Friday, June 24, 2011

The All-Male Planetary Science Club

The top 11 institutions that have all-male planetary science tenured or tenure-track faculty, and at least four planetary science faculty, are ranked below in order of most-to-fewest faculty numbers:

1. UC Santa Cruz
2. Washington University
3. California Institute of Technology
4. Cornell University
5. University of Central Florida
6. Boston University
7. Brown University
8. Princeton University
9. Rice University
10. University of Maryland
11. University of Michigan

Is the problem with the above listed institutions their hiring practices? These statistics imply that men are hired for tenure-track and women are hired for non-tenure track planetary science positions at the above-listed institutions. If institutions have all male faculty, how likely is it that a women will be interviewed and hired? Is what women planetary science faculty have to offer considered not worthy at the above listed institutions? If so, why?

I am at the University of Central Florida (number 5 in the list) in a non-tenure track line and the only female in that planetary science group. Statistics imply that I'm not worthy of a tenure-track line at my own institution and, with their hiring practices, not likely to be worthy. Why is teaching multiple astronomy-related courses per semester, writing blogs, writing newsletters, publishing papers in peer-reviewed journals, reviewing papers in peer-reviewed journals, writing proposals, evaluating proposals, owning a technology company, ghost-writing a book, co-authoring other books, ghost-advising PhD candidates, presenting at conferences/workshops, sitting on LOC or SOC of other conferences/workshops not considered worthy??? Of course this does not even include being a single parent which is also time-taxing (but worth it). Why do non-tenure track women have to be superwomen and still not be considered worthy?

[Data for this post comes from]


Darcy said...

I'm currently a female geophysics faculty member at UCSD and received my PhD from UCSC. I've read through the pdf and find this survey badly misleading. I can't speak for the other institutions, but can share some information about UCSC, the "worst" one on the list. The faculty at UCSC who call themselves "planetary scientists", which is what this survey counts,are split between multiple departments (e.g., Earth & Planetary Sciences, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Applied Math, etc...). In each of these departments there are multiple female faculty who aren't considered "planetary scientists" at UCSC, but would be at other institutions. In fact, the UCSC astronomy department was just recognized for having more senior female faculty than any other astronomy department in the country.

It seems like the bigger, and better presented, part of the survey is the overall lack of female planetary science faculty, rather than how it breaks down by school.

lynne hillenbrand said...

Although this is late-breaking news after the close of the demographics survey in 2010, I am pleased to note that Caltech no longer belongs on this list. Planetary Science is within the Geological and Planetary Sciences Division (whereas Astronomy is within the Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy Division). They hired last year Heather Knutson, who will begin officially in July of 2011, and this year Bethany Ehlmann, who will begin in the fall of 2011.