More Selective Concern on Sex Imbalances
From a new report "Staying Competitive: Patching America’s Leaky Pipeline in the Sciences" from the Center for American Progress:
The “leaky pipeline” for women in the sciences, sometimes referred to as the “pool problem” because of the low number of women in job applicant pools relative to their rates of doctoral degrees granted, has become a point of considerable debate in recent years. Discussions about the reasons for the leaks range from “chilly” institutional and departmental climates to gender bias and discrimination to innate differences in cognition to lack of mentoring to the role of marriage and children.
This debate was perhaps best brought to national attention in the aftermath of comments by former President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers in 2005, when he referenced theories that women might have less intrinsic aptitude to excel at academic science careers. In fact, research universities across the country and federal granting agencies are routinely confronted with evidence of a leaky or constricting pipeline for women in the sciences.
Data from both NIH and NSF, the two agencies providing the greatest amount of funds to researchers in U.S. universities and colleges, also suggest that the leaky pipeline is not an aspect of the past. As seen in the figure above women comprise a much larger proportion of the predoctoral fellowships given by these agencies than they do postdoctoral fellowships and competitive faculty grants. The drop-off in relative proportion is dramatic, with women comprising 63% and 54% of NIH and NSF’s predoctoral awards in 2007, respectively, but just 25% and 23% of the competitive faculty grants awarded in the same year.
MP: 1. Once again, another mis-characterization of what Larry Summers actually said:
It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability - there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means - which can be debated - there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population.
In other words, what Summers actually said is that "male intelligence is inherently more variable than female intelligence," which is significantly and distinctly different than saying that "women might have less intrinsic aptitude to excel at academic science careers." Anybody who understands basic statistics and the difference between the mean and standard deviation of a distribution will understand immediately the difference between what Summers said (the standard deviation of male intelligence is greater than the standard deviation of female intelligence) and what others claim he said (women have less intrinsic aptitude to excel in math and science).
2. Isn't it interesting that there is no concern whatsoever that women receive 170 NIH predoctoral awards for every 100 grants awarded to men, and 117 NSF awards for every 100 men, but there is suddenly a selective concern of a "dramatic drop-off" of NIH and NSF awards to faculty. If I understand the rules of gender activism correctly, they go something like this:
Rule A. If women are over-represented (college degrees, SAT scores for reading or writing between 750-800, doctoral degrees in the life sciences, English and foreign languages, etc., scholarly research awards, or tenured professors in education), that is because women are smarter, more motivated or more talented than men. No action, policies or funding required to correct the gender imbalance.
Rule B. If women are under-represented (engineering or math Ph.D.s, SAT math scores between 750-800, tenured math, computer science and physics professors at MIT, etc.) that is because of pervasive, unexamined sexism, which requires action, policies and funding to correct the sex imbalances.
3. The report concludes that "If we delay we simply continue to lose talented scholars [women] from fast-track academic careers in the sciences—to the detriment of our nation’s future."
Here's another solution: Make it easier for all of the foreign doctoral students studying math, science and engineering in the U.S. to stay here after they complete their degrees.