I am an astronomer. I look at the stars. Everywhere I look in astrophysics, I see women working behind the stars. I see a picture of Jupiter, bruised by the infall of two dozen pieces of a comet, and behind the image I see the face of young MIT researcher Heidi Hammel. I see the countenance of the universe change to a much younger entity of only 8 billion years, and behind this, the handiwork of Carnegie Institution's Wendy Freedman, who is systematically detecting and measuring Cepheid variables in distant galaxies. I see in evidence of planetary systems around distant suns the possibility of life outside our solar system; behind this is the painstaking observational work at millimeter wavelengths by Anneila Sargent of Caltech. I see in the birth of a mechanical rover that will take its first halting steps on Mars 2 years from now the tenacity and the vision of JPL's Donna Shirley. When I look at Saturn and admire its rings, I know that my graduate school buddy Carolyn Porco is developing the first imager that will reach and orbit Saturn and image its rings in the year 2004. When I look at the Northern Cross, I imagine that I see -- once again after 20 years -- the nova I discovered while looking up at night from the floor of the Grand Canyon. I was not the first to see and report Nova Cygni 1975, but for me it was my discovery all the same. Everywhere I look in astrophysics, I see women working behind the stars.
In Washington I see women engaged in setting science policy at the highest levels. I see the remarkable job women are doing at the federal agencies: NIH, DOE, Education, DoD, NOAA, NSF, NIST, and NASA. I hear shining through those acronyms the strong, articulate voices of Florence Haseltine, Martha Krebs, Eve Bither, Anita Jones, Kathy Sullivan, Cora Marrett, Anne Petersen, Mary Clutter, Arati Prabakhar, Nancy Maynard, and many, many others who are changing the face of science and the course of science policy. One recent nova event for science policy was the Administration's release of Science in the National Interest. This visionary document, spearheaded by MRC Greenwood when she was at OSTP, is remarkable for the way it celebrates science and its common-envelope star, technology; it embraces change and lifts from the ragged edges of that change a new attitude that articulates wider goals for science, goals that put science in contact with its benefactor and beneficiary, the public.
Another nascent star is the 1991 Women's Health Initiative. The birth of this enterprise required a new attitude, one which came from an active women's health movement around the country that drew attention to the failure of health policy with respect to serving women. Florence Haseltine, director of the National Institutes of Health's Center for Population Research, was well-placed to take leadership in this effort. She founded the Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research. Her efforts were supported by NIH's first woman director, Bernadine Healy. This effort became institutionalized with the advocacy of congresswomen who have strong interests in women's health issues. The bipartisan team of Barbara Mikulski, Pat Schroeder, and Connie Morella worked with NIH to found the Office of Women's Health Research in 1990.
I've painted an optimistic picture, a picture of positive change in the landscape of science discovery and science policy with the infusion of women. Yet, there are signs that we may be looking at the brief, jubilant flare of the middle-age main-sequence star that is the culture of science as we know it today. Such stars emit flares from time to time, increasing in brightness tenfold, but in the end they are what they have always been -- dim stars that will be on their evolutionary track for a long time.
What are the signs that temper my optimism? Here was the scene in 1991 at one of the nation's top research institutions of higher learning: Fully one-half of the department heads in that institution's College of Science were women, a splendid moment that was reveled in by the college, the university, and women in science organizations. Today, only 4 years later, there are no women department heads in that college. Did they die untimely or unseemly deaths? No, one rotated off in the usual time period, two went on to higher administrative positions at other institutions, and one saw her department subsumed into another college so she returned to the rank of professor. All of this is pretty normal activity among department heads in general. So why were no women promoted to their places, or to any of the other possible headships in the college? The truth is there are no other women at the rank of professor in any of the departments and only a very few at the lower ranks of associate or assistant. The veneer of success for women in science leadership was very thin indeed.
Another example: Last weekend I flew to Cape Canaveral to participate in the launch of a long-awaited satellite to perform observations of stars that emit X-rays. As I sat for hours in front of a console in the mission control room, I looked around me at the people sitting in front of the two dozen other consoles. The scene looked like the world of Apollo 13, except that the monitors were spiffier. All consoles, save one, were "manned." We have not come a long way in the 25 years since Apollo 13 was rescued.
From these examples of women in science and women still outside of science, you can see that the report card is mixed. Progress depends on which field you are considering: The numbers of women are increasing in psychology, biomedical engineering, biology, anthropology, primatology, and history. Yet they are not increasing in other areas, like physics, math, computer sciences, and mechanical and electrical engineering. The latter may be the areas that have reached saturation and have overproduced in recent years. As the numbers of women in the workplace have increased, women may be choosing growth areas, areas where they see opportunity. This could account for some of the differences we see in the proportionate increase of women in selected fields.
The feminist critique of science has lately focused on a popular concept that frames our dialog, and some of our actions, on increasing the number of women in science: They call this The Pipeline Myth, AKA The Myth of Steady Progress. How often have we heard that all we need to change this institution or that one is to get more women into the pipeline?
"We thought all you had to do was get more women into the pool --into graduate schools and tenure-track positions --and automatically they would move into the faculty and into industry, and so on. We were naive." Neurobiologist Neena Schwartz
Historian Londa Schiebinger says, "There is no greater myth in respect to women in science than that of inevitable progress." History, she notes, shows otherwise. For example, after women gained admittance to graduate schools at the beginning of the century, they flooded Ph.D. programs in many fields. By the 1920s their numbers were at a historic high, with women earning 14 percent of doctorates in the physical and biological science. But during the cold war years, the proportion of women Ph.D.s plummeted. They did not regain this level of participation until the 1970s. Filling the pipeline doesn't necessarily help. Historian Margaret Rossiter says that women in science suffer from "hierarchical discrimination," that as they move up the ladder of power and prestige, their number drops off much faster than does the number of men. The higher one goes in the scientific hierarchy, the fewer women one finds. This concept is one that deserves historical research and scholarly analysis.
My own view, drawn not on scholarship but on personal observation, is that there are several ways for contemporary women to get into the "top" echelons -- and interestingly they all involve sudden events, rather than steady progress.
(1) Enter new growth fields that have a lot of resources being poured into them. These fields by nature are open to the best and brightest and, especially, the most aggressive -- it happened 2 decades ago in computer science and is happening now in biomedicine. If a field blossoms during periods when women are trying to get into research in increasing numbers, there is opportunity.
(2) Use new facilities. The workforce of even relatively stagnant fields can be suddenly changed with the infusion of new facilities or technologies. Growth of new facilities can welcome new users as long as the policies governing use favor the most capable (e.g., the Hubble Space Telescope and the opportunities it has created for the entry of women in astrophysics).
(3) Introduce women from outside an organization as "agents of change." The Clinton White House has appointed many women to significant positions. Left to their own devices, established institutions, especially ones in which the top positions are prestigious and therefore competitive, will not readily propel people with new or different approaches to the top, especially if the institution is comfortable with itself. It may have little interest in rocking the boat. The very notion of "nonlinear moves" signifies that a social revolution is being mandated from a force that has leverage over the institution.
Questions we might ask are: Why is it so difficult for institutions to reform in a slow, steady way? Why are social "mutations" or upheavals, rather than gentle evolution, generally more successful in changing culture? My view is that rules, many of them unwritten, form the basis of a culture. These rules are predominantly rules of conduct and, thus, behavioral in character. The struggle to change a culture introduces new behavior that may be unwelcome because of its unfamiliarity. The phrase "Old Boys Club" sounds trite and a little incredible in this day and age -- until you realize firsthand how strongly behavioral and social much of our policy, planning, and management activities is. Our social history reveals that we have been effective in acquiring territory, food, and goods by being clannish.
One aspect of this conference is about identifying the challenges and taking practical steps to confront them. So I put together a list of challenges. The first few are my own; they are drawn from my academic, research background, and approach. The second group is from my female colleagues outside of NASA and my male colleagues within the Agency.
(1) The literature on women and the origins of science shows that western science culture is historically highly gendered (look at any issue of Physics Today, which still focuses on the white male history of physics). Knowing where we have been -- our history in science -- is the first step in making a plan for where we need to go. A study of other cultures is part and parcel of this approach.
This understanding should lead us to appreciate that a diversity of approaches benefits the generation and communication of new knowledge, both of these being vital to the success of science. But we need to go deeper than this; we need to change the culture of science itself to root out that which discourages women from continuing, once starting in this field, to wanting to continue. We cannot do this without a solid understanding of where we have been.
(2) Our view of what is "prestigious" affects our choices, including our career choices. We are affected by the definitions and trappings of success. By definition, anything prestigious is a limited resource: only a few can have titles, be the head, the Chair, the boss, the prize winner. There are often elaborate rituals that accompany prestige, and these rituals can be strongly gendered. Involved in prestige, of course, is a society's notion of self-worth. If a group is excluded from attaining the prestigious positions, it sends the message that that group is not worthy. I think we need to examine how exclusivity is related to prestige and examine how we can move to a more democratic science.
