For years we’ve been seeing women rise through the training ranks of academic science, experiencing fearsome attrition, but we said that men were also being weeded out by grad school and post-doc positions and the harsh competition to land a tenure-track position. And then we noticed that a smaller proportion of women were actually getting those jobs, so we mostly shrugged our shoulders and said, well, it’s a painful grind to get there, so it must be fair (how intolerable it would be if we all suffered unnecessarily, after all), and so the ladies must simply be less capable of handling the rigors of a career in science — said rigors being the same obstacles that the Men of Science created and put in place. We talked about estrogen and “nurturers” as if those were inimical to doing science, instead of irrelevant (although I try to imagine a culture of science that were more nurturing and supportive and cooperative, and can’t help but think that that would be so much better). We try to pretend that hey, these differences in outcomes are purely biological or genetic or hormonal, and gosh, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, maybe we’ll answer the question of how it happens later, if we just throw more men at the analysis.
I think the question has been answered repeatedly. People have written at length about the answer. It seems that every month there’s another piece that summarizes the real source of the problem — the latest, and it’s a good one, is in Marie Claire magazine. The answer, as always, is the same.
Male scientists are the product of a misogynistic culture, and they like to pretend that they’re objective, self-aware participants in that culture, even when they’re oblivious, and see exploitation of women as their due. It’s droit du seigneur for the 21st century. We’re not going to fix it until more men wake up, or, since that’s unlikely, more women crack the ranks of science and slap the men awake.
Or we can just wait for the old male scientists to die off.