AAS Committee on the Status of Women Issue of July 18, 2008 eds. Joan 
Schmelz, Hannah Jang-Condell & Caroline Simpson 
 
This week's issues: 
 
1. A New Frontier for Title IX: Science 
 
*** FOLLOWING POSITIONS WERE TAKEN FROM WIPHYS *** 
 
2. Faculty Research Fellowship Program, Michelle R. Clayman Institute 
   for Gender Research, Stanford University. 
 
3. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
 
4. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
 
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1. A New Frontier for Title IX: Science From: Geoff Clayton 
[gclaytonfenway.phys.lsu.edu] 
 
The New York Times 
 
July 15, 2008 Findings A New Frontier for Title IX: Science By JOHN 
TIERNEY 
 
Until recently, the impact of Title IX, the law forbidding sexual 
discrimination in education, has been limited mostly to sports. But now, 
under pressure from Congress, some federal agencies have quietly picked 
a new target: science. 
 
The National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Energy have 
set up programs to look for sexual discrimination at universities 
receiving federal grants. Investigators have been taking inventories of 
lab space and interviewing faculty members and students in physics and 
engineering departments at schools like Columbia, the University of 
Wisconsin, M.I.T. and the University of Maryland. 
 
So far, these Title IX compliance reviews havent had much visible impact 
on campuses beyond inspiring a few complaints from faculty members. (The 
journal Science quoted Amber Miller, a physicist at Columbia, as calling 
her interview a complete waste of time.) But some critics fear that the 
process could lead to a quota system that could seriously hurt 
scientific research and do more harm than good for women. 
 
The members of Congress and womens groups who have pushed for science to 
be Title Nined say there is evidence that women face discrimination in 
certain sciences, but the quality of that evidence is disputed. Critics 
say there is far better research showing that on average, womens 
interest in some fields isnt the same as mens. 
 
In this debate, neither side doubts that women can excel in all fields 
of science. In fact, their growing presence in former male bastions of 
science is a chief argument against the need for federal intervention. 
 
Despite supposed obstacles like unconscious bias and a shortage of role 
models and mentors, women now constitute about half of medical students, 
60 percent of biology majors and 70 percent of psychology Ph.D.s. They 
earn the majority of doctorates in both the life sciences and the social 
sciences. They remain a minority in the physical sciences and 
engineering. Even though their annual share of doctorates in physics has 
tripled in recent decades, its less than 20 percent. Only 10 percent of 
physics faculty members are women, a ratio that helped prompt an 
investigation in 2005 by the American Institute of Physics into the 
possibility of bias. 
 
But the institute found that women with physics degrees go on to 
doctorates, teaching jobs and tenure at the same rate that men do. The 
gender gap is a result of earlier decisions. While girls make up nearly 
half of high school physics students, theyre less likely than boys to 
take Advanced Placement courses or go on to a college degree in physics. 
 
These numbers dont surprise two psychologists at Vanderbilt University, 
David Lubinski and Camilla Persson Benbow, who have been tracking more 
than 5,000 mathematically gifted students for 35 years. 
 
They found that starting at age 12, the girls tended to be better 
rounded than the boys: they had relatively strong verbal skills in 
addition to math, and they showed more interest in organic subjects 
involving people and other living things. Despite of their mathematical 
prowess, they were less likely than boys to go into physics or 
engineering. 
 
But whether they grew up to be biologists or sociologists or lawyers, 
when they were surveyed in their 30s, these women were as content with 
their careers as their male counterparts. They also made as much money 
per hour of work. Dr. Lubinski and Dr. Benbow concluded that adolescents 
interests and balance of abilities not their sex were the best 
predictors of whether they would choose an inorganic career like 
physics. 
 
A similar conclusion comes from a new study of the large gender gap in 
the computer industry by Joshua Rosenbloom and Ronald Ash of the 
University of Kansas. By administering vocational psychological tests, 
the researchers found that information technology workers especially 
enjoyed manipulating objects and machines, whereas workers in other 
occupations preferred dealing with people. 
 
Once the researchers controlled for that personality variable, the 
gender gap shrank to statistical insignificance: women who preferred 
tinkering with inanimate objects were about as likely to go into 
computer careers as were men with similar personalities. There just 
happened to be fewer women than men with those preferences. 
 
Now, you might think those preferences would be different if society 
didnt discourage girls and women from pursuits like computer science and 
physics. But if you read The Sexual Paradox, Susan Pinkers book about 
gender differences, youll find just the opposite problem. 
 
Ms. Pinker, a clinical psychologist and columnist for The Globe and Mail 
in Canada (and sister of Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist), 
argues that the campaign for gender parity infantilizes women by 
assuming they dont know what they want. She interviewed women who 
abandoned successful careers in science and engineering to work in 
fields like architecture, law and education and not because they had 
faced discrimination in science. 
 