(3) There is the problem of isolation. Isolation is different than being alone. On a dark night, under the stars and looking up, you may be truly alone. But rather than feeling isolated from the cosmos, you probably would feel closer to it, more in touch with the pulse of the universe. Alone is something active, something you choose. Isolated is what is done to you; it is being left out and kept out. We need to identify the processes that isolate us and work on changing them. One of the Washington women I mentioned earlier told me that often she is not invited to the table for important meetings, so, she invites herself; she simply appears at the table and is never asked to leave. In this way she becomes more aware of what is going on, becomes more participatory, and eventually gains the credibility she needs to get people to take her ideas seriously. Information is key to keeping isolation at bay. Information leads to smart involvement, and, for those who desire it, leadership.
(4) The agents of change themselves have to resist becoming part of the processes that once excluded them. This includes recognizing the need for mentoring and support groups; it includes embracing diverse approaches to the study of women in science itself. The field of women in science includes different approaches, which often work in isolation from each other:
These three cultures need to come together in harmony to set a course for the future of women in science. A meeting such as this one is a good place to begin.
(5) There are still great challenges on the homefront. We need enabling processes that address domestic concerns: child care, parental leave and benefits, the promotion and tenure clock, shared responsibilities of dual career families. Enlightened policies will benefit both women and men.
(6) We need a chant like the Navy, you know, Hua! Hua! Hey, it builds solidarity throughout the ranks. Perhaps the right chant can lift our spirits when we need the bonding.
I asked the NASA Administrator how he would frame the challenges for women in science. He had his own list:
Reform peer review panels. Include more women and minorities and young people on the panels so that the goods are more widely distributed and the overall quality enhanced.
Reform peer review itself to be more embracing of new, innovative ideas and more critical of stagnant ideas that should be eliminated. This will improve the situation for young people in general, men and women.
Mentor better. Women need to feel less isolated and be better prepared to succeed.
Don't be meek.
A young woman astronomer colleague who has been on the forefront of women in science issues had this observation: "There are three kinds of women scientists today: senior women, many of whom grew into significant positions by emulating the characteristics of the majority male scientist and who are not interested in change; the middle group of women who may have tried at one point to make things better; and the younger cadre which doesn't see the problem clearly, but recognizes some disadvantages wrought by affirmative action programs." She says the challenge is to find a shared vision among these groups, acknowledging the difficulties but determined to plan an optimistic future.
A superachieving, action-oriented, woman planetary astronomer confided to me that she believes that the strategic battles have been won. But in the tactical arena, women are still at a disadvantage. She sees the challenge as how to gain acceptance by men in "hand-to-hand combat." She apologizes for that metaphor, claiming that she is not a battle freak, but, rather, battle weary. She says that women need to be listened to and respected. The problem is how to gain acceptance, without sacrificing ideals. An essential ingredient of the tactical approach is consistency: Be there, speak up, don't be angry (it turns everyone off, she notes), do what you have to do with grace and style.
Her observation is corroborated by some of my male colleagues at NASA, who offered that they see women's greatest challenge as needing to be taken
In the conference invitation letter, I was asked to draw on my own life experiences and my role as NASA's Chief Scientist. I have put novae, cataclysmic variable stars, pulsars, quasars -- the exotic stuff of the cosmos -- the stuff that had taken hold of my imagination since I was a student, on hold for a few years. I accepted the NASA Administrator's invitation to come to Washington for 3 years to work on integrating science in an Agency that does many kinds of science -- the physics of the universe, remote sensing of the Earth, in situ sampling of particles and fields in space, exploration of the solar system, gravitational biology and exobiology, the physics of fluids, materials and living tissue in altered gravity.
I was asked to help construct a vision for the future that would combine in new ways essential aspects of these fields. It would be necessary to break down the stove pipe nature of the old disciplines, areas of research that had grown mature and insular, and develop, instead, cross-cutting initiatives that would yield new discoveries and understandings of the universe, our solar system, and especially our planet Earth. I was asked to look at the science we do from the unique platform of space in full view of the public that funds the investment. How to set a course that was rich in its scientific goals, meaningful to the public, and, of course, cheap. That was the challenge.
The first thing I did was to lead an all-Agency effort to write a guide that laid out the conduct of our research. This policy document serves as the framework within which our programs are managed, from developing the concepts for new missions to finally disseminating the data broadly. The three concepts that were the underpinnings of the guide are quality, participation, and responsibility. We do not shy from the need to develop human resources to enrich our research programs. We do not shy from advocating open competition, peer review, and immediate dissemination of all the data that are taken. We redefine the roles of all the participants in a changed playing field. We encourage partnerships to leverage the science investment. We recognize the shared responsibility of the Agency and all its stakeholders in fostering education and public literacy in science and technology.
A similar approach might be applied to the questions posed by this conference. We need to develop a vision of where we are going, a clear sense of mission and goals. We need to frame the conduct of the new world of science that we envision: what are the policies we could aspire to, live by. And then, develop a roadmap for the future, a roadmap with metrics and evaluation points, a roadmap that sees the world in 10, 15 years as a different place for women in science.
My daughter, who is in the fourth grade, said that the worst talk is a humorless talk. So I will end with a joke, which I first heard from my Hubble Telescope buddy Anne Kinney.
Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It only takes one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.
Lynda M. Jordan
of Chemistry, North Carolina Agricultural
and Technical State University
Giving honor to God, I would like to thank the organizers and the National Science Foundation for inviting me to give remarks at this auspicious occasion. As a child of a teenage pregnancy, in a family who was on welfare, and raised in a single family home, I know that my presence here today is based on the grace of God.
Before we go any further, I would like everyone do something for me. Let's strip away our degrees: we all know we are accomplished. If we were not accomplished, we would not be in this room. Let's communicate with each other on a humanistic level. During these next few minutes I would like to address the subject, "The Role of Women in Science."
What is a woman? Women are different from men. Just on the basis of our daily activities we play a variety of roles. We are nurturers, creative, efficient, resourceful. We are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, wives, aunts, teachers and WE ARE SCIENTISTS!
In a publication entitled, Who Succeeds in Science: The Gender Dimension, by Dr. Gearhard Sonnert, documentation of the obstacles confronting women in science includes: family influence, the lack of early institutional support at the high school, college and graduate school levels, professional career choices, and family matters.
At a time that we are questioning the validity of affirmative action, I know the significance of affirmative action. Had it not been for affirmative action or the civil rights movement I would not be here talking to you today. I am living proof that a brain has no gender; a brain has no color nor does a brain have a socioeconomic level attached to it.
I recently read a book by Jeremiah Wright; he discussed the topic of assimilation. Many people think when we talk about assimilation that we are discussing the assimilation of going from a black to a white environment or a white to a black environment. However, assimilation is when you abstract from anything that is not yourself. Yet, there are problems associated with assimilation. If one continues to assimilate, eventually you will forget who you are. When you forget who you are, you forget what your role is in any given situation. Assimilation totally destroys who you are. And the sad thing is that you don't even realize what is happening to you, because when you assimilate, you forget who you are.
I recently was invited and participated in an initiative to South Africa organized by the Citizen Ambassador Program. The purpose of this delegation was to discuss plans for the reconstruction and development of the new South Africa. One of the major points that I came home with was that the South Africans know that the progression of their country is directly proportional to the education of their women! The struggles that the South Africans are experiencing are similar to struggles of blacks in this country prior to the civil rights movement.
Two things happened to me while in South Africa. First, for the first time in my life, I felt totally accepted just as I am. This experience was one which I wish everyone in this room could experience. Second, I realized that my struggles are an asset; that every struggle that I had encountered in my life has a meaning, and there is a reason for these struggles. A benefit of these struggles is the fact that other peoples can benefit from them.
The first thing that we must do is heal. We have to heal. The PBS documentary, "Discovering Women," gave me and my family the opportunity to heal. My participation in this project was a family decision. We had many conversations about this documentary, and we decided that we will allow it to air. Believe me, I was kicking and screaming throughout the preparation of the show. Judith Vecchione and Yvoone Smith could attest to that. To answer so many people's questions, we are not getting paid for the participation in this series. Many people have asked me if we are getting paid, and we are not. However, our (the six women scientists) participation in this endeavor is based on our intense commitment to the education of the youth. If one person is inspired to pursue a terminal degree in chemistry because of this film, then it was worth it. I do what I do because I want more individuals to go to school and pursue a degree in science. I believe the nurturing of a person to pursue a higher life is just as important as a scientific research journal article. In fact, I think it is more important.
According to the New College Course and Transcript Files published by the U.S. Department of Education, people are interested in technological advancement. An example of this is computer technology. I do not know about you, but I rely on my students to help me keep up with the new technology in computers.
