Will an Obama Administration Be Good for Women in Science?

Reality Base
By Melissa Lafsky
Jan 23, 2009 2:48 AMNov 5, 2019 1:29 AM

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The scientific community has spent plenty of time rejoicing the new pro-science era, and our spanking new president has continued to give every assurance (including a shout-out in his inauguration speech!) that he will make good on his promises to prioritize science and base policy decisions on actual scientific evidence. But could all this pro-science fervor have secondary benefits besides, oh, say, putting big dents in global warming and the looming health care crisis? The New York Timestakes on this question, asking whether the new administration will enable scientists to "tackle a chronic conundrum of their beloved enterprise: how to attract more women into the fold, and keep them once they are there." The general hypothesis behind the supposed Obama-boost for women is that the rise of science awareness and "geek chic" will be good for all scientists, and thus women will eventually get some trickle-down benefit—a somewhat weak line of reasoning, particularly when you consider how well it worked in Reaganomics. And critics of the argument point out—quite rightly—that what could really give women a boost is if a single female scientist was appointed to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. Of course, the real capacity for a pro-female boost, which the article eventually hits on, lies in the new president's ability to grant additional family leave and parental benefits to the recipients of federal grants—a group that includes a ton of research scientists, many of them women. Though whether that'll have any affect on the dearth of female physicists is anyone's guess. Related: RB: The Mommy Wars and Science Collide (Again) RB: Note to Media: They Give Nobel Prizes to Women These Days RB: Title IX Hits the Science World, But Will It Do Any Good?

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