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White men still dominating science posts

  1. Jan 25, 2004 #1
    CNN Link - White men dominate science posts


    """""OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (AP) -- White men still dominate university professorships at the nation's top science and engineering schools, even where many of the doctoral students are women and minorities, according to the results of a survey released Thursday.

    Women hold between 3 percent and 15 percent of full professorships in science and engineering at the schools surveyed, according to the report written by Donna J. Nelson, a University of Oklahoma chemistry professor who has written several studies on women and minorities in science.

    As a result, women can earn their degrees without having a woman professor or even having access to a female faculty member, according to the survey.

    "Women are less likely to go into and remain in science and engineering when they lack mentors and role models," the survey said. "When female professors are not hired, treated fairly and retained, female students perceive that they will be treated similarly."

    In some instances, the percentage of female students far outweighs the proportion of professors of the same gender, the survey showed. For example, 48.2 percent of students earning bachelor's degrees in math were female, but only 8.3 percent of math professors were women.

    Black, Hispanic and American Indian women have even fewer professorships than their white counterparts, according to the survey. For instance, it found no black, Hispanic or Indian women who were full professors at any of the top 50 computer science departments."'"""



    Apparently racism in America has yet to be tackled in areas of higher learning, this is very discouraging news.
     
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  3. Jan 25, 2004 #2

    Moonbear

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    Okay, things are definitely not equal yet, but I don't necessarily think it's an issue of inequality in hiring practices. First of all, it does take quite a long time to move up from assistant professor to full professor, so it doesn't surprise me those numbers are still very skewed...the full professors are the people who were hired 15 or more years ago, and includes those who are well past retirement age but still insisting on working, so it will just take a while before the younger hires work their way up to those higher ranks. The same with administrative positions. In the past 10 years, I've seen a pretty dramatic shift toward more women as dept chairs, simply because now enough women have started to work their way up to where they are eligible for those positions.

    If I had to name one thing that's likely the biggest deterrent for women entering academic research positions, it's that the hours you need to put in at the beginning of your career, when still trying to obtain tenure, are not compatible with also trying to start a family. In most careers, you start out slow and acquire additional responsibilities and work hours as you gain experience and there are pay increases that match it. In academics, the heaviest burden is on the front end, where you need to prove your productivity. You start to think anyone only working 80 hours a week is lazy, and your salary is pretty much a joke. So, a lot of women coming out of graduate programs decide they want to have children and that just doesn't work easily with an academic career, so they choose other careers that allow them to have their families and their sanity too. Some women manage to juggle it all, but it's tough and requires a really good support system...spouse, family, friends, housekeeper...who can help out with the other things you don't have time for.
     
  4. Jan 25, 2004 #3
    Then Affirmitve action needs to be applied. Just as AA has to be applied in factories and Government jobs to make sure minorities are given the chance for employment, the same should be applied to Universities and the Professors that they staff.

    So the fair thing to do is to Lay off 25% of the White professors, and replace them with Black and Hispanic professors to ensure a diverse and equal oppurtunity environment, just as what is done in all other professions.
     
  5. Jan 26, 2004 #4

    adrenaline

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    This is true in part. I dont think there is any prejudicial hiring practices, although some may still exist. However, it is interesting that alot of women who would otherwise choose science field go into the field of medicine where, with the exception of a few specialities, a minimimum of eighty hour work weeks are required. My work week ranges from 80-100 but I am lucky that I have a husband who is a full time dad and "domestic engineer". I think as women and men's role change and adjust to our modern work day environment, we will see more women in the upper ranks of academia as more and more supportive husbands foregoe "aggressive careers" to shoulder the equally important but for less pay of raising the family.
     
  6. Jan 26, 2004 #5

    selfAdjoint

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    A modest proposal!
     
