A new report from the National Research Council (2009) suggests that women who apply for faculty positions in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are "hired at rates equal to or higher than those for men." At the full professor level, women are receiving 8% less pay than their male colleagues, but at lower levels (assistant and associate professors), there seems to be no pay gap. The main gender gap reported was in the applicant pools, where women were underrepresented. According to a New York Times (2009) discussion of the report's findings, the biggest factor that encouraged women to apply for faculty positions was the presence of women on hiring committees.
I know several professional academics who believe we'll never get to gender parity in the STEM fields, because of the "interest gap". Women, they theorize, are not as often interested in these topics. Now, I don't believe there's sufficient evidence for that conclusion, yet, although I'm willing to believe it's a contributing factor. It's certainly been suggested before. (see 2008-07-18 & 2008-03-07). However, with questions of "what's important" and "what's interesting" to one gender or another, I worry that saying something enough times actually does make it true. I'm not sure where the idea of "innate interest" or "innate priorities" comes from, but it's certainly persistent. These seem (to me) to be the sort of things that are definitely learned.
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