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Not really sure where to put this, but I need to get it off my chest so here goes. My department is awesome, we have some great classes, excellent research, world-renowned researchers, amazing facilities but and this is the big BUT absolutely zero female faculty. When I was applying to MSc programmes I really didn't pay much attention to the faculty, other than their research interests, but now I'm here I've realised just how much I've come to rely on having a female in a position of respect/power. It's not like this is a particularly female-populated area but every department I've experienced prior has had females in it!

The faculty are great and really knowledgeable, but haven't the faintest clue how to deal with some of the stuff that's arisen. One particular member of our course has made some very sexist, demeaning comments, acts like the female members of the course are somehow lesser than the males and it's led to some of the girls feeling like they can't contribute or participate fully. As programme rep, I raised these issues sensitively, keeping anonymity of persons involved, with our programme director and basically got told "boys will be boys, grow a thick skin". I can't help but feel if there was a female member of staff present, that had I presented these concerns they would have been addressed with slightly more sensitivity. 

Really, how can any department these days not have at least one faculty member (or indeed PhD student - yep no females there either) of the opposite gender? I mean, we don't have racial diversity either. I'm just amazed (and not in a good way). 

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I imagine most (of not all) schools have an office that deals with these sorts of problems. Clearly, going to your program head didn't work and from his response, I'd say he's part of the problem. So you really need to take this farther. No one should be subjected to any kind of sexist or demeaning comments. Maybe if it was an occasional slip on the student's part, it could be overlooked, but clearly the student is having a negative impact on other students. So look into what offices your school has for dealing with student problems like this. You should be able to meet with someone who can listen to your concerns and help facilitate a solution.

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49 minutes ago, piglet33 said:

Really, how can any department these days not have at least one faculty member (or indeed PhD student - yep no females there either) of the opposite gender?  

Because previous searches have not resulted in the best candidates being female?

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@PoliticalOrder, that I understand but in a department of 15+ faculty, and even more PhD students I'd have thought there would at least be a female member of staff "nominated" to the programme who can help advise the female students (who comprise 1/3 of the course). I just find it odd that's all. I'm all for equality in best candidate gets the job regardless of race/gender/orientation/nationality etc but I think an acknowledgement of a lack of diversity (I mean the entire department faculty are white men in their 50s+ of the same nationality) and just stating where you could go if you have an issue would be helpful. 

As per shadowclaw's suggestion, I'm having a look at the support available on campus but I just needed to vent! It's surprised me how much I've missed having someone in a position of responsibility who I feel comfortable going to with problems, and it's something I will bear in mind when considering PhD locations.

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First, I want to say that this is a very legitimate concern and something worth thinking about. I am glad that you are taking on the work of raising these concerns and I am sad to hear that the response you got was completely inappropriate and inadequate. Sadly, this is a common response I've heard when doing similar things and from colleagues doing similar things :(

My current department is small (< 10 profs) and until 2011, there were zero female faculty too. We now have two, both hired in 2011. @PoliticalOrder raises a point that I commonly here: "We tried searching but the best candidates were not female (or other minority)!!" This is a complicated issue that I can't address all in one post, but as academics, we bear a lot more responsibility to creating a diverse community than simply saying "oh the best candidates aren't female, sorry". And for a group of 10+ faculty, it seems really unlikely that every single time, the best qualified applicant happens to be male. (In my field, about 30%-40% of faculty-eligible scientists are female so this should only happen < 3% of the time, if by chance, but see note below).

There are a lot of reasons why female faculty aren't being hired, such as, but not limited to:

1. Female candidates are not applying because the department is all-male and that the environment there seems to be not friendly to women (given that the programme director dismissed @piglet33 so simply, it's not far of a stretch to postulate that perhaps these repeated actions by the faculty has earned this department a reputation in the field). This is something that is worth addressing, because if the department is claiming to want only the best faculty, then they should take actions to ensure that the best faculty actually want to be there.

