all else.
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sumac
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 08:39 am
I agree, soz. Balance and harmony.

Also, Dr. Barnes did not comment on the fact that not only are women not getting traditional rewards for making a committed career in science, but they are getting rewards (although of a different nature and strength) by "putting their efforts into family or whatever".
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sozobe
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 08:42 am
Good point. That's very much the elite-scientist, careerist thinking -- "what rewards could there be from family or whatever that would compete with getting that primo grant?"
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Kara
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 09:53 am
bookmarking
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plainoldme
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 11:11 am
PBS is currently running a BRitish series on gender differences that is, unfortunately, too populist and discursive in its approach, although it still has some good material.

One of the issues addressed is how women perceive the spoken word. Because women process speach in more than one center in the brain, women actually hear more than men do.
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plainoldme
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 11:18 am
My post above has nothing to do with women in science but with one difference between the two genders.

There was an article in a recent edition of Harvard Magazine on Mary Ingraham Bunting, a former president of the late Radcliffe College. Mrs. Bunting was left a young widow with children. She had been running the family farm -- which I suppose was a sort of 'gentleman's farm' -- and working part time in a lab at Yale at the time of her husband's death. Yale would not hire her because she was a woman but another college did and that job led her to Radcliffe.

Mary Bunting believed women should be able to go in and out of the world of work as the needs of their families dictated. You would think she lived in the 19th C, because her words and ideas have been ignored by lots of institutions, including Harvard. I wrote a letter to the editor of HArvard Magazine about this. I just hope they print it.

Both men and women on the left in the 1960s thought as Mary Bunting did and wanted both men and women to participate in childrearing and income-earning work. Too bad this idea was left to die in the dessert of business as usual.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 11:56 am
Actually, there is a lot of evidence that the men on the left in the 60's were quite averse to doing "women's work," and that this had a lot of consequences.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 12:00 pm
Quick Google search result:

http://www.uic.edu/orgs/cwluherstory/CWLUArchive/damn.html
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sumac
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 12:07 pm
I think it fair to say that probably all men, left, right, or centrist, don't want to do "women's work".

It IS too bad that the view that both men and women should be allowed flexibility visa-vis work and family, as situation changes and dictates, wasn't really picked up on. We will revisit that idea again, I am quite sure.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 12:11 pm
Well, what I'm saying is that I think the 60's radicals kinda undermined it themselves by the rampant sexism within their ranks... that they bear some of the blame for why it wasn't "picked up on."

On the other hand, that generation of mothers probably have something to do with the apparently higher proportion of men in my generation who ARE willing to do that work. I know several stay-at-home dads, my own husband is both a careerist scientist and a scrubber of toilets, etc.

I understand that you want to stay on the topic though, so happy to not go into that further for now.
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sumac
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 12:23 pm
Thank you for posting that article by Piercy, sozobe. I read an awful lot during the 60's and 70's, but was not inside the American Left, so didn't read this. It certainly rings true.
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sumac
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 12:27 pm
Perhaps we should say "60's male radicals"....
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plainoldme
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 03:56 pm
sozobe wrote:
Actually, there is a lot of evidence that the men on the left in the 60's were quite averse to doing "women's work," and that this had a lot of consequences.


That was not the case in Detroit, where men wanted to be part of the plan. What went wrong was couples putting off child-bearing or marrying late and women -- in the interim -- taking regular jobs, leaving flex-time and other schemes to the future.
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Kara
 
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Reply Wed 19 Jul, 2006 07:44 pm
There was an article in a recent edition of Harvard Magazine on Mary Ingraham Bunting, a former president of the late Radcliffe College. Mrs. Bunting was left a young widow with children. She had been running the family farm -- which I suppose was a sort of 'gentleman's farm' -- and working part time in a lab at Yale at the time of her husband's death. Yale would not hire her because she was a woman but another college did and that job led her to Radcliffe

plaino wrote the above. (I'm having trouble patching in here and doing the quotes thing)

plaino, I'd like to hear more about this.

Soz, yes I know all about the men of the 60's. Is it too late to reform them? Sad
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sumac
 
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Reply Thu 20 Jul, 2006 02:33 am
Quote:
Q. What about the idea that men and women differ in ways that give men an advantage in science?

A. People are still arguing over whether there are cognitive differences between men and women. If they exist, it's not clear they are innate, and if they are innate, it's not clear they are relevant. They are subtle, and they may even benefit women.

But when you tell people about the studies documenting bias, if they are prejudiced, they just discount the evidence.


I once studied this entire area and one of the difficulties is in the area of assessment, or measurement. Once you are able to measure something, anything, both nature and nature have been exerting their influences, and it is very difficult to tease their contributions apart.

And even if you can measure something, there is no guarantee that whatever is being measured is being measured reliably, or will be a valid predicator of anything of interest to hypothesis or theory.

The above is true of conducting scientific research in general also.
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plainoldme
 
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Reply Thu 20 Jul, 2006 10:29 am
Kara -- The article about Bunting is just a short autobiographical piece. Perhaps, you can google Harvard Magazine and find it under the series title, "A Short Life."
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theollady
 
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Reply Sat 22 Jul, 2006 02:21 pm
Hi Sumac, Kara and plaino

I am really NOT here anymore, and on a strange computer where a gal I know lives...
But I came to read for just a moment and am not surprised at your SUBJECT! Very Happy

Sue, you are EQUAL to any gender, and you KNOW it!! Laughing Laughing

But I think women are too BUSY to be scientists! Can't elaborate furthur. No time. All of you take care... miss you, Lou
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