As women, we need to define ourselves for ourselves. Our contributions should be based upon where we can make a difference. We have a contribution to make. Our contribution is unique and is needed for the progression of not only the American society but also the world. Throughout my international travels, it has become apparent to me that the whole world is looking to America to solve some of these problems, we have to find a solution. The world is waiting for us. As women, we have the capacity to look at all aspects of the problems we face and the needs of our children.
Be yourself, rejoice in you, and allow yourself to evolve into that well-rounded, beautiful, unique, intelligent creature that you were created to be. God bless you all and Merry Christmas.
Shirley M. Malcom
Head, Education and Human Resources,
American Association for the Advancement
I must confess that I feel under a lot of pressure. I came to the talk the other night, and I heard France (Córdova) stand here and very eloquently talk about a lot of issues. Then I had to sit there and listen to Linda (Wilson) and Lydia (Villa-Komaroff) give everyone good advice in elegant language. And here I stand at 8:30 in the morning to talk about policy. This is a topic that everybody thinks of as being boring, and so I really have a job in front of me.
Luther kind of gave you a biosketch of what I do, my day job and my night job, but he really did not tell you, even though he knows, who I am. In a way, I stand here as an impostor. You hear the degrees, and the committees, and the boards, and the access to policy levels. But I look in the mirror, and I see something that is very different. I see the accumulated experiences that span a cultural and generational divide. The leading front of the baby boom, the forcing edge of the civil rights and women's rights movements, a child of Sputnik, a child of Birmingham, Alabama, the 1960s, and Earth Day. A person who still has problems getting a cab. A person who gets asked if she is with housekeeping and can open a hotel room for someone who forgot his or her key, even when I am dressed up. A person mistaken as a clerk in the store but invisible to the clerk in the store.
So I just want to tell you that even if I ever thought about getting a swelled head because of the opportunities that I have had to participate in the policy world, there is always something there to remind me otherwise.
While some of you might find all of this an unsuitable combination for the policy world, I think that it gives me a kind of interesting place to stand. That, plus being the mother of two teenage daughters, one of whom, thankfully, just finished all of her college applications. We did not want to take that into the holidays.
Now, all of these things really teach you a lot. And I said, policy has a way of being boring, but I think that it is very exciting. It is exciting when you basically have had a chance of experiencing policy up close and personal. And I had a chance of experiencing policy up close and personal.
I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. I went to segregated schools, schools that were segregated by law. I know that sounds weird right now, but that's what I experienced. Even though Brown versus the Board of Education was settled in 1954, when I graduated in 1963, I had never gone to a school that had been integrated. I really thought about this a lot. I thought about policy, and the fact that it was policy that we did not have schools that were segregated. But the reality was that we did. I realized that policy lets things happen, but it doesn't necessarily make things happen. That was a good lesson to learn, and to learn it early.
One of the other lessons that I learned was that benign-looking structures can be barriers. A lot of you might think, well, there is good and sufficient reason to have things like literacy tests. People who vote ought to be able to read and write, have some things, and know things about our country and our democratic processes. There are a lot of good reasons for that. There is a good reason
for thinking that we ought to be able to pay for the structures that allow us to vote -- you know, poll taxes.
But, in fact, we know that for many years that these were ways of holding members of a group to different and higher standards because they were not implemented the same way across the board. They were used as mechanisms for discrimination.
So the benign-looking structures can have other than benign consequences. I want to point this out in terms of women. I want to give you a lesson on that with regard to the use of certain kinds of defining and discriminating criteria, in things like admissions, and in the award of fellowships.
We can use the GRE as the primary way of screening, and get one set of results. Or we can use the GPA as the primary mechanism of screening, and get a totally different set of results. We know of cases of where, when universities basically have flipped the way that they made decisions, that they ended up not liking the results. Because they got "too many women."
To those who have these kinds of arguments, do you want a measure of a morning's activity, or measures of many years of effort? These are the kinds of things that we really have to look at -- structures that otherwise look benign.
One of the other things that Birmingham taught me was how to recognize the lesser of two evils and to make an active choice for the lesser of the evils, rather than just getting out of the game. Sometimes I think that we let the perfect be the enemy of the good; that we have to be careful that in seeking the perfection, that we let something that is even worse come into play because we do not make an active choice for the lesser of the two evils.
The third issue that Birmingham taught me was how policy can let things happen, but that people have to make things change. The other thing that I learned was how much easier it is to get change when money is involved.
Margaret Rossiter reinforced that for me in her work when she talked about what was done by the women who contributed to the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Medical School. By conditional philanthropy, Johns Hopkins -- the number one medical program in the country -- always admitted women to the medical programs, and it did not hurt them.
But, in fact, strings were attached. The golden rule was exercised. Those who have the gold, make the rules.
So this notion of incentives, and sanctions, and rewards, and punishments, and carrots, and sticks, and all of these kinds of things, I learned very early. I learned another thing very early, too, that I think is always important for us to remember: We have to be satisfied with changing behavior first and letting hearts and minds follow. People are always talking about how their heart is not in it. Forget their heart. Change their behavior.
But let's talk about policy. This is going to be Policy 101 because, quite frankly, I think that some of us have a mistaken view of what it is.
Let us get the first definition. This is a dictionary, and some of you may actually be kind of surprised by this definition -- I was. The first meaning of policy is prudence or wisdom in the management of affairs. Isn't that amazing. Yes.
The second definition gets a little bit more down to the kind of nitty gritty of it, basically where there is material interest that is involved. It is only the third definition that gave us this thing that we tend to think of as being policy, a definite course or method of action.
Action is the first idea. Selected from among alternatives, that means you can do a lot of different things -- it is the thing that you choose to do that is the issue and, in light of giving conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions.
And this is a critical point. What we do now will have consequences in the future. They may not be the consequences that we want. So we always must be prepared to modify and tweak our policies. The very fact of having them in place changes the conditions in which they are operating.
I will give you an example of where this has had negative, unintended consequences, namely, Title I. A lot of us will argue that in the Great Society days when Title I was put in place, it was put in place for really terrific and wonderful reasons. Those reasons were to make up for some differences that were being made on kids based on the amount of resources that were going toward their education. Over the years it was used to try to give those kids a leg up. What ended up happening is that it was used only in those remedial kinds of ways. You can never catch up by only having things remediated.
You will never catch up because the rest of the world doesn't stop. It requires a major modification in the way that we think about Title I, so that we can remove the unintended results of truncating the educational experiences in favor of what we now understand as being better practice. That is an example of where we're always having to tweak the policy environment.
We must remember that policy actually involves a number of different kinds of pieces. It is, first of all, figuring out what we want, what is most desirable, what we want out of the system. And then, there is the issue of establishing the rules so that we can achieve what is desirable and minimize what is not. But one of the things that we must remember is that it is an imperfect process. Not all policy is good for all time. So there is this question about constant adjustment. As the environment changes, the context of the policy has to change. So we have to reexamine.
I wanted to distinguish policy from practice. Or maybe I should have called it implementation. That is, how the game is played, once the rules have been established. There are lots of parts about practice that, in fact, are very important.
First of all, do all the players understand the rules, and what the rules really mean? Are the referees doing their job? Are they playing favorites, or are they really being impartial judges as to whether or not the rules are being followed?
Policy is not just something that is done in DC, or in Albany, or in Harrisburg, or Trenton, or Sacramento, or Annapolis, or wherever. It is also how every institution that is a part of the system sets its rules.
If your university has students wait until their junior year to declare a major; if it has no mechanism set in the departments for bonding students to the field, identifying the students, bringing them to science, keeping up with them; having a way for them to explore career options; if there is no opportunity for undergraduate research because they do not show up until they are juniors, not declared, for meeting and interacting with role models, then you are part of the problem. The research says that we have to be attentive to what happens to women and to minority students when they hit the door.
We have found, when Marsha Matyas and I actually did some work looking at these kinds of issues, we found that most institutions did not even have any coherent sense about what retention rates were. They for sure did not know theirs -- and do not ask for any level of disaggregation.
We can find retention rates and graduation rates for basketball players because it is now required by NCAA rules that they tell us. But we do not necessarily know if students come to us as a major, whether they finish in science or what happens to them. You have to look inside your own institution and find out if anybody is keeping score. That is a part of policy.
One of the other issues that France Córdova brought up was this notion about the difference between strategies and tactics. Strategies are kind of longer term things. Tactics are what you can refer to as hand-to-hand combat. Essentially, I want to give you a couple of tactics to use in the next meeting that you're in when somebody says something that's a little bit off-the-wall. Ask them for their data. They almost never have it. Or for the citation of the research paper that has caused them to say whatever it is that they said.
