February 17, 2012

2 women do the math about women and math — and science and engineering — and say it may take 100 years before 50% of professors in the STEM fields are women.

Cheryl Geisler, dean of the faculty of communication, art, and technology at Simon Fraser University, says:
"In the last four years we're seeing 27 percent of new hires in science and engineering are women... It was 25 percent earlier in the decade, so it's just been creeping up."
Her co-author, Deborah A. Kaminski, a professor of mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says:
At that rate, it may be 2050 before 50 percent of new hires in science and engineering are female... And even after one-half of all faculty members hired are women, "it will likely take at least another 40 years before the actual population of science, engineering, and mathematics professors is 50 percent women"...
They did the math about women and math. Care to check their work, guys?

104 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Is the assumption of linear growth valid? I rather doubt it.

Pogo said...

I'll bite.

How did they arrive at 50%?

Skyler said...

I daresay that although there are many women who are good at math, there are substantially more men who are. I think evolution will take more than 100 years to change that.

Unless, of course, the definition of math is gender neutralized, just like fire fighting and the military. I'm not sure which is worse, gender neutralized math or gender neutralized combat.

Curious George said...

No mathematician would ever, ever use this phrase "At that rate, it may be..."

Sofa King said...

So, logically then 100% of professors in the STEM fields will be women in 200 years, no?

MadisonMan said...

Incidentally, I've always thought that Simon Fraser University should change its name to Simon The Fraser University. For obvious reasons.

David said...

I thought there would be no math questions on this blog. Professor is too hard.

bagoh20 said...

That's very scientific in a girly kind of way.

David said...

From the article: "The study does not focus on why professors leave after a median of 11 years, but Ms. Geisler said they may either fail to earn tenure or move to other universities for a variety of reasons, including higher salaries."

It does not seem to occur to them that the women may move to private industry, where demand for their skills exceeds supply. Business is just too horrible to think about?

Joe Schmoe said...

I attended an engineering college where the ratio of men to women was about 8:1. The admissions people were always trying to attract more women. And frankly, we undergrads were hoping they'd attract more women. But the most basic reason for the disparity was that women simply didn't want to go to engineering school. It's not appealing to them. They can do the math; they just don't want to. They'd rather go into liberal arts fields.

We won't see 50% in my lifetime, unless lots of immigrant women come in and take those jobs.

Chip S. said...

I'd try to figure out why anybody should care about this, but I don't care enough to do that.

traditionalguy said...

The assumption here is that women being the same as men, there can be no differences allowed. Just pass a law that makes it so.

The Statistics courses are a great test of both men and women's minds. Few actually learn how to do it right.

I know this because my wife told me.

Hagar said...

and how is the "racial" distribution among those women?
What are their religious affiliatins?

We wpould not want our sanitary sewers to be designed by engineers taught by unequally balanced engineering college faculties, would we?

rhhardin said...

Math is all about feelings.

David said...

You can't check the math, of course, because the article does not actually establish the rate of change. However, it does say that new female hires have gone from 25% "earlier in the decade" to 27%.

From this I make some assumptions:

1. Decade means this decade.
2. The longest time from "earlier" to "now" is 2 years.
3. New hires increased from 25% to 27% in two years.

Thus, if the percentage of new hires increases by 1% per year, female hires will reach 50% in 23 years. This is the straight line protection assuming a 2% increase every two years and that the amount of change will be a stable 2%.

You can also use this data to assume that the rate of change is 8% every two years. (An increase from 25% to 27% is an 8% increase.) This will get you to 50% considerably more quickly, since the rate of change of 8% is applied to a steadily increasing base. I am not going to both my pretty little head with the exact calculation, as it might muss my hair.

Roger Sweeny said...

And at present rates of change, 100% of college students by then will be female.

Do we morally judge these rates too fast, too slow, or just right?

Or something else?

Fen said...

Spatial awareness. Most men are wired for it. Most women are not.

These two might as well try to zero out maternal instict.

Fen said...

"And at present rates of change, 100% of college students by then will be female."

