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Debate on Women in STEM

There is still bias against women in science, as a recent paper from a group at Yale University has reported, and editorials from a panel of experts at The New York Times explore what can be done to encourage women to pursue science careers. While the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Nancy Hopkins calls for what she dubs "affirmative effort" — to overcome unconscious bias against women in science — other panelists champion different approaches.

Janelle Wilson, a middle school science teacher, says that while girls are interested in science, they need better role models, especially as they begin to worry about how they appear to their peers. Similarly, Dennis Berkey, the president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, argues female students need to be in leadership roles. At his school, he writes, "enrollment, retention and graduation rates for female students are significantly above national benchmarks" and he attributes that progress to such efforts. Further, Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, president of the Siemens Foundation, says there need to be programs that educate faculty about bias against women in science, and put programs in place to counter such bias, like limiting professors' hiring authority. "On a broader cultural level, we also need to counter the myth that girls don't do science," Harper-Taylor adds.

However, Carrie Lukas from the Independent Women's Forum says there is little evidence of systematic discrimination against women in science, and she notes that more women now enroll in college than men.

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