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Women in science - why so few?

With growing evidence of institutionalised discrimination against women in science, and against a backdrop of increasing political, legal and social campaigns to eradicate it, the science journal 'Nature' is launching a Web debate on the issue beginning on 9 September.

The de...
With growing evidence of institutionalised discrimination against women in science, and against a backdrop of increasing political, legal and social campaigns to eradicate it, the science journal 'Nature' is launching a Web debate on the issue beginning on 9 September.

The debate is led by international figures within the arena of women in science, including Nicole Dewandre of the European Commission DG XII who was responsible for organising the Commission's recent conference on Women and Science.

She said: 'The promotion of science is of crucial importance for European society as a whole. By "letting women in", the scientific system can only improve and better respond to societal needs.'

Other contributors include Nancy Lane from Cambridge University in the UK; Mary-Lou Pardu, Nancy Hopkins, Mary Potter and Sylvia Ceyer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA; Sybille Krummacher of the Research Centre in Julich, Germany; Helga Ebeling of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Bonn, Germany; and Lydia P. Makhubu of the University of Swaziland, and president of the Third World Organisation for Women in Science.

Questions to be raised in the first few weeks include: Why are there so few women in science? Is the discrimination real or imagined? How important is the conflict between family and a research career? Are women-only positions the answer?

In addition to the launch of this debate, Nature will be releasing a special feature bringing together reports of women and science from the past two years on an open-access site.
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