2. Unconscious bias exists in the department and female applicants aren't truly being evaluated equally and fairly. There has been many studies to this effect. And, there are many other studies showing there are ways to greatly reduce or even eliminate unconscious bias. Things like blind reviews or even a briefing/acknowledgement that unconscious bias exists, even for "dispassionate academics", makes a difference.

3. Related to #2, a currently not-diverse group of people might have more limited perspectives and a more narrow definition of what is "successful". When they evaluate candidates, they might be looking to find someone that is similar to them. However, there are many avenues and routes to success that could be missed when only using this narrow metric. Diversity matters, e.g. see Page 2014.

These are just a few thoughts. I want to expand a bit further on something I said above, about how for a population with 30% women, the chance of 10 people being all men is less than 3%. This is a simplification, I admit, because these 10 people were not chosen all at once and the population wasn't always 30% women. There is also a further complication that departments don't hire every year---let's say they hire one position every 5 years. For a minority population (e.g. women), there will be fewer applicants, and because good applicants are rare, then good women applicants may be even rarer. What if, for example, in 2010, the best candidate was male, but in 2011-2014, the best would have been female, but the department already hired in 2010? This could lead to all-male selection too.

But there is a solution! (More than one of course). I will use gender diversity here as an example. The solution my school has implemented (we have really ramped up our work on diversity in the past 2 years) is for the University to have a school-wide slush fund help with hires in the "off" years. Let's say a department was planning to hire in 2010, 2015 and 2020. And they hire a man in 2010. They would be encouraged to keep the job search for 2015 open between say, 2011 through 2015 (it's common for faculty searches for my school to go unfilled from year to year). Then, if they find a woman candidate in the "off years" that is exceptional, they can appeal to the University-wide fund. The University, which has increased faculty diversity as one of its goals, will provide extra funding to the department from say, 2012 to 2015 to help offset the cost of an "early" hire. This allows departments to get the best talent, to increase diversity, and avoid missing great applicants from minority populations due to the small number problem. This is just one example of creative thinking that can help change the status quo (of course, this is an example that costs a lot of money, but there are other solutions too).

---

Overall, to @piglet33, I just want to say that you should feel welcome to vent! And that there are many that support you. I think you are definitely right to strongly consider this as a factor in deciding where to go for PhD programs. I'm a male, so I'm lucky to be part of the dominant population, but I try to be aware of the diversity of places I go (conferences, schools, meetings, workshops). I would definitely think twice about joining a department that lacks diversity (and lacks any attempt to change that). 

It can also be tiring and draining to deal with these problems alone. As shadowclaw suggests, there could be groups on campus. There are also groups online. In my field, there are several diversity/equity/inclusion FB groups where professionals (students, postdocs, faculty) that care about these issues discuss them together. I have to say that it's very helpful and uplifting to see that other people care, and especially other faculty members and those in positions to make change. 

And you should not feel that you must be the sole champion of this cause in your department. This type of work is emotionally draining and also takes time away from research productivity. Ironically, this is part of the problem too! Academics in under-represented groups tend to take on more of this work, which makes it harder for them to compete with the majority group that does not have to take on this work. And, even in departments that want to increase diverse voice, it's a problem if there is say, only 1 woman out of 15 professor. That woman might be asked to serve on all sorts of committees (hiring or otherwise) to lend a diverse voice (see #3 above). But this creates an unfair burden on the woman (not to mention the extra pressure of tokenism! likely part of the reason why when there are zero women, it's really hard to recruit the first one). Unfortunately, a lot of well meaning people do this by mistake (by "this", I mean not realising that by asking the same people to serve on many committees, it's an unfair burden).

So it's perfectly fine for you to choose to take care of yourself first and focus on finishing your Masters, getting into the PhD program of your choice first. At the same time, I really hope that you find supporters in the majority group that will help you with changing your department's environment. And to those who are reading this---lack of gender diversity is not just a "women's issue", it's something that affects all of us! It's important for those of us in majority groups to take on some of the work to increase diversity and take the burden off of our colleagues.

