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Author Topic: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?  (Read 4561 times)

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Offline Noelle

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #25 on: April 22, 2011, 12:18:36 AM »
I'll be honest, if I had to reverse four years of college and choose a new path, I'd replace my art degree with one in a science field. It's just a pity it took me so long to take a bigger interest -- I used to be really into my science classes in the K-12 levels, but once they started becoming more mathematically dependent, I dropped off because I couldn't keep up. I still don't much care for numbers, I'm afraid I don't really have the mind for them, but science was one area where I always worked hard to understand it, even if I didn't get the best grades.

I don't really have the studies or the numbers or anything, but I think this might strike on a bigger problem -- taking that early interest and cultivating it fast before it dies out or shifts to something else entirely. Granted, I don't regret getting an art degree, given that's been my biggest passion throughout my life, but I still feel like there's a lot out there I'd love to learn and I think I could've excelled at science if I would've felt it were a more viable subject for me to pursue.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #26 on: April 22, 2011, 01:31:12 AM »
I honestly think they make the sciences more math-heavy than they need to be. To be quite frank, it's really better if you know the integrations behind this chart or that number, and derivatives make your life infinitely easier when dealing with enzyme kinetics - but the computers do most of the heavy math lifting for you, and it's been that way for years now. As long as you have the correct formula, it's not really needed to be able to derive the path length of a spectrophotometer from Einstein's equation (or whatever). I hate, hate, hate it when they put math in my chemistry. I think that they need to throw other concepts at grade schoolers than math (or, at least, leave the math to math teachers, preferably ones who will work hard to make math interesting to kids). Acid-base reactivity is cool, and it extends far past adding baking soda to vinegar. Electrophoresis and basic hands-on experiments are not beyond the realm of the possible for high schoolers.

I've seen a bunch of third-graders manage to grasp the very basic concept of the electron before. Will they 'get' quantums or orbitals? Tch, no. But beginner's organic chemistry, flavor and food chemistry, and some basic genetics beyond Punnet squares are certainly not beyond the grasp of teenagers, if introduced correctly. And none of it is math-based.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #27 on: April 22, 2011, 02:08:34 AM »
I ended up taking a 'non-math-based' physics course, as I was simultaneously enrolled in Calc I (which I could have skipped, as it was the same as what my high school called 'Functions').  Without the structure of acceleration being the derivative of velocity over time, and velocity being the derivative of distance over time, it was a jumble.  Damn near failed the course (of course, the food poisoning I got on the day of the exam didn't help either - I was told that I was distinctly green.)  Once I had a chance to re-learn the material with a math structure, it all clicked like a first-grader's jigsaw puzzle.

Offline Caeli

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #28 on: April 22, 2011, 02:12:32 AM »
I actually loved math in high school (I rocked chemistry, and did passably well at physics). I remember auditing a science-major science class when I started class, though, and was completely floored by the math involved. Math is my one of my favorite subjects, but I've always been better with variables than the actual figures and numbers (I remember having a lot of difficulty with concepts in physics, though). I decided to go after a liberal arts degree because I got scared off by the amount of classes I would have needed (I'd wanted to graduate early so I could help my parents out financially sooner).

Kind of wish I'd at least given it an honest chance, now. But at the charter school I work at, it's so gratifying to see girls who are passionate about engineering, about science, and all that. I've been contacting the ones who plan on majoring in science to tell them about scholarships and internships and stuff at museums, at science centers, and so on.

Offline WhiteyChan

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #29 on: April 22, 2011, 06:14:18 AM »
I think its worth noting, at this point as we descend into arguing about mathematical content of the sciences, that the maths in science is different to pure maths. Very different. In physics, the maths involved is usually algebraic; 'solve this differential equation' being a fairly standard question. In fact, I think nearly all of my courses so far have been just constructing a differential equation based upon a principle (the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, for example, or Schrodinger's Equation), then solving it. Maths, on the other hand, involves vector spaces, sets, groups, fields, n dimensions - much more abstract concepts. Even I can't understand most of what the mathematicians are doing. Physics, in other words, is the application of a theory based upon empirical evidence, whereas Maths is abstract thought that may or may not have relevance to the real world (and usually, only when the physicists get a hold of it).

