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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Mar 22, 2011

In 1999, a report emerged showing that MIT had discriminated against female professors, and ever since then, the institution has been a "national model for addressing gender inequity," says The New York Times' Kate Zernike. Now, however, a new internal report on those efforts shows the consequences of all of MIT's progress. Some female professors worry that MIT's "aggressive" push to hire more women has created a sense that women have an "unfair advantage" at the school, Zernike says, adding "those who once bemoaned MIT's lag in recruiting women now worry about what one called 'too much effort to recruit women.'" Although women are now winning prizes and accolades for their work, some women say the assumption is that they've won because they're women, and not because they're good at what they do. "Professors say that female undergraduates ask them how to answer male classmates who tell them they got into MIT only because of affirmative action," Zernike says.

At The Intersection, Sheril Kirshenbaum says she believes the science system and culture will need to undergo "fundamental changes" in order to accommodate more women. "Further," she adds, "if we are to achieve equal status in the ivory towers, it will take both women and men to get there. So no matter how far we've come, we still have a long way to go."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.