Science as a girl thing

EU bureaucrats, in their great wisdom, decided that the way to encourage teenage girls to pursue a career in science was not by appealing to their intelligence and curiosity, but rather by flashing images of high heels, lipstick, and makeup at them, along with the tagline: "Science, It's a Girl Thing." The inevitable outrage followed. (

It was my impression (though I don't have any data at hand to back it up, so I could be totally mistaken) that in some sciences, such as biology and medicine, women are fairly equally represented (perhaps even at risk of becoming over-represented). So in those cases science already is a "girl thing." It's the physical sciences, such as electrical engineering, that still have trouble attracting women.

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 29, 2012
     Category: Science | Gender

It's not just attracting women to science that's the issue, it's their prospects if they do choose a science career. If all they've got to look forward to is low to middle tier work, then that is a major put-off, and sadly that seems to be exactly the situation.

As you mention, life-sciences are among the most balanced, on intake with approximately half of all Ph.Ds granted each year being earned by women. But if 50% of all graduates are women, why are only 30% of assisstant professors, 25% of associate professors, and 15% of full professors in that field women?

It's the same for physics and engineering too, where there may be as little as 12% women graduates, but only 4-6% women ever become full professors.

(Source: "More Women in Science" by Jo Handelsman et al, Science 5738:1190-1191, 2005.)
Posted by Dumbfounded on 06/29/12 at 09:22 AM
The balance has been out of balance since they declassified witchcraft.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 06/29/12 at 09:55 AM
Some things in this old world will never change, a sad fact of life.
Expat, dear- 😛 😛
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 06/29/12 at 10:51 AM
I for one lament the dearth of women in my chosen profession. I make computers do flips and twist for a small company. There is nothing really mysterious about making computers do their assigned tasks - you only need a fairly logical mindset and patience. In some ways it is an art form and not so much "engineering".

I suppose that the perceived requirements for high intelligence is what puts women off of sciences in general. The reality is that, most of the time, it is drudge work where one must follow procedure in order to test the hypothesis.
Posted by KDP on 06/29/12 at 12:47 PM
I would really encourage women who are put off from taking university science degrees to take technology courses instead. At 2 years instead of 4 or more, they are much cheaper. After taking maternity leave, it's easier to get back on their career track.
Tech and trades people are in great demand here in Saskatchewan right now.
Posted by BMN on 06/29/12 at 03:10 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.