Problem Defined, but Cause Unknown

Oct 19 2011 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

So last week I gathered in Chicago with a group of accomplished women who make me feel positively small. Such awesomeness rarely gathers in this large of a group; some of these women even wore snazzier shoes than I did.

We slogged through the work of Vision2020's Second Congress. We all agreed on major strategies for the five national goals, especially the need to communicate problems of inequality. We also agreed that, in many cases, we still need to understand the root causes of inequality. Why do women earn a mere 77 cents for every dollar a man gets, a pay gap that increases with educational level? Why do women leave the workplace before they achieve senior leadership positions?

Over at Academic Women for Equality Now,  I examined the "leaky" pipeline question today. There can no longer be a question that women leave corporate and academic worlds before retirement; the question now becomes the why. Three things have been suggested:

  1. Work-life balance makes mid-career women "choose" to step onto the mommy track, which may also be the elderly parent track
  2. As women evaluate themselves in middle life, they leave to follow their passions
  3. After years of subtle, perhaps unconscious, bias and a few bumps on the glass ceiling, women may take their toys to a sandbox they control

I am sure all of these influence women's choices. I am curious what you believe is the most important reason women leave their career path in mid life. Are there any other reasons they might choose to become a consultant or open a cupcake shop? What have we missed?

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Yes, It Is Friday

Oct 14 2011 Published by under Travel, Wackaloonacy

So my live tweeting from Vision2020 was suppressed by our basement location. The events this week focused on working. Last year we conversed and defined the problems women still face in the US. This year we moved toward solutions.

Since no trip goes unpunished, I returned to the office this morning with a bit of trepidation. My assistant greeted me and then asked to copy my driver's license. As I handed it to her, she explained that the hospital wanted a copy of a government-issued ID. We had sent one of my US passport, but the office clerk in the credentials center did not realize that was "government-issued." It was easier to send a copy of my license than argue.

Sigh.

Next week I will discuss my times in Chicago here and at AWEnow (the project I am doing for Vision2020). In the meantime, try to have a great weekend. And consider giving to DonorsChoose.

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Tying Up Loose Ends

Oct 10 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings

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Tomorrow I hit the road (more accurately the sky) for the second Vision2020 Congress in Chicago. Last year's event featured a lot of talk about the lack of women leaders in many areas of US life. This year promises more work. We delegates all started action projects in the past 12 months, and we will gather in groups to contemplate our own work and the national goals of the Congress:

  1. Achieve pay equity, so that equal pay for equal work will be the norm in America
  2. Increase the number of women in senior leadership positions in American life to reflect the workforce talent pool and demographics
  3. Educate employers about the value of policies and practices that enable men and women to share fairly their family responsibilities
  4. Educate new generations of girls and boys to respect their differences and to act on the belief that America is at its best when leadership is shared and opportunities are open to all
  5. Mobilize women in America to vote, with particular emphasis on a record-setting turnout in 2020, the centennial of the 19th Amendment

I will live-tweet the events of the Congress; follow @EqualityInSight, the official twitter account for the program for more accounts of the action.

Today I am tying up loose ends. I will get in a work-out before I pack. Most important, I will overnight all the signed and notarized forms for the sale of the old homestead. Yes, we will finally be down to a single house!

Enjoy your week, and please consider giving to my DonorsChoose page. It's heartbreaking that teachers must ask for our support for pencils, chairs, whiteboards, and other basics.

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No New Answers Here

Sep 08 2011 Published by under Women as leaders

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Are you interested in women as leaders? Then you should know about The Glass Hammer, a website about women in business with a weekly email of new interviews and topics. The email newsletter arrived today, and one piece regarding a meta-analysis of women as leaders caught my eye. Are Leader Stereotypes Masculine? A Meta-Analysis of Three Research Paradigms is in the July issue of the Psychological Bulletin.

 The summary of the work refers to Catch-22, a classic no-win situation (glad Heller wrote the book so we have something elegant to call it):

The study also found that women are viewed as less qualified in most leadership roles and when women adopt culturally masculine behaviors often required by these roles, such as being assertive or aggressive, they are viewed as inappropriate or presumptuous.