And, in my university at least, there are a lot more girls doing Maths than Physics, strangely. In Physics, the split is about 75-25% at the moment, whereas in Maths its nearly 50-50, I'd say about 55-45%.

Just thought it was useful at this point to separate Maths and Science, in this argument.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2011, 08:55:58 AM »
* Trieste doesn't see anyone descending into any arguments, but if it happens, she would like to request a tub of Jell-o.

I am pretty good at algebra and, like Caeli, I actually work better with variables than actual figures - or did, at least. Now I've gotten much better at geometry and at working with angles and whatnot. I had significant trouble with physics, in part because my physics WAS calc-based, but I was behind in the accompanying calc classes. Lemmie tell ya, having Calc III -before- Physics II would have made a significant amount of difference. As it was, I was left in Physics II teaching myself dot and cross products, what a unit vector was, and how the hell to work with a determinant. Very discouraging.

Offline Noelle

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2011, 09:19:58 AM »
That's the thing, I struggled to scrape by Algebra II and got completely obliterated by Calculus when I tried to take it in college (the phrase nobody wants to hear: "You should remember this from high school"), so going any farther with a subject like physics was basically off the table. The only chemistry class I ever took, I really enjoyed, but I already felt like I hit the ceiling on where I was going because I didn't get that far in math classes.

I think it would be short-sighted to totally separate the two subjects in this thread because they are related; I find myself interested when someone explains different concepts and theories from a subject like physics, but I don't actually have the right skillset to jump in a class and learn. It's not to say I never could, it's just that it wasn't really an option for me during my standard four years at college :P

And I think it's also worth pointing out that personal anecdotes are awfully hard to discuss in relation to a national trend.

For the record, I ended up dropping calculus before it sufficiently ripped me in half and took general logic and loved every twisted minute of it.

Offline Jude

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2011, 09:41:36 AM »
I'm obviously biased being a mathematician, but I don't think you can understress the importance of the mathematical background to any scientific discipline.  If you don't understand the math behind how that equation is derived then you have to take its validity on faith.  That's antithetical to the very concept of science.  In order to truly be a luminary in your field you need to be able to follow the branching logic (which is almost always mathematical) that establishes all of these principles.  This may not be 100% true for all scientific disciplines, but when it comes to something like physics, understanding the math is absolutely vital to truly grasping the concepts at play.  And a good understanding of statistics is important for everything, even the soft sciences.

And I'll balance your anecdote with another anecdote Whiteychan, both of which have an equal chance of being descriptive of the larger picture.  Every class I took in math or science at both of the colleges I attended (I transferred to a larger institution after 2 years) had fewer female students in it than males.  Furthermore, the incidence of female students was kind of like oxygen while climbing mountain:  the higher we got in course numbers, the fewer women we'd encounter.  My lowest level mathematics class (Calculus 1.5 basically; it was designed for people who did AP Calc in high school as I did) was maybe 25% female while my lowest level science class (first level Calculus based Engineering Physics) was about 40% female.

Differential Equations was the first all male class I ever took, and then the following semester I had a sausage-fest Relativistic Mechanics course (I can still recall my teacher joking about how he was willing to bet that none of us in the class had been laid within the past month during our first day).  My Quantum Mechanics class was 100% male as well.  In higher mathematics there would occasionally be one or two females, but it seemed like they often had trouble and dropped out (though I fully recognize that there could be some psychological factors making this ore noticeable; there were fewer females after all, so when they disappeared it was a lot more apparent - plus women are much more likely to cry in the middle of class when they get an F on a test, and that makes for a memorable afternoon).

There are differences in the average male and female brain.  For the longest time it was actually thought, and for good reason not just simple misogyny, that women and men fundamentally are designed to excel in different areas.  It could actually be true; women and men play very different biological roles which require distinct skill sets.  There is however, a lot of debate on which way you can point the arrow of causation.  Do women and men tend to have a different neurological structure because of social forces, or are these social forces a manifestation of the different underlying architecture in the brain?

Either way, the establishment of a trend doesn't mean that exceptional individuals can't buck that trend.  Men are stronger than women are on average as a result of simple biology, but you'd be wrong if you thought that there are no women out there who are stronger than most men.  Even if men are better suited on average for computationally heavy fields due to biology, that doesn't mean there aren't women out there who have contributed brilliantly to these fields.  In fact, I'm sure we've all noticed that people who are really driven to defy fate (I mean this metaphorically, not metaphysically) often are successful in ways that the exceptionally gifted and lucky sometimes fail to be (props to Gattaca, even if I don't entirely love that film -- it's a solid B).

