Forget Affirmative Action. Think National Survival

American women have made remarkable inroads into the community of scientists, particularly over the past decade and a half, but the increase in their participation has stopped well short of equality with men either in numbers or in opportunities. Although the problems women continue to encounter are formidable, the nation’s need for them is growing, and change in their status appears inevitable. With rare exceptions, American women are relative latecomers to science. Their representatio

Betty Vetter
Oct 18, 1987

American women have made remarkable inroads into the community of scientists, particularly over the past decade and a half, but the increase in their participation has stopped well short of equality with men either in numbers or in opportunities. Although the problems women continue to encounter are formidable, the nation’s need for them is growing, and change in their status appears inevitable.

With rare exceptions, American women are relative latecomers to science. Their representation among doctorate recipients was higher in the 1920s than it was for the next half-century. In that decade, women earned 16 percent of the doctorates awarded in the life sciences, 8 percent in the physical sciences, 17 percent in the social sciences, and 1 percent in engineering.

Educational opportunities for women de- creased in the years following World War II. Higher admission standards for women than for men were established to ensure room for the returning...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?