It is those kinds of issues where people are basically allowed to get away with statements that are just full of it, that I think that we have to basically challenge people. We have to stop being polite. We have to challenge people when they say something that is not really supported by the evidence.
One of the important issues is this last piece down here, that is, indicators. How do we know what has happened? Okay, we have the policy, we had practice or implementation. Now, how do we figure out what happened as a result of this? The only way we can do this is to have some kind of indicator in place that can help us figure this out. That's the only way.
We have to look and see if any change happened and then be ready to make the change in the policy if it is, in fact, not giving us what we need. Document the problem -- it's absolutely essential that we do this. If anyone starts to tell you that they don't think we need to collect these data anymore, I want you to become very attentive.
We have to have data disaggregated in ways that allow us to understand what is happening within the system. I want to talk about one example of this where it is absolutely crucial -- you see, this is what happens when you don't count. That's a play on words. It's absolutely a critical issue internationally.
In a lot of cases people just didn't keep the data that would allow us to understand whether women were going into scientific careers in other countries. Based on the experience that we have had before Beijing, in Beijing, and after Beijing, a lot of us are coming to understand the absolutely critical role that science and technology play in development.
There are millions -- no, there are billions of women who are out there whom aid money never really reaches, because they're not sitting at the policy tables. You only get to the policy tables if you are elected or if you have "expertise" and credentials, whatever that means.
We have to be concerned about the women who are in science and technology in those other countries. We have to be concerned about the way that aid monies are used in those other countries, whether they are basically used to put in technology that really doesn't fit into the context of those countries, and who is being served and what are the results and the effects on women. We've got to do this. And that's just one example of where data really make a difference.
A lot of us have fought this battle of strategies for many, many years. One of the battles that we have fought is this notion of targeting versus mainstreaming, and I think the biggest battle that we have fought is the versus. These things have been held up as being basically separate kinds of alternatives, or separate options for us in the policy arena. That somehow the issues of women get focused on, or somehow that they get mainstreamed, as though they're basically choices that have to be made. We must have both.
We are not to the point in time where we can do away with targeted programming. We will need targeted programming for some time to come. We need to fold the lessons of targeted programming, though, into structural reform. That is the challenge that is before us. We have to figure out what has worked for groups that are underrepresented and figure out how to build that into the transformation that is now occurring within systems. The systems are transforming because they have to. We're going to have less money than ever before, and more work that we have to do with that less money. You cannot do that unless you reengineer the system.
The issue is that, rather than all of us working all the time on our targeted efforts, some of us are going to have to transfer some of our energies in time, to taking those lessons and putting them into structural reform. The "systemicness" needs to include inclusion.
What we have right now is very small money in targeted efforts, trying to overcome the inertia of a massive system that is trying to maintain the status quo. That's what we have. So we must affect that massive system.
That means that every rule that people have exercised within that system must be on the table for reexamination: peer review, the criteria for awarding grants, the way money is used, what we ask PIs to do. We ought to be able to ask them and expect that they can walk and chew gum at the same time.
In our broad policy document within the National Science Foundation, NSF and a Changing World, the integration of research and education is held up as a goal. In order to make that goal a reality, every person has to do his or her part. One PI at a time, one grant at a time, one center at a time. Every person must do his or her part.
As we are developing this reengineered system, quality, equity, access, and inclusion must all be design specifications, at the same time. We've got to figure out how to make all of these things happen, not one or the other. All of them.
I wrote a chapter on policy in Investing in Human Potential. The chapter was called "More Than Market Forces." We have a lot of faith in market forces, and my contention in that chapter was that it will take more than market forces to make these kinds of changes. If we are going to strive for structural change, which is what is the topmost part of this triangle, we have all of these other things that are currently in vogue: isolated projects.
I have gone onto university campuses and met people who were involved in projects and they didn't even know about each other. They all had programs to try to bring people to science or to engineering, and they were not even aware of each other. This is a lot of what is going on.
Until hard dollars get spent to bring all people to the enterprise equally, it is not real. The rest of this stuff can go away. Soft dollars can go away. The volunteers can leave or get tired, or get sick, and try to do too much, and I think that is the thing that we have to try to ask. How are people admitted? How are they counseled? How are the dollars spent? Who's doing what?
It is great to have goals, and we need to express them, but at some point we have to get down to the nitty-gritty of what actions can move us toward those goals. And that's really where we are right now. They have to be do-able. They have to be things that can lead to change.
Change is not going to be easy for any of us. A lot of you have heard me say this little expression: Nobody likes change but a wet baby. It's not in our nature to like it, but if there is a silver lining to the cloud of the budget reductions, the silver lining is that it will force us to look at our systems again. The opportunity for change is therefore greater than ever before. Life is handing us lemons. It is up to us to make the lemonade.
Formerly Deputy Director of
Anne C. Petersen
Vice President for Programs,
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
the National Science Foundation
Formerly Deputy Director of
Good morning. I can't tell you how exciting I find it to join Linda (Wilson) and all of you as we launch into the first full day of this pathbreaking conference.
As you know from your agenda, this promises to be a very full day. But our agenda is only as ambitious as the goals we have set for ourselves. This is a watershed event, looking backward and forward, and its potential impact extends beyond each of us and the institutions we represent.
My remarks this morning are entitled, "Women and Science: Promoting Leadership for National Progress." In particular, I want to talk about the need for greater leadership from all of us in advancing science in our society. As we celebrate our past achievements and begin to chart our future challenges, our potential role as leaders should be front and center in our thoughts. In particular, we need each of you to advise us at NSF about how we can best address issues of women and science for the future.
Leadership is complicated. We often make the mistake of assuming that leading is simply a matter of being first or occupying the top spot. It's really much more than that. There's an old saying that leadership is the only ship that doesn't pull into a safe port in a storm.
In this same way, our role as leaders involves more than just sitting in the same chairs and occupying the same offices as those who came before us. We should strive to provide a new vision and direction for science in America. I believe each of us can help to craft a vital and vibrant, dynamic and diverse, scientific enterprise for the twenty-first century.
This is a challenge that several organizations like the Association for Women in Science have been addressing for over 20 years, and we have made progress on many fronts. For example, if you were to review the telephone directory for the Clinton/Gore Administration, you'd see that women hold some 40 percent of the presidential appointments, a percentage that also holds for the key science and technology posts.
It's been a very pleasant surprise for me to hardly ever be the only woman in the room at policy meetings. I'm almost always able to see people like France Cordova, Laura Tyson, Alice Rivlin, Sheila Widnall, Mary Good, Martha Krebs, Anita Jones, Arati Prabhakar, Jane Wales, and until a few months ago, MRC Greenwood, among others.
When we look outside government, there are also many signs of progress. We'll hear about industry at lunch today from Lilian Wu of IBM. At private foundations and societies like the Carnegie Institution and the AAAS, we see more and more names like Maxine Singer and Rita Colwell topping the masthead.
It's interesting to note -- but perhaps not surprising -- that leadership in academe has been slower to change. The Linda Wilsons of the world remain the exception and not the rule. In fact, aside from Judith Rodin at Penn, the presidencies of the top 20 research universities remain an all male enclave. To repeat, that's 1 in 20 or 5 percent. Percentages that low don't cut it even when you grade on the curve. And it's hard to explain that percentage as sampling error.
This makes clear what achievements we should celebrate and what challenges we must still chart. We want this conference to help us work toward that long-sought critical mass for women in science. Also, ask how our leadership can enhance the contribution of science and engineering to our society. What can we do to make a difference?
This challenge has taken on an increased sense of urgency in recent weeks and months. I know that many of you have been following the political machinations on the budget and what the future holds for research and development in the latest federal budget scenario.
The appropriation for the National Science Foundation has not been resolved as yet. Although the House has approved the conference committee's agreement on our bill and the Senate is expected to do the same, there is strong likelihood that the President will veto it -- not due to any disagreement about NSF but because of other issues.
Of more long-term concern is the bleak outlook for federal R&D funding in the current balanced budget projections. In addition to the grave damage this can cause to the nation's economic and social progress, we cannot ignore the reality that opportunities for women in science will be cut short if science and technology are cut short. It is therefore our responsibility to speak out for R&D generally and to provide greater leadership for science and technology in our society.
In the historical record, we find many discussions of the roles and responsibilities of men and women, for example in the writings of Socrates in the fourth century B.C. In the early 1900s, many centuries after Socrates, Susan B. Anthony, the American suffragist, stated the case quite wryly. She said, "The only question left to be settled now is, are women persons?"
The constant irony has been that women have possessed the fundamental qualities of leadership, but their traditional place in society has typically denied them opportunities to exercise that role beyond the home. Many women of my generation did not have mothers who worked outside the home. Breaking away from that traditional role-model with a sense of exhilaration and authority, rather than a sense of guilt, was not always easy.