Reminds me of an interview I did for Univ of Maryland. 6 white women gathered around a table asking what I thought of "diversity"...

David said...

"both" = "bother"

Proofreading musses my hair too.

John Smith said...

The goal should be equality of opportunity and not equality of results. Driving to equal numbers of each demographic group in each professional endeavor is inherently coercive.

Bob_R said...

No one expects mechanical engineers to be able to do math.

Hagar said...

and though all engineering involves number at least some crunching, there is not really that much mathematics, nor will a facility for solving mathematical problems help you much when you are between a rock and a hard place in a contract dispute between a hardnosed contractor and a rockheaded owner!

Hagar said...

geez

number crunching

Henry said...

Why do they assume there will be such things as "professors" in 50 years?

FuzzyFace said...

David does a detailed analysis but missed a contextual clue: "In the last four years we're seeing 27 percent" - which shows that it is in fact last decade that they are referencing.

But maybe the assumption should be, rather than linear growth, proportion of "correction of inequity." That is, 2% of the missing 25%. So we approach the mean of 50% by 8% of the missing rate per decade, asymptotically.

No wait - that makes it too hard... I'll just go read a blog or something.

Original Mike said...

"They did the math about women and math. Care to check their work, guys?"

This is really dumb, for the reason MM gave in the first post.

Freeman Hunt said...

With or without affirmative action?

David said...

Fuzzy, you are right. I missed the clue. But I noticed others so I'm just partially clueless.

If it's 4 years to get a 2% increase then at .5% per year it would indeed be 46 years to reach 50. And that's over 40 years!

However, it we are talking rate of change and not absolute it would still be less than 40.

So I conclude that the lady can do math (sort of) but can not explain it.

David said...

More variables, Freeman. Don't make this too hard for us.

Joe Schmoe said...

The 50% number is absolutely arbitrary, of course. Probably plucked out of thin air because the dean & professor quoted are tired of going to lunch with all of the guys they work with. They figure 50% gives them a better chance of having a female coworker whose guts they don't hate.

Again, STEM is weighted heavily to men not because we fight to keep women out or because women can't meet the entrance requirements. It's t'other way 'round. Women don't want in! We can't coax them in despite have solid employment and pay opportunities. Revenge of the Nerds is burned in the minds, I guess.

The 2% increase is within whatever statistical margin of error and likely negligible. This stat will not change until women's attitudes about STEM fields change.

To add to my point, we haven't even had any FEMALE COMMENTERS ON THIS TOPIC!

Joe Schmoe said...

Ann, where's the money going on the U of W camus? Which departments are having new facilities built or remodeled?

Fen said...

Other than Freeman

Dave said...

Presupposes that equal outcome is the only way to demonstrate equitable treatment and that there are no inherent differences between men and women that are relevant to skill. Math is the easiest of all subjects to test objectively, so the desire for gender equity rather than objective measures of skill is a rejection of merit based hiring. Outcome > merit and it's better to have 505 women math profs than highly skilled math profs. This is what they are saying. You'd think they'd be embarrassed.

chickenlittle said...

Good science is gender neutral with no thought for equality outcomes.

Skyler said...

What annoys me even more than gender neutralizing math is the assumption that one should care which type of genitalia a mathematician has.

Math is pure knowledge, pure logic and reasoning. Universities should be pursuing perfection of mathematical understanding, not pursuing particular mathematicians.

If all math can be understood by one person, then that is all that we should need. If it can be understood only by one-legged men, that is all that we should need.

The very thought that we now accept the premise that there should be any scrutiny of a mathematician's sex is repulsive. Universities should be ashamed.

SGT Ted said...

It's just a call for more discrimination towards men in favor of women from education institutions. That will be the solution. Competition and competence will not be the solution. I am sure that some male professors were "mean to them".

Possession of a vagina will be posited as a mark of superiority in math ability and thus, the solution to the "problem", as opposed to doing actual math.

T J Sawyer said...

Banning all further hiring of males will achieve the desired result in minimum time. Let's just do it.

