Women in Science: A Short Personal Note on Why Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, Is Important to Me
I don’t usually do this, but Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, has become such a big part of my life since I launched this project and she won the online poll that, well, here goes.
My wife is a female neuroscientist. Many of our closest friends are women who are also scientists. This is a subject that is deeply personal for me.
There is a gigantic gender gap in the sciences, especially at the post-doc level. To cite just a few facts:
- In the U.S. and Europe, about 50% of doctoral graduates in science and engineering are women — but only 21% of full professors in science and 5% of full professors in engineering are women.
- Female scientists on average earn 82% of what male scientists make in the U.S. — and even less in Europe.
- Studies have confirmed the existence of unconscious institutional gender bias in science: Science faculty of both genders at research universities rated the application materials of a male student more highly than a female student — when there was no difference in the content of the material except the student’s name.
Sources: (1); (2); (3).
There are very complex social and political reasons for all this but you don’t have to spend more than five minutes talking to a female scientist to understand that institutional sexism, however unconscious or unintentional, is still alive and kicking in the 21st century.
The journal Nature's special issue on the gender gap in science specifically states the lack of female role models in science as one major reason why this problem persists.
So yeah, the comic book hero Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, is a badass successful scientist and inventor who solves crimes. On the one hand, she’s just a silly comic book character who exists for light entertainment. But on the other hand, we desperately need characters like her to push forward our imaginations and our dreams for what we and our daughters can accomplish and be and achieve in the real world.
And this issue could not be more real for me.
Representation most definitely matters.
More #women in #science. We’re losing half of our potential.