  7. Jan 28, 2004 #6

    Moonbear

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    Yes, a lot of those science majors go into medicine. I wonder if that's because women are still raised to be nurturers, which makes medicine a more appealing field? I don't think academic science is something very many people are cut out for, men or women...not because of what you need to know, but more about the sort of personality traits required to succeed. The distinct advantage of medicine over academics is that in the long run, it is possible to afford either good childcare or having one spouse home to raise the child (though, of course this doesn't start until post-residency). If it is the nurturing side of the field that appeals more to women, though, then it may just be a matter of letting them see the nurturing side of other professions. The thing I like about research is the opportunity to teach. Not just in the classroom, but all day. The whole nature of an academic lab is that we're continually training young scientists, and I find that to be very rewarding (until they decide to go into medicine...nothing wrong with that choice, just sometimes you see someone come through who has a real special talent for research and you wish would keep doing it, and they still don't).

    The part about needing role models and mentors is probably partly true too. But I don't think women necessarily need other women as mentors. Men can make great mentors for women too. My mentors have been men, and I'm still in academics. The key is that I've really chosen them carefully (yes, one can choose your mentor as much as your mentor chooses you). Each mentor I've worked with has had a specific area of strength that I have learned from. One was very involved in outreach, getting the message out to the public of what's important about our research (many scientists shun this task because of the way the media tends to twist and exaggerate things), another was an excellent teacher, both in his lab an in the classroom, and really helped me build those skills, and the third had a real knack for administrative resonsibilities and navigating the political atmosphere of universities. Of course I also learned from them the usual stuff...how to do research, how to write grants, how to get papers published, stuff like that. Those who don't consider what they can learn from their mentor other than science really aren't as well prepared to go out and work independently.

    I need to go now, but have another area to discuss that I'll need to return to later...that of the proverbial mens room conversations, and how women can make sure they have the same discussions without needing to barge into the mens room (there's some truth to that, but also a lot of myth).
     
  8. Jan 28, 2004 #7

    adrenaline

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    You bring up good points. I especially agree with the fact that women don't necessarily need female role models as long as the male role models are as supportive and empowering and not discriminatory in their treatment of females. In medicine, the surgery specialties are still fraught with this type of attitude but it is changing. Faculty status in any university ,and not just the sciences, are so fraught with politics, many women may have the belief (wether real or not) that the good ole boy network will still be a big impediment. I also think medicine allows for more flexibility for a woman. If academia and research is all you want to do, then one can do this full time.(That's the path most of the MdPhDs) seem to choose. If part time teaching and research as well as private practice appeals to you, then voila the medical institutes usually accomodate. There is also autonomy knowing that if my attending faculty and I don't get along or the research funds dry up, I can go right back to full time private practice. There is some financial independance, but here in Georgia, a faculty academia doctor makes less than most plumbers and chiropractors along with a huge debt burden and increasing malpractice premiums approaching 6 figures. My husband made more than I did per year without a college degree until he gave up his fabrication business to take care of our daughter full time. (But that's another story.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2004
  9. Jan 29, 2004 #8
    I was showing this article to a friend of mine, a female going for a Ph.D, and her reaction rather startled me. She said "So what?" about the point of the article, and the only thing that irked her was that section. Why can't a female scientist look up to a male scientist?

    In her words "If Female scientists start *****ing and moaning it's only going to widen the gap that's not even noticable now, anyway"
     
  10. Jan 29, 2004 #9
    Can we get back to the topic ?

    I have four questions here on how this problem may be solved in the best way :

    1-What steps do you think should be taken to lay off 25% of the White Professors and replace them [most importantly] with Black and Hispanic professors of either sex ?

    2-Should they be expected to train thier new replacements aswell [this is the main way of AA hiring right now and it seems to work] ?

    3-Should the % of White Professors to get layed off be increased to make way for some strictly female professors ?
    Say a increase from 25% to 40%, leaving 15% solely for Minority Females ?

    4-Should there be room made for White and Asian Female professors, or just minority Male and Female professors ?



    I need some answers since I am doing a minority history/minority opression course in School and would like to include some of the answers.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2004
  11. Jan 29, 2004 #10
    I think its unfair to lay off a percentage of white professors. Just because they are white doesn't mean they got the job because of that. Some probably did but its strange to lay off a percent. Just replace the worse workers with whatever better workers are avaliable. If that makes 75% of the whites gone or if it makes 2% gone. Its about qualifications not race. Removing 25% of whites could also be considered a form of racism really if they happened to be more qualified.

