In 1995 it was unimaginable that within 10 years the presidents of Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, and University of California at San Diego would all be women, and remarkably, women scientists. Ten years ago women's progress in academia seemed to have stalled, particularly in science. Large numbers of women majored in science and earned PhDs, yet only a tiny number had reached the top of the professoriate.
It's hardly surprising that the top seemed unattainable, considering widespread attitudes towards women scientists just a decade ago. I remember that MIT's dean of science kept the fact that a woman had had a baby secret from men about to vote on her tenure, because he feared (correctly) this could bias their judgment. In 1995, "baby" was still a "four-letter word."
Also pervasive was a suspicion that women might not be capable of Nobel-Prize-level science. Faculty...