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27 minutes ago, piglet33 said:

@PoliticalOrder, that I understand but in a department of 15+ faculty, and even more PhD students I'd have thought there would at least be a female member of staff "nominated" to the programme who can help advise the female students (who comprise 1/3 of the course). I just find it odd that's all.

'Advise' in what sense?

I am just having trouble understanding exactly what you would prefer...a professor that is a female? Well, we already discussed why this might not be the case. As for something else...an 'administrator' that can help advise students in other capacities? Most departments do not have this at all...there is usually a graduate student adviser, but this is just usually a professor that takes on that responsibility within the faculty...or an administer that handles administrative tasks...but these people usually deal with things that are more procedural than anything else.

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@TakeruK Wow, thank you that was incredibly informative. I find it a difficult topic to bring up, as my field is historically very male dependent and to get anywhere as a female you have to have a very tough skin. Rocking the boat by saying you don't feel comfortable in class/with advisors is simply not done. You just "shut up and grow a thick skin". But I've had enough! The cherry on top came when an external examiner came in, I was involved in the meeting as it is part of my job role. While we were waiting for her (YES!) to arrive, one of the faculty members at my school made an offhand comment about how she must have stopped "popping babies out long enough to start something worthwhile". I'm thoroughly investigating avenues at my school as to where myself and others may get support in dealing with a very ingrained mindset in our faculty, but it is reassuring to know that others such as TakeruK are supportive in such an endeavour. So often bringing these things up you get labelled a trouble-maker, or an "overly-sensitive female". Thank you for making me feel like this is not okay!

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There have been a lot of talks at GSA conferences about the lack of diversity. Those talks were my favorite and I really hope this will change in my lifetime. Right now my faculty has some diversity. Out of the 8 professors two are non-white males and my adviser is the only woman. We just got a new lab instructor and she is pretty awesome. Yeah that is not a lot of diversity but it seems to be representative of geologists. I think the lack of diversity is caused social economic reasons as well as cultural. I never saw geology questions on the SOLS and most of schools didn't really teach geology as much compared to the other sciences. I'm hoping in my career I'll help more people become exposed to geology and want to become geologists, or any kind of education really.  Also in my program, 95% of the women are becoming Earth Science teachers. So you won't see them teaching at the college level.

But you shouldn't have to deal with this kind of bullshit. I would definitely become a whistle blower somehow. Otherwise these situations will continue to be a problem. Luckily I've never had to deal with that in my program and almost all of the faculty have been supportive. Except for one professor, he does treat the women in our program very creepily. It's never over the top but I see it as inappropriate. However, that professor and I don't get along so we never interact with each other.

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There are some interesting threads on the CHE forums about how hard it can be to HIRE female faculty in some areas- especially if there are no female faculty currently. Many applicants won't apply or won't take an offer if they will be both the only female and the only junior faculty member, which can result in in a lot of difficult situations. 

My department tried really hard the last several openings to get a female faculty member (currently without one), and the only person that even met qualifications wasn't even in the right field, but we still strongly considered them. It's a very non-gender biased department, too- close to 1/3rd of the faculty members have spouses that are faculty at the same University in different fields, or same field at an adjacent university. Accordingly, we have a lot of female graduate students, and they seem to do quite well and enjoy our program. 

That said, almost none of them, from the start, have any interest in going into academia- only our male grad students really want to teach, most of the female grad students exclusively want industry jobs .

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On January 6, 2016 at 0:53 PM, TakeruK said:

But there is a solution! (More than one of course). I will use gender diversity here as an example. The solution my school has implemented (we have really ramped up our work on diversity in the past 2 years) is for the University to have a school-wide slush fund help with hires in the "off" years. Let's say a department was planning to hire in 2010, 2015 and 2020. And they hire a man in 2010. They would be encouraged to keep the job search for 2015 open between say, 2011 through 2015 (it's common for faculty searches for my school to go unfilled from year to year). Then, if they find a woman candidate in the "off years" that is exceptional, they can appeal to the University-wide fund. The University, which has increased faculty diversity as one of its goals, will provide extra funding to the department from say, 2012 to 2015 to help offset the cost of an "early" hire. This allows departments to get the best talent, to increase diversity, and avoid missing great applicants from minority populations due to the small number problem. This is just one example of creative thinking that can help change the status quo (of course, this is an example that costs a lot of money, but there are other solutions too).