EDIT:  And as a bit of a counterpoint to my last paragraph, check out this article, it's pretty awesome.  I have a feeling a lot of people on E will appreciate this too given the relative fascination with gender here:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=girl-brain-boy-brain&page=3
« Last Edit: April 22, 2011, 09:52:11 AM by Jude »

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2011, 09:53:42 AM »
I'm obviously biased being a mathematician, but I don't think you can understress the importance of the mathematical background to any scientific discipline.  If you don't understand the math behind how that equation is derived then you have to take its validity on faith.  That's antithetical to the very concept of science.  In order to truly be a luminary in your field you need to be able to follow the branching logic (which is almost always mathematical) that establishes all of these principles.  This may not be 100% true for all scientific disciplines, but when it comes to something like physics, understanding the math is absolutely vital to truly grasping the concepts at play.  And a good understanding of statistics is important for everything, even the soft sciences.

I disagree with this. While I'll grant that statistical analysis is a necessity in everything (I use it daily in my lab), understanding the math behind every equation is something that is not necessary. That's why you have consulting scientists, and why there are different disciplines within the scientific field. If I'm in the midst of drug discovery, I'm going to be characterizing the activity and whatnot of a particular molecule, with my understanding of the related maths and models. However, if I want to know how the molecule works, I'm going to need to call in an organic chemist who specializes in mechanism of action. They will tell me their best hypothesis for where the electron goes, why and when and how, and then we test it. This is done often in chemistry and biology; I'm pretty sure it's also done often in things like physics, soc, anthro, engineering, etc.

There is a reason why it's prevalent that there are different kind of specialist doctors in addition to general practitioners, and it's a virtue in the field to know when you are in over your head and need to consult with someone more knowledgeable. Aiming to understand every nuance of everything is probably laudable to some, but it's not antithetical to the concept of science not to aspire to this.

Offline Jude

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2011, 09:56:21 AM »
You're right in that you can't know everything, but if you don't understand the mathematical architecture behind your particular specialization (not necessarily all of chemistry for example), don't you think it's going to hurt your ability to be an effective scientist?  In any case, I don't know how knowing more is going to hurt you, so boiling more math out of science classes is very questionable to me.  But again -- I've admitted my bias. :P

I only have a minor in physics.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2011, 09:58:10 AM by Jude »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2011, 10:50:43 AM »
There is a difference in how much math a given discipline would need.  Physics has a distinct calculus base, but I can't see a need for calculus in Biology or Chemistry. Remembering my college roommate's Organic Chemistry book (shush, I was bored), I'd say Algebra and Algebra II there.  Biology would depend on whether you're talking macro or micro - possibly less math for the former, but I'd include most of the 'under Calculus' set for the latter.  Astrophysics would probably require going all the way through Calculus, and probably non-Euclidean geometry as well (to deal with gravitational wells and space curvature).

Offline Sure

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2011, 06:34:29 PM »
You know, I have to say, while I have counter-examples to a statement 'Women just don't like/aren't any good at math'. If someone were to make a statement such as 'Women avoid physics' I can't really think of anyone. I mean, the more physics a degree involves, the less women it has. The difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering is five or so courses related to electrical physics and Computer Science has nearly double the amount of women in it as Computer Engineering, for example.

I do have to say a lot of science and math in science and engineering degrees seems to be for its own sake, though. Whether that's a bad thing or not is debatable, particularly because mathematics is a system you can use to 'find' things about your discipline even when the more knowledge (in the sense of discipline specific knowledge) fails to help.

Something else: Why is there not the same amount of concern about men choosing not to go to college. Or the fact that men are not going into the Liberal Arts? I'd be particularly interested in hearing from people such as Caeli who have a direct influence and have taken an interest in supporting women in the sciences, math, and physics, but hasn't mentioned anything about helping men trying to go into traditionally female fields.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #37 on: April 24, 2011, 06:39:41 PM »
I've actually seen a lot of ads recently with the message that someone with a college degree earns X amount more than someone who doesn't.   It may not be specifically directed at men (in fact, there's one for Sanford-Brown that seems directed primarily at women: 'Girl goes to Sanford-Brown, gets her self-confidence, guys like us don't have a chance.'), but the majority are directed at people in general.