There, do you like the obvious mathematical answer?

T J Sawyer said...

Banning all further hiring of males will achieve the desired result in minimum time. Let's just do it.

There, do you like the obvious mathematical answer?

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

But the most basic reason for the disparity was that women simply didn't want to go to engineering school. It's not appealing to them. They can do the math; they just don't want to.

My wife got an engineering degree nearly 30 years ago and spent 25 of those years working in several fields that were not engineering related.

Bender said...

What we clearly need is an Individual Mandate that all women major in math.

Whether they want or need a degree in math is irrelevant and, frankly, anti-woman.

And this is clearly within the federal government's authority under the Taxing Power.

ErnieG said...

I can see it now. Instead of Thermo 101, we'll see Thermodynamic Studies.

Sofa King said...

The problem is the hegemony of phallocentric, colonial imperialist, white male mathematics. Clearly what we need are some courses on Feminist Mathematical Theory. Probably need a Queer Math Studies and a Black Mathematics Survey course as well, to keep things fair. And of course a Critical Marxist Mathematics course in the Sociology Department.

Sorun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Schmoe said...

To the military dudes, I agree that gender shouldn't be important. To me, it's just that the STEM fields are expanding rapidly. There's room for all sorts of new voices to add their diverse intellects to these problems. There's also a ton of room to improve existing technical products.

When's the last time you used something that you knew was designed by an engineer and not an average user? I ran across a particularly intractable problem with someone the other day where the solution was ultimately to uncheck an obscure box in a software program that said "Turn off zero suppression". What the fuck does that mean? Maybe a woman, or anyone else not mired in geekdom, would've caught that and made it better.

The good thing about geek men is that we are self-aware and know our limitations. We're happy to work with women, or anyone else, that complement our deficiencies.

FWIW, I suspect gay male participation in the STEM fields is damn near 0. Why? No idea. I suspect, like women, they have no appetite for it.

Chip S. said...

Critical Marxist Mathematics

Is that where they call for the lemmas to rise up to end their exploitation by theorems?

Levi Starks said...

a woman goes to college and gets a math degree, and then uses said degree to calculate the number of years she can as a woman expect to be in the minority. I hope she's able to pay off her college loans with the data she collects.

Stan said...

More than half of academic studies are flawed. Most often the problem is screwed up stats.

Tetlock showed that experts are no better predicting the future than a chimp throwing darts.

Given that it is easy to see how the assumptions underlying this work are flawed, I suspect these predictions will not prove more accurate than the chimp's.

edutcher said...

They say this as if parity is all they want.

And (Godwin alert) Hitler had no more territorial ambitions after Munich.

Besides, The Blonde (who's a lot better at math than she'll admit) says women all have math anxiety.

So they're all faking it.

Roger Sweeny said...

And at present rates of change, 100% of college students by then will be female.

While all the males are getting degrees and certifications (which are becoming the way to go in STEM) online.

Bruce Hayden said...

It really depends on where you are in STEM. Women have come up quite a bit in chem, bio, and related. Maybe even parity in PhDs, and at least so for undergrads. Somewhat in math, but physics and engineering seem to be lagging quite a bit.

I don't think that it is just environment keeping more women out of those fields with harder math, etc. For one thing, it appears that there is quite a bit of pressure on physics and engineering schools in favor of women right now.

But, one thing to keep in mind is that academia is a pipleline, and you can only enter it if there is room and you have the proper credentials. That means that until the baby boomers retire, there won't be all that many entry level positions, and not all that many baby boomer women got STEM PhDs. Many more of the men did. So, the better metric may be the percentage of new hires for tenure track positions, or maybe for new PhDs.

The other thing to keep in mind is that it appears (from The Bell Curve) that IQ is distributed on a bell curve, that the distribution for both sexes have approximately the same means (100, duh), and that the standard deviation for males appears somewhat larger. More spread out. This means that there are probably more males on both ends of the distributions. Since you need a PhD for most of these jobs, such a degree does require a higher than average IQ (on average, 1 std deviation), and you want the best and brightest teaching at your schools, we may never get to the point in STEM professors overall of male/female equality.

