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WHO WILL DO THE SCIENCE OF THE FUTURE?: A SYMPOSIUM ON CAREERS OF WOMEN IN SCIENCE
There is no interest in changing the number of women percolating up through the ranks. The statistics that are on the Web from the NSF and everywhere else show that there is leakage, and I don't even like that term “leakage” at every step of the pipeline. What it really means is ongoing discrimination. The percentage of women who are promoted to tenure is lower than their percentage in the pool. I mean the percentage of men who are promoted to tenure. They take longer to promote to tenure. There is the lovely work by Sonnert and Holton, which shows that even the top, the elite women in science, and NRC postdocs suffer from this discrimination.
It seems to me—and I will conclude this speech—I am sorry to go on, but it seems to me that there is a fundamental break between the beliefs of a traditional academic world, which believes in their souls that the best succeed and the objective evidence, which all of us as scientists should be able to evaluate, which is that the best do not succeed, that is that many of the best are not succeeding.
Participant: It is not really a question. It is a comment, and I wasn't sure whether I should make it or not, but I am a little distressed. In fact, I am quite distressed at the message that seems to be coming through that women are intrinsically less interested in how things work and how they are put together; in what I consider to be the interesting things; that they are interested really for what appear to me other reasons. I am not saying that they are peripheral, but they are intrinsically different, and that may in fact be true. If it is true, I am really distressed to find out that it is true.
I think it is not true, and I think that the problem is really elsewhere. I don't know where it is, but I don't think that is where it is at.
Response: Dr. Wu: In the kinds of things that I have worked on, the understanding how it works is a very big part of it, as well, and it is not so much an understanding how the computer works per se but understanding how deregulating the electricity market would work, and there is just as much understanding per se in that question of what are the right kinds of regulations for the government to put down versus those that they should leave alone and let industry figure out for itself.
I think those are just as worthy questions to think deeply and passionately about, and I am not sure the computer, thinking deeply about the computer per se is the only thing that one can get passionate about.
Participant: Just a brief comment on process. One thing that is different about industry, at least in my industry and I think, also, at IBM, is that we have been required to address this issue face on for at least the last decade and attendance at consciousness–raising encounter sessions is mandatory, and we have seen a massive change in our behavior over the last decade.