Oh, and just because my brain doesn't let me wander away from such things, I found an article (admittedly 5 years old, but the trend was still going up) about women in physics compared to men:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/22/science/22phys.html 
« Last Edit: April 24, 2011, 06:46:35 PM by Oniya »

Offline Noelle

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #38 on: April 24, 2011, 06:58:45 PM »
...Why would we be concerned about fewer men going into the liberal arts?

For one, when you're in a perceived place of privilege (typically white males), nobody is going to be concerned with the fact that you're not going into the liberal arts because it's assumed that you don't need the encouragement. For instance, I'm pretty sure nobody is particularly worried about white people not taking specific kinds of jobs because it's assumed that white people already have access to those jobs and don't need encouragement, whereas people who are at a systematic disadvantage due to social misconceptions or otherwise often need to get a kind of push to reverse what is seen as inequalities that have made them avoid those places in the first place. If whatever inequalities existed in the past discouraged women from pursuing science and math-related fields to the point we're still seeing some kind of imbalance in the numbers, it's natural that we try and compensate by focusing our attention on women and rebuilding that connection.

Secondly, really? Liberal arts? Again, I have to stress that as a woman with an art and a French degree from a liberal arts college, I understand pretty well the importance of the liberal arts in our world and do not care to see them diminish anytime soon, but I am under no pretense that it is anywhere near as vital to life as we know it as science/math areas. I'd be more concerned about a shortage of doctors or researchers than I would English teachers and philosophy majors. :\

Offline Jude

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #39 on: April 24, 2011, 07:05:49 PM »
That article is interesting.  It implies there's no institutional discrimination against women while also establishing that women probably just aren't very interested in physics for cultural reasons, and that's why they trend away from it.  It kind of makes me doubt the validity of claims that there is a real, substantial bias in academia itself against women in the hard sciences.  Sadly, I'm not sure that it really vindicates the idea that the sexes are equal in capacity however, as even in France only a quarter of women are in physics.  The disparity is probably not as big as people believe that it is, and it probably doesn't apply to the top percentile or create a ceiling effect.

As far as the liberal arts things goes, of course people don't care as much about that.  It's not as important.  Science and math are what really matter in today's world, not who can paint prettier pictures or write better poetry.  We'll make a computer in 50 years that can beat any human at that anyway.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2011, 07:07:41 PM by Jude »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #40 on: April 24, 2011, 07:10:31 PM »
Oh - if you're interested in a woman to reference in a physics-based field:  Henrietta Leavitt.  She's responsible for discovering the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variables, which led to our ability to measure interstellar and intergalactic distances.  Hubble claimed that she deserved the Nobel prize, but she had died of cancer before the Society nominated her.

Offline Sure

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #41 on: April 24, 2011, 08:55:30 PM »
If you're going to establish that Liberal Arts degrees are inferior to Scientific degrees, then the argument becomes: Why is there less concern about declining numbers of men going to college at all? Of course, not everyone is willing to say that Liberal Arts degrees are inferior, but regardless you've failed to answer my question therein.

Men are falling behind both in grades and in the maximum level of educational attainment. To imply that is a privileged position is going to be hard, but I won't say impossible as you may try if you please. Further, men are underrepresented outside of certain specific fields (science and business, basically). The fact that there is a focus on the fact women are not in one field but not that men are not in another tells me either men are valued less, or the fields are valued less. You are asserting the later. However, I would again be most curious to see why the fact less men are going to college at all is not considered important or worth focusing on or compensating for.

Oniya, my point is not that no women were in the field, just that I see a pattern (looking over things superficially) of women not going into fields based on their relatedness to physics. Even the degree with the least amount of females by percentage is at 9%, so there are women there. And I'm certainly not implying women cannot do as well because I don't believe that.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #42 on: April 24, 2011, 09:06:58 PM »
If you're going to establish that Liberal Arts degrees are inferior to Scientific degrees, then the argument becomes: Why is there less concern about declining numbers of men going to college at all? Of course, not everyone is willing to say that Liberal Arts degrees are inferior, but regardless you've failed to answer my question therein.