Normally, I would say, we shall see. But, in this case, I may not be around long enough, given some of the projections.

Levi Starks said...

Actually I've got a much more pressing question I need an answer to. A man in the news is now pregnant with his first child, (ok he used to be a woman, but is now legally, and externally male)
The question? How long before 50 percent of men will be mothers? This question is difficult beyond my ability, and especially since there is only one data point.

Christopher said...

In Marxist mathematics the maths divide you.

Chip S. said...

Tetlock showed that experts are no better predicting the future than a chimp throwing darts.

It's possible to train a chimp to play darts at a very respectable level.

Of course, you have to be an expert animal trainer to do it.ht

MadisonMan said...

6 white women gathered around a table asking what I thought of "diversity"...

I hope you said that the question coming from such a non-diverse group of interviewers was kinda odd.

Unless you wanted the job ;)

The one woman I know that has a PhD in math teaches math.

David said...

Today is "International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation." That's what Hillary is talking about at her above the fold link from Drudge.

That's a serious subject, but what a strange name.

Strange link too, come to think of it.

Hillary can be forgiven, of course, for her occasional but very specific fantasies of male genital mutilation. She showed restraint, and Bill was spared.

Dave said...

Bruce,

Larry Summers, while at Harvard made precisely your point and caught no end of grief form the academic feminists a result. He had to resign. This is politics reasoned arguments do not apply.

chickenlittle said...

Mark Twain had something to say (completely gender-neutral) about extrapolation: link

David said...

BTW, my sister in law was a math major. My brother and I were pretty good at math but we fall down in awe at her skill.

Geoff Matthews said...

They'll reach it if quotas are mandated.
Or men, as a matter of course, are hit will ball-pean hammers.

meep said...

a woman "in math" here -- I left academia a long time ago (for a variety of reasons)

as I've written about this many times before (go here: http://meep.livejournal.com/1838810.html#cutid1 , scroll to Females and math and science), I'm not going to make new comments.

This seems related to this particular one (especially in the comments):
http://meep.livejournal.com/1796386.html

I try to convince my academic friends, men and women alike, to join me in the corporate world. It's a much friendlier place than academe.

Nathan Alexander said...

@Fen 09:51
Other than Freeman

Sure, but that's one out of how many?

Surely that's within the statistical margin of error.

Joe Schmoe said...

Bruce, good info. My only quibble with you is about STEM teaching opportunities. In my experience those are the departments that are growing. Law, education, humanities? Not so much.

More anecdotally, I see quite a few high school kids come through where I work when their guidance counselor arranges some sort of career-day field trip. I ask them all the time what they're thinking about studying. With the girls, it's almost never something technical. With the guys, it's all over the place. (I'm always stunned by the number of them that think they are going to become professional athletes or entertainers. While not one to quash their dreams, I usually try to recommend some sort of backup plan.)

The course I lecture at a local college also always breaks down to be at least 4:1 male to female, usually much more. I'm not seeing much of a shift at all.

Sorry for posting so much; I really didn't mean to. I just get pissed off when journos write shit about women and math and barriers to STEM fields against women. And this article fails to mention why women's participation rates are low; the focus should be on why don't women want to be in STEM? And if they simply don't want to, why are we wasting time and money trying to entice them?

meep said...

oh, and Joe Schmoe?

There are plenty of gay men in STEM fields.

roesch/voltaire said...

I am not sure why 50% must be a goal other than that number now seems the norm in law school and med school and is even higher in the general undergraduate population. The one woman STEM poster on thread has this to say: Our goal should be to make sure that everyone who has scientific talent has access to equal opportunities, and to make sure we are fair in our dealings with people. But what any person does with those opportunities, and the hard knocks that surely come along the way, is up to them." That seems about right to me.

Peano said...

At that rate, it may be 2050 before 50 percent of new hires in science and engineering are female...

And we should care because ...?