I grew up in a small town in Minnesota. I was very interested in mathematics and at some point got the message that this was not something that should interest a girl. I really had to fight for my place, and I will never forget the many experiences of exclusion. In many respects, I am leading the life my mother would have wanted to lead.
It saddens me that she could not use her talents in the same way. It makes me all the more conscious of the terrible "national loss" we have experienced, and continue to experience, when women are not able to become leaders in fields in which they can excel. American science continues to suffer from such a deficit, and this has negative implications for our long-term economic prosperity.
Evelyn Fox Keller, physicist and noted historian of science, has focused on questions of masculinity in the language and values of science.
In documenting the powerful male view she says, "We see it at the very beginning of modern science with the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. The Royal Society of London, one of the first modern scientific societies, was founded in order to 'raise a masculine philosophy.' In the most general sense, science meant 'thinking like a man.'" Incidentally, the Royal Society was established in 1662 and did not admit a woman until 1945. Thus, attitudes about science as masculine seem to accompany behaviors that excluded women.
Those definitions do not belong solely to past centuries. In 1966, the year I received my baccalaureate degree in mathematics, the stereotypes were alive and well, as evidenced by a compilation of essays on science and national goals from the National Academy of Sciences. One essay was able to state unabashedly, "The level of federal support should always be adequate to provide research opportunities for all those men who give promise of true originality."
In a sense, this statement exemplifies what we each have had to overcome. The road ahead may not be much easier, but the prospects for success and the opportunity for leadership are, I hope, greater now.
Let us be clear. As we work to advance women's leadership in science, we must also remain focused on the larger goal of advancing women in leadership roles across the broad spectrum of the society. Leadership in science will be but one component of that broader agenda.
Consider, for example, one area where our contributions can extend well beyond the laboratory. A recent study completed by the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University sheds light on an issue that directly affects our industrial prowess as a nation.
The Cornell survey found that fewer than one-half of the managers in 1000 companies were viewed as technologically literate by their colleagues. It's hard to believe in this day and age that a corporate manager could get away without knowing the difference between quantum mechanics and auto mechanics, or between a potato chip and a computer chip. Then again, that might explain our R&D cuts in the federal budget.
This fact provides just one more reminder that we cannot let history repeat itself and allow anyone to define too narrow a role for women in our society. By 2010, an NSF study estimates that 25 percent of all jobs will require technological expertise. We need to ensure that women have the opportunities to attain such expertise, whether their careers take them to science, to corporate America, or to government.
I am proud to say that the National Science Foundation has taken serious steps to advance diversity and inclusiveness.
For many years, NSF has been aggressively engaged in remedying the underrepresentation of women and minorities and persons with disabilities in science and engineering professions. We are required by law to do so. We have no intention of wavering from that goal. But we are nevertheless taking a new look at our efforts in keeping with the recent Supreme Court decision that, as the President said in June, "raised the hurdle" for federal affirmative action programs.
It's best to describe the potential changes in our programs as a change in emphasis, rather than a sea change. We have stepped up our assessments of the effectiveness of targeted programs at reaching their goals. We are also assigning higher priority to developing nonexclusive alternatives for our targeted programs and will implement any appropriate alternatives.
An NSF task force is currently examining these issues on a program-by-program basis, and we should be able to provide more specific information in coming months about how all of this affects specific programs, like the Visiting Professorships for Women and the Program for Women and Girls.
Despite all of this legal and policy uncertainty, there can be little doubt about the impact of specific projects NSF has supported. If you wander through the showcase hall, you can see a number of the success stories that have emerged from various NSF programs. For example, our support helped to start the project known as WISE, for Women in Science Excel, at SUNY-Stony Brook.
This project focuses on six crucial years in the educational pipeline -- 9th grade through sophomore year in college. From a large body of research, we know that these are the years when a disproportionate number of well-qualified girls and women change their minds and give up on potential careers in science and engineering.
We now know that grades and ability are rarely the cause of their decisions to leave science. In fact, one recent study found that across the country, women undergraduates outperform men in mathematics courses. Role models, mentoring, and attitudes are key factors influencing dropout from science and math. WISE is one of many projects that is seeking to make a difference in these factors.
Your tax dollars are also at work through the project known as Bridging the Gap, led by Marilynn Sikes and Discovery Place of Charlotte, North Carolina. This project helps us get an early start because its goal is to make science, engineering, and mathematics a part of Girl Scout activities. It's an ambitious program with the potential to reach the nation's 2.6 million Girl Scouts. While this project may never achieve the fame of cookie sales, it will undoubtedly contribute more to science and less to our waistlines and cholesterol levels.
All of the projects on display bode well for the future of women in science and for the nation's future. Indeed, the increasing infusion of women in the sciences and engineering may well change the nature of our national science agenda. For example, the greater numbers of women in the life sciences, now about 40 percent of the total life sciences workforce, will surely increase our knowledge about women's health and perhaps preventive approaches. We cannot predict what new discoveries will emerge, only that we will surely benefit from the pursuit of new questions.
Returning to Evelyn Fox Keller, she wisely instructs: "Science gives us a description of nature. Science gives us scientific theories of nature. [But]There is no magic lens that will enable us to see nature uncolored by the values, hopes, fears, anxieties, desires, goals that we bring to it."
This is important guidance as we move more aggressively to diversify the science and engineering workforce not just by gender but by ethnicity. As this workforce changes, there are likely to be observable differences in the direction within disciplines as well as in the development of the larger body of knowledge.
Not long ago, I heard somebody ask, "What good is diversity?" In biology, if we don't have diversity within a species, we begin to see that species die out. The same may be said of science: Extreme orthodoxy of theory and perspective stifles debate and experimentation. We need the richness of many ideas from many different perspectives. Unquestionably, that's one of the important contributions increasing numbers of women can make to science.
The challenges that lie ahead for women's leadership in general, and in science in particular, are formidable. I am sure most of you have gone hiking and mountain climbing on occasion and are familiar with the phenomenon known as the false summit. You are hiking up a hill, and you think you are approaching the summit. You're hungry and thirsty, and the kids are ready to break out the chocolate bars.
Then you reach what you thought was the top, only to find that it was just a false summit, with the true summit still a few hundred feet above you. That's when the kids let you know that they have had more than enough and begin to accuse their parents of playing a cruel joke on them.
When we look at the statistics about women in science and engineering, it's easy to be misled by a few false summits. Women have made progress in virtually every area of science and engineering. Recent data show that women have made major gains in employment in many of the sciences: They now account for 40 percent of the biologists and 30 percent of the chemists. But perhaps you can help us understand the increase of women in computer science to 30 percent and then the sharp fall off more recently. Was it a false summit?
Like the false summit, this progress often reveals an even greater set of challenges. For example, women now earn nearly one-half (44 percent) of the bachelor's degrees in science and engineering. Unfortunately, there is a steep drop off at the Ph.D. level, as women earn fewer than one-third of the doctorates. This looks like a classic case of stopping -- or being stopped -- short of one's goal and never getting to enjoy the view from the summit.
Other trends reinforce this phenomenon. NSF's surveys show that women scientists and engineers holding the Ph.D. are less well off than men with respect to unemployment or underemployment, salary, academic rank, and tenure, even after accounting for differences in years of experience.
There remain other areas where even the false summit lies far off in the distance.
Dr. Mary Good, Under Secretary for Technology at the Department of Commerce, has made a special plea for more women engineers and technologists. She notes that there are many more women in science than in the technological fields. The numbers for women in engineering sometimes seem stuck in time -- women earn only 15 percent of all baccalaureates and only 9 percent of the doctorates. Percentages that low make you think we were talking about the 1950s, not the 1990s.
None of these trends bodes well for leadership. Furthermore, these statistics also tell only one small part of the story. A 1991 study by Judy Dubas and Julie Graber found that despite education attainments, women aspire to lower status jobs. Our society is also only beginning to appreciate the true complexity surrounding issues of family and child rearing. In a report I co-authored with Phame Camarena and Mark Stemmler, we found that young women still expect to play a larger role in family responsibilities than do young men.
If we went around the room today, we'd undoubtedly find a few hundred stories that each shed new light on this issue. I recall a friend telling me that we kid ourselves into believing that child care duties can be split 50/50. They really require 110 percent from each parent.
My husband and I were determined to do it all and not slow down after our daughter was born. We went so far as to develop an elaborate changing of the guards system of child care. Every day, we would meet at the train station -- the "IC" as its known on Chicago's South Side. One of us would carry Christy in a tummy pack, and we would hand off the pack as we passed each other at the turnstiles. I'm sure we were quite a sight.
As unique as our system was, I've realized that being a woman scientist is no different from being a women in any professional field. When I compare notes with friends who are in law or business, the issues are the same; they just use different terms. Instead of worrying about how having a family will affect their chances at getting tenure, they worry about how it will affect making partner. We worry about publish or perish; they worry about billable hours. We need to get our proposal in; they need to meet their sales quotas or their court deadlines.