Men are falling behind both in grades and in the maximum level of educational attainment. To imply that is a privileged position is going to be hard, but I won't say impossible as you may try if you please. Further, men are underrepresented outside of certain specific fields (science and business, basically). The fact that there is a focus on the fact women are not in one field but not that men are not in another tells me either men are valued less, or the fields are valued less. You are asserting the later. However, I would again be most curious to see why the fact less men are going to college at all is not considered important or worth focusing on or compensating for.

Oniya, my point is not that no women were in the field, just that I see a pattern (looking over things superficially) of women not going into fields based on their relatedness to physics. Even the degree with the least amount of females by percentage is at 9%, so there are women there. And I'm certainly not implying women cannot do as well because I don't believe that.

I'm not certain you followed the gist of Noelle's post, but it was not necessarily a value judgement on men so much as it was to point out that men have traditionally had more opportunity to enter professional fields. In fact, the only professional fields in which women have traditionally been predominant are nursing and maybe teaching. There are a growing number of male nurses and teachers, and since fields like law, medicine, and finance are traditionally male-dominated, there has indeed been a focus on putting more women in those professions.

As far as not attaining a college degree, there are many programs that are aimed at getting people in college, not just men or women. There are often separate resources for women and minority ethnicities, but this is a function of an organized civil rights movement on behalf of those due to historical minorities. White men have never needed to have their civil rights agitated for unless they belong to a minority group of some sort, and considering the preponderance of white men in, say, Congress, I would go so far as to say it is still not needed.

But I'm pretty sure you already knew all of this, so I'll be interested to see how you relate the nonexistent anti-white-male movement to the success and/or paucity of women in life sciences, math, and physics.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #43 on: April 24, 2011, 09:13:51 PM »
Oniya, my point is not that no women were in the field, just that I see a pattern (looking over things superficially) of women not going into fields based on their relatedness to physics. Even the degree with the least amount of females by percentage is at 9%, so there are women there. And I'm certainly not implying women cannot do as well because I don't believe that.

And I didn't read that you were implying that.  I was curious to see if I could find a name associated with something reasonably big after seeing the first part of the post.  (Yes, I sort of went bottom to top on things *grins*)

You know, I have to say, while I have counter-examples to a statement 'Women just don't like/aren't any good at math'. If someone were to make a statement such as 'Women avoid physics' I can't really think of anyone.

Out of curiosity (and skipping around quite a bit) - what would you say are 'traditionally female fields'? 

Offline Jude

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #44 on: April 24, 2011, 09:43:55 PM »
I really don't care if the number of men in college continues to lag.  They have the money to attend and choose not to -- statistics show that -- so why should I give a damn?  I only care if minorities don't attend because if they are being systematically denied opportunities to do so.

And if women are being systematically denied the opportunity (or discouraged from) taking part in hard-science and mathematics careers, that is a concern of mine.

The two areas I know of where men are actually denied don't bother me, because women actually are better suited for those positions.  Nursing and teaching will forever be female dominated because women are better at nurturing; they just are.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2011, 09:47:10 PM by Jude »

Offline Noelle

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #45 on: April 24, 2011, 09:55:56 PM »
If you're going to establish that Liberal Arts degrees are inferior to Scientific degrees, then the argument becomes: Why is there less concern about declining numbers of men going to college at all? Of course, not everyone is willing to say that Liberal Arts degrees are inferior, but regardless you've failed to answer my question therein.

We could talk about how society impresses upon us that everyone must go to college or else, the fact that college degrees are worth less despite the increasing cost, or that we're in the midst of a recession where racking up that much debt just doesn't seem worth it, but I'll address your concern in the next quote.

Quote
Men are falling behind both in grades and in the maximum level of educational attainment. To imply that is a privileged position is going to be hard, but I won't say impossible as you may try if you please. Further, men are underrepresented outside of certain specific fields (science and business, basically). The fact that there is a focus on the fact women are not in one field but not that men are not in another tells me either men are valued less, or the fields are valued less. You are asserting the later. However, I would again be most curious to see why the fact less men are going to college at all is not considered important or worth focusing on or compensating for.

Hardly difficult. The standard white male has been in a position of privilege for quite a long time in terms of ability to obtain careers as well as advance in them, not to mention rate of pay in comparison to women especially. It would be even harder, I would argue, to dispute any of these things in American history, but indeed, you may try if you please.

