Phi Beta Cons

Re: Tierney

I was with him, right up to this point:

Although I don’t think the data show widespread bias against women studying for Ph.D.’s and faculty jobs, there are obstacles that keep women from wanting to study science in graduate school or pursue a career in academia. Along with Lab readers like Tamara and Oliver Young (and some of the Title Niners), I suspect the chief one is the difficulty of balancing their careers with with family responsibilities, particularly childrearing. What could be done — and what has been done — to address that problem? I welcome your suggestions.

This paragraph is illogical even on its own. So long as women (disproportionately) choose freely to balance their lives more to the “family” than the “career” side, how exactly is there a “problem” about which something must be “done”?
And seen in the context of the preceding paragraph, it gets even worse:

I was also interested to see Dr. Nelson’s comparable figures for white males, because it certainly looks as if their “millennium of affirmative action” has ended. Dr. Nelson found that white male Ph.D.’s are overrepresented among assistant professors in just three disciplines: chemistry, biological sciences and psychology. They roughly break even in two other fields, political science and sociology. And they’re underrepresented in everything else — 10 of the 15 disciplines surveyed by Dr. Nelson.

“The difficulty of balancing their careers with family responsibilities” does not vary across fields of study, or at least Tierney presents no evidence that it does. Yet it’s supposed to explain women’s absence in three fields, even though they’re overrepresented in ten and evenly represented in two.

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