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Archive for Monday, April 12, 2004

Gender gap

April 12, 2004

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To the editor:

I was pleased to see your article on the gender gap in academics ("Gender gap not just academic," April 2). The gender gap is very real, especially in science, math and engineering. However, I must take exception with some of your numbers.

There are certainly more than 13 women on the faculty in biology at Kansas University. In my department alone, which is one of two in biology, 11 of 36 regular faculty are women. Of these, four are full professors and two are associate professors, so there are a number of role models available for younger women.

In addition, your chart showing "the best" and "the worst" hiring by department at KU does not provide the most accurate picture of the problem in many disciplines. It is important to consider the proportion of women and minorities available in the "pool" when hiring. Disciplines such as most of those listed as "the best" have a higher proportion of women graduating with Ph.D.s; in many cases, more than 50 percent of the Ph.D.s in these fields are awarded to women. In engineering, math and science, however, there are fewer women entering graduate school and even fewer remaining to become professors.

Despite many formal and informal programs in the past 19 years, we still have a long way to go to reach parity in the sciences at all levels above undergraduates. Many of us at KU, both male and female, continue to work to improve this situation. Accurate data provide a benchmark to measure progress, but for women in science, engineering and mathematics, there is still a long way to go.

Edith L. Taylor,

Lawrence

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