MadisonMan said...

And if they simply don't want to, why are we wasting time and money trying to entice them?

Oh, because we know better than they do, of course. We can also tell when they should feel outrage.

Hoosier Daddy said...

This disparity screams for a Federal mandate.

Why is the Federal government not doing something about this?

mtrobertsattorney said...

Mathematics, including higher mathematics, comes quite easily to my girlfriend. The problem is, she simply doesn't find it interesting.

But when it comes to horticulture, that is an entirely different matter.

ricpic said...

Victory will have been achieved when meritocracy has fallen to fairness and the grass is growing in a thousand Detroits.

jimbino said...

A man actually gave birth last year, a 100% increase over the preceding year. At this rate, men will be bearing all the children in just 8 years!

Ken said...

Given that the very smart are mostly men, is it even a desirable goal to have women make up 50% of the most difficult subjects in a university?

MnMark said...

They don't need to wait 100 years. Just pass a law requiring that half of the faculty be women, NOW. Fire a bunch of the men, and then grab women off the street if you have to and just make them faculty members. Voila! Equality, sweet equality!

Because, see, it's not about excellence or merit or beauty or creativity. It's not about hiring whoever has demonstrated by real, objective measures that they are the most qualified. It's not about ignoring gender entirely and focusing on excellence. It's about making gender and racial headcounting the MAIN thing. The EQUALITY is the "beauty" that really counts. Doesn't matter if the women can't reallly perform to the mens' standards...as long as there's enough women, THAT is what is beautiful.

Bill Harshaw said...

VAguely relevant: saw a little item in the Times about the head of MIT retiring, she's been there awhile. Said, if I remember correctly, MIT had 45 percent women students.

rhhardin said...

Limbaugh can't understand math either, or anyway has no feel for fractions.

He's been arguing a mistake at the top of his explanatory style that's completely backwards.

Right conclusion, wrong reasoning.

Occasionally mathematically literate people call and write, but he doesn't get it and has the last word about the rightness of his explanation.

Having to do with fake unemployment numbers dropping from people dropping out of the workforce.

He thinks the vital term is the decrease in the number of available jobs instead.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Who decides what percentage of a certain field should be made up of women or men? What if there are more men than women who are even interested in being math professors? There would be nothing wrong with any of them -- men or women -- making those choices. It's not like being a math professor is some ultimate goal that everyone is trying to achieve. A very small percentage of men or women are trying to achieve it, and if the percentage is even smaller for women than for men, that isn't a problem. The problem, as John Smith said, is people suggesting that it's not good enough to have equal opportunity and that we need to see "equal" outcomes. Since men and women are legitimately different in all sorts of ways, it's hardly surprising if men end up being more prevalent in many fields and women end up being more prevalent in many other fields (which is actually the case even within math/science, let alone all occupations).

chickenlittle said...

John Althouse Cohen said...
Who decides what percentage of a certain field should be made up of women or men?

Well John, when I was out and about looking for such jobs I heard "We'd love to hire you but we need to hire a woman."
So to answer your question, I guess hiring committees decide.

geokstr said...

Fen said...
Spatial awareness. Most men are wired for it. Most women are not.

The reason that women have poor spatial awareness is that for their whole lives, men have been telling them this
"<-------------------------------->" is nine inches, and they believed it.

Sofa King said...

There would be nothing wrong with any of them -- men or women -- making those choices.

I sincerely think that for a lot of feminists, there's nothing wrong with any *particular* man or woman deciding whether or not to go into STEM, but there is something wrong with women in general not deciding to do it in equal proportion to the men. How they reconcile these judgments is a mystery to me.

Christy said...

Fen said, Spatial awareness. Most men are wired for it. Most women are not.
Could recent changes in the number ow women in STEM programs be a function of Title IX? I remember a discussion with a female nuclear engineering professor in the 70s about the lack of women in math and science. She suggested sports gave males a better sense of spatial awareness. I think the suggestion has merit. I came along after Title IX, but am above average in math and science. A nephew, regretfully dumber than dirt, is orders of magnitude better than I am at spatial recognition.

