The Huffington Post:
This post is also authored by Lori Holt.
Why would three senior professors at Carnegie Mellon University, with responsibilities for research labs, teaching, families, and grand but old houses (this is Pittsburgh), take time to write an article on the distribution of authors by gender in a major journal in their field? It’s because we are women, and we saw a pattern that has been all too familiar to us as we made our own way in science — females were not there.
We wrote a discussion piece for the highly regarded international journal Cognition because its special issue highlighting the future of our field, cognitive science, had only one woman author out of 19. Examination of other recent special issues exhibited a similar trend — the one exception being an issue on child development co-edited by a woman.
We understand probabilities, and we certainly don’t expect the distribution of authorship to be lock-stepped to the gender distribution in our field. The pattern is systematic enough, however, to belie attribution to the vagaries of chance, even taking into account the fact that men considerably out-number women in senior positions in cognitive science.
In an article to appear in the May-June issue of the APS Observer, the magazine for members of the Association for Psychological Science, Vanessa Lazar and Betty Tuller, current director of NSF’s Program in Perception, Action, and Cognition, point out another facet of the problem: Women submit far fewer research proposals to the program than men, despite achieving essentially equal outcomes. Since academic success begins with acquiring the funds needed to do research, it seems that female scientists not only aren’t invited to enter the room, they don’t bang on the door.
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