Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Women in the sciences

Inside Higher Ed today profiles a recent National Academies of Science report, "Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering." Noting the relatively low proportion of women among science and engineering faculty at research institutions, the report notes,

"The representation of women in leadership positions in our academic institutions, scientific and professional societies, and honorary organizations is low relative to the number of women qualified to hold these positions. It is not lack of talent, but unintentional biases and outmoded institutional structures that are hindering the access and advancement of women. Neither our academic institutions nor our nation can afford such underuse of precious human capital in science and engineering. The time to take action is now."

The authoring committee has put together recommendations for transforming academic insitutions to address this issue, including halting attrition during the academic advancement process, revamping models for institutional support, and reducing other institutional constraint factors. In Chapter 6, the report includes a "scorecard" for institutions to use in assessing progress related to each of the recommendations.

The report is also covered in ScienceNOW Daily News, the New York Times, Nobel Intent, Ontogeny, and other popular media outlets.

The issue certainly is not unique to the US, e.g. see Arunn of Nonoscience's "Unsung Heroines" blog entry today about women scientists in India.

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