 

I also just wanted to say that this, particularly, is an amazing idea and I hope more Universities implement something similar. 

The other solution I've seen that works well is to have some relatively consistently open positions at the associate/full level, with tenure. Then the department can focus on bringing in an established female faculty member who will not have to worry about, say, not being evaluated fairly on the tenure committee by an all male department. 

Then with an established senior woman, it becomes much easier to bring in and hire subsequent female junior faculty members. 

The other solution that I've seen work is for a department to hire multiple female faculty at the same time, but unless there's a large applicant pool with excellent candidates, that can be hard too. It does take pressure off of a woman being the only female in the department, however, as you mention.

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2 hours ago, Eigen said:

I also just wanted to say that this, particularly, is an amazing idea and I hope more Universities implement something similar. 

Some schools already have similar policies/ideas, particularly as a solution for the "two body problem" (e.g. http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2003_03_14/nodoi.4790439354486772529 --- I think the title "Problem Solved" is not really accurate though :P). I know that the two-body problem is related to, but not the same as, diversity. I am pointing it out as an example policy where the University can "front" money to departments to get an "early" hire and in order to achieve a particular goal.

My school has a lot of catching up to do though. Currently, the faculty gender ratio is 80% male and 20% female while the national average for all of the fields where we hire tenured professors is about 30% women. And as the article linked above shows (from 2003!!), this is not really a new idea either.

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On 1/9/2016 at 7:38 PM, Eigen said:

The other solution I've seen that works well is to have some relatively consistently open positions at the associate/full level, with tenure. Then the department can focus on bringing in an established female faculty member who will not have to worry about, say, not being evaluated fairly on the tenure committee by an all male department. 

Then with an established senior woman, it becomes much easier to bring in and hire subsequent female junior faculty members. 

The other solution that I've seen work is for a department to hire multiple female faculty at the same time, but unless there's a large applicant pool with excellent candidates, that can be hard too. It does take pressure off of a woman being the only female in the department, however, as you mention.

As someone who's been "the woman on the list," the fact that there are few/no other women in a department is a concern, but usually the real concern is the vibe you get when you visit, and how you are treated by your potential future colleagues (and students). There is a distinct and clear difference between a place that is interviewing a woman because it's been decreed that they're supposed to and a place that is really trying to improve and sees the importance of it. One way to signal that you're serious is to have multiple women on your shortlist. I can't tell you how many shortlists in my subfield have 0-1 woman, sometimes 2, on them, and 4-5 men---often, the same 1-2 women on all the lists, but a diverse group of men on the different lists. It's very discouraging, especially because it's really not the case that you can't find good female candidates. There is a lot of selection bias (and selective blindness) going on. Hiring senior women is a start, but for a field to move toward gender parity (and diversity in general), it's really crucial to make junior hires. They are the ones who are going to set the tone for a department for the next couple of decades, and they will determine what messages you are sending both your male and female students about their potential to succeed. 

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I was mostly pulling that from a CHE discussion from female faculty/grad students on not wanting to even apply to schools that don't have any female faculty. 

Like I said, our last time it wasn't just no women on the short-list.... It was no women applying, at all, and I've heard similar issues from other schools in my discipline as well. 

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49 minutes ago, Eigen said:

Like I said, our last time it wasn't just no women on the short-list.... It was no women applying, at all, and I've heard similar issues from other schools in my discipline as well. 