At any rate, Trieste summed it up well enough -- I wasn't insinuating that we shouldn't care about men, just that in the scope of people who have traditionally had a leg up on everyone else in history, the stats almost universally point at white males. The fact that they are seeing struggle now doesn't necessarily imply that society has shifted such that white men aren't favored in many instances and it conversely doesn't mean it's not worth our attention, but nobody's about to hit the panic button for white males anytime soon unless the shift is more dramatic.

I don't have the statistics on hand at this very moment, but if I recall, white males typically do better in terms of finding jobs even in spite of a lack of college experience. Remember that we are also living at a time when it seems that a college degree is viewed negatively and may not be worth going into debt for, especially with a struggling economy. When you're desperately trying to find a job and you see college graduates moving home with their parents, it kind of destroys the image that higher education will, in fact, set you free.

Offline Sure

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #46 on: April 24, 2011, 10:13:56 PM »
Quote
They have the money to attend and choose not to -- statistics show that -- so why should I give a damn?

The same reason you give a damn women don't choose to go into scientific fields? Or at least that's the reason I give a damn (about both).

Quote
The two areas I know of where men are actually denied don't bother me, because women actually are better suited for those positions.  Nursing and teaching will forever be female dominated because women are better at nurturing; they just are.

See, I consider this a sexist sentiment.

@ Oniya,
My words have been poorly chosen: I shouldn't have said 'anyone'. I can indeed think of female physicists. I should have said I can't think of general counter-examples, and I can't. As to traditionally female fields, I should have said 'female dominated' as that is more what I'm talking about. There aren't too many traditionally female fields but nowadays women do dominate certain parts of college curricula.

Anywho, currently about 60% of college degrees are awarded to women. They are overrepresented (more than 60%) in Humanities, Art/Music, Communications, Education, and Psychology. They are underrepresented (less than 40%) in Business and Management, Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and CSE. Fields in between are Life Sciences and Social Sciences (both have slight male majorities overall and a more complex breakdown if one wants to get into it). The least female degree is Computer Engineering with about 9% women, the most female degree is in education or health care (they switch off every few years) with about 75% women. However, the degrees which women are a majority in are also the more common degrees overall. Only about 15% of students nationwide are scientists or engineers (which covers almost all male dominated fields).

So I would say Humanities, Art/Music, Communications, Education, Healthcare, and Psychology, and increasingly college generally. Collectively these make up the majority of degrees awarded by a good amount.

@ Trieste,
You presume I'm talking about whites only for some reason. I really don't know why, unless it's because you're searching for a way to discredit my ideas and can't without setting up a strawman. Indeed, a lot of this seems to be setting up a strawman.

I'm afraid what you say about men entering female fields is incorrect. Women are entering into male fields much faster than men are entering into female fields. Partially because female fields are not as lucrative. But once again you are off topic. I am talking about college numbers. There has indeed been a decrease in the percentage of men going to college. I am sure you already knew this and am not sure why you brought up a point about something different?

There are many that deal with women specifically, as well, and women are not a historical minority. They have always been a majority. And to say it is not needed is a completely different topic. Once again, you are talking about something wholly unrelated to what I am talking about.

The reason it relates is because equality necessarily has to be for everyone. It's not equality if it doesn't deal with both sides of the equation. The idea that equality can be achieved by only dealing with women's rights, or that because you want to argue that men are not 'as oppressed' as women they are not oppressed at all, is again another topic but I feel such an idea is foolish. As foolish as Civil Rights activists who believed that Feminism was unrelated to their own goals, or that because Blacks had it worse women's complaints were unimportant. Are you honestly going to assert female choices in regards to education are unrelated to, or more important than, male choices?

And I do not believe there is a conscious anti-white male movement any more than I believe there is a conscious anti-female movement.

