On this, International Women’s Day, let us pause for a moment of quiet celebration. Celebration that the women of the world are doing so very well. That the women of developed countries such as this, at any rate, earn as much as men for doing the same jobs. That half our elected officials. university professors, and corporate executives were born with two X chromosomes, and we look like we might be catching up with countries such as India, Pakistan, Israel, and Great Britain in having a strong woman candidate for the next Presidential election. That–

Wait. Oh, sorry, I wrote this to go out on the first of April.

Never mind.

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  1. Rebecca on March 9, 2005 at 12:00 am

    Ah, you made me chuckle. If it weren’t for Google I wouldn’t even have known what day it was; thank heavens for the logo of the day! But you made your point well.

    I’m a high school student on an academic competition team, and at a recent competition we had a question about… Maurice Maeterlinck’s _The Life of the Bee_. I didn’t get it, but as soon as I heard the answer I knew where I’d seen it before and smacked myself. Wow.

  2. Erin on March 9, 2005 at 4:03 am

    *sniggers* I probably should not be laughing at that, but it is a bitter sort of laughter, I swear.

    The problem as I see it is that we are in a bit of a circular dilemma. Few women try to enter those communities of employment because there aren’t many inspiring people to guide and so there are few mentors to inspire the next generation.

    I’m a mechanical engineering student and the male domination for this feild is quite obvious when there are maybe 7 women in a class of 65. I believe we have only one female professor in our entire department and very few female grad students.

    I can’t help wondering, however, if part of the reason that there aren’t more women is a lack of interest in moving further into fields of study. Tech work seems like a lot more fun than being in charge. But again that leads to the circular dilemma.

  3. wolfa on March 9, 2005 at 6:35 pm

    Lack of interest, sure. But *why* is the interest lacking? The first look should be at cultural factors, because in India (I believe), women do become doctors and engineers at higher rates, and in ex-communist countries, they become scientists and mathematicians at higher rates. So we can look at sociocultural biases, first. (After all, for years we’ve been trying to find the gene that makes those different people worse, and we never seem to find it; it’s a fair bet to now take that as the last option, when other things have yet to pan out as explanations.)

  4. 2maple on March 11, 2005 at 3:23 pm

    Stirring the pot and letting your sarcatic streak loose? Your April 1 post ought to be a real treat.

    I heard on the radio this morning on my drive in about the gains made by the women in Cuba recently and found this Reuters summary of the event:

    “President Fidel Castro gave Cuban women some good news on International Women’s Day: rice cookers are coming to every household.

    In a five-hour 45-minute speech to cheering women Tuesday night, the Cuban leader announced 100,000 pressure cookers and rice cookers would be available each month at subsidized prices.”

    Sounds like it was a 5 hr info-mercial for rice cookers and sadly, it’s probably a huge impovement for these women…

  5. WDI on March 23, 2005 at 1:38 pm

    Erin said:
    The problem as I see it is that we are in a bit of a circular dilemma. Few women try to enter those communities of employment because there aren’t many inspiring people to guide and so there are few mentors to inspire the next generation.

    As a female academic in a male-dominated field, I agree with Erin’s points. However, I think it’s also important that we all acknowledge the root cause: the simple fact that woman are still discriminated against at all levels of academic endeavor. For anyone interested, I strongly recommend Sandra Knapp’s editorial in TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution 20(2):55-56 and references therein, particularly the text of the illuminating talk given by L. Bailyn on gender equity in academia (available online as Athena Occassional Paper 2, http://www.scenta.co.uk/athena).

  6. 2maple on March 25, 2005 at 6:11 pm

    Sorry, I see it differently. I’e2’80’99ll throw out another, longer view’e2’80’a6practical rather than theoretical.

    You can’e2’80’99t walk in and be at the top of any organization or career in a meaningful way without working your way up through the ranks – unless you want to be a figurehead or a token’e2’80’a6now, there’e2’80’99s a meaningless existence.

    So it takes time; realistically a generation. There were very few women professionals (and therefore, very few in leadership positions) when I stared out almost 25 years ago (has it really been that long!?!) but I just marched along doing my own thing, and there was much head banging; and sometimes it was lonely; and occasionally it was really funny. But now a generation later, I see closer to a 50-50 split among the professional junior employees (read 20-somethings) where I work (engineers, scientists, and geologists). Their expectations of work place gender equity are quite different…management is different ‘e2’80’a6and old codgers with outdated views are retiring. I can’e2’80’99t say much about academia’e2’80’a6other than when I was in grad school it was dominated by ‘e2’80’9cold codgers’e2’80’9d’e2’80’a6so it may take longer.

    But anyone expecting it to ever be 50-50 in leadership roles isn’e2’80’99t being realistic as women have more choices beyond the ‘e2’80’9cultimate’e2’80’9d career (which may involve a lot of time or travel) including staying home and raising kids, delaying professional careers to raise kids, or choosing careers to give them more flexibility, or having their husbands stay home. I’e2’80’99ve had friends that have made all these choices and are happy’e2’80’a6who’e2’80’99s to say what right or wrong. It’e2’80’99s really what’e2’80’99s right for them and their families.

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