Then your department must have a reputation, and you (mostly, the faculty) will have to think long and hard about how you got it and how you will go about changing it. As a first pass, I would try talking to female students who have recently graduated or who are about to graduate about their thoughts and experiences. Also, at least informally, you could talk to women who are on the job market about what they think about your department. This is better done in years/fields where you are not hiring, for an honest perspective that nothing hinges on, and even then you want the conversation to be off the record and low-key. Students might learn things from friends that faculty won't be able to find out. Women don't refrain from applying to good, attractive jobs for no reason. Maybe there don't seem as attractive as one would hope. 

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@fuzzylogician any words of advice for women starting out in academia, other than the standard "have a tough skin and be prepared to prove you know more and are more capable than they boys"? 

This whole discussion appears to be one that is global right now. A friend's fiancee is looking at gender bias in science for her PhD and it's as much a societal thing as an academia thing. I'm glad that we can have a productive conversation about these issues though, and it's encouraging to see some departments actively trying to change.

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30 minutes ago, piglet33 said:

@fuzzylogician any words of advice for women starting out in academia, other than the standard "have a tough skin and be prepared to prove you know more and are more capable than they boys"? 

This whole discussion appears to be one that is global right now. A friend's fiancee is looking at gender bias in science for her PhD and it's as much a societal thing as an academia thing. I'm glad that we can have a productive conversation about these issues though, and it's encouraging to see some departments actively trying to change.

I'm happy to give advice on anything that I have thoughts/expertise on, but that question is too general. There are so many areas to think about, it's hard to even start. What specifically are you looking for? How to thrive as a female student? How to get the best mentorship that you can, especially in an all-male department? How to build a profile to be marketable on the academic/professional job market? How to network or do conferences? How to get along with student-jerks/professor-jerks/co-author-jerks? I could probably write an essay (or, if in person, bitch for a whole hour) about each one of these questions. 

And yes to the global nature of the discussion. There was actually a relevant blog post about that from someone in my field a few days ago, commenting on a conference that took place over the weekend (our field's large annual Society conference). Not entirely relevant to hiring, and in a subfield that generally does better than many others in terms of diversity, but here goes anyway, since it's still relevant and interesting: http://blogs.umass.edu/phonolist/2016/01/05/the-representation-of-women-in-phonological-discussion/

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@fuzzylogician I see your point. Let's go with how to get the best mentorship you can? Also, anything you would recommend to do throughout the PhD to give yourself the best shot when it comes to the job market (I appreciate I'm in a wildly different field to you)? I think I've had my fair share of dealing with jerks and being a student to hold my own there! 

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<Caution: somewhat of an unedited and undoubtedly incomplete stream of consciousness follows>

So, I basically only had male mentors during my PhD. They are wonderful supportive people who I really (really!) appreciate, but sometimes they are completely clueless about things. I think you know what I mean. Since I graduated, I've picked up three female mentors (actually, in a sense, they picked me up), and it's been really great. They haven't known me as long, but they have a unique perspective that I really appreciate. So, one important thing is to identify and recognize those limitations. It's wonderful if you have one person who you could turn to with any and every kind of question, but if that's not the case, then you need to identify different people for different needs that you have. If there are no female faculty members in your department, you might identify senior female students as people who you could talk to. In general, it's useful to have mentors at all career stages. The ones who have served on search committees for 20 years will give you a very different perspective on life than those who were just on the market 3 years ago. Sometimes you can find official mentorship programs (sometimes offered within schools, across fields; in my field, there is one run by my field's society) that anyone can sign up for to be both a mentor and a mentee. These will have variable success, but could be worth a shot. Consider also being a mentor--you can certainly advise undergraduates, and as you progress in your program, also junior students in your department or in other departments. You can learn a lot by helping someone else deal with problems they might be having. I was told at some point that I should just identify the people who I want to have as mentors -- women who I want to be when I grow up -- and just reach out to them. At this point in my life these are women who know me from conferences and such, so it's easier that way. Get to know people at conferences. Join dinners with the people who you want to meet. Tweet at them, if that's a thing in your field. Life is much easier if they know your name, even if they've never met you. If there is someone who seems like she could be a possible advisor/mentor, even if she is not at your school, it's worth trying to connect with her. Assuming you have shared research interests, some professors will agree to Skype meetings. If you hit it off, maybe there is a collaboration to be had, or you might consider going to her school for a semester as a visiting student; once you've established connections, it's much easier to continue the advising relationship long-distance. 