    Just what I think.
     
  12. Jan 29, 2004 #11

    selfAdjoint

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    I need some answers since I am doing a minority history/minority opression course in School and would like to include some of the answers.

    Consider that white males are a minority. Wouldn't laying them off in favor of minorities and women (women are an absolute majority) be counted as "minority oppression"?
     
  13. Jan 30, 2004 #12
    Well, I learned in the class that we as whites have hisorically opressed all races of humanity, and that we do that to do this very day.

    We do that both consciencely and sub-consciencly. We just cant help it because our culture [or maybe race, one of the students said that there may be a 'racism' gene in us] has a deep down belief that we are the superior race, so the only way to remedy this horrible problem is for us to give to minorities what we have stolen through both power, and racism. That is - JOBS. Even the best jobs need to be diverse so that we can get familiar with other races and cultures so that we wont think lowly of them [as has been ingrained into us from our culture] and will raise our children to be race-unaware and diversity loving people. So Professors need to become diverse aswell, alot of our most respected leaders are Professors and seeing NO diverse black or latino Professors in the top 50 is a alarming situation. It sends a negative message to minority children that they will never make it because they are not white, and so they will buy into the underlying racism against them and begin believing it themselves.

    That is the issue here. We have been holding down minorities, specifically latinos and blacks [asians dont count since our culture thinks high of them for some reason] since our very first encounters with them, and we owe them because we are white.


    So im sorry, but those answers wont cut it since they are anti-affirmitve action [anti black?] and dont help minorities.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2004
  14. Jan 30, 2004 #13
    I don't think we owe anyone because we are white. I don't perform racism actions. I don't cheer when people are racist. I don't need to suffer because some person who is white did something to another racial/ethnic background. To say all whites should suffer because of the actions of some could be considered racism.

    Blacks for example have bad people like any other race. If we say they are all bad because of one person thats wrong. To say everyone should have to suffer for the faults of a race is wrong. To seperate the races from white to black is supporting the fact they are different. To say people shouldn't even thing of other races differently and then say that other races should get jobs because they are that race is contradictory. Most importantly though I don't think its right to refer to whites as *we* in the terms of a character trait such as being prejudice. We are all different people. To stereotype a person in a set category because of actions of others is racism in my mind.

    Just my crazy opinion again. Good conversation going here. :smile:
    BTW don't take any of my comments in offense. There not meant to be offense. Sometimes in discussion mode I can get carried away.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2004
  15. Jan 31, 2004 #14

    Nereid

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    Hmm, last time I was there, the overwhelming majority of professors in Chinese universities seemed to be 'Asian'; there were very few 'whites' and no 'blacks' or 'hispanics' or 'American Indians'. I should imagine it's much the same in India.

    Perhaps the AA solution would be to have white male professors in the US go to Asia, Asian female professors to go to South America, and African professors (male and female) to go to the US? And those in Europe could all swap places among themselves, and go to Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South America, etc.

    Seriously, isn't freedom of movement of 'labour' the answer?
     
  16. Jan 31, 2004 #15

    Moonbear

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    Then your teacher is a racist. Should any individual be blamed for the misdeeds of their ancestors? Should any individual be blamed for the misdeeds of someone else of their same race? Of course not. Conquering racism is about recognizing individuals for their uniqueness and eliminating generalizations about them due to their skin color. Whether you're making these generalizations about those of African or Latin American or European descent, you're still making generalizations, which is racism.



    First, reread your original post. It cited that there were no black, Latina, or Native American WOMEN in the top 50 computer science departments. It didn't refer to ALL science departments, all universities, or men of those races. The point of your original post was about the preponderance of men over women in the sciences.

    Second, why should this send a negative message that they can't make it? If someone has the perseverance required to be successful at a university, they will look at this as a challenge to prove they CAN do it.

