July 17, 2008

We Need More Women in Lab Coats

Via Steve Sailer, I’ve learned that the National Science Foundation is beginning to find new applications for Title IX, that pernicious law whose ill-effects, I thought, would be limited to college sports and whose main causalities would be male wrestlers.

In post-Larry Summers academia, unequal representation means ?institutional racism? means federal intervention. Therefore, we need to do something about not having enough women in the sciences! ?The National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Energy have set up programs to look for sexual discrimination at universities receiving federal grants.?

Susan Pinker relates what I’ve heard countless times from women in grad school: 

Ms. Pinker, a clinical psychologist and columnist for The Globe and Mail in Canada (and sister of Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist), argues that the campaign for gender parity infantilizes women by assuming they don?t know what they want. She interviewed women who abandoned successful careers in science and engineering to work in fields like architecture, law and education ? and not because they had faced discrimination in science.

Instead, they complained of being pushed so hard to be scientists and engineers that they ended up in jobs they didn?t enjoy. ?The irony was that talent in a male-typical pursuit limited their choices,? Ms. Pinker says. ?Once they showed aptitude for math or physical science, there was an assumption that they?d pursue it as a career even if they had other interests or aspirations. And because these women went along with the program and were perceived by parents and teachers as torch bearers, it was so much more difficult for them to come to terms with the fact that the work made them unhappy.?

Significant as well is the increased self-segregation that’s been occurring in graduate study in the humanities since women entered the academy. 

Although I guess I could go do some actual statistical research on the subject, I?m pretty sure that what I relate below is accurate across the country. 

Departments like English and History have fairly balanced representation, 50/50, although the self-segregation begins to take effect within specialties?“history of gender and sexuality” and “military history” attracting whom you’d think they’d attract. (There are of course some exceptions, and even some attempts to bridge the divide (?construction of gender bianaries in war? etc.); however, the rule basically holds.)

Philosophy is all dudes. But then, and I say this quite seriously, I’d estimate that Art History departments are 95-100% either female or gay male. A rough count from the Duke Art History department?s webpage reveals that 29 of its 35 fully-funded grad students are women (and I didn?t included the ambiguous names.) 

I’m sure that there are plenty of men interested in the history of painting etc.; however, my guess is that once women entered the university, they flocked to Art History and across the country these departments began to take on a bit of a, well, girly quality?the guys were simply driven away.

Let?s not hold our breath waiting for the National Endowment for the Humanities to seek to redress this troubling inequality. 


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