Re: job market, I don't think there is too much gender-specific advice, until you're actually working on your essays or going on interviews, then we can talk again. Using the right language is tricky (and one place where e.g. my male mentors weren't getting it). There is the general female-specific advice: take more initiative, don't get phased by failing: try again if you don't get a fellowship the first time; start thinking about publications and presentations early; don't assume your work isn't good enough. Try, and try again even if you get rejected. Consult with advisors early and often about whether work is good enough to be submitted/presented, and what would need to happen to get there, if it's not. In general, be visible--go to conferences, ask questions, publish. Get your name out there. Sometimes this means being pushier than you'd naturally be inclined to be. Have male colleagues who are willing to help--e.g. if someone is not citing your work who should, you could email/talk to them about it and tell them they should cite you, or you might occasionally be more comfortable having a colleague point it out. Have someone who will say "piglet33 just said that" if an idea you brought up is magically only noticed when a male colleague repeats it. Have someone who you could secretly ask to reply right after you email a group to say "that's a good idea, piglet33, I support that." This happens by identifying someone who is open to these issues and willing to help, and training them to notice these things when they happen (or, since sometimes their good intentions aside, they do miss some things--people who will just believe you when you say that you had the idea first, or you're feeling like someone is treating you oddly or is making you uncomfortable). Be willing to say "I just said that" over and over, and claim your ideas. Don't be afraid to cite your own relevant work or to mention it in reviews of others' work. There is always a general concern that acting like this will make you "bitchy" or whatever other adjective people assign to women who behave in ways that are completely typical and accepted in men; I could care less if someone thinks I'm "bossy," but some people do mind, so you have to decide for yourself how you want to come across.

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On 6/1/2016 at 10:53 AM, TakeruK said:

2. Unconscious bias exists in the department and female applicants aren't truly being evaluated equally and fairly. There has been many studies to this effect. And, there are many other studies showing there are ways to greatly reduce or even eliminate unconscious bias. Things like blind reviews or even a briefing/acknowledgement that unconscious bias exists, even for "dispassionate academics", makes a difference.

At the university where I did my undergrad in physics, they held a faculty-wide seminar on "Unconscious Bias." It being physics, the majority of the faculty and graduate students were men, and half of them thought it was a seminar on statistics. It was nowhere on their radar that this was a concept that 1) existed and 2) they should actively address. Most cringe-worthy was my old statistics professor, who got up and asked the presenter "This might all be very well, but it is based on the underlying assumption that women are actually as capable as men?" I am honestly glad I am not in physics anymore. 

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7 hours ago, DrZoidberg said:

At the university where I did my undergrad in physics, they held a faculty-wide seminar on "Unconscious Bias." It being physics, the majority of the faculty and graduate students were men, and half of them thought it was a seminar on statistics. It was nowhere on their radar that this was a concept that 1) existed and 2) they should actively address. Most cringe-worthy was my old statistics professor, who got up and asked the presenter "This might all be very well, but it is based on the underlying assumption that women are actually as capable as men?" I am honestly glad I am not in physics anymore. 

Wow. Just, wow. 

Meanwhile this article has been circulating on my Facebook wall and is causing me to freak out. Most of my work is co-authored, all of my co-authors are male, and I would expect my field to pattern more with economics than sociology, though if ever there was a time when I hoped to be wrong, this is it. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/upshot/when-teamwork-doesnt-work-for-women.html

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7 hours ago, DrZoidberg said:

Most cringe-worthy was my old statistics professor, who got up and asked the presenter "This might all be very well, but it is based on the underlying assumption that women are actually as capable as men?" I am honestly glad I am not in physics anymore. 