    Third, in the specific example of computer science departments, the problem begins long before the stage of hiring faculty. Undergraduate programs in computer science are overwhelmed with male students. Women just haven't shown as much interest in that major. I think this is slowly changing with more computer science courses at the high school level and more accessibility to computers at younger ages, but even when I was in high school, there may have been one or two girls in the computer science classes, even when there was closer to a 50/50 ratio in the other advanced math and science classes offered. My generation is the current wave of new faculty, so even in this time when universities are hiring plenty of women and minorities, the computer science departments are going to be lagging behind due to a lack of applicants. I would predict it's going to take another 10 years before there is a sufficient pool of women and minorities starting to trickle through to start applying for faculty positions in computer science departments.

    Being anti-affirmative action is not synonymous with being anti-black or anti-minority. Indeed, many minorities consider affirmative action itself to be racist. It implies that they cannot get a job based on their own merits, but need some sort of lowering of standards to qualify. Of course there are also huge variations in how affirmative action is applied. In some cases, such as the recently publicized University of Michigan admissions policy, affirmative action does exactly that, it assumes minorities aren't competitive on their own, so will boost up the rank of an applicant just because of the color of their skin. In other cases, it simply states that if two applicants are in all other respects equally qualified for a position, and there is only one position, then a minority applicant should be offered the position to diversify the program, or, it ensures that someone is overseeing the selection process so that someone who is better qualified and a minority is not turned down because of their minority status.

    It's also not the least bit reasonable to consider firing senior faculty to replace them with minorities or women. We're not talking about something where you can just pluck random people off the street to fill these positions, we're talking a lifetime of work and training to reach that level. In case you aren't aware of what it takes to get to a full professor position in the sciences, here's a rough timeline. Four years of college, 2 years for a master's degree, 5 years for a PhD (some can take 7 or more years, 5 is a low estimate), 3-6 years post-doctoral training, 5-7 years as an assistant professor, another 5-10 (or more) years as an associate professor with tenure, then finally full professor, at which time you become eligible for consideration as a department chair. If you slack off at any stage of the process, you don't advance to the next level. So, when you're talking about professors in the top ranks at universities, you're talking about people who were entering college 30 or more years ago, at a time when very few women and minorities were even applying to colleges, let alone science programs. When you see old film clips of college students protesting...anti-war, pro-civil rights, pro-women's rights, whatever...those are the people who are in full professor positions right now, and they are now in the position where they can make those changes happen, and they are doing just that.

    It's rather humorous that you ask if they should be training their replacements. In fact, that is exactly how academics works. In a university research lab, the full professors help mentor junior faculty and train graduate students and post-docs who will eventually apply to faculty positions to become professors who will train graduate students and post-docs.

    I think another, somewhat separate but related, issue is that of the snobbery in our society. It seems success is equated with what one does to earn a living, and if someone isn't a doctor, lawyer, corporate vice president, or university professor, many members of society look down upon them and what they do, and look down upon them as lesser people. Personally, I have great respect for those people who will get up every morning before the sun rises to collect trash on the hottest days, the coldest days, in rain or snow, just so they can support themselves and their family. And, I certainly appreciate that my trash gets collected. I've also seen this with custodians. Some of the people I've worked with just don't give them the time of day. They are still people and if they didn't do their job, I couldn't do mine, so I give them the same respect I'd give to my department chair (some days more respect...but that's a whole different story). That is how you conquer racism, sexism, classism, etc. You give each individual equal respect for fulfilling a needed role in society.
     
  17. Feb 1, 2004 #16
    Genral Response

    No one dominates anything, what does it take to break fish out of the bowl? Meaningless garble, desire is what creates action. These are meanlingless facts, to spew them reminds me of a someone who is awaiting something in the mail. Is it there yet? It becomes a fixation until one cannot see the forest through the trees. In a small period of time, great movement has been made for all peoples. As for the educational profession, think please. Turn over rate and over all positions? Great equality has been inbeded in the children of today, by the time they reach working class greater and greater proportions will be achieved.

