Note: this is a resend of a message from mid-March, which apparently got lost.
We seem to be having severe posting problems. I have sent two
messages since the end of February which appear to have floated
into the ether. Could the bionet folks let us know what's happening?
I have a suggestion for a research project for someone interested
in women's issues in science. This is not my idea, but was suggested
to me. However, I think it is quite good and could lead to some
We have noted on women in bio
previously that there are few women in the faculty, even the
young faculty; women are self-selecting out of the job
market. Why? Here's the
idea. Take a couple of top graduate programs....for example,
MIT and UCSF. Do a study to determine what happened to the
women who entered the programs between, say, 1980 and 1985.
Where are they now, and why?
We suggest the 80's for several reasons. First, by then
graduate classes had a good representation of women--up to 50%.
Second, someone who entered in the early '80s graduated by the late
'80s or early '90s. They've had time to percolate through the
system and hit the job market. I have personal data for that; I
entered MIT in 1984, and got my faculty position in 1993. And,
restricting the effort to just a couple of programs with high
reputations would have several advantages. First, you could afford
to track down everyone, so there would be no bias against those
who have "dropped out" of science. People stay in
touch with their graduate
school colleagues, and could help in tracking them down. Also,
it would give us a feeling for what happens at the
top of the game, where the students have a lot of advantages
--difficulties are unlikely to reflect poor students or poor
preparation. Although some of these data are kept for
example by NIH training grant records or NSF studies, there
are so many fields and people counted together in those
studies that the data aren't really informative.
Obviously such a study would not be exhaustive, but it might
form the basis for a more thorough one and give us a
good sense of what we have to do to improve the environment.
If anyone is interested I would be happy in helping to track
down the graduate class that entered MIT Biology in 1984.
Finally, an aside: the women in biology launch page
(http://flosun.salk.edu/~forsburg/bio.html) continues to
expand and has now got some reciprocal links and even
a favorable review! I have added
a new sub-section with practical information about science
careers, including links to web pages about preparing posters
and writing proposals. Check it out!
DON'T REPLY to the email address in header.
It's an anti-spam. Use the one below.
S L Forsburg, PhD forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA
"These are my opinions. I don't have
time to speak for anyone else."