Mathematics and Education

A slow blog

Understanding Underrepresentation

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. . . is the title of my article in the Mathematical Intelligencer on the distribution of women in mathematics and other fields. I’ve posted the manuscript version here.

The article focuses on the statistics about the distribution of women: in the pipeline (e.g., recent PhDs), in the “trough” (e.g., all faculty), and as recipients of honors. It discusses relationships between pipeline and trough statistics, e.g., “demographic inertia,” changes in employment patterns for academic mathematics, and how distributions of women in different professions tend to follow the same pattern: as status increases, proportions of women decrease.

Examples of the latter have been documented by AWIS’s AWARDS project. Relative to their representation on the faculty, women are underrepresented as recent recipients of scholarly awards, as noted by Lincoln, Pincus, and Leboy in their 2011 letter to Nature. However, they are overrepresented as recent recipients of service awards (for the case of mathematics, see Popejoy & Leboy, 2012).

For some awards, this situation may be changing. The AWARDS project has worked with mathematical and scientific societies to reduce practices that can introduce considerations irrelevant to merit. See the AWARDS web site for more details.


Written by CK

January 11, 2014 at 11:11 am

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