In the end, the solution to our leadership lies within ourselves for ourselves. We who have climbed the steep slopes by clawing and hanging-on, should not demand this as initiation for those that follow. Rather, we need to provide a web of support, encouragement, and example. We must nurture, guide, and teach. We must reach down to girls and young women and show them a path paved with encouragement. And this effort will only be enhanced by the participation of our male colleagues.
This conference is working on several creative ways to do this. We must also take steps as simple as submitting names to nominating committees and search committees for top honors and positions. Other steps might be more complicated, as we explore new ways to organize ourselves and expand our influence and contributions. It is extremely important that each of us sees this as a personal and professional responsibility.
We should also think big. For example, we know that the life sciences are growing rapidly and that women comprise a large and growing share of researchers in the field. Thus, it is not unrealistic to suggest the possibility of major female leadership in the next decade in the fastest growing science discipline. What we know about goals and dreams is that if you set your sights high, you tend to reach high.
The writer and social commentator, John Gardner, tells us of the importance of leadership and leaders. He says, "Leaders have a significant role in creating the state of mind that is society." There is much that women can teach science, the nation, and our culture. It has to do first with thinking of ourselves as leaders, and that will take us where we want to go.
We at NSF thank you leaders for being here to work on this important agenda.
The talk last night and this morning about the importance of cheers to bonding and inspiration in the military have led me to conclude, not with a joke but with a cheer. Like many girls and women with frustrated athletic aspirations, I was a cheerleader in high school and college. I will end with an adapted University of Chicago cheer. I'll bet most of you didn't even know Chicago had teams, much less cheerleaders! It goes:
Thucydides, Demosthenes, Peloponnesian Wars
X2, Y2, H2 SO4
Who for, What for, What are we for?
Women in Science!
Associate Vice President for Research,
We've heard that institutions haven't really responded to the fact that there are many talented women, only a small fraction of whom are here tonight, from which to draw into these positions.
I think one of the things I would like to tell you tonight, because we are a privileged group -- no matter what our background, or where we came from -- the fact that we are in this room tonight makes us very privileged. And I think we mustn't forget that. The other thing we mustn't forget is that power is not given. It must be taken. Women are at a substantial advantage. After all, we're not X-chromosome-deprived.
The other thing that I think we have to keep in mind is that life is not fair. You will not necessarily get what you deserve unless you're quite aggressive about demanding it, and that can be done with grace and skill, and in fact must be, since if it is done clumsily it is likely to backfire, and then you'll just be one of those troublemakers.
And so tonight as we sit here, we all have to decide in which direction we will go. The very sad fact is that very few women are moving up into the hierarchies of academics, or of business, or of law, or of just about anything else that you can think of.
We're particularly concerned tonight with science and the doing of science, and I would like to say that those of you who are here have a responsibility. And it's not easy. It never has been easy. It's not easy for the men. It won't be easy.
You will have to make choices. You will have to make decisions. You will make sacrifices. And it will be worth it, because then you will be in a position not only to control your own life but also to help control and to advocate for those who come behind. We will hope that the next generation will be easier. My generation's experience has been made easier because of the women who have come before us.
Yesterday there was a small reception given at Harvard Medical School for three of us who are leaving -- by happenstance all at the same time. I'm going to Northwestern to assume the position you just heard about (Associate Vice-President for Research Administration). Priscilla Shaeffer is going to assume a chairmanship at Pennsylvania, and Jean Patterson is going to assume a chairmanship in San Antonio. So we figure we're doing double-digit subtraction of the women faculty at Harvard Medical School.
And some of the women there said, you know, it's kind of too bad. And we said, well, you know, it just so happened that we all happened to leave at the same time. There was no plot. And they should think about where they will go, too.
Priscilla was telling us about the first time that she went to a faculty meeting at Harvard, and one of the professors there asked her if she was the dean's secretary. That doesn't happen anymore. You will get funny looks, but you don't get the question. That's progress. And that's how we measure progress.
As we stand here today in this room, this room would not have been possible 15, 20 years ago. It would have been difficult to amass an interest and a group of such power as we have here tonight.
So, yes, there's an awful lot to do, and there are a lot of positions that we need to fill. It is a challenge, and it will not be easy. But we can do it. We have the talent, we have the creativity, we have the diversity, we have a multitude of approaches that are very much needed, particularly in this time when resources are so constricted that the traditional ways of doing science will not work. If we continue to do things in the same way that we have, it's going to be very bad.
On the other hand, we must also realize that resources are not going to grow suddenly. They simply will not. Resources will continue to be constricted. And so we have to be very creative in ways in which we will be able to say to students, yes, you must learn science. This is a wonderful thing for you to learn about. At the same time, make them realize that even with all of the talk of, "there are no jobs for scientists," "we are producing too many scientists," we have a scientifically illiterate society. This is not acceptable. We may, in fact, be educating too many bench scientists, but that is a remarkably limited view of the role of science in this society. We could use a few more scientists in this Congress and the Senate.
A talented student came to my office the other day. She came in, closed the door, looked at me very seriously, and said, "Was it worth it?" And I said, "Was what worth it?" She said, "You know, this. What you're doing." And I said, "I can't imagine doing anything else. You know, what am I going to do, stay home, and do whatever? That's a perfectly wonderful thing to do, and I admire people who make that choice. But the choice needs to be made consciously. It's not a matter of, 'you will be able to do everything you want to, all of the time.' It's a matter of setting your own priorities and deciding what costs you will pay to reach them."
I think what I'm going to do is stop a little early with the thought that we should rejoice in this challenge before us. We have made progress. We will continue to make progress. There will be times when it will be very discouraging, probably tomorrow after we hear more of the budget talks. But we must remember that there is a group of people who care about the scientific enterprise. It is critically important to the health of this nation.
There is not a child in the world, I don't think, who doesn't begin as a scientist. I sometimes think that is our purpose in life. We were meant to be scientists, and somehow we have managed to turn that off in most children. That is not necessary. We need to change that. Reach as high as you can. Reach out and embrace, as Lena Horne would say, life. Hard life. Unfair life. Because...that's the way it is.
Luther S. Williams
Assistant Director for Education
and Human Resources,
National Science Foundation
The ultimate objective will be realized when our society is able to draw talent freely to address the challenges that confront it. To make these gains, the fundamental climate of science and engineering has to be made more accommodating and more engaging. Throughout the program, everyone has worked in small groups; has made contributions by taking stock of the status of past efforts, the challenges; how far we have come; what needs to be done in terms of affording quality participation, formally, at all levels of this science learning continuum.
As was pointed out, knowing the baseline is important. So understanding the data, having it available, acting on it, putting it into the context of the larger demographics that informs the disciplines, is very important to define opportunities and shorten the course for the future.
At some level, there is the opportunity for more discussion -- at least to consider the broad outlines of a plan for action. But I suggest, as several people have, that those considerations be very much informed by the Policy 101 lesson that we had this morning, provided by Dr. Shirley Malcom, with respect to do-able activities. Not to suggest that the large impediments do not exist. It simply seems to me, to be an opportunity to make a fundamental structural change.
Nonetheless, in all of the efforts, there would not be the opportunity instantaneously to revise the status quo. That is a self-evident observation, so it should not require additional periods of lament. Yet, we would rather suggest that, as everyone leaves and returns to their colleges and universities, they really focus locally on what can be done. Recalling, of course, that no agency, or sector of society, can change these conditions, at least acting alone.
The impediments and the barriers are simply too great. So there is much to recommend collaboration as we attempt to make progress against these great challenging efforts.
We, as an agency, obviously can continue to make a contribution. Soliciting everyone's ideas to our planning is crucial. We can, in particular, continue to undertake activities; test models; and share attempts to reach all segments about science learning to the extent to which ingenuity, program planning, and our resources will permit.
We have, with everyone's participation -- meaning that you are the performers doing exceptionally good work -- exhibited in excess of 100 such projects or samples of a large investment at this conference. The point of this sample of work is that we used it as a base to engage in discussions about the future.
As to the conference outcomes, I know I speak for Director Lane, Deputy Director Petersen, and all of my fellow Assistant Directors, in ensuring that everyone on our staff will take the advice given here; but, more substantially, in written form that reflects what everyone shared with us as we deliberate on NSF's future role in this regard.
We are, as you have heard on several occasions, examining most of our programs and structures in the current fiscal environment, ensuring that they are characterized by higher outcomes in the context of engaging all participants.
So, again, on behalf of the NSF family, thank you for coming to this meeting -- for everyone's engaging participation, raising expectations, and I hope everyone will return with a sense of having profited from this activity and we look forward to everyone's subsequent reports.