@ Noelle,

This is somewhat redundant, however, you are taking a slightly different view than Trieste. To summarize:
+Workplace inequality in no way decreases the importance of inequality in college attendance.
+I would argue dramatic shifts or facts are ignored, but regardless of that fact you would have to make the argument that in all instances white males are always more privileged than other races or genders. This is not true, and since it is not, they still have areas needing to be addressed. This is one of them. I'm not suggest we devote all national resources to the problem but we are current devoting basically none (to my knowledge).
+Really? The statistics I've seen say that women do better but those statistics refer specifically to engineering where there's a dearth of females (thus raising their value relatively). I did see something as part of a campaign to get women to go to college saying payment and employment rates approached parity if both genders had degrees, but that didn't account for race.
+I would argue a college degree is important despite the current economic downturn.
+The percentage of women going to college is going up, not down, so if there is an effect related to taking on debt and seeing college students going home instead of getting jobs it appears to only affect men. Finding out why that is would be worthwhile, I think.

If you'd like to discuss general privilege, that would be another topic. Here, however, we're talking about college attendance and discrepancies.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #47 on: April 24, 2011, 10:20:50 PM »
@ Trieste,
You presume I'm talking about whites only for some reason. I really don't know why, unless it's because you're searching for a way to discredit my ideas and can't without setting up a strawman. Indeed, a lot of this seems to be setting up a strawman.

It's not a straw man. Generally, if someone is not male, they are either white or part of a minority group. Minority groups have their own support and infrastructure, like I pointed out.

The rest of what you have to say builds on your misconception, so isn't really in need of comment.

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Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #48 on: April 24, 2011, 10:48:58 PM »
Anywho, currently about 60% of college degrees are awarded to women. They are overrepresented (more than 60%) in Humanities, Art/Music, Communications, Education, and Psychology. They are underrepresented (less than 40%) in Business and Management, Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and CSE. Fields in between are Life Sciences and Social Sciences (both have slight male majorities overall and a more complex breakdown if one wants to get into it). The least female degree is Computer Engineering with about 9% women, the most female degree is in education or health care (they switch off every few years) with about 75% women. However, the degrees which women are a majority in are also the more common degrees overall. Only about 15% of students nationwide are scientists or engineers (which covers almost all male dominated fields).

So I would say Humanities, Art/Music, Communications, Education, Healthcare, and Psychology, and increasingly college generally. Collectively these make up the majority of degrees awarded by a good amount.

*nods*  I was just curious, as I said.  Looking at the division, it seems that there's a quantitative vs. qualitative split, as far as where the focus of those degrees are concerned.  Even in the more scientific branches listed (Healthcare and Psychology), the professional is dealing mostly with interpreting symptoms in a patient instead of collecting data in a repeatable, closed system.  Business and Management is a bit of an exception, and might have a bit to do with old stereotypes creeping in as well.  I might have to go see what kind of female CEOs I can find out there, just for my own edification.

Offline Sure

Re: Science, Math, Physics: Where are the women?
« Reply #49 on: April 24, 2011, 11:10:02 PM »
It's not a straw man. Generally, if someone is not male, they are either white or part of a minority group. Minority groups have their own support and infrastructure, like I pointed out.

The rest of what you have to say builds on your misconception, so isn't really in need of comment.

Very well, how have you not mischaracterized my arguments? Please show me where I suggested there is an anti-white male movement, as one of the more egregious mischaracterizations I believe has occurred.

I do not see the relation of minority support infrastructure to my point: the fact that men appear to be going to college less than women and to be going into certain fields less than women and that this, too, ought to be corrected.

Further, I would be most interested in hearing what this 'misconception' of mine is. You failed to actually name it in your post. The only thing I could think of is if I'm misunderstanding your and Noelle's arguments? Unless you agree with me and I'm not seeing it, I simply don't see how my (or any) 'misconception' makes my post unworthy of comment.

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*nods*  I was just curious, as I said.  Looking at the division, it seems that there's a quantitative vs. qualitative split, as far as where the focus of those degrees are concerned.  Even in the more scientific branches listed (Healthcare and Psychology), the professional is dealing mostly with interpreting symptoms in a patient instead of collecting data in a repeatable, closed system.  Business and Management is a bit of an exception, and might have a bit to do with old stereotypes creeping in as well.  I might have to go see what kind of female CEOs I can find out there, just for my own edification.

You might be interested to know that Business and Management approaches 40% (I think it's 37% or 38% or so?) female so it's the most female of the bunch.

That would be interesting, though. I've always been curious about how people get into high ranking positions, what the journey was so to speak, and I'm sure that the commonalities would help determine why, say, there are so few female CEOs or Asian Congressmen (when Asians have a higher education and earning average).