Ugh ugh ugh :(

7 hours ago, DrZoidberg said:

It was nowhere on their radar that this was a concept that 1) existed and 2) they should actively address. 

Unfortunately, I feel like this is pretty common at many Physics departments I know about. Fortunately, although some people are clueless, a lot of them are willing to learn. Some students and I are actually doing something this month to go over these concepts at our school. I find that when presented with the knowledge, although some students will dismiss it, the people that want to do better are very encouraging. 

I do have to admit though, this attitude (I can't describe it exactly though) is part of the reason that made me less interested in staying in Physics proper as a research field. I felt a lot more comfortable in "spinoff" physics fields like astronomy and now planetary science. But these fields are certainly not that much better either. Fortunately, now that I feel that I have established myself as a good scientist in my department and school, I can work to help change people's minds (of course, I would say the more privilege/power one has, the more responsibility one has to do this, so I feel the faculty here could do a lot more than they are doing now). 

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@TakeruK With great power comes great responsibility! =) This is exactly the reason I am not in theoretical physics anymore, and I am glad I ended up in a slightly more diverse field. It does seem like things are changing for the better, but there are days where I get furious, curse being a woman, and then get really sad. I have absolute horror stories from my own experiences and my closest friends from physics (the above wasn't even the worst*!), and I think part of the solution is just accepting that there is a problem, which is why it is fantastic that there are initiatives such as those at your school. Whenever I discuss this subject with people I meet (and let's face it, it is one of my favourite subjects so I discuss it a lot), I always try to say that we are all kind of sexist, it is something we have all been conditioned to, I also have to make a conscious effort to judge my female peers on their actual work and not try to belittle their achievements. I really hate to admit that, but I do.

And @fuzzylogician, that article is terrifying, and one of those things that makes me angry and sad at the same time. I do get that some women chose to leave academia, no one can blame you if you get fed up with a continuously uneven playing field. 

-------

* Thought I'd do a little anecdotal selection;

- Hiring committee of three; two older, male faculty members, and mandatory token, female graduate student (my friend); male committee members start by sorting the pile of applicants in two, men and women, disregard the pile of women, hire only from the pile of men. My friend is mortified but too scared to say anything. 

- Female astrophysics graduate student (friend) gets her reviewed paper back, reviewer asks in the most patronizing way why her two male co-authors didn't intervene or help her with writing the article. (Why are double-blind reviews not a thing?).

- I've had a mentor (double my age) sexually harass me, send me very detailed e-mails, gifts, tried to hold my hand, I was too afraid to tell anyone because he was the backbone of the department and they'd basically never get any funding if he was fired. Everyone loved him, I was afraid no one would believe me. (If that had happened today I like to think I would have handled it differently, but you never know until you are in the situation).

- Interview with POI for a research position, asks me if I really want to work with computers, "because I don't look like the type". (?? Is he afraid my hair will get stuck in the keyboard??)

- Assistant Professor tells me straight out that he doesn't like women in leadership roles because "they are dangerous". (???)

Ugh, it's never ending, and most of it you just learn to let slide because you can't be a one person army. 

 

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Some of my research is on stereotyping and gender bias in STEM and I just wanted to say that the anecdotes in this thread are disheartening but also motivate me to get more studies done.

My actual discipline, social psychology, has fairly good female representation but there are definitely departments out their with a reputation of being excessively male-dominated or sexist and who have trouble attracting young female candidates because of it.

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I had a review board meeting today, where current grad students met with university "high-ups" and external examiners to address the postgraduate experience including teaching, research and life. One of the main issues that got brought up was faculty diversity, and it was hotly debated. The final, immediate conclusion was that all  students should have access to a female mentor, and mentors of other "minority" groups, in their broad area who can help them navigate the academic waters in their graduate studies as well as provide a type of pastoral support. The powers that be have acknowledged they will address policies for hiring and recruitment in their next meeting.

I am really encouraged that the university big-wigs are actively encouraging grad student participation in key topics that will directly effect them, and even more encouraged by the productive and constructive approaches taken. 

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