The Scientist's recent coverage of women's role in science (Oct. 15, 1990) is certainly timely. While demographic studies of employment needs in the United States indicate an increasing demand for scientists and engineers, the actual supply of Americans into the pipeline has declined to nearly half of what it was 10 years ago. And while this drop largely is due to a decrease in American white male entrants, the number of women in science--while doubling during this period--remains small and now appears to be leveling off, if not decreasing.
Regarding undergraduate science programs overall, many U.S. academic institutions have yet to reach what can be considered a critical mass of women students. I believe that without at least 15 percent of their own gender in a degree program, women feel isolated and tend not to take part in the give-and-take that leads to mastery of the subject matter. It is...
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