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Why Are There So Few Women in Science?

  1. Jan 7, 2013 #1

    Jow

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    I know that science hasn't always been kind to women in the past but that seems to have changed. So why is it that there are so few women in the scientific community. I know it isn't extremely difficult to find a woman scientist, but compared to men the numbers are rather low (according to Forbes, in the US only 13% of physics PhDs are awarded to women). I am sure that there is still discrimination against women, but it seems to me that this should be significantly lower now as it used to be. What other major factors might there be which result in the fewer women scientists. I remember hearing somewhere that women don't go into science as much because it is harder to start a family due to the lack of stability in a science career and women don't want to wait until their late 30's to start having children. What do you think?
     
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  3. Jan 7, 2013 #2
    No really, in seriousness - In Canada I wouldn't say that is the case, it seems to me that so many more women are into it than men... at least from my perspective, I'm not really in the science field but have many family members are and they are all women.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 7, 2013
  4. Jan 7, 2013 #3
    Well aside from the chauvinistic jokes from their peers and other annoyances.....I think society encourages women to obtain careers in different fields such as business, medicine, social sciences, education, etc., and this in turn affects the decisions many women make when choosing a career.
     
  5. Jan 7, 2013 #4
    Why are there so few men interested in elementary education? I guess men and women just have different preferences. Also, I don't know if it's completely true - I heard women sort of dominate biology.

    I hate going to those horrible women in physics conferences that try to make me feel "special" about being a woman in physics. One that I went to basically said that I won't be as good at homework as the guys and that it will take me longer to understand the material, and that it's okay and that I should basically team up with other women to get my homework done. Maybe THAT'S why women don't want to be in physics - because other women tell them that they're going to be stupid and/or inferior.
     
  6. Jan 7, 2013 #5

    Astronuc

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    Hopefully that is changing, albeit slowly. It's possible that many women were not ecouraged to go into math or science at an earlier age, which is unfortunate. That seems to have been case in the 1960s and earlier.
    It's a matter of finding the right partner/husband - easier said than done.
     
  7. Jan 7, 2013 #6

    berkeman

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    If anybody tries that where I work, they are fired for cause.

    In my experience in Silicon Valley EE circles, women and men are very equivalent. And that's how I prefer it. I have also found our female engineering managers to be extremely talented and competent.
     
  8. Jan 7, 2013 #7

    Jow

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    I too am Canadian and though I think there are more women scientists here there are still very few.
     
  9. Jan 8, 2013 #8
    Great. More generalizations. Just we need for equity.
     
  10. Jan 8, 2013 #9
    Today's society already encourages women more than men in science field (in overall sense). e.g. affirmative action, title IX etc. I also think (in today's world) people's carrier choice has little to do with what society expects out of them. Society can no longer influence a person's choice. A thorough personal cost-benefit analysis comes first.

    Personally, I have no problem with few women in science OR few men in science, unless somebody is outright denied to pursue in that direction.
     
  11. Jan 8, 2013 #10

    Monique

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    I don't think so, I've experienced a strong negative bias towards women. I had 4 potential employers tell me that they weren't interested in females, while I think a person should always have more priority over a gender.
     
  12. Jan 8, 2013 #11

    berkeman

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    I don't understand your statement.
     
  13. Jan 8, 2013 #12
    This must have been in Holland, right? In the US you can't turn someone away based on gender, race, age, sexual preference, etc. (I'm sure it happens, but it would be obfuscated by some more rational sounding objection.)
     
  14. Jan 8, 2013 #13
    I have a feeling women gravitate toward biology and chemistry while men are more attracted to physics and engineering. There are way more women in medicine (as doctors) than there used to be, and I think that is the first field where equality of numbers will be reached, if it hasn't been already. Biology and chemistry as such will be next, and physics, probably never.
     
  15. Jan 8, 2013 #14
    I went into Mathematics for the women. I was misinformed.
     
  16. Jan 8, 2013 #15
    What is wrong with accepting that women and men are different. I like that girls are different from me, and I from them. I would hate if women/men thought alike, had the same interests and were "equal" in all respects.

    It's so silly to think just because science/math/engineer or whatever is less appealing to women, that that somehow makes them inferior to men. Even if they were inferior in those areas (which may or may not be true on average, but certainly doesn't seem true on an individual basis) that wouldn't make them inferior as humans.

    I wish women, and men, would just accept who/what they are and stop trying to force themselves in other roles because they're so afraid of being confined by their own sex.
     
  17. Jan 8, 2013 #16
    If you're denied the jobs soley based on your gender then definitely its wrong. However, I was talking about US in which no employer will dare to do that.
     
  18. Jan 8, 2013 #17
    tahayassen, brekeman's comment cannot be generalization. It might be true in his workforce. We cant know. Had he said "all female engineering managers to be extremely talented and competent" I'd call BS on that.
     
  19. Jan 8, 2013 #18
    That is the exact same argument used to rationalize affirmative action which is to achieve equality in number BUT ALSO establishes the argument as a "fact". In other words affirmative action destroys its own need. At least, that very social science argument is BS.
     
  20. Jan 8, 2013 #19
    :uhh: I'm afraid of laughing on this joke. You should simply search for Mathematics.
     
  21. Jan 8, 2013 #20
    +1 dipole.

    Everyone is different and that should be respected and not forced to be changed. Science has been wrongly pedestalized/sensationalized too much.
     
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