February 25, 2005

How to attract women

In order to maintain its world-class reputation as a top scientific research institution, a place for the world's smartest people to learn, advise, teach, and research, the University needs to make sure it is attractive to scientists of both sexes.

There is no denying that women are underrepresented on the faculties of the University's science departments, a situation which parallels a disconcerting national situation. Though there are many possible explanations for this, there are ways that the University can give potential female faculty members the tools to excel.

Starting at the undergraduate and graduate level, an official mentorship between interested young women and professionals in their field could be advantageous for all involved parties. Programs of this sort have existed unofficially, but only a formal arrangement would have the true desired benefits.

At the graduate and professional levels, if the University truly wants women to succeed in science and non-science departments, it must take a much more active role in not only attracting them here, but also in making sure that they stay. While the University claims that it is doing this already, the lack of childcare and healthcare for graduate students no doubt adds to the gender gap that exists on our campus. Specifically, building a childcare center for employees will send a clear message to women who are considering coming to the University that here they can have a career and a family.