So women may not be considered as leaders because they are "too nice to do the work", but when they show leadership traits they become bitches and are still undesireable.

One of the authors, Alice Eagly, professor of psychology at Northwestern, discusses how we may start to reverse bias like this:

  • Make people aware of the potential bias that leads to this discrimination, overtly or unconsciously
  • Women must be extra-qualified to seem as capable as a man because leadership is stereotypically male

 So be twice as qualified to be seen as legitimate? Then have someone else suggest that the (mostly male) folks in charge of promotions may be biased against women and that constitutes discrimination? I mean, you can't say it yourself because then you are an assertive (castrating) bitch who no one will tolerate as their leader!

Sigh. No easy answers here.

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Greetings on Women's Equality Day

Aug 26 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings

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On 26 August 1920, the 19th amendment to the US Constitution passed, granting the right to vote to female citizens. Our foremothers worked hard to achieve this measure of equality, and I appreciate their efforts and sacrifices.

Unfortunately, our progress toward equality has stalled. Today, women average less than 80% of what men are paid for similar work, and women remain underrepresented in leadership positions at every level.

Join me in working toward true equality. Read about Vision 2020. Sign the Declaration of Equality and consider making a donation to the cause.

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So Click Already...

May 26 2011 Published by under Women in Medicine

Women now earn more higher degrees than men, and make up virtually half of graduating MDs in the US. My own specialty, pediatrics, has been dominated by XXs for several years.

Click for source

So why does medical school leadership still look so XY? Even in pediatrics, faculty appear male-dominated. Faculty leadership still consists of an old boys' club.

As my project for Vision 2020, I developed Academic Women for Equality Now (AWEnow!), a website dedicated to exploring gender issues in academia. At the moment, I am AWEnow! (a situation I hope to correct now by finding some like-minded women in other fields), so the posts focus on academic medicine.

This week saw the start of a series of posts with report cards for each college granting MDs in the US and its territories. The first dealt with incompletes, five schools that reported no full professors in the AAMC benchmarking report for 2009-2010. Yesterday, the top ten got their day on the web. This morning, the bottom ten went up.

Over the coming weeks, every reporting institution will have its data shown against the national averages. The information used to calculate scores was self-reported by institutions to the AAMC in 2009 and used to generate Women in Academic Medicine: Statistics and Benchmarking Report 2009-2010 . These data have been available to faculty at AAMC member colleges for years, but information for each individual medical school was limited to tables. I have taken these data and put them into a single document to show more clearly where each school stands. Schools can use these to improve themselves and the data they submit. Potential students (and faculty members) can see where women stand at each school of medicine.

So click over there already. I know you're dying to see the bottom ten (and feel smug about your superiority to Harvard on at least one measure of institutional achievement).

If you are interested in working on expanding AWEnow! to other fields (science and engineering come to mind) you can make contact via the form at the AWEnow! site or even email me at pascalelane at gmail dot com.

Because sexism and inequality at any level are just wrong.

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Joining My Rant

May 18 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings, [Education&Careers]

Today Little Pink Book, a website devoted to issues of women in the workplace, posted on gender bias in higher education. Even though women now receive more degrees than men, they represent only 26% of faculty:

Experts say the low presence of women leaders is due to gender bias. Even when women do balance home and work responsibilities, they still earn lower salaries. They also gain fewer recognition awards and are promoted less.

What else can schools do to attract more female instructors? “[Women] need a mentor, a game plan for meeting specific steps toward tenure, outside support from friends and family, and above all – persistence,” suggests Wenniger, adding that men are currently twice as likely to receive tenure.

These issues led to my other web site, Academic Women for Equality Now (awenow.org). There we explore issues of women in higher education, particularly academic medicine since that is my field and rich, longitudinal data have been collected by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Since its launch on March 28, the 2011 edition of the AAMC report, using data collected in 2009, became available. Several recent posts have examined the level of female participation in medical college leadership at the level of the dean and department, as well as representation as full professors (check out the post on May 19). An overall "Female Friendliness" score was generated for each institution as well, and individual gradecards for each college of medicine providing data will begin appearing next week.