Linda S. Wilson
Last night's celebration of the achievement of women in science was engaging and inspiring, laced with poignant touches of realism. Clearly progress toward the goal of tapping women's talents in science, mathematics, and engineering has been made, but just as clearly there is a long way to go, and the obstacles to swift passage are several and complex. I believe this conference can be the impetus for an important breakthrough. Assembled here is a critical mass of talent and experience. The agenda is well-focused. This meeting presents an extraordinary opportunity to share knowledge and experience and to consolidate them into more coherent understanding, commitment, and action.
What is perhaps even more significant is the potential for postconference interaction to build on what we accomplish here in these 2 days. Now, with the flick of a switch and the typing of a brief address, we can easily remain electronically connected with each other. We now have the means to counteract the isolation that has long been a prominent feature of women's experience in science.
I want to focus my remarks on charting the challenge. I want to direct attention to the large view and the longer term. Let me address three questions:
Human resources are the most valuable asset America has and the most complex asset to steward. The individual freedom cherished in our democracy increases the value of this asset and at the same time makes its stewardship complex.
For a nation whose welfare is intimately linked with sustained leadership in science, math, and engineering, the stewardship of this asset is critically important.
For society in general to function effectively, talent, skill, and understanding in science, math, and engineering will be needed more in the future than in the past and will be needed over a wider spectrum of occupations and jobs for society. Our whole citizenry must gain scientific and technological literacy. In a democracy, failure to do so presents grave danger.
Furthermore, the scientific enterprise cannot thrive in the future unless it is open to all segments of the population. The native intellectual capacity for significant and sustained contributions in science, math, and engineering is present in all groups in the population -- male and female, white, Native American, African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and across all socioeconomic groups. Diversifying the pool of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers is necessary to ensure excellence in these fields. Drawing only or primarily on a narrow segment of the population will inevitably diminish the capacity for excellence.
The national strategic goals over the long term will not be met unless we succeed in recognizing and understanding the diversity in our human resources and unless we succeed in bringing the diverse members of our population into full partnership in science, mathematics, and engineering.
Wise investment in human potential is imperative. It is not just an option. As a nation we have been squandering talent partly through ignorance of its existence, but partly through reluctance to share power and responsibility. affirmative action is a necessary step and a fair step if implemented wisely.
Let me turn to the second question.
After years of addressing the question for the scientific enterprise, should we expect business as usual or is this the beginning of a new era? We can now see that the answer is the latter. We can expect and will certainly need changes in institutions and organizations. There is a growing understanding that given the changes that have already occurred in the composition of the workforce and in the lives of most Americans, the structure of education and work and the design of our educational institutions and workplaces have significant dysfunctional features.
Most of our organizational structures, practices, and expectations were designed in a bygone era for a much more homogeneous population of workers. It was also in an atmosphere of expansion, when single-wage-earner families were a viable option for the middle class. It was an era before urban sprawl added hours of commuting to the workday, when extended families were geographically close, and when neighborhoods and communities were more close-knit. The very fabric of our society has changed, affecting every worker, man and woman, minority or majority.
We need a new economic equation that accommodates the interconnections between the economy, work, family, and community. We will be reframing workplace questions, asking, "How can work be organized to support family and community health, and at the same time allow us to compete effectively in the global economy and sustain a healthy environment for our planet."
Women, who bring half the talent and represent half the public, will need to help shape these changes. They need to help the nation interpret and accommodate these changes.
Another dominant factor in shaping our goals and expectations is the resource environment. Intergenerational equity is a very important resource issue, heretofore inadequately addressed. Reconciling our aspirations and our resources brings new challenges that will make us change our ways. Opportunity lies in these challenges. This is a time for development of new paradigms, for reexamining assumptions, for reviewing values, and for redistributing roles and responsibilities.
This is therefore a time when newcomers -- women and minorities -- should play an important role in setting priorities and shaping institutional renewal. Managing our diversity is both a new challenge and a great opportunity.
As we examine progress and near-term challenges for women in science, I urge that we be sure to broaden our view of the roles needed in the scientific enterprise to include all the components: discovery of knowledge, synthesis of knowledge, interpretation, application, science education and public understanding of science. We now seem to have supply and demand imbalances for scientific personnel, but that is partly so because we have had too narrow a view of the roles to be played by those trained in science. We need a more robust design.
What else should shape our goals and expectations? The dramatic opportunities (and dilemmas) presented by advances in information technology must figure in our planning. The extraordinary potential of easily accessible information is empowering. It will eventually change in fundamental ways both our education and our lives. It is a genie that has been let out of the bottle -- with enormous potential. But like many other advances, technological progress has far outpaced social, ethical, and political progress. In this case there is also a major financial resource question. The technologies extend what we can do, but thus far have not contributed the economies we had hoped for. And the cost of new technologies and the personnel to make them useful is large and recurring.
Let me turn to the third question.
Women's advancement in science (and in any other field requiring long and intensive training and that makes heavy time claims in its pursuit) will be stunted unless we can provide more creative solutions to their combined roles in the family and workplace.
Redistribution of roles between men and women, as well as affordable and adequate dependent care are important elements. But a robust framework will have to include affordable learning over the life cycle to stay current and to regain currency.
My view of the future then is optimistic because I see the opportunities to restructure and reshape our expectations. I am utterly convinced that a key to advancing our society lies in advancing women. But I am also convinced that the path must involve concerted, sustained attention to the development of partnerships and deeper communication between men and women across disciplines and institutions among the sectors of our society. We need to bridge the gaps among scholars and educators, policymakers, the media, the business community, grassroots organizations, and the public at large.
We need to become a nation of learners and a learning nation. This goal shapes my dreams and aspirations -- as a woman in science, as an institutional leader, and as a citizen.
Let me close with a reference to something a colleague from the University of Michigan taught me. I refer to Carol Hollenshead -- known to many who are active in developing women's opportunities in science. Carol and I worked together; I was Vice President for Research, she was my "right hand." I had high aspirations and drive. We had strong talent to help us pursue these goals.
What Carol introduced was the recognition of the importance of taking time for feelings of accomplishment -- we called them FOAs. Large goals are motivating, but they are achieved in steps. As you work today, tomorrow, and in the future, keep your eyes on the horizon as well as on the immediate tasks, and take time often for FOAs.
Congratulations to all of you. I applaud the progress you have made. I feel buoyed up and confident about our future even as I recognize the challenges.
Research Staff Member,
IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center
Achievements and Challenges
My talk today will be on the careers of eight women in industry. The goal of my talk will be to show you the enormous diversity of possible career paths in industry that women with science backgrounds can have. Also, I would like to show you the wide variety of problems that each of these eight women have worked on throughout their careers.
My plan this afternoon is to start with women who work in large companies. Three of them will be from IBM, which is where I work. And then I will end up with women who have started their own companies. I will also start with careers that have the most overlap with an academic career. The first I will talk about is my own.
I received my Ph.D. in applied mathematics, and then joined IBM. At IBM, I started work on population biology and to make this work, I worked with scientists and ecologists at Yale and the Marine Biological Laboratory primarily. Our group received a large NSF grant to work on population ecology and nutrient cycling in East Africa in the Serengeti Plains. My role was to develop population models for large mammals, the most complex being elephants.
I spent several summers at the Marine Biological Lab working with colleagues. Pretty soon I realized that most of my colleagues were outside IBM. I started feeling quite isolated inside IBM, quite alone. So, I looked for some interesting problems within IBM to work on.
One of the greatest advantages of working for a large company is that large companies do a lot of different things. There are people who work on inventing new products, the manufacturing of these new products, individuals that work on how to keep employees well trained, people in human resources who work on making the workplace a better place for women and minorities. And, of course, there are also people in finance and marketing. My background being applied mathematics, with an interest in economics, I decided to look in the area of business economics.
Now, another big advantage of working in a large company is that there are well-established mechanisms for individuals who want to change direction. These changes can often be done with very little risk. So that is another thing to keep in mind.
I started to work on problems that had more direct interest to IBM. One of the areas I worked was on the behavior of our customers. It was felt at that time, perhaps since I could model elephants, I could model our customers.
There turned out to be just masses and masses of data. To gain an understanding of these data, I quickly found that I needed to be able to look at one part of the data, come up with a hypothesis, then check it out on another part of the data. I needed to be able to repeat this again and again, many times easily. At that time, the mathematical techniques for studying masses of data were purely computational, and not really suited for fishing for relationships in the data. Being a very visual person, I took a detour with several computer scientists and developed an interactive graphical data analysis system. This system was the first of its kind and is still used in IBM today.
Since then, I have been working on business forecasting and planning problems, primarily for personal computers. This is a fascinating problem and actually very difficult. Working on solutions to these problems has brought me in contact with many different kinds of individuals in IBM, including executives and people who deal with manufacturing cost, marketing, and pricing.