Instead, they complained of being pushed so hard to be scientists and 
engineers that they ended up in jobs they didnt enjoy. The irony was 
that talent in a male-typical pursuit limited their choices, Ms.  Pinker 
says. Once they showed aptitude for math or physical science, there was 
an assumption that theyd pursue it as a career even if they had other 
interests or aspirations. And because these women went along with the 
program and were perceived by parents and teachers as torch bearers, it 
was so much more difficult for them to come to terms with the fact that 
the work made them unhappy. 
 
Ms. Pinker says that universities and employers should do a better job 
helping women combine family responsibilities with careers in fields 
like physics. But she also points out that female physicists are a 
distinct minority even in Western European countries that offer day care 
and generous benefits to women. 
 
Creating equal opportunities for women does not mean that theyll choose 
what men choose in equal numbers, Ms. Pinker says. The freedom to act on 
ones preferences can create a more exaggerated gender split in some 
fields. 
 
Applying Title IX to science was proposed eight years ago by Debra 
Rolison, a chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory. She argued that 
withholding federal money from poorly diversified departments was 
essential to transform the academic culture. The proposal was initially 
greeted, in her words, with near-universal horror. 
 
Some female scientists protested that they themselves would be 
marginalized if a quota system revived the old stereotype that women 
couldnt compete on even terms in science. But the idea had strong 
advocates, too, and Congress quietly ordered agencies to begin the Title 
IX compliance reviews in 2006. 
 
The reviews so far havent led to any requirements for gender balance in 
science departments. But Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at 
the American Enterprise Institute who has written extensively about 
gender wars in academia, predicts that lawyers will work gradually, as 
they did in sports, to require numerical parity. 
 
Colleges already practice affirmative action for women in science, but 
now theyll be so intimidated by the Title IX legal hammer that they may 
institute quota systems, Dr. Sommers said. In sports, they had to 
eliminate a lot of male teams to achieve Title IX parity. Itll be 
devastating to American science if every male-dominated field has to be 
calibrated to womens level of interest. 
 
Whether or not quotas are ever imposed, some of the most productive 
science and engineering departments in America are busy filling out new 
federal paperwork. The agencies that have been cutting financing for 
Fermilab and the Spirit rover on Mars are paying for investigations of a 
problem that may not even exist. How is this good for scientists of 
either sex? 
 
 
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company 
 
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2. Faculty Research Fellowship Program, Michelle R. Clayman Institute 
for Gender Research, Stanford University From: WIPHYS, July 11, 2008 
 
Call for Applications: 2009-2010 Deadline: October 15, 2008 The Clayman 
Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University invites 
applications for residential fellowships for the academic year 
2009-2010.  Applications will be considered from tenured and 
tenure-track faculty, and postdoctoral scholars from the U.S. and 
foreign universities. Candidates may apply as individuals or as small 
groups. 
 
Fellowships are offered in a number of interdisciplinary areas, 
including: -Gendered Innovations in Knowledge. While much has been 
written on women in science and engineering, especially the difficulty 
of recruiting and retaining women in these areas, the challenge now is 
to integrate the insights of gender studies into scientific theory and 
practice. We welcome research proposals that address how gender 
analysis, when turned to science and engineering, can profoundly enhance 
human knowledge. The key questions are: How has gender analysis sparked 
creativity by opening new questions for future research? How can 
employing gender as a tool of analysis lead to new knowledge? To better 
understand what we are looking for, see Londa Schiebinger, Gendered 
Innovations in Science and Engineering (Stanford University Press, 2008) 
and Has Feminism Changed Science? (Harvard University Press, 1999), part 
III, or Signs, Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28 
(2003):859-922 on "Feminism Inside the Sciences."  -Gender in the 
Physical Sciences, and Math.  -Gender in Engineering and Computer 
Science.  -Gender in Environmental Sciences.  -Gender in the Life 
Sciences and Bio-technology.  -Gender-specific Medical Research and 
Women's Health.  -Clustering in Scientific Subfields. Women tend to 
cluster in particular sciences, such as the life sciences, and in 
particular subfields of science or engineering (for example, there are 
many more women in civil than in electrical engineering). We welcome 
applications that investigate what it is about particular fields that 
attract or repel women.  -Title IX in Science and Engineering. Title IX 
applies to all areas of federally-funded education, including science 
and engineering. Researchers working on the use of Title IX, in 
particular identifying criteria for assessing institutional compliance 
with Title IX, in the sciences are invited to apply.  -Women in "Big 
Science".  -Work culture and work-life balance in professional life, 
especially in the sciences.  -Division of Household Labor. It is well 
known that women tend to undertake more household labor than men in 
heterosexual relationships, even when they work in full-time paid 
employment. We are interested in new approaches to these issues, rather 
than a restatement of existing conclusions. 
 
Fellows must be in residence at the Clayman Institute for the duration 
of their fellowship. Fellowship stipends range from $36,000 for 
postdoctoral scholars to $60,000 for senior faculty. Applications for 
one, two or three quarters will be considered. 
 
Complete applications are to be received in our office by 4:00pm (PST) 
on Wednesday, October 15, 2008. To apply and for further information, 
please visit the Clayman Institute website at http://gender.stanford.edu 
 
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