I don't know the answers. Math and science were always easy for me and I never understood girlfriends who threw their hands up declaring math a mystery.

I do think changing times will bring in more women as the fossils who actively disparage and discourage women in STEM die off. I'm old enough to have had a graphics instructor (Computer Aided Drawing, CAD, these days) refuse to give a female an A just on general principles. I hadn't earned an A so I had no room to complain.

But we women are/were raised to please others. Becoming an engineer in the face of hostile men is not pleasant. Why would a girl do than when she has other options?

I hear some male hostility in these comments. I understand and agree that changing standards in order to admit more women is not the answer. But the hostility I'm hearing does not make that clear. Any wonder women stay away?

rcommal said...

and though all engineering involves number at least some crunching, there is not really that much mathematics, nor will a facility for solving mathematical problems help you much when you are between a rock and a hard place in a contract dispute between a hardnosed contractor and a rockheaded owner!

Just ran this one past my husband, an electrical engineer for decades (and the son of a mechanical engineer), who snorted. Real engineers use math all the time, he said, and then commented, "Engineering is like math, but louder." He also said that if you're a real engineer, you're very good at mathematics to begin with and then you become an engineer on top of that.

He did allow that perhaps Hagar has only had contact with P.E.'s (which is a professional designation, not necessarily functionally meaningful), who often enough aren't "real" engineers but rather function as processors of applications (not in the "app" sense, but in the other sense: funding and project and such) and the like, but can't actually do the math--or the engineering--themselves. He's run into plenty of them himself...

but they're not "real" engineers, much less mathematicians.

LOL. I love technical snark, don't you?

Mark Nielsen said...

I'm a Mathematics Professor at a state university in the west. Roughly half of my department's hires over the past five or six years have been women, but we may be exceptional there. There certainly *are* more women going into math over recent years. I see that as a student advisor. My own daughter will be a math major in college this coming fall.

Now, as to a mathematical calculation of how fast the percentage of women will grow, I'd suggest a model using a logistics-like equation. Logistics equations can model population growth where there are both positive factors (increases in population mean more individuals to engage in procreation) and negative ones (increased population also means more competition for resources). The solutions they lead to show an initial growth in not only population, but also the *rate* of population growth -- that is, the curve not only goes uphill, but gets steeper as it goes. But eventually, the negative drag starts to dominate and the population curve starts to level off. Typically, the inflection point at which the curve changes from concave up to concave down happens at about half the eventual limiting population.

In modeling the growth of women's participation in mathematics there is both a positive reinforcing phenomenon (female faculty tend to inspire female students to follow in their footsteps) and an eventual negative drag (depletion of the available talent -- not all people, male or female, can do it). So I'd expect logistics-like behavior. The question then becomes, are we still in the "concave up" part of that curve?

Astro said...

Is it not simply someone's opinion that having equal numbers of men and women working in any one field is a good thing? Are there demonstrable statistics that show this conclusion to be valid? And if so, under what assumptions?
In other words, isn't this nothing more than cultural numerology? And if so, like all forms of numerology, it is meaningless except as a way to have a bit of fun.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

As one whose first two degrees were in geology (I went on to soil science and agronomy, which are a bit more "soft" on the spectrum of such things) I've got a pot-pourri of observations.

First, the AAAS are a notoriously leftish bunch and they're presently having their annual meeting in Vancouver, just down the road from SFU (=Simon Fraser University, named after the discoverer of the river running across southern BC). Of course they'll feature a couple of local yokels, especially when spouting the popular narrative.

Second, there's a huge hierarchy in engineering, with the triple-Es and the chemical engineers on top -- my father had his P.Eng. licence in both (!) -- and civil engineers on the bottom. I taught geology to civil engineers, or more correctly attempted to do, and it made me afraid to drive across a bridge.

Third, the SFU article provided no link to the actual AAAS article in question. FAIL. !clue. K(credibility)<0. The authors don't even offer a basic summary of which universities and which disciplines were examined.