I am delighted to see Little Pink Book joining my rant. I would love to find other women who want to explore these issues for other fields in higher education. The first step in fixing a problem requires defining the problem and what success would look like. Many institutions will be surprised to see how poorly women are represented in their ranks.

Stroll (by which I mean click) on over to the Little Pink Book piece and AWEnow. Let's work to make life in the ivory tower more balanced.


 

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More on Women in Academic Medicine

May 16 2011 Published by under [Education&Careers]

A few weeks ago, I started presenting data on women in leadership in academic medicine over at Academic Women for Equality Now (AWEnow). The first post looked at the rise in women MDs and the much slower increase in women faculty. Subsequent posts include:

Monday, May 16, scores for departmental leadership - chairs, sub-chairs, and section/division chiefs - will be tallied. Later in the week, data for full professors will be presented. Finally, overall "Female Friendliness" scores will be posted.

Click for source

Then the real fun begins. Each college of medicine will receive a report card, showing their self-reported data in an easy-to-read form. If I were a young woman today, I would consider lack of female leadership a problem for a medical school. As essentially half of all medical students are women, medical colleges should pay attention to role models for these students.

So stay tuned here at WhizBANG and there. It may be a bumpy ride,  but it will not be boring.

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Real Life Slows Blogging

Apr 27 2011 Published by under [Education&Careers]

As it stands today, our Omaha house will be on the market next week. Tonight the photos for the online listing get taken, so the house has to be decluttered and almost ready to show. The past two nights I have crammed carry-out dinner in my mouth, washed it down with water, and headed off to scrub stuff, pack stuff, and dispose of stuff.

Between staging the house and my day job, blogging sometimes gets left behind.

Click on over

Today's real post is over at AWEnow, my site dedicated to equality for women in academia. It examines my own field, academic medicine, and the slow rate of growth of female faculty and female academic leadership. If current rates continue, women will compose half of medical college deans in the next century! That seems way too slow to me; it's not like the powers of academic medicine have to clean their house and can't make time to promote women...

Click on over; I even made a little video of the data. More coming at WhizBANG! tomorrow, I promise.

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Congratulations: It's a Web Site!

Mar 28 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Last October I wrote about Vision2020, a decade-long drive for true equality of the sexes by the centennial of the 19th amendment in 2020 (click here).

This event required each of us delegates to develop an action project directed at some part of women's inequality. During the conversations last fall, inspiration hit me.

Let's start with some background:

Twelve years ago, Nancy H. Hopkins, a molecular biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, began measuring lab space to prove that women faculty received less support than men, an effort that eventually led to sustained efforts at MIT to combat gender discrimination. As the New York Times reported on March 21, MIT shows substantial progress in its fight for equality. You might believe that other institutions picked up on this issue and began their own quest to eliminate gender bias.

You might be wrong.

What was different about the MIT case and other institutions? The women at MIT called them on it with data. Their data became public knowledge as well, not merely a paper in a scholarly journal.

My vision began to form of a place to document sexism, intentional or unintentional, in the world of academia. A place where inequality could be examined, documented, discussed, and, perhaps, cured. All of this would take place with public scrutiny, and we would come up with ways to assess "female-friendliness" on various campuses. This score or grade could be useful for future women students and could also be used to demonstrate progress by various academic institutions.

Academic Women for Equality Now was conceived. I also liked the name because it sounds like "Uh, now." That's the answer to the question, "Well, when do you want equality?"

Today, the site is born!

Initially, the site will focus on academic medical centers and colleges of medicine. I am familiar with this area of academia, and the Association of American Medical Colleges collects data that makes it an accessible starting point.

I want AWEnow to be more than a web site. Ultimately, I hope we can get discussions going to allow women to connect and find solutions to problems they face. If you are interested in collaborating (anything from writing a guest post to partnering with me to address another area of academia) drop me a line via the contact tab on the site.

You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

So click our logo and check out the site. Hook up with us on social media. Chat, converse, and debate sexism in the ivory tower.

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