    Some changes which I will not go into here on this forum are detrimental, and will cause the accelerated destruction of society as we now know it. It is happening all around you, can you see it's nature? What is it? One tool, that is all that is being used here. Can you see it? Go back into the fog please. Ignorance is bliss, until you run into the wall at full speed becuase you were dreaming and your eyes were closed will you realize it is there and then it will be to late. Just because you did not realize that you partook and caused it does not mean it did not happen. The realization usually comes the resulting action comes full circle, and by then, it is to late. That's ok, pain will awaken you. Is there one among you who understands these words? Or is it dead wood to be stored on the servers.
     
  18. Feb 2, 2004 #17
    america today is not like the south during the jim crow era. minorities are given equal chances of employment already. it is not right to let underqualified minorities get accepted into programs before qualified non minorities.

    why? those white professors worked very hard for a long time to get to where they are today, and it is wrong to lay them off just because they are white. that is reverse discrimination.

    you should write whatever you need to write for that class in order to get a good grade, but you should know that your teacher is a racist, and what s/he is telling you is wrong. there is no discrimination of females and minorities in higher education. if a certain department has few female and/or minority faculty members, it is because either

    #1: females and minorities aren't interested in that subject

    #2: females are interested in that subject, but they dont enter it because the effort it takes to become a professor takes away from time that is needed to start and raise a family, which they consider a higher priority

    therefore, it is not a problem that most science professors are white males, since that group of people is more interested in science and are willing to put more effort into science than other groups. any minority ofr female that has the brains and puts in the effort can become as sucessful as white males in science.

    to end off my post let me give a quick example of the unfairness of affermative action. right now, i am majoring in biology and i am hoping to enter into medical school in the next few years. i am a white male. lets say i submit my application to a certain medical school with a 3.8 GPA, 3.6 science GPA, 36 MCAT score, one summers worth of voulenteer work at a hospital, another summers worth of undergraduate research in biology, and an EMT certification. lets say an african american man, who went to the same college as me, submits his application to the same medical school, with a 3.0 GPA, 2.8 science GPA, 28 MCAT score, no research, no voulenteer work, and no EMT certification. lets say for arguments sake that there is one spot left for the new incoming class, and the only two people who applied and were not accepted yet were me and him. is it right for the medical school to choose him over me because he is black and i am white? why should i be punished because of my skin color? just because years ago, blacks were discriminated against and were enslaved by white people, it doesnt mean that today, i should be discriminated against in favor of a black person.

    i am not a racist. i respect women and minorities. i just think that they shouldnt get it any easier that white males today because of injustices done to them in the past. the playing field should be equally level for people of all races and genders.
     
  19. Feb 2, 2004 #18

    Moonbear

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    Yay! Yes, that is exactly what equality means. I fully agree. We shouldn't be penalizing this generation for the mistakes of the previous generation. Instead, if we just recognize the mistakes of the past and do our best not to repeat them, then we have a chance at truly realizing equality. Shifting discriminatory practices from one group of people to another only continues to widen the divide rather than break down the walls of racism.
     
  20. Feb 2, 2004 #19

    Evo

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    I completely agree. Years ago at a company I worked for, they were forced to abide by EEOC rules. They had to have a certain percentage of minorities or face stiff penalties. So they stopped hiring caucasians. It got ridiculous. They had so few employees in critical positions that they had trouble running the company, but there was nothing they could do.

    I agree that "black" slavery was different than the slavery among "whites" that has gone on since the beginning of time (the number of black people enslaved is a drop in the bucket as opposed to the number of white people that have been enslaved) but it is easier for a freed white slave to merge into regular society than a freed black slave.

    However, randomly sticking unqualified people into jobs just because of the color of ther skin was a ridiculous, thoughtless, and harmful way of trying to make ammends.
     
  21. Feb 3, 2004 #20

    Tsu

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    I, also, completely agree. I'm very tired of seeing good, qualified white men (or women for that matter) discriminated against in favor of minorities and/or women. Back in the mid '80's, one of the colleges in the LA area replaced their science department head with a black woman who had a degree in - PHYSICAL EDUCATION!!!! This was AA in action! Of course, the science professors were stunned. This woman did not have a clue about running a science department, but she got the job because she was a black woman. There were numerous extremely qualified men and women in the science department but they were all overlooked because of AA.
     
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