Fourth, they neglect (or decline) to offer a percentage of women grads in STEM disciplines, so it is impossible to determine if the 25-27% entry hiring numbers represent selective concentration or not.

Fifth, I have a good friend who was one of the earliest women grads in geology, over forty years ago. She went on to earn one of the very first Canadian PhDs in remote sensing and is a tenured professor of geography at a major Canadian university.

To this day, geography colleagues of both sexes assume that since she's a woman she's a social geographer and not a physical geographer, to say nothing of carrying three degrees in very demanding technical disciplines.

Moral of the story -- to this day the opportunities are there for competent women wishing to pursue them ... and they have been for decades ... but because most of the "hard sciences" and engineering are to varying degrees highly spatial they're simply not all that attractive to a crushing majority of intelligent women.

Too bad some folks wish to define that as a problem.

rcommal said...

Rightly or wrongly, I can't help but catch a whiff of "how can we *make* women want to be engineers?" in the linked piece. This is what causes me to take umbrage, fairly or unfairly.

Bart: Loved your comment. Will definitely share it. ; )

rcommal said...

OK, not just "engineers," but also mathematicians, scientists--whatever. But the rest of my comment stands.

wv: extorst the

Maybe the "s" is a typo? LOL.

William said...

Does anyone know of any woman who was turned away from a STEM course because of her gender? I think it would be passing strange if Chinese and Irish students were distributed in advanced physics courses in the exact same proportion as their distribution in the general population. And it would be even stranger if this held true for men and women.....It's also a possibility that women avoid engineering courses in order to avoid men who are engineers. Engineers are notoriously hard to live with. Most women who marry engineers end up getting divorced. Homicides are very frequent in this population, and the number is growing. By the end of this century, it is estimated that most male engineers will be murdered by their wives.

rcommal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcommal said...

William:

*Snort*! I'll take all that under advisement, though I must say that a) I love my engineer husband and b) daresay that if he were inclined to murder me, he likely already would have done so. Since he hasn't, I am profoundly unlikely to murder him (much less divorce him).

I'll keep you posted.

: ) (Enjoyed that one.)

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Well my mother was an English major who finally retired as a librarian two months before her 93rd birthday.

She and my father married in their 30s and still had over 55 years together. The most unkind thing I ever heard my father say to (or about) her was

"You're completely befuddled by anything more technically complex than a marble, so stick to your Old and Middle English."

She could read Beowulf or Bede in the original and quote lengthy passages from Chaucer, an ability my father admired greatly.

Christy said...

Rcommal,the head of my department gave us his lecture on pursuing our P.E. license adding that we weren't real engineers without it. I asked then what I should write on my tax returns in the occupation box. He replied "housewife."

rcommal said...

Who says engineers can't snipe back and forth with the best of them [dang liberal arts majors]? Not I. And I've found this amusing, as a long-time observer (not an engineer). This partly why I enjoyed Bart's "hierarchy" comment so much.

As for housewife? Nope. That's what you put down if you used to do such things as word-process, edit or even, in many cases, write. ; )

caseym54 said...

At my alma mater, Harvey Mudd -- ranked by USN&WR as the #1 undergraduate engineering program in the country -- the student male/female ratio is 57/43 and the professors break 64/36. Not 50/50, but getting there.

They've been intentionally reaching out to women applicants for a decade or more. Call it affirmative action but it remains the #1 engineering college in the country and its graduates rank with (only) CalTech and MIT. So they haven't watered it down by much if at all. I'd be the first to complain if they did.

Fernandinande said...

With a male-to-female variance ratio of 1.1and zero gap in the means, filling tenured faculty slots in rank order of ability imposes the following bounds:

Case I: No more than 26% of faculty positions will be occupied by women.

Case II: No more than 33% of faculty positions will be occupied by women.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Don't worry-- Affirmative Action will eventually take care of this. Just as in the military where mere physical insufficiency isn't enough to disqualify women from combat, leading to a lowering of physical standards across the board, just the fact that women suck at math will not be allowed to disqualify women from engineering faculties. So when the feminazis get their wish and 50% of engineering professors are women, at least 25% of all engineering professors will be unqualified.

