Why So Few? How to Increase the Number of Women in Science
Everyone agrees there are too few women and minorities in science. But then
opinions diverge, at least among scientists. Many believe that increasing
diversity is a matter of social engineering, done for the greater good of
society, but requiring a lowering standards and thus conflicting with
excellence. Among this group are very well-meaning people who genuinely
wish to increase the number of women colleagues. Yet they may be doing
more harm than good.
Others understand that there are deep reasons for the dearth of women,
which lead to extra obstacles to their success. Once one understands the
bias against women in male-dominated fields (which has been substantiated
in thousands of research studies, though usually in a literature that few
natural scientists read), one must conclude that diversity in fact enhances
excellence. In other words, the playing field is not level, so we have been
dipping more deeply into the pool of men than of women, and thus have been
unknowingly lowering our standards. Returning to a level playing field
(compensating for bias) will therefore raise standards and improve our field.
Diversity and excellence are aligned.