Intrinsic Aptitude

Via Alex Tabbarok, my favorite kind of academic study -- the kind whose abstract suggests that the paper contains empirical proof of something I was already inclined to believe:

Many studies have shown that women are under-represented in tenured ranks in the sciences. We evaluate whether gender differences in the likelihood of obtaining a tenure track job, promotion to tenure, and promotion to full professor explain these facts using the 1973-2001 Survey of Doctorate Recipients. We find that women are less likely to take tenure track positions in science, but the gender gap is entirely explained by fertility decisions. We find that in science overall, there is no gender difference in promotion to tenure or full professor after controlling for demographic, family, employer and productivity covariates and that in many cases, there is no gender difference in promotion to tenure or full professor even without controlling for covariates. However, family characteristics have different impacts on women's and men's promotion probabilities. Single women do better at each stage than single men, although this might be due to selection. Children make it less likely that women in science will advance up the academic job ladder beyond their early post-doctorate years, while both marriage and children increase men's likelihood of advancing.

Right. In short, there's not some cabal of woman-hating old male scientists going "heh, heh, heh let's keep the ladies out of our field so we can all party at strip clubs!" At the same time, there's obviously not an equal playing field. The setup of the profession, the biases of the bulk of the important people in it, systematic inequities in the distribution of household labor, wide-ranging social norms, etc., etc., etc. all intersect to significantly disadvantage women who want to have typical family lives and successful careers in the sciences. In short, I blame the patriarchy. At any rate, I would actually read the paper, but I'm super-busy. Maybe I'll read it tomorrow.