Gene said...

I recall reading about 20 years ago that one Seven Sisters school started an engineering program, only to abandon it for lack of interest--the women considered engineering too lower class.

Dante said...

Just so long as they don't bug the guys for the answers, like they use to do to me, or like my sister who graduated from UCB in CS, sleep with the guys for grades, it's all good to me.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Can't let the thread end without appending one of my favorites ... Three guys are in the engineers' preferred watering hole, debating which type of engineer designed the human body.

One said for sure it was mechanical based on how the shoulder-elbow-wrist thing worked so well and terminated in a prehensile hand.

The second said, nah ... triple-E, on account of the nervous system making the body work at all.

After a long pause the third said "Fellows, it had to have been a civil engineer", which engendered shock guffaws. "Steve! What on Earth makes you think a civil engineer designed the human body?"

"Well who besides a civil engineer would run the major waste drains right through the prime recreational area?"

rcommal said...

Bart: Your joke is a hit, all the way around!

ampersand said...

"You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think"

attributed to Dorothy Parker

RonF said...

So it will take that long until 50% of STEM faculty will be women. Interesting analysis, but how is this a problem?

RonF said...

At MIT the sex ratio is 54:46::M:F. The ratio of accepted freshmen is closer to 50:50, but a lower proportion of women matriculate than men.

My daughter toured the campus. She didn't apply. "Too industrial", she said. It's not the archetypical tree-lined quad, that's for sure. My wife thinks that's the reason for the differential MIT sees. I imagine that plays a part. But then why don't the guys care as much? And just how bucolic are other engineering and science schools? I wonder what their ratios are?

Fen said...

Christy: Fen said, "Spatial awareness. Most men are wired for it. Most women are not."

I remember a discussion with a female nuclear engineering professor in the 70s about the lack of women in math and science. She suggested sports gave males a better sense of spatial awareness. I think the suggestion has merit


Actually, I think it goes back to our hunter ancestry. Men needed see the angles to make the kill. Or Darwin kills you off instead.

It couldn't just be sports. Any good 9-ball shooter has the same skill set.

But as you indicated, men of lesser intelligence than yourself appear to have a more naturally developed spatial awareness. I'll wager that if you polled them, a background in athletics wouldn't be a common qualifier amoung them. So I think men are just wired that way.

Conversely, I believe women DO have more developed auditory range, and can pick up tones that men don't. Which helps explain why most men don't communicate as well as women do with each other.

Doesn't mean women don't make good engineers (I have a friend at NASA who is outstanding), but maybe that they have to work harder to compensate for what men have naturally.

Fen said...

6 white women gathered around a table asking what I thought of "diversity"...

Madison: I hope you said that the question coming from such a non-diverse group of interviewers was kinda odd.

Unless you wanted the job ;)


I did remark on the irony, even though I knew before I said it that it would kill any chance of them hiring me. Couldn't help myself - and it was worth it to see their expressions.

A women probably would have played that hand smarter and landed the job :)

Joe Schmoe said...

Harvey Mudd. GREAT school. I visited in high school, really impressed by HM, and was also blown away by the Claremont College campuses (swimming pools between the mission-style dorms? get the f*&k outta here...) Seems like an environment better suited to attracting students of all different kinds than a place like RPI or MIT.

meep, if you know of many gay men in STEM, then your experience is different than mine. I've known hundreds of coworkers well enough to know their significant others, and out of that I've only known a few gay men (all of whom I enjoyed working with). It's just my anecdotal information, like yours, so I'm saying that I haven't experienced much participation among gay men. I don't really care one way or the other. If you know of any data/stats that show STEM participation by gay men, I'd love to see them. That's not a challenge; just a genuine inquiry. I'll also read about your experiences that you linked to.

Ken said...

Anything predicted in 100 years has a 100% uncertainty rate.