This is typical of the kind of solutions you have to develop in industry. There are many dimensions to consider, and it isn't just solving a technical problem.
I also work with scientists from universities. I write papers, the usual work of academics. And I have taught at business schools. More recently, I have done consulting for other companies, which is great fun.
In the last 2 years, I have also become involved in science policy in Washington. I am a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology and a member of the National Research Council's Committee on Women in Science and Education. This work has been enriching and has given me a chance to give back to my country and profession, both of which have been very good to me.
The next person I'd like to talk about is a physicist at IBM. Pat (Patricia Mooney) started her career at a 4-year college. She then visited at SUNY Albany and the University of Paris, where she learned a new area in solid state physics and started work on the defects in semiconductor devices.
This new interest naturally brought her to IBM research, where she essentially has been working in the same field of physics and has studied different materials, with the same physics that she started in Paris.
At IBM, the study of defects in semiconductor materials is very fundamental to our business because computers are made up of integrated circuits, which are made up of chips and semiconductor devices. Physicists and engineers are constantly looking for new materials to make faster devices.
In growing these new materials, defects are very common. Defects cause changes in the optical and electrical properties of materials. So identifying defects, eliminating them, and studying what effect they have on the devices is fundamental to IBM.
This kind of work is very common in our company. Pat and I both work in ways that are very similar to how research is done at a university. The main difference is that the material she chooses to study and the applied math problem I choose to work on are of direct interest to IBM. But the methods are the same.
Also, our work is very interdisciplinary. We don't just work with scientists in our own fields, but also work with engineers, scientists in other fields, and business executives. We both are very active in our professional societies as well.
The next two women have careers that have a lot in common with what is generally considered successful careers in business. The first is Caroline Kovac. She started at IBM research as a bench scientist. She applied chemistry to material science, and worked on new materials and processes for electronic devices. Her work environment was very similar to Pat's.
The way Carol sees this environment for her, besides being interdisciplinary, is that it stretched her in new areas because she was working around the edges of chemistry. IBM's problems were always pushing her.
Later, Carol wanted to get a broader view of the other work that was going on at IBM research. One of the mechanisms large companies have available for doing this is to join the staff of an executive. In these positions, people not only learn what is going on, but also expand their network. In Carol's case, she met an important mentor who got her into management.
Her next move was to manage a group in manufacturing research. This group not only worked on interesting material problems but also on several new areas for Carol, which included the logistics of where to place warehouses and distribute materials, and how to put the solutions together in a software system so these jobs can be done more effectively.
The big difference Carol sees between being a bench scientist and being a manager is that she is now a generalist rather than a technical specialist. She still thinks about what are the "right" problems to think about, but right now that has a broader meaning than when she was a scientist. It not only has to be technically feasible, it has to be financially possible, and customers have to want to buy it.
She says it is great fun to apply her good technical judgment over a wider range of problems. She is now an IBM executive responsible for producing software for manufacturing, distribution, and inventory planning.
The other company executive I want to talk about is Judith Goldberg. She started work as a statistician in one of the very first HMOs in New York City called HIP (Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York). She was a statistician on a program to study the effectiveness of mammograms on breast cancer. In this early project, mammograms were proved to be effective in prolonging life for women who had breast cancer.
She was involved in other epidemiological studies at HIP. But then she wanted to do some teaching. She left and became an assistant, and then later an associate professor of biostatistics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Besides teaching research, she also did a lot of consulting as a statistician and collaborated with others in the School of Medicine in getting grants. After 8 years, she decided she really wanted to get her hands dirty and actually do some drug development. So she left Mount Sinai, joined the medical research division of Lederle and headed a statistics design and analysis group. This group worked on all phases of drug development, from the pre-clinical design stage to analyzing the data from the clinical trials.
Later she had another important responsibility, which was to lead and provide technical and scientific leadership for the company's information system, which is the heart and soul of how Lederle actually manages its new products. Drug companies have databases to establish to the FDA and other international regulatory agencies that their new products meet regulatory requirements.
Lederle was later bought out by another company. And in fact, all the statisticians were laid off. This is probably one of the most difficult things about working for a company. Companies downsize, they refocus, they are bought out. And people lose jobs.
In this case, it was a happy story. The statisticians all found new jobs. In Judy's case, she said this was a very difficult time. She did a lot of soul-searching to decide what her next step should be. In fact, she has made a fantastic move to Bristol Myers-Squibb, where she is now the vice president of biostatistics and data management. Her experience has been that, during these difficult times, you really do regroup, refocus, and think very hard about how you really want to spend the next 5 to 10 years of your life. As you can see, Judy is very active in the professional societies as well.
The next individual I would like to talk about is Marcia Grabow. Marcia is a physicist by training. She has left the field and tried many different things in Bell Labs. She started out as a material physicist and did computer simulations of conditions for growing very flat crystals.
This problem required heavy-duty computer power, and the computers at Bell just weren't fast enough. So she took some time off and, with several computer scientists, built a computer.
At that time, their computer was faster than the Cray. After this work she wanted to take a sabbatical from science, as a bench scientist, and learn something really new. What she chose to do was to work in the licensing group and bring together scientists with patents inside AT&T with businesses outside the company.
In this job, she had to learn a great deal of finance, planning, just strategic thinking. That has gotten her so excited, she has now decided that she wants to work in a very different direction, she left Bell Labs and is planning to set up her own company.
The next person is probably not a type of scientist you would think of finding in a company. Toni Tomacci is a sociologist by training and has a degree in education. She has found a really interesting laboratory for her research and her interests, and that is the Apple Computer Company.
She is in the multicultural programs department. She has brought together her understanding of how people work and how people learn from her background in education to develop a workplace in Apple that is friendlier and more effective.
I can give you other examples in IBM where scientists with unexpected backgrounds work. We have psychologists who study how people think about programming. We have vision scientists who study how people look at the screen and how they think or how their eyes and mind interact.
The next person I would like to talk about is also not traditional. Carol Balfe started out teaching high school in inner cities, went back to graduate school and got her Ph.D. in chemistry, and then used her chemistry training at Sandia and Raychem. Her interests at age 25 and at age 40 went through changes. She has become interested again in education, and especially education for the disadvantaged. To do this work she has left Raychem and formed her own company.
She wants to leverage her experience as a scientist, educator, and member of the business community to use company contributions and volunteer efforts for math and science education reform. So this is another avenue. Women change over their lifetime, and in industry you can often mix and match, and step from one place to another.
The last person I want to talk about is an entrepreneur. Evelyn Berezin did her graduate work in nuclear physics and did work in coincidence counting of mesons. In the early 1950s in the infant stage of computing, she felt there was a similarity between her graduate work and coincidence counting in computing. So she joined one of the very first computer companies, called Electronic Computer Corporation, as a logic designer. She worked on many computer systems, some of them I'll mention -- one of the first on-line banking systems, a query system for the American Stock Exchange, a passenger reservation system, and a paramutual betting system. These systems, she assured me, worked, and people used them.
But she got a little itchy and wanted to start her own company. And she started a company. I don't know if any of you remember, in the very early days of word processing, the way we did it was by putting text on a magnetic card. She started a company that made magnetic card word processing systems, and built it up so that it was the second largest in the world, second only to IBM.
Her company both designed and manufactured machines worldwide. She finally sold the company to Burroughs and joined Burroughs for awhile but decided that wasn't for her. She thought it was just too much fun to work with high-tech, start-up companies, so she worked as a venture capitalist. This fun essentially funded over 20 start-up companies during the time that she was there.
Today, she is still having a great deal of fun. What she does is consulting, not just on technical issues, but also on financial issues, manufacturing issues, and personnel issues for high-tech companies. These range from electronics, biotech, and medical to communications. She is also a director of many small start-up companies.
She feels that her technical background has been really important to her in three different ways. The first and most important is when you are not doing the technical stuff yourself, often you are judging what other people are telling you. With a technical background, you can easily judge who is trying to con you. People without technical backgrounds have a much harder time separating good work from bad work.
The second is in business you have to make trade-offs constantly. When there is a technical aspect to a problem, there is often also a manufacturing aspect to the problem, or a cost aspect. Making those trade-offs without a technical background can be almost impossible.
The third is when you're projecting into the future an event with a technical component, a feeling of how long different things will take often is just absolutely critical. Again, without a technical sense, you can make nonsensical estimates. Those are the three ways that her technical background has been vital to her success.
"I would like to close with a few words," she said, "one of the best things about working in industry has been working together with a group of people, trying to achieve a goal. Also, there has been the thrill of beating out the other person, and seeing that your ideas actually work." She thinks of her career as a series of stepping stones, each leading to the next and each more interesting.
So, in conclusion, I hope I have shown you that there is a wide range of things you can do in industry with a science and technical background. In fact, I often hear from women that the hardest thing is figuring out what you really want to do because the choices are so many.
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