New NAS report on women in science

Matt has the scoop.

Women in science and engineering are hindered not by lack of ability but by bias and “outmoded institutional structures” in academia, an expert panel reported today. The panel, convened by the National Academy of Sciences, said that in an era of global competition the nation could not afford “such underuse of precious human capital.”

Among other steps, the report recommends that universities alter procedures for hiring and evaluation, change typical timetables for tenure and promotion, and provide more support for working parents. “Unless a deeper talent pool is tapped, it will be difficult for our country to maintain our competitiveness in science and engineering,” the panel’s chairwoman, Donna E. Shalala, said at a news conference at which the report, “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering,” was made public.

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The report also dismissed other commonly held beliefs — that women are uncompetitive or less productive, that they take too much time off for their families, and so on. Their real problems, it says, are unconscious but pervasive bias, “arbitrary and subjective” evaluation processes, and a work environment in which “anyone lacking the work and family support traditionally provided by a ‘wife’ is at a serious disadvantage.”

Comments

  1. #1 gufodotto
    September 20, 2006

    I’m all for being a stay at home dad… at least part-time, since I do enjoy exchanging ideas with my colleagues in person… and the coffee break too…

    so that my wife will have the work and family support traditionally provided by a ‘houseband’

  2. #2 Kristjan Wager
    September 20, 2006

    Very interesting – unfortunately the report is quite expensive , so I won’t be reading the full version, but it’s good that this is addressed.

  3. #3 Alexei K
    October 2, 2006

    A study of the effect of academic environment on women’s health was also recently conducted, the results are available free of charge: Women – know your limits!

    /I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist… I’m a bad little bear.

  4. #4 Jess
    October 10, 2006

    Email me if you want a copy of this (at least, the prepublication version — basically a galley — which is all we have). It’s pretty great, according to me and